My Kid Could Paint That

December 7, 2007

My Kid Could Paint That 

This is an incredible film.  It’s a documentary about a little girl who paints beatiful abstract paintings that have been selling for tens of thousands of dollars in galleries.  But there’s controversy…

The question is: is the girl really painting by herself, or is someone helping her?

Anyway, this is why you go to the movies.  This was very well done, interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking.  It’s the kind of film you can’t stop thinking about when it’s over.  As soon as it ends you’ll want to discuss it at length with whoever saw it with you.  Seriously, it should come up in Oscar discussions. 

So, now that I’ve plugged this thing (I had to go to a theater in downtown SLC to see it, but it’s worth it),  let’s talk about the rating: pg-13.  Unlike some of the other posts I’ve written, where I’ve sort of been pointing out the flaws of the rating system, I think they got it just right with this movie.  After it was over (and I think this is the mark of a tastefully done film) I couldn’t remember anythng offensive whatsoever about it.  No language, no nudity, no violence.  But then I looked on IMDB and remembered that they did show some scenes in art galleries that included a few nude paintings and a flashing neon sign of the f-word that was supposed to be modern art. 

I guess they could have slapped this thing with an R rating if they wanted, but the context of the art gallery scenes didn’t warrant it.  REally, it was kind of just pointing out how absurd some “art” is and exploring the idea of how to define what’s art and what isn’t. 

In this case, pg-13 was perfect becuse the movie probably wasn’t right for small children (those few art gallery scenes, and the overall them would probably be over their heads anyway) but I think any 14 year old would benefit from seeing this movie.  It really raises some interesting questions about art, honesty, genius, and life.  I’m very glad they didn’t arbitrarily exclude people for incidental things.

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Knocked Up

December 3, 2007

Knocked Up poster

This was an interesting R-rated movie.  I’d heard really good reviews for it, so I decided to rent it.  I have to say, I was a little shocked at some of the content.   Like Goodwill Hunting, which I previously posted on, there was a lot of profanity in this movie.  But the usage and context was quite different.  The swear words in Good Will Hunting that I thought added to the realism, actually took away from the realism and the overall quality of Knocked Up.

For some reason, the screenwriters fell in love with f-bombs and used them everywhere.  The problem was, they were just a cheap way to get a laugh.  A sort of substitute for genuine comedy.  The real shame is that the movie was brilliant in some respects.  Some of the jokes and comedy bits were outstanding.  And the film, even though its premise was an unwanted pregnancy, actually taught quite a good message about love and living with our mistakes.   I just felt the movie was sabotaged by a bunch of gratuitous profanity and vulgarity.   And I’m a firm believer that anything gratuitous takes away from a movie, even if it’s gratuitous  happy stuff.

So, this was one of the points of our blog in the first place.  I don’t think all profanity is the same.  The words might be the same, but context has so much to do with how offensive it is, in my opinion.

Good Will Hunting

November 29, 2007

Good Will Hunting poster

I just rewatched this classic from ten years ago.  And yes, it’s rated R.  Still, I’ve got to say that I loved the movie and found it very uplifting.  The movie, however, is filled with a bunch of f-bombs.  My question though, is: All are f-bombs and other swear words created equal.  Are the words that have been designated swear words inherently bad, or have they been categorized as swear words because of their offensive meanings?  Does the context have anything to do with it?  For example, does the F-word remain equally as vulgar when it’s not used in relation to sex?  What if it’s just a verbal tick, like when people say something was f-ing stupid?

 In this movie, the F-word is used a lot.  Some people would say that they should have just taken it out and made the movie a pg-13.  But I think you have to differentiate how words are used, taking into account the context and meaning.  Like in the post on this blog about the Movie Hoax, the offensive word in question seemed to be gratuitous, and therefore could and maybe should have been deleted.  But if you’re making a movie about a bunch of low class kids from Boston, I think you have to acknowledge that they’re going to use swear words in their conversations.  That’s just how they talk.  It’s not only not gratuitous to include it, it would be robbing the movie of a truthful element if you had Matt Damon and Ben Affleck saying “fudge” instead. 

The real value of art is to teach us lessons about human nature.  If you’re dishonest about that nature, how can you expect any art to be worthwhile or valuable?

Movie Ratings

November 20, 2007

ratings

Welcome to our blog.  Over the next few weeks we’re going to be writing about movie ratings and how these rated categories affect our lives.  In the interest of full disclosure, we are a group in a BYU media literacy class and this blog is our class project.  We were assigned to create some sort of media presentation that adressed a media issue we felt strongly about.  We chose movie ratings because, as BYU students and Mormons, movie ratings play a large part in our lives and the general culture of our church. 

 For example, church culture often dictates that rated “R” movies are bad, off-limits.  On the other hand, many people we know seem to think that as long as a movie is not an “R” it’s okay to watch.  There are many more attitudes as well, ranging from a complete shunning of the rating system to rationalizations based on differing rating scales in different countries.  And, with the advent of movies edited for content, the issue is clouded even further.

 What we’re interested in is how well ratings actually warn against offensive content, and, here’s where things might get controversial, how do we determine exactly which content is offensive?  Are there universal standards, or should we make our own choices?  Can a movie be uplifting and appropriate even if it’s rated “R”?  Can a ”PG” movie be spiritually damaging? 

These are the questions we’re going to explore.  The format we’ll use is simple.  Group members will post their feelings about movies we’ve seen.  Everything we discuss will be filtered through the content, how it affected us and of course, the rating.  Please feel free to make comments (helpful, insightful ones, not standard Daily Universe-style holier-than-thou stuff please).