MPAA Overturns “Blue Valentine”‘s NC-17 Rating

MPAA Overturns “Blue Valentine”‘s NC-17 Rating (photo)

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Things got significantly less blue around The Weinstein Company yesterday, when the Motion Picture Association of America’s Appeals Board overturned the NC-17 rating the MPAA had previously bestowed upon TWC’s “Blue Valentine.” From the release reprinted on Deadline.com:

“The Classification and Rating Appeals Board today overturned the NC-17 rating given to the movie “Blue Valentine.” The Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) had assigned the movie the NC-17 rating for “a scene of explicit sexual content.” The film is now rated R, on appeal, for “strong graphic sexual content, language, and a beating.

“In the appeal brought by the Weinstein Company, the Appeals Board heard statements on behalf of “Blue Valentine” from Harvey Weinstein, Co-Chairman of the Weinstein Company, and Alan Friedman, Counsel to the Weinstein Company. The Classification and Rating Administration was represented by Chairman Joan Graves.”

In her blog post about the appeal, indieWIRE‘s Anne Thompson says that Weinstein’s defense of the film included “a Twitter petition with 3000 signatures… [and] journalists who weighed in on the issue, including The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone.” She says Weinstein “also talked of a recruited screening he staged Wednesday night after which he polled the crowd of 260: ‘What should this film be rated?’ 80% said R, he told the board.”

I can’t believe the percentage was that low; maybe the screening was in Amish country or something. I saw “Blue Valentine” yesterday and could feel more strongly that the movie deserves its new R-rating. If I had children, would I bring them to it? Probably not. But that’s not because the film is pornographic; in fact, “Blue Valentine”‘s depictions of sex are so sad at times that I could see them having an abstinent effect on younger viewers. Plain and simple, “Blue Valentine” is a movie for adults, but the NC-17 rating only indicates a film is for adults in theory. In reality, it attaches a stigma to a movie that it’s “dirty,” and it automatically disqualifies it from playing in many theater chains and advertising in many media outlets. It’s a scarlet two-letters-and-a-number.

“Blue Valentine” deserves better. The film was a labor of love for its director, Derek Cianfrance, who struggled for more than a decade to tell this story, and for its actors, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, who do so much more in this movie than get naked and roll around in bed together. Thompson says in her blog that the sequence that earned “Blue Valentine” the NC-17 was “an intimate sex scene with implied oral sex” ( which definitely isn’t implied, by the way). Was the scene, which is more explicit in terms of length than bare skin, necessary to the movie? Actually, yes. “Blue Valentine” is about the rise and fall of a marriage, and the way the couple interacts with each other physically at the various stages of their lives is absolutely essential to revealing the state of their relationship.

But let me say this: even if the scene was just a bunch of mindless T and A thrown in for sexual effect, I don’t think it was graphic enough to warrant an NC-17 in the first place. The 2006 IFC original documentary “This Film is Not Yet Rated” about the MPAA and their fakakta ratings noted how bizarrely biased the organization has historically been against female pleasure. The scene in question features no graphic nudity, but it does show a woman enjoying sexual intercourse with her lover. Apparently that’s a lot worse than a woman being rocket-propelled by a geyser of semen.

At least “Blue Valentine” got the R-rating it deserves. Now when I encourage people go seek out one of the best films of 2010, there’s a much better chance they’ll be able to find it.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.