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High ratings

So, back to the power of film.

The power of film? Has any movie ever changed anything in the real world?

Well, you might remember Erroll Morris’s “Thin Blue Line”  getting an apparently innocent man off death row. More recently, Kirby Dick’s “This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated,” his puckish and devastating exposé of the absurdities and iniquities of the MPAA ratings system, seems to have had an effect. MPAA head Dan Glickman and Joan Graves recently have avowed to rectify some of the more glaring abuses, such as expanding their pool of raters beyond the self-interested fold of studio employees, clarifying the standards of judgment and allowing filmmakers to refer to other films when making their case. They’re also heading to Sundance to discuss with Indie filmmakers other ways of improving the system.

In the high altitude and thin air of Park City, they might get more than they bargained for.  Let’s just say things get a little racier than Abigail Breslin dancing to “Superfreak” in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

In his report for the New York Post headlined “Sundance with the Devil,” reviewer Lou Lumenick describes it as “the most shocking festival ever.” Among the offerings are “Hounddog,” in which angelic 12-year-old Dakota Fanning is raped and is seen partially nude; “Black Snake Moan” in which Samuel L. Jackson  chains Christina Ricci to a radiator in her undies to keep her from misbehaving; and “An American Crime,” a true story in which Catherine Keener plays a housewife in 1965 Indiana who ties up a teenaged female lodger and, with the rest of her family and some concerned neighbors, tortures her to death over the course of several days.

Ouch! It seems like the bondage, rape and torture of underaged females might be the high concept of 2007. Meanwhile, Ms. Graves assures film lovers: “I keep hearing about how many ‘thrusts’ you can have in a film. We’ve never had a rule about the number of ‘thrusts.'”


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