30.March.2012: Lee Hirsh’s documentary Bully opens this weekend without a rating after the Weinstein Company refused the MPAA’s R, and that fact has become inextricable from the film’s social message according to A.O. Scott in The New York Times: “There is a little swearing in the movie, and a lot of upsetting stuff, but while some of it may shock parents, very little of it is likely to surprise their school-age children. Whose sensitivity does the association suppose it is protecting? The answer is nobody’s: That organization, like the panicked educators in the film itself, holds fast to its rigid, myopic policies to preserve its own authority.” Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir comes down even harder on the MPAA: “There’s almost a perverse, Santorum-style integrity about [its] staunch resistance.” O’Hehir’s colleague Adam Chandler speaks with filmmaker Kirby Dick, who made the MPAA-blasting doc This Film Is Not Yet Rated: “This is the kind of egregious decisions that are made when someone takes control and there’s no transparency,” Dick says. “There’s no oversight and there’s no opportunity for a fair appeal or anything like that.”
Meanwhile, Karina Longworth writes that returning comic filmmaker Whit Stillman “seems particularly proud” of the subtle cut he made to earn his new film Damsels in Distress’s PG-13. “’There’s less anal sex in this cut. Did you notice that?’ he asks…He calls it ‘our Lubitsch moment.’” Perhaps Lubitsch is overdoing it, though I wouldn’t argue with John Lopez’s characterization for Hollywood Prospectus: “The film hums along with bonbon-sized bons mots and a guileless script that transplants Stillman’s early-’90s sensibility to the 21st century with surprising ease.” As for Lopez’s interview itself, it seems to have gone well: “Stillman’s eyelids fluttered in a quiet exultation as he rhapsodized, enough to make you feel his rap as the straight-laced preppy bard who doesn’t tell the whole story.” The film opens a week from today in Los Angeles and New York.
New York’s Museum of Moving Image opens a packed weekend of Ken Jacobs’ recent experiments in digital video and paracinema with a double bill tonight of Return to the Scene of the Crime and Seeking the Monkey King. Of the former, which revisits Jacobs’ 1969 class Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son, which in turn revisited a 1905 short, Jacobs tells Time Out’s Eric Hynes, “’I never left Tom; I kept playing with it. In film, the glancing moments stick, and the confusion of the movie enchanted me…I’m wired to go into the minutiae, the crevices.” He’s a little more blunt regarding Monkey King, which screened at Sundance after playing at Occupy Wall Street: “Speaking as an utter amateur about the world situation: We’re fucked. Capitalism is breaking down, and anyone with half a mind agrees with the kids [in Occupy Wall Street]. It’s very painful. I don’t know what the fuck happened.” Those interested in delving deeper into this one-man museum of moving image’s unique body of work are advised to check out Jesse P. Finnegan’s recent article for Alt Screen and the estimable Optic Antics anthology.