New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Ellen DeGeneres, Demi Lovato and 20 members of Congress have so far signed on to support a campaign started by bullied Michigan high school student Katy Butler on Change.org, urging the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to change the “R” rating of the upcoming Weinstein Company release Bully to “PG-13.” The MPAA has cited “some language,” as the reason for the ‘R’ rating. Specifically, “fuck” is apparently uttered 6 times.
Ooooh. six whole times, eh? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. There, that’s 8. You gonna rate my blog post ‘R’ now, too? Does the MPAA realize that kids hear far worse than that before they get off the bus in the morning and bullied kids would love it if all they got was the occasional swearing at. These kids are being abused, mentally and physically until they kill themselves or others. What kind of a society do we live in where a film that has the potential to help stop this epidemic but is given a “restricted” rating because the word “fuck” is uttered 6 times?
“We’ve got the MPAA’s attention, and with nearly 300,000 signatures and support from celebrities and politicians, there’s now a national movement of people calling on the MPAA to drop the ‘R’ rating for Bully,” Butler said. “As someone who lived through bullying day in and day out in school, including having my finger broken by bullies, this film is too important to silence with an ‘R’ rating. Everyone should have a chance to see Bully.”
Let me get this straight, a bullied 17 year-old who has had bones broken by bullies is doing what basically every right-thinking person in America should be doing. 285,000 signatures is all fine and good, but why aren’t there 3,000,000? Where are all the celebrity parents supporting this petition? 20 members of Congress is great, but what about the other 515? Surely they can’t condone bullying and surely they can’t believe that a few utterances of the word “fuck” trumps the good that can be done by kids seeing this film.
The film is set to be released on March 30th, so there’s not a lot of time to get the MPAA to re-thing their dunderheaded vote. Go here to sign the petition.
Read the sign-on letter Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) wrote to his congressional colleagues and their letter to the MPAA insupport of Bully, here. See Ellen DeGeneres’ segment on the film, here.
Here’s the trailer for Bully. I can’t seem to get it to embed.
Congratulations to director Kirby Dick and producer Any Ziering for the pickup of their powerful new doc The Invisible War by Cinedigm Entertainment Group and New Video. I saw the film at Sundance and in addition to being a great film, it’s extraordinarily important in these times of increasing violence against and institutionalized subjugation of women. [Trailer and other videos at the bottom.]
In my wrap of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival I wrote of the film: “A heart-breaking and shocking look at rape in the military, Dick’s film details the pain, shame, horror and lasting damage caused by the attacks as well as the shocking hypocrisy and cover-ups endorsed by the military establishment.”
Some stats from the US Department of Defense: 20% of ALL servicewomen have been sexually assaulted while serving. Women who have been raped in the military have a PTSD rate higher than men in combat. An estimated 500,000 women have been sexually assaulted in the US military. In 2010, according to the Department of Defense, there were 3,158 case of sexual assault within the U.S. military. It is estimated that more than 80% of those who are sexually assaulted don’t report it.
The film presents many more statistics, equally as disturbing.
While the subject matter is grim and at times the film is emotionally tough to watch, I will categorically say that this is a film everyone must see, especially educators. It’s a film that could potentially cause a sea change not only in the halls of Congress but in the high schools of America.
At the Q&A following the Sundance world premiere, a 17 year-old young woman in the audience stood up and said that while she had never been physically assaulted, verbal abuse was the norm in her school and she felt that every high school student needed to see the film because boys were not being raised to respect women. It was another poignant moment in the most emotional Q&A I have ever witnessed.
This is my favorite new band and I’m telling you all to go to You Tube, watch their stuff and then buy their CDs. Seriously. Now.
Even though “We Are Young” is a big hit (and an amazing song) I suggest you start with their debut Aim and Ignite and then move on to Some Nights. Nate Reuss’s voice is extraordinary and the rest of the trio (Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff) play everything else, pretty much. Reuss uses his voice like an instrument and even the occasional use of the vocoder simply adds another instrument to the mix. Their first album, heavy on the string arrangements and personal storytelling in the lyrics brings The Decemberists’ The Crane Wife to mind. (It’s not a concept album, though.)
I’ve only listened to Some Nights twice, so I hope to post a more complete review next week.
In the meantime, here’s a couple of videos. The first is an acoustic version of “We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe)” which might actually knock me out more than the album version. First of all, Reuss and Monáe are so damn nice to look at, right? She’s absolutely stunning! I met her once, very briefly after a show at South by Southwest. After putting on an amazing, high-energy performance that knocked the audience on its ass, she was so wiped out that she could barely speak. Maybe she was saving her voice, but she suddenly seemed a small (she is a pretty slight young woman) and almost timid thing and genuinely awed by the fact that she’d just blown us all away. The second video is of a live performance of the beautiful ballad “The Gambler” from their first album.
Attention men and women of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment:
Just in time for the TNT premiere of season 2 this summer, Warner Home Video has announced a release date of June 5th for the season 1 DVD and Blu-ray sets of one of my favorite new Sci-fi series of last year, Falling Skies. A fantastic balance of suspense and action with a healthy dollop of heebies and jeebies, Falling Skies was a welcome addition to the summer TV season. It ended the season as cable TV’s #1 new show of 2011 and if this preview is to be believed, season 2 looks to ratchet up the Skitter killing excitement!
Until this year, the only big time film industry awards show I had ever been to was the Independent Spirit Awards and it’s been almost 10 years since the last time – and who can forget Elvis Costello’s “surprise” opening of the show with (“What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?”). I had never been invited to any of the guild awards shows and to be honest, I was pretty curious about them. We all know about the Golden Globes and how fun they seem to be (how many drunk winners can you remember over the years?) but what about the SAG awards? PGA? WGA? Well, this year I finally got invited to one and to my surprise, it was a lot of fun.
It’s been a little over three weeks since Bingham Ray passed away and I have read countless tributes, obits and stories, almost all of them touching and heartfelt. In my head, The Bingham Show has been running a regular time slot since his passing and maybe I should have written more, sooner, but I just couldn’t. Of course the idea that it will get better over time is silly and I ought to have known better. Anyone who has lost someone close to them knows that it doesn’t get better with time, it just gets…different.
Bingham was one of the first and kindest and most inclusive mentors I had in the business and one of my closest friends, too. He was quick to understand where Eugene Hernandez and I were going with indieWIRE, always had time for the new kids in school and unlike some other people in the business (you might have a guess or two), Bingham didn’t seem to take himself overly seriously. That didn’t hold true for film, of course. For Bingham, film was serious business but it was the business of wonderment…of the joy, sadness, horror and happiness that a good film can bring.
Moose, Scott and Bingham at the Siasconset Casino on Nantucket
This year, after an eleven year absence, I made my return to the Sundance Film Festival and yes, there were a lot of changes but as the saying goes, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! There were new hotels and condos, new restaurants and a much better transportation system but there were also the same old throngs of pseudo celebs and their hangers on that were only there for the gifting suites, club nights and seemed to not even know there were films being screened. Like I said, the more things change….
The Sundance lineup always looks good on paper. There are dozens of films from directors both new and unsung that virtually no one has seen, including one (Amy Berg’s West of Memphis) so fresh that producer Peter Jackson literally hand-carried the print to Utah from New Zealand!
A Singular Doc Experience
An emotional moment at the Q&A for Kirby Dick's "The Invisible War."
By the time the awards were handed out on Saturday night, it seemed like many categories had six or seven favorites, although a few were pretty obvious. One of those obvious winners (to me, anyway) was Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War which won the audience award for documentaries. A heart-breaking and shocking look at rape in the military, Dick’s film details the pain, shame, horror and lasting damage caused by the attacks and the shocking hypocrisy and cover-ups endorsed by the military establishment.
Why was it obvious to me that it would get the audience prize? Simple: I have never seen an audience reaction and a post-screening Q & A like this one. Not in over 20 years and well over 150 film festivals have I seen a crying standing ovation with an audience full of senators, US representatives and celebs, including Mary J. Blige, who is writing an original song for the film. Packed with stories and statistics that can do nothing but inspire action and outrage, The Invisible War is a perfect piece of advocacy filmmaking.
The first of my Bad Robot Action Movie Sundance mini-films. All fest I am going to be taking little clips of people, places and things and blowing them up, dropping giant rocks on them or rolling cars into them.
Not because I don’t like them, but because it’s fun! For example, I am very font of both Mynette and Dana, but it’s funny. Get it?
This is courtesy of a terrifically fun new FREE iPhone App called Action Movie FX from Bad Robot and J.J. Abrams!
Here’s a small Marquee Blog post I wrote, over at CNN.com, also, here is the full list of BAFTA nominations, followed by the press release. Enjoy!
(presented in 2012)
BEST FILM THE ARTIST Thomas Langmann
THE DESCENDANTS Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
DRIVE Marc Platt, Adam Siegel
THE HELP Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM MY WEEK WITH MARILYN Simon Curtis, David Parfitt, Harvey Weinstein, Adrian Hodges
SENNA Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Manish Pandey
SHAME Steve McQueen, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Abi Morgan
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Tomas Alfredson, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo,
Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN Lynne Ramsay, Luc Roeg, Jennifer Fox, Robert Salerno,
Rory Stewart Kinnear
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER ATTACK THE BLOCK Joe Cornish (Director/Writer)
BLACK POND Will Sharpe (Director/Writer), Tom Kingsley (Director), Sarah Brocklehurst (Producer)
CORIOLANUS Ralph Fiennes (Director)
SUBMARINE Richard Ayoade (Director/Writer)
TYRANNOSAUR Paddy Considine (Director), Diarmid Scrimshaw (Producer)