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Moriarty's Rumblings From The Lab #5

Well here's the latest Rumbling from the Lab, and I am absolutely delighted with how this feature is coming about. For example, this week not only does Moriarty knock around the MPAA a bit, but breaks casting information on both Hannibal and Lord of the Rings. And... wow! The idea of Ian McKellen playing that creepy doctor in MINORITY REPORT sounds great. I hope he signed on. What a busy guy! But enough from me... Onto Moriarty...

Hey, Head Geek...

"Moriarty" here.

I'd like to take a moment and thank all of you for your outpouring of kindness following my mention of the recent loss here at the Labs. The whole place is papered with condolences I've received from you, and it makes it a little hard to see the Big Board we're using to steer the Evil Master Plan To Rule The World. It's worth it, though. I have passed your words along to the other people involved, and they have helped.

Of course, that's just one of the things you've been writing me about. The other was my request last week for practical solutions about how to address the issue of the broken American ratings system. I had no idea what kind of shitstorm I was stirring up when I made that request, and you've filled my Yahoo! e-mail to capacity three times since last Tuesday. One thing is certain... your feelings on the subject are strong, and who could blame you? The current climate of fear, namecalling, and rotating blame is one of the least healthy atmospheres for filmgoing I can recall.

I've seen many changes in the ratings system over the years. I was young enough to be part of the exact group of film viewers affected by the creation of the PG-13. I remember the summers before the PG-13, like 1982, when we got POLTERGEIST, or 1981, when we got RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, or 1984, when we got INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM and GREMLINS. It was that last summer that really crossed the line, and there was no choice but to come up with a rating for films that were stronger than the average PG, but which the studios had fought down from an R rating. I don't remember the PG-13 making one little bit of difference in my viewing habits, but of course it did. It gave the studios an out when they had a film that they were pitching as a big summer movie, and they just couldn't take the financial hit of the R. It gave the MPAA and NATO something to point at so they could say, "We fixed it." I remember the angry editorials that led up to the advent of the rating. They were a lot like the ones that greeted the release of films like THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER at the tail end of the '80s. There were a number of independent films that were opting for unrated releases instead of taking the hit of an X. There were lawsuits threatened against the MPAA by filmmakers like Wayne Wang, who argued that the X he was given for LIFE IS CHEAP, TOILET PAPER IS EXPENSIVE was economic death for his film and that his art had been labelled pornography unfairly. Parents groups protested that the unrated option didn't give them the warning they needed. Once again, Valenti and his group put a Band-Aid on the problem by eliminating the X, creating the NC-17, and pronouncing everything fine. It wasn't, though. The rating never took, and theater owners whose leases prevent them from booking an X weren't allowed to book the new rating, either. I know, because I worked for a chain where we had our hands tied. We couldn't legally show those films at most of our locations.

And now there's a new uproar, and there's change in the air, and I have a sneaking suspicion that there's a new rating right around the corner. Roger Ebert and others, including Harry himself, have become advocates for a new A rating to go between the R and the NC-17. I think this rating will have to fight its own battle against being stigmatized, simply because the word "adult" is so often associated with porno. Still, one reader had a great suggestion for how to handle that part of the problem:

"The MPAA is insane, but what can you do? My only very brief thought is that if studios voluntarily re-rated old titles like ROBOCOP, SCARFACE, and NBK "A," then maybe right-wingers might not be so afraid of new product with an adults-only rating. Their protests of CRASH, SHOWGIRLS, etc, were based on instilling fear about a film no one had yet seen. If succesful library titles were re-rated for video, etc., maybe that would be a possibility. Or maybe just a big pain in the ass. I don't know. But I've always wondered how RAIN MAN and BLUE VELVET shared an MPAA rating. It's obvious there needs to be an in-between, and the NC-17 isn't cutting it."

I'll call the reader KINGPIN for reasons that should make him cringe. I think he's got a point. Why not take all the director's cuts that got slapped with an NC-17, all those versions that were too hard for the R, and get them rerated with this new A rating? This sets the tone for what audiences should expect when they see these films.

Of course, that's assuming we're going to keep the MPAA around at all. Personally, I think it's time we move on. I think what the studios have got to do is take a good look at what parts of the industry have repeatedly caused them these nightmarish public relations problems. It's always either test screenings or ratings trouble that give the studios fits these days, and we always hear that it's just the way things work. But why? If we can all agree that there's a problem, and we can all agree as to the cause of it, then why can't we agree to act?

I think it's because there's no viable alternative, and people are afraid of the effort that will have to be exerted to create that alternative. It can be done, though, and it should be. I propose that the studios all resign their memberships in the MPAA out of protest. Instead of paying their membership fees and paying the ratings board each time they have a picture rated and paying NRG to cook their numbers and bully teens into screenings, why not take those same resources and create one organization that can take over both processes in a way that gives the studios greater freedom, greater input into the process, and real feedback they can use to make films and filmgoing better?

Imagine an organization that has two main branches, both governed by a panel. On that panel would be a representative from each of the studios, someone from each of the mini-majors, and there would be seats left open for representatives of the indie community. John Pierson would be an example of someone who could hold that seat or John Sloss, perhaps.

The first branch of the organization handles all the test screenings for the films in production. The screenings aren't about numbers, but instead are used by the filmmakers to fine-tune their pictures. There's no outside party telling the studios how to spend their money, no one organization suggesting cuts to everyone's films. Instead, the studios would be giving filmmakers the room to use the process creatively, to enjoy it again. By removing Joe Farrell's evil army from the system, there's less outside buzz, and the films wouldn't be treated like product. One thing that could be added to the process would be a question asked of each preview audience member: "What would you rate this film?"

The responses to that question would be handed over to the other branch of the organization, the branch that rates movies. Jack Valenti has always claimed that the MPAA is about providing information to parents and not censoring filmmakers. No matter what his intentions, that simply is not true today. If he were truly interested in providing information, he would drop the letters already in use and move to a system that literally just labels the content of the film. Of course, that would mean losing his copywritten system, and that means less revenue for his organization, and it means that his stranglehold over the morality of American film would be broken.

So if we wouldn't use the familiar G/PG/R system, then what would we replace it with? Well, I agree with the overwhelming majority of you that a simple system that owes a nod to the way HBO and other cable services rate their own programming would be the best method. N for nudity, L for language, S for sexual content, V for violence. You could modify the letters with an E if there was extreme content. Simple, clearly understood, these letters would provide parents with specific knowledge of what the films contained, so if they don't mind violence but they can't stand nudity, they would know the difference between something like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and SHOWGIRLS. And what about content that falls between the cracks? What about a film that really doesn't break any specific rules, but which is unnerving, unmistakably adult?

I can't help but think of Lodge Kerrigan's brilliant little film CLEAN, SHAVEN from earlier this decade. It was a film with almost no explicit material, but the tone of it rattled me deeply. It's an unflinching portrait of the world as seen through the eyes of someone who is truly mentally disturbed. In a case like that, there should be a special M rating, meaning mature subject matter, that could be applied. It should signal that there's difficult material that a child might have trouble either accepting or understanding. It wouldn't prevent a child from seeing the film, but it would serve as a flag to a parent. I saw kids who had to be dragged from the theater hysterical when we were playing MY GIRL. Confronting the death of MacCauley Culkin may have put a smile on the face of every parent who sat through 377 viewings of HOME ALONE, but it was seriously traumatic to children who viewed Culkin as their friend. The film's PG rating hardly hinted at the emotional turbulence of that scene. How were parents served there? The failings of Valenti's system come even more dramatically into focus when one considers options.

The new regulatory board I've described does something else the MPAA was designed to do, too. It keeps the government out of the film regulation business. That's something Valenti may not be able to do for much longer if he keeps fumbling the way he has in the past and recently. Despite being an experienced player in Washington, Valenti may not have the muscle to keep certain parties from turning Hollywood into a cause as we approach an election year. If the MPAA is viewed as broken beyond repair, and the industry is seen as leaving all their faith in that broken system, then we are ripe for attack. It is time for the industry to step up and take responsibility, a word I've been big on since my post-Columbine article. It's time to take the positive steps that will prove that we are dedicated to more than just money. Putting information -- real information with practical applications -- in the hands of parents can create a system where people are able to trust ratings again. They will have a purpose, and they will serve it well.

Of course, people could just go see the movies first themselves, then take their kids and actually talk to them after. But let's not dream the impossible, eh?

I've gotten a couple of pieces of e-mail this week that suggest to me that HANNIBAL is indeed on track. Ridley Scott is still the name I'm hearing as director, and David Mamet is, as I noted earlier, an apt choice for screenwriter. I'm intrigued, though, by the first casting choice I've heard. If it's true, James Woods should make an excellent Mason Verger, and there's a chance he may actually create an enduring nightmare creature that will live up to the high standards created by Harris' novels and the films based on them thus far.

I also managed this week to infiltrate the offices of one of the town's major talent agencies, where I took a long look at the casting that's going on for JAMBOREE. Oh, wait a minute... that's just the code name. I think you'd know it better by its real title -- LORD OF THE RINGS. By now, we've all debated the merits of Elijah Wood and Sean Astin as Frodo and Samwise. Personally, I like the choices. Astin's exactly what I pictured reading the scripts -- a thick guy with a big, wide open soul, kindness and heart wrapped up in an oversized, powerful body. Samwise is the trilogy's real lead, and I think Astin's got a lot of work ahead of him. It should pay off beautifully, though, especially surrounded by some of the other talent that's coming into focus. My sources revealed that Ian Holm is in final negotiations to play Bilbo, something that made me do a little dance around my own private Hobbit hole. I think he's a wonderful choice, and I smile just thinking about his address to everyone just before slipping on the Ring and vanishing. Marvelous. I'm also dying to see him in his scenes with Gandalf. I know there's been a ton of speculation about this character, and I can understand it. There's something very iconic about him. He's one of the more immediately recognizable things about the series. That's why I wasn't surprised when I learned that a firm offer is out now to Ian McKellan, this year's favorite old man. I've heard a lot of great names bandied about like Christopher Lee, Patrick McGoohan, and Tom Baker, and it's been rumored that these actors may yet find their way to Middle Earth. With McKellan, though, people forget that he's the same age as Nick Nolte, still in his early 50s. He just plays older very, very well. He will bring both Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White to life in different and exciting ways, and I hope he is able to juggle his schedule between LORD OF THE RINGS, X-MEN, and MINORITY REPORT, where he may play a key role. If so, he'll join Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke, Jeffrey Comb (believe it, folks -- he's Wormtongue), Bryan Boyd, and the still-negotiating Kate Winslet, who would be a lovely Eowyn.

Just a thought on the Will Smith/Mohammad Ali biopic: if it's so important to Will to play the role, then why doesn't he take a pay cut? Why push to make $20 million on this one? Biopics never perform as big as summer event films, and even if they did everything right (an impossibility with Barry Sonnenfeld on board), they still would have a hard time breaking the mold with such an overtly political film. Why not watch how Johnny Depp does it, Will? He's dying to play Liberace for Karasziewski and Alexander. You think he's going to ask for top dollar? Nope... he'll take the cut, do it for the art, and benefit in the long run. If you want to play The Greatest, Will, start getting into character now.

I know I promised my Bill Murray piece would be this week, and I know I've dropped more clues on LOTR than actual information, but I am catching up. I'll be back to my full Evil self later this week, and I should be presenting you all of the promised stories and more. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 20, 1999, 4:50 a.m. CST


    by Mel

    umm, there are pictures of the new lotr movie in the new edition of french premiere. why aren

  • July 20, 1999, 4:53 a.m. CST


    by stewdog

    Rather than broad categories such as G/PG/PG-13/R/NC-17, why not have the media tell us exactly what may be objectionable about a film before it is released to the general public? Some already do, but not nearly enough.

  • July 20, 1999, 4:57 a.m. CST

    Will Smith and LOTR

    by xridley

    Two quick thoughts. No way Will Smith is going to take a cut. He's Hollywood, Depp is and artist. Pete Postlethwaite should have a role somewhere in LOTR. He is "interesting" looking enough.

  • July 20, 1999, 5:33 a.m. CST

    Ratings & the Liberace biopic...

    by W. Leach

    Yes, the rating system is screwed up, yadda yadda yadda. I really can't add to anything that has already been said. Between Harry, Moriarty, and the Talkbackers here over the last few weeks, pretty much everything important has been said on this subject. But here's just one more example of why the MPAA seems to be out of touch when it comes to rating movies. In 1993, Warner Bros. re-released their controversial Western THE WILD BUNCH theatrically. This 1969 film, which depicts the numbered days of a once glorified gang of robbers and murderers, was initially rated R. Jack Valenti stood by director Sam Peckinpah's cut, which featured brutal but honest violence, most of it in slow-motion: a ballet of blood. When the MPAA reviewed the film for re-release in 1993, they slapped it with an NC-17 rating. Never mind that much more graphic movies had been released since then with an R, or even a PG-13. When THE WILD BUNCH was re-released, it initially got an NC-17. From the same man who gave it an R 24 years earlier. Go figure. To make a long story short, just before the movie came out, the board changed the rating to an R (apparently after much pressure from such noted film buffs as Martin Scorsese--one of the people who championed the re-release in the first place). On another note, IS Johnny Depp really interested in playing Liberace? With my two favorite screenwriters, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski writing it? Pretty cool if you ask me. Now I'm not a fan of Liberace, but I caught his life story one night on one of those E! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY or BIOGRAPHY thingies, and found it to be bizarre...perfect for a Depp/Alexander/Karaszewski project. I remember back in 1988 or so, right after the pianist died, there were two cheesy TV-movie biopics released within a week of each other (or maybe even the same night, on two different networks). I couldn't help but think that the lead actor in one of them, Andy Robinson (who played the sniper in the first DIRTY HARRY movie) looked EXACTLY like Liberace. I think Depp is a great choice, however, proving once again that he's one of the most versitile, quirky, and interesting actors in Hollywood. He may not get the colossal paychecks, like some other, less talented "stars" (I don't call movie stars actors--there's a big difference between an actor and a star), but in the end, all that really matters is the quality of the work. Depp has a chameleon-like ability to disappear into his roles, and I think he'll do fine in this one, if the project ever gets off the ground. Finally, as for the ALI biopic: yes, it could be a very interesting movie, but not with Will Smith. As many said when this was posted a few weeks ago, Smith doesn't physically look like Ali, he's too skinny, etc. I couldn't agree more. If this movie is being made by Sonnenfeld and Smith only because the two want to continue their annual Fourth of July blockbuster trend, it will be a big mistake. First of all, there are no aliens or futuristic gadgets in ALI's story. Secondly, this doesn't seem like an "event" movie, despite the subject matter and Smith's participation. If Sonnenfeld directs this, he should go with an unknown actor. That's just my two cents.

  • July 20, 1999, 5:46 a.m. CST

    Float like a butterfly...

    by r_dimitri22

    Based on what I've read, I seem to be in the extreme minority on this topic. I think Will Smith could make a great Muhammad Ali. Ali was a spectacular showman, as is Will Smith. Both men are simply charisma personified. Nevertheless, I am not confident in Sonnenfeld, and I agree that Smith should be willing to take a pay cut to play the role. As for the physicality issue, I agree he's not a believable Ali yet. However, I expect he could hire a trainer that would help him achieve a suitable level of fitness and/or muscle definition. ...The uproar over the MPAA has died down. We have all made our opinions known. Moriarty mentions that he expects reform action could be taken. I want to know who in the industry is leading this operation and how soon we can expect something concrete to happen - if at all.

  • July 20, 1999, 6:09 a.m. CST

    Ian Holm in LOTR

    by Pugsy

    Ian Holm? That's good news. He voiced Frodo in the excellent BBC radio production of LOTR, so check that out if you want to hear how well-suited he is to playing hobbits!

  • July 20, 1999, 6:17 a.m. CST

    Ian Holm as Bilbo, I knew ages ago

    by lozza

    I knew about Ian Holm since around 25th June when someone sent me a report that he'd been sighted in New Zealand, they suggested he was Gandalf but I knew in he would be Bilbo and people who visited my Peter Jackson site ( would also know all this. I was going to send it into AICN but I never got around to it.

  • July 20, 1999, 6:19 a.m. CST

    Please, I beseech thee Moriarty, clarify!

    by cutshaw

    Please friend Moriarty, could you please clarify this small section of your latest (excellent) posting: "I've heard a lot of great names bandied about like Christopher Lee, Patrick McGoohan, and Tom Baker, and it's been rumored that these actors may yet find their way to Middle Earth." How reliable are the rumors concerning these particular actors? Is this just wishful thinking on someone

  • July 20, 1999, 6:29 a.m. CST

    Good Casting!!

    by Prankster

    Ian Holm as Bilbo...YES YES YES! Ian McKellen as Gandalf...ditto (although I saw him more as the Saruman type, but then may as well make such a good actor the more important of the two wizards). And Kate Winslet as Eowyn? I have to admit, that knocked me for a loop, but then I started THINKING and realized it would be great casting. She's a) British/Australian b) capable of doing the "ice-queen" bit c) worked with PJ before d) feminine, yet e) powerful-looking. Amazonian even. You know, the more I meditate on Winslet, the better she seems. She wouldn't be a campy Xena-type or an adolescent fantasy as some seem to picture her. She'd be sort of romantic-feminine, yet believably ass-kicking. She's certainly...solid enough. I like. So far the only role that's been "locked down" cast who I feel there's a better actor out there for is Sam...I still say Oliver Platt is the nnatural choice...but given how good the other casting's been, I assume PJ knows what he's doing.

  • July 20, 1999, 6:35 a.m. CST

    Helen Mirren is fit as fuck !

    by reni

    sorry but Moriarty mentioning The Cook, The Thief, His wife and Her Lover has brought back some wonderful memories...

  • July 20, 1999, 7:10 a.m. CST

    Gee, some script review

    by potato

    It's funny how Moriarty promised a script review some weeks back, then several weeks later delivers his long promised 'look' at The Lord of the Rings, only to throw around more silly casting rumors (which may or may not be true)and tell us nothing that is really all that new or revealing. It had better be in the next thing Moriarty puts up on the site, or....or....DAMMIT, there's nothing I can do about it! Well at least Moriarty is locked into the true spirit of this movie's production: promise info next week, then delay that release, then delay again, and again, and again, and again. . . . .

  • July 20, 1999, 7:21 a.m. CST

    HBO-style movie classifications

    by SDG

    I think this is probably the best proposal so far. Yes, a few people will still whine about any movie classification system whatsoever, and doubtless some will continue to scapegoat Evil Lazy Parents; but such a system would give parents the information they need to make informed decisions beforehand about what their children should be allowed to see.

  • July 20, 1999, 7:37 a.m. CST


    by kcalder2

    he's 60

  • July 20, 1999, 7:47 a.m. CST

    "Clean, Shaven" should have an "S" rating.

    by PORKY

    "S" for "It Sucks!" I was dissapointed by you, Moriarty, for giving such an amatuerish piece of crap a good mention in your article. I think we're still in sync on most other movies, but I totally disagree with you on this one.

  • July 20, 1999, 7:56 a.m. CST

    Instead of Alphabet Soup...

    by UnclePuppethead

    Why don't we just convince the theaters to SHOW NC-17 films? The proposed "A" rating is a horrible idea and will be pushed aside to the corner where X and NC-17 sit. Besides, "A" is short for adult, and if you go looking for porn at a video store, are they in the porn section? Nope, they're in the "Adult" section in the back. If we convince theaters that we wanna see NC-17 films, then we might be able to see a decent film for adults. But until that time, an A rating will add one more letter to the ratings alphabet that people are unwilling to let into their town.

  • July 20, 1999, 8:08 a.m. CST

    When is Alexander and K? going to give us the promised HR Puffen

    by spike lee

    the time he guest starred on the Monkees and destroyed a piano with a golden mallet while an audience of rich people watched with no reaction. Great stuff! I heard that Liberace also played the skin flute.

  • July 20, 1999, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Ratings System

    by 5minutes

    Another good example of a workable ratings system is over at It's pretty specific about what types of offensive material are in a film. Perhaps combining the 2 systems (sort of like HBO has done) will work. A couple of examples being Star Wars Ep. 1: PG,1.5.1; Eyes Wide Shut - NC17,10.2.7 It will certainly work better than what we have. The only major forseeable problem would be educating people to use it.

  • July 20, 1999, 8:33 a.m. CST

    McKellen/Gandalf stream o' consciousness

    by TimTheEnchanter

    Frodo is the 'central' character of LOTR. Sam is the 'pivotal' character. Gandalf is the 'driving' character. There's been all this talk of Tom Baker, Christopher Lee, Patrick McGoohan, and others, and while I'm just a casual fan, they just aren't names who make me want to see the movie. I really don't know who they are or what kind of work they have done. They don't make me want to see the film. Gandalf must be someone who has proven that he can take over the screen or stage as soon as he appears. Not necessarily a big name (please use Connery as one of the kingly roles), but a known, proven, recognized talent. A few awards and "Sirs" don't hurt either. Ian McKellen is perfect for the role. If anyone doubts Ian McKellen's screen presence, just rent _Richard III_ (1996) in which Shakespeare's King Richard is reworked to mirror a particular 1930's facist. You have to use a few extra brain cells to process Shakespeare's version of the English language, but it is well worth the effort. It is one of the most powerful performances I have seen in recent years. After I saw that film, I thought the man stood 6 1/2 feet tall because of the way he projected power on the screen. He should be Gandalf.

  • July 20, 1999, 8:38 a.m. CST


    by TimTheEnchanter

    As for the NLSV system, Moriarity made the point that it would help differentiate between _Saving Private Ryan_ and _Showgirls_. But I ask, how will that system differentiate between SPR and something like NBK? Both purposefully use Extreme Violence to make their points about war and media respectively, but in so many ways (and in so many parents' minds) the two films don't belong in the same sentence. When my sons get older I want them to see SPR so they know what war is and what guns and bullets can do to people and what people do to people. I want them to understand what their grandfather went through for their sake. I don't want them to see even the "R" version of NBK until they are truly adults, because *I* feel it could be misinterpreted by a young mind as portraying violence as cool. I'm not saying the NLSV system is the wrong angle to take, I just want to point out that is equally incomplete in conveying information without some more explanation. One thing that I think will help *any* system would be a brief description (perhaps one paragraph) of why a film received a particular classification. If we saw that SPR got an "R" or an "Extreme V" because of intense, graphic depiction of the death and destruction of WWII, including severed limbs, suffering wounded men dying, bloody gunshot wounds... etc., etc., it would at least help us understand why someone thought this film might be unsuitable for children of a certain age, but also understand the context. Then we could choose to let our kids see it or go see it ourselves first or just tell them they can not see it. Why do we have to fit this in a little 3/4 inch high box in the corner of a promo poster?

  • July 20, 1999, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Ian as gandalf?

    by Kingasaurus

    Sorry, but I just can't figure out how Ian McKellen is supposed to be in both X-Men AND LOTR. Both are shooting this fall, and he's already locked in as Magneto. Gandalf is a huge commitment of time. How is he supposed to accomplish appearing in major roles in both flicks? Somethings fishy about this one, I think. One word about Ian Holm as Bilbo --- YES!!!!! I hope it goes through. He's terrific. And Moriarty....where the heck is that script review? I'm perched at my keyboard in parched anticipation. Perhaps we could see it SOON? Do you enjoy driving us all bananas? Wait, don't answer that....

  • July 20, 1999, 8:46 a.m. CST


    by psm28

    Someone might have already said this, but couldn't the MPAA adopt a system similar to we have in England. We have the ratings U(equivalent to G in America), PG,12,15,18 where nobody under those ages is allowed in to the film. I can't really see the point of a 12 but the MPAA could use G, PG, PG-13, 15, 18.

  • July 20, 1999, 8:49 a.m. CST


    by TimTheEnchanter

    One more point, Maybe I've read things incorrectly, but didn't Bilbo stop aging when when he got the ring? Shouldn't he look like he is 50 hobbit-years? I've just started going through the books again, so I don't remember if he started aging again once he gave Frodo the ring. Maybe that explains it. Ian Holm is a very talented actor, but he's 68 or something like that. That is much older than I had expected. Can someone tell me if I am way off base?

  • July 20, 1999, 8:52 a.m. CST


    by JJ McClure

    "Only Gollum, the twisted character sucked dry by the ring's evil, will spring directly from the computer. "His performance has to be spectacular," said Jackson in a recent interview. "It has to be way beyond anything we have seen to date. The Gollum design is finished. I'd describe him as not too fishy or froggy, but we have taken great care to make him believable." Well, that's the ticket!

  • July 20, 1999, 8:57 a.m. CST

    More good news

    by JJ McClure

    The accents will all be English, a decision the director made before embarking on writing the scripts. "My preference is to use English accents as I think an American accent would be out of place in Middle Earth," he says. "If you are making Braveheart or Rob Roy then a basic aesthetic sense says an American accent is not appropriate. The Lord of the Rings is a classic English story." P.S. I don't know why I'm posting this here.

  • July 20, 1999, 9:10 a.m. CST

    Ian and the other Ian

    by busorama

    Ian Holm is the PERFECT choice for Bilbo. This keeps getting better and better. And according to Entertainment Weekly's Oscar preview issue (from March '99) Ian McKellan is 59 and Nick Nolte is 58, unless they've had birthdays since then.

  • July 20, 1999, 9:34 a.m. CST

    Ian Holm's age

    by Kaji

    So, what does a 50-year-old Hobbit look like? Ian Holm is delish. Kudos!

  • July 20, 1999, 9:41 a.m. CST

    LOTR Casting

    by Synner

    Ian McKellen.. ah now then, I made a post a while back about his suitability for the part of Saruman. He would be excellent I'm sure. Never quite saw him as Gandalf to be honest, but I'll be glad to have him in the film. Ian Holm as Bilbo is perfect. Kate Winslet as Eowyn? Not quite an ice maiden is she? more like a Goldberry. My Eowyn vote goes to Cate Blanchett. About Uma Thurman as Galadriel - not my first choice. I pictured someone kind of like Katheleen Turner (gold hair, neither young nor old and a voice deeper than a woman's wont).

  • July 20, 1999, 9:54 a.m. CST

    'scuse me , but

    by gunny

    t'aint the 'right-wingers' who caused this mess. Can anyone say 'Tipper 'n Al'?

  • July 20, 1999, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Re: Bilbo's Age

    by TimTheEnchanter

    Kaji: It's funny you should ask, but I happened to run into a 50 year old hobbit at the airport just last week. He looked exactly like a digitally reduced version of a jolly looking 40 year old man. I would have talked to him longer, but he said something about catching a flight to New Zealand. ;-) (Seriously, I just thought it's hard to explain getting from E.Wood (18) to I.Holm(68)if Frodo is supposed to be stuck at age 33 [coming-of-age] and Bilbo is stuck at age 50)

  • July 20, 1999, 10:16 a.m. CST

    State of Bliss

    by Alessan

    I have nothing to add, nothing to argue, nothibg to disagree. Ian Mckellen is perfection incarnated. Please make it so.

  • July 20, 1999, 10:52 a.m. CST

    mpaa ratings system

    by JohnMurdoch

    hey guys, i have been a long time reader and this is my first message i have sent. i think the idea for a new ratings system similar to that of the one they use on tv is a fantastic idea. but one thing keeps botherin me. with the current ratings system, you must be 13 to buy a "pg-13" ticket and 17 to buy an "r" ticket. how would you regulate who gets into which movie if you only label the content? i am only 15 years old, but my parents really dont care what i see because they think i am mature enough to handle the content for the most part. so they usually buy me my tickets to r-rated films. but what happens with this new rating system? can i buy the tickets myself? just thoughts off of the top of my head

  • July 20, 1999, 10:52 a.m. CST

    Valenti & The MPAA

    by Graybaby

    Call me Machiavellian, but try not to fret too much about Valenti's lasting influence on MPAA criteria. He's an old man, and won't live forever. The only question is will the person that succeeds him (by death, resignation, etc) take up Valenti's scope of rating film like the cause of a fallen martyr? Now that's scary. And for the record, I like Ebert's idea of a rating inbetween NC-17 and X. It's gotta work better than the current system. The challenge is making a socially recessed org like MPAA recognize the writing on the wall. Regards, CHV (

  • July 20, 1999, 11:13 a.m. CST

    A System That Has Failed Already (and why parents have already s

    by Better By Design

    A few years ago the software industry stepped back and realized they were about to have a ratings system shoved down their throats. Reacting wisely and quickly they created their own ratings system, a voluntary system that gives games an overall rating, but also provides specific descriptions of content (ie. NUDITY, VIOLENCE, GRAPHIC VILOENCE, CARTOON VIOLENCE, REALISTIC VIOLENCE, BLOOD, DISTURBING SITUATIONS, LANGUAGE, etc.) The result of this is that any parent or other game purchaser can pick up a game box and get a pretty good idea of whether playing this game means they are going to create a swearing killing machine out of their computer or not. Unfortunately, after the wake of all these tragedies come the lawsuits that are almost assuredly going to ruin several small game companies, and most likely further restrict (possibly through law) the way games are sold. Although I wonder at any parent who is worried about their kids playing violent games (don't they talk to them?) the system as it exists now provides far better warning to content than TV or film. And its under fire. So... in conclusion, nice idea. It's already failing in another industry. Artistic expression and our opportunity to watch movies is probably going to be restricted even more.

  • July 20, 1999, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Casting thoughts...

    by TolkienScholar

    Hmmm...Frodo looks 30ish. Wood is 18 has no english accent. Sound wrong to anyone? Astin around the right age but again the accent. Can he do the lower class english accent we all know goes with Sam? I doubt it. Ian Holm 68. Bilbo 52. Hmmm. Does that sound right? How many other people are thinking that this movie is talking a bad direction? I like the thought of Kate Blanchett for Eowyn. Kate Winslet must die. How bout Pita Wilson, the Femme Nikita for Eowyn? or even Galadriel? Has a bod but not too supermodelish.

  • July 20, 1999, 11:21 a.m. CST

    LOTR Other Roles

    by Dallan

    Well we still don't have an Arwen, an Eomer, Imrahil, Denethor, Saruman, Glorfindel (If he's in the script), Boromir, to name a few. Any info on these roles?

  • July 20, 1999, 11:22 a.m. CST


    by meat&2veg

    If the rating are going to be changed, then making them the same as TV ratings would be the best route. Let's have one ratings system for Film, TV and Video. Keep it plain and simple for all those people in power who think that the public keep getting dumber and dumber.

  • July 20, 1999, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Repeat after me...R-17 and A are the way...R-17 and A are the wa


    Moriarty - EXCELLENT idea with re-rating all the directors cut with the new rating! Fantastic political manuevering! Since WARNER BROS. dropped the biggest ball yet to legitimize NC-17 by not putting out the highly prestigous, highly regarded E.W.S. uncut, we need a new plan fast! Like I said before, about the mindless, censoring masses of bible thumpers and lazy parents who rallied against NC-17, familiarity brings a feeling of safety! Therefore, that's why I insist that an R-17 is the way to go. This could actually work. Eliminate NC-17 and announce it as a failure. THEN introduce TWO new ratings, R-17 and A ratings. Re-rate all these established borderline director's cuts R-17 and put the big push on. Great idea man! Help us Obi-R-17! You're our only hope!

  • July 20, 1999, 11:39 a.m. CST

    ratings 2

    by meat&2veg

    Here are some problems that I see preventing any decent solving of this situation. The people who will decide, will base everything on who THEY think are the stupidiest people in the country. The population, for the most part, won't care until something goes wrong, whether it be a semi-pornographic film or a violent act that was inspired by a film/TV/video. Do we have to allow for all the parents who do not talk to their kids and do their thinking for them. Because they won't do it (they are usually too busy assessing their stock options). You are also going to run into the argument that a V for violence rating will put off parents, but attract youngsters. Many years ago, in the United Kingdom, Channel Four had a rating system using different colored shapes in the corner of the screen. People would tune in, check to see if there was violence or nudity and then decide whether to watch it or not. You are NEVER going to produce anything that actually works. You may have something that some of the people will be happy with some of the time. But that's the most we can hope for.

  • July 20, 1999, 11:41 a.m. CST


    by gary2012

    Give me a break!! Will smith as Ali? Christ this film is done. Will Smith is nothing but a Hollywood crapfest star, and no matter how much he wants to be Ali there is no way he could properly portray the man. Watch "When We Were Kings" and then tell me that you can picture getting the same feelings from Will Smith. Man I think that I am seriously losing interest in movies when people like Will Smith are being treated like respectable thespians. And please NO UMA THURMAN IN LOTW!! At least not as an Elve. Maybe an Orc or something but she does not have the otherworldly beauty of an Elve. Otherwordly yes, but definately not BEAUTY.

  • July 20, 1999, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Ian Holm! YEEEES! God, please make this happen!

    by Drath

    These LOTR rumors are spoiling me, first my ideal for Frodo, Elijah Wood, is cast and now Ian Holm might be in too. Please, Ian take the role, you will be so great in these movies! And hey, another Ian might be Gandolf! McKellan is getting around now, first he's Magneto, now he could be Gandolf. Overload, pleasure overload...can't...contain...excitement!

  • July 20, 1999, 12:02 p.m. CST

    If NC-17 isn't working, use RR as the new rating.

    by Darth Siskel

    I agree 'A' is a terrible rating, & would be totally associated with porn. I suggest a modified R rating for movies deemed too adult. Like 'RR' or 'R+' or 'R2'. I still think if the studios would release some big pictures like Starship Troopers, or Eyes Wide Shut with an NC-17, the rating would gain support from theatres currently behaving like Nazis. The whole thing makes me sick. You can't see an R movie unless you're 17 anyway so what is the goddamn point!?

  • July 20, 1999, 12:09 p.m. CST

    Will Smith

    by Dallan

    Poet, Smith is a solid actor. The fact that he has not shown it since "Six Degrees" is I think the only problem with his career thus far. He has the talent to pull off Ali, but I strongly doubt if he can pull off Ali's physical prescence. He's got the talent. He's got the Mouth. But he doesn't have the stature. Sonnefield directing makes me worry too.

  • July 20, 1999, 12:11 p.m. CST

    MPAA (Thought Police)

    by dogcow

    I bet in the next few years we'll start to see "This movie has been rated Doubleplus-Ungood by the MPAA." (a la 1984 for you who haven't read it)

  • July 20, 1999, 12:23 p.m. CST

    James Woods as Mason

    by Zadig

    What is this ? While reading Hannibal I kept hearing James Woods' voice as KRENDLER. There must be some mistake. Woods IS Krendler - half-man, half-hyena.

  • July 20, 1999, 1:14 p.m. CST

    I'd object to A for a different reason...

    by jeffv'd be damn confusing for us Canadians. :-) (Here, A is the step *below* R, not above.) Seriously, there is a lesson the MPAA could take away from this: the way to avoid a stigma to a new rating is to insert a rating *below*, not above. I'm not talking another PG-13, but rather this: Current R -> becomes new rating, fuzzy R/NC-17 area -> becomes new R. It's not as confusing as it sounds. What R means has been getting more liberal over the years, but it has reached an impasse. By placing a rating to hold the line where the MPAA has R right now, R itself could catch up to where it should've been by now.

  • July 20, 1999, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Good even, Moriarty.

    by Sherlock Holmes

    Up to no good again, eh Professor? Someone is going to have to put an end to your machinations, and I intend to be he. Watch you step, Moriarty, for the game is afoot.

  • July 20, 1999, 1:39 p.m. CST

    As per my previous post on Harry's idea

    by Revelare

    Is it just me not understanding this, or are "R" and "NC-17" the same rating? "R" means "Restricted viewing for children under the age of 17", and "NC-17" means "No children under the age of 17 admitted". So, it seems that the two ratings are exactly the same, only one has our personal views on what's "more adult" in nature. A film with either rating won't allow entry to anyone under 17 without their parent(s) accompanying them, yes? So, what is the frappin point to having them both? Maybe someone can explain this.

  • July 20, 1999, 1:59 p.m. CST

    Cili Rabbit, Tricks are for NC17 movies

    by TimTheEnchanter

    If a movie is NC17, and you are under 17, you can't get in no matter how many adults you have with you. Since kids represent a huge portion of the movie-going audience, theaters just wont show NC17's because it is economic suicide for a movie (and some are prohibited by so-called 'decency' laws, which consider it 'adult entertainment').

  • July 20, 1999, 2:02 p.m. CST

    Choice in Movies...not likely

    by GodBear

    All the suggestions in the world aren't going to change anything. Sure, we all think that giving parents the ability to judge movies for themselves by having a more descriptive rating system would be perfect. But the fact is the whole reason the system is in place is to take these choices out of your hands in the first place. The powers that be don't want you to make these decisions for themselves because they have already decided what is bad or good and what degree of badness or goodness we should be seeing. And it's not just politicians and MPAA goons. There are way too many citizens in this country who aren't concerned about what their families are going to be exposed to, but to what the rest of us are being exposed to. Think about it. Everytime people go all out and scream bloody murder about some new book, movie, CD, game, etc., these are the same people who usually keep an iron grip over what their own kids see. So why are they making such a big deal? They aren't worried about their own kids but how other people are raising theirs. Because they also believe that the rest of America need to be guided and sheltered like their own families and that's why this system will be hard to change. Just the existence of giving people a choice in what they allow their children to see will enough to start a backlash. It's not just Washington that wants to censor your life. Washington gets elected. Your friends and neighbors believe they should have that power.

  • July 20, 1999, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Take a hint from Canada on your ratings

    by Shrubbs

    Up here we've got a nice, working rating system. G PG Adult Accompaniment (AA, had been just A for YEARS, but got changed a few years back), if under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. R If under 18, no admittence(supposedly). I've heard of people claiming that you're allowed in if accompanied by a parent, but that's never been confirmed. There's another rating for porn, but I don't frequent those types of theatres (I don't even know of one in town) so I'm not sure on the name of that rating, but I know it exists.

  • July 20, 1999, 2:25 p.m. CST


    by naughtymonkey

    To answer someone's question, the current difference between R and NC-17 is that anyone can go to an R if accompanied by a parent or guardian, whereas those under 17 could not get into an NC-17 even if accompanied by an army of guardians. All else I'll say on the subject is that EWS should have been NC-17, with or without the digital people. For one thing, it was very adult as it was. For another, the rating would have prepared audiences better for what they were to see. The movie did very well this weekend, but from what I heard on my way out of the theater, many of those who went had NOT spent the hours I did reading reviews on the internet, and had zero idea what to expect. I wholeheartedly agree that ratings should be more reflective of the content of the film.

  • July 20, 1999, 3:46 p.m. CST

    M instead of A

    by darken

    Why not use the letter "M" instead of "A"? 'M' for mature makes more sense for serious films that push limits and boundaries. You could call pornos "adult movies" but you probably wouldn't refer to them as "mature movies."

  • July 20, 1999, 4:35 p.m. CST


    by dlj

    M was one of the original ratings. It was dropped for the PG rating. I remember because, at age 13 or so, I and a friend were refused entrance to MASH when it was a NEW movie. I think the best idea for parents would be to do like the aformentioned web sites and be specific about what scenes are questionable and then leave it up to the parents.

  • My God, I can't believe it!! Ian Holm as Bilbo is my dream casting. Its too good to be true. Please check out the BBC Radio Adaptation - it comes in a box of umpteen cds/tapes and runs at something like 20 hours, and is the best audio drama I've ever heard. I was transfixed as a young kid by the series when it was first broadcast in the early '80s, and its really matured well with age. As has already been mentioned Ian H plays Frodo, and is quite sublime. Two other unmissable aspects of the adaptation. The first is the music. I guarantee that once heard, you will forever associate with LOTR. Spine tingling stuff. The composer esacpes me, (there are also touching settings of the hobbit's songs etc. It sounds corny I know, but trust me, it really works). Secondly - and I think most importantly to Pete Jackson - is Peter Woodthorpe as Gollum. Just listen and you will understand when I say that I can't see anyone else doing that role justice. If Gollum is to be CGI, I can think of no reason why Peter couldn't be approached to reprise a role that in my mind he made his own, (assuming he is still with us!!) Just check out the BBC LOTR. You'll love it. Really. Graham =======

  • July 20, 1999, 4:37 p.m. CST

    Tolkien Scholar - The Debate Begins

    by Goodgulf

    At this point, I'm not certain what the Hobbits should look like agewise as compared to men, but there are some internal hints in the book that lead me to believe that they look younger. In other words a Hobbit at 33 would look more boyish than a man of 33. The reason I've taken this stance is because of the remark in the book that the Hobbits were often mistaken for boys. Could it be merely height? I think not. I've seen many modern dwarves and midgets, and have never confused one of the "little people" for a child. Now, I realize that what I've seen in real life does not necessarily equate to what Tolkien had in mind regarding the Hobbits. But why has this debate started at all? Have the fans (perhaps more) think that Frodo should appear to be late teens/early twenties. Others feel he should look more thirtyish. How can we all read the same book and come away with such disparate opinions? Is it possible that Tolkien didn't describe their appearance? Other than in general terms, Tolkien didn't really make specific mention of their appearance. Just like he didn't mention that Bilbo wore boots that he got in Rivendell, and all this time I thought Bilbo had gone barefoot all the way to the Lonely Mountain. How did I know Bilbo wore boots? It's in a picture that Tolkien painted. So if I had argued that Bilbo never wore shoes, I'd be wrong. But not becuase of not reading the book carefully. It AIN'T in the book. But if the final arbitor is the author, then his pictures should convey the facts. Now, as to facts. Are we (me too!) arguing from facts, or merely from preconceived notions, allowing our minds to fill in the many blanks that Tolkien left in the story. Exactly how many years younger is Sam than Frodo? 12 years younger. When Frodo and his friends leave the Shire, he is 50 and Sam is 38. Due to the effect of the Ring Frodo still looks to be in his 30's. So Sam and Frodo will now appear to be near the same age. Merry is 36 and Pippin is 28. So, if Frodo got the Ring at age 33, he should appear younger than Merry and Sam. For all intents and purposes all four Hobbits should appear to be fairly close in age to each other. So how can we argue that Merry and Pippin should look "young", but not Frodo? Certainly we can expect Frodo to "act" older - because he is. In that sense I can understand the casting of Elijah Wood for the part. His acting (which critics seem to find exceptional), will have to overcome his youthful looks and make us see the older, burdened man underneath. We can only hope that he is able to pull it off. As for accents, I haven't heard Wood do any accents, but I understand he did the stage version of Oliver Twist. He played the Artful Dodger. The part requires an accent, and I haven't heard anyone say he did a bad job. So there is HOPE for those of you who insist on English accents. I used to say British accents until I realized that included Ireland, Scotland and Wales and Welsh English probably wouldn't do. That's sorry I am, but true. Scottish won't do. We'd end up with Frodo MacBaggins and I dinna think that'd do. And Irish, well I dearly love the lilt of the Irish accent, but... So England English it is. Of course once the film is dubbed into French it will all be ruined. How could the French possibly enjoy the film with every one speaking with a French accent? Won't they miss the grandeur and beauty of Tolkien's writng? I guess they shouldn't even bother to go see the film. And that goes double for the Germans. And Heaven forbid they dub the film into Japanese or Italian. Nope. The purity of Tolkien's work demands that only English language versions be distributed so that ALL may appreciate the English accent. Understand it? Did I hear some one say they can't understand English? Poor imbecile. Too bad Tolkien wasn't born your country. Then you too could be privvy to the joys of hearing the film in English and even understanding it. But alas, you'll never fully understand or appreciate the book or the film since it was only meant for English ears. And yes, I'm poking a bit of fun at a few of the "purists", not at any country or language group. I hate having to write that last statement. It's the equivelant of putting "ha ha" after a funny remark in a letter to a friend. But as sure as the sun shines, if I didn't tell some of you I was trying to be humorous, you'd have me flamed all over this board or worse. Sort of like the bigots who took Archie Bunker seriously on All In The Family instead of laughing with the rest of us.

  • July 20, 1999, 5:03 p.m. CST

    Canadian ratings

    by MatrixOracle

    The Canadian ratings system is G/PG/AA-14/R. In this case, G and PG are the same as the American system. AA-14 is "adult accompaniment required under age 14" and R is ditto, but for age 18. In theory, this might be better than the US system, but here, movies that are R in the US are AA-14 here, like "South Park". If parents in the States were upset over 17 year-olds being able to get into "South Park" when it was rated R, they'd go nuts if 14 year-olds were able to, like they were in Canada. Because of this, I don't think the system would fly in the US. It's rare that a movie is rated R here, only movies specifically intended for adults. recent examples being "Eyes Wide Shut" and "8MM". Interestingly, "The General's Daughter" was AA-14, even though it contained full-frontal nudity. I guess Canadian audiences are more mature than Americans, so we can handle these movies without going insane and killing a ton of people :)

  • July 20, 1999, 6:19 p.m. CST


    by Goodgulf

    As a result of the hubbub over the shootings in various high schools, the MPAA and the Entertainment Industry is under the microscope of Congress and U.S. society. We can argue whether or not this should so, but thems the facts, like'm or not. I feel as though we're all being punished (or about to be) for the actions of a demented few. If there is a causal relationship between violence in the media and violence in society, then we certainly should entertain the idea at least of toning it down. But there are too many people who grew up on "violent" entertainment who do not become sociopaths or act out their aggressions by murdering their classmates. So then, are we to make all entertainment so bland and devoid of violent content just in the hope that some psychotic individual won't go over the edge? And what of the Lord of the Rings with its battles and orc heads being lopped off? Will it too succumb to the axe of censorship so as not to offend? Will the bloody knife in MacBeth be spoken of only off screen? Will To Hell and Back become To Heck And Back? Will the whole damn business become Disneyfied? I like Disney films, but there are more adult themes that I like to see from time to time. I don't necessarily have to see the sex act (Seen one-seen'em all), but I think what all of us are against is having some small group of people deciding what we can see and can't see. What's next? Books? Well frankly my dear, I don't give a darn.

  • July 20, 1999, 6:49 p.m. CST

    Gettin' Jiggy with Ali

    by Bull God

    So Will Smith is gonna play Ali. Huh. So, what's the over/under on him doing a hip hop song for this one? I wonder if they'll find some way to give Ali some sort of futuristic gizmo where he'll be able to go shrink his opponent or some other dumbass thing like that. Hell, maybe they'll give Will some sort of lazer beam or something that will reverse the affects of Parkinson's. And no, that's no a mockery of Ali's condition, which is tragic. Instead it's a mockery of the complete bufoonery of this idea. Just because he's a big star doesn't mean he's right for the role. He just bares no resemblance to Ali whatsoever. It'd be like casting Jim Carrey in a Dick Butkus Bio. And who in the hell thought it'd be a good idea to give this one to Sonnenfeld? I'd watch the movie only if at the end, the real Ali would beat the piss out of "Pretty Boy" Smith, and drag Sonnenfeld onscreen for an encore ass whippin'. Now that'd be a movie!

  • July 20, 1999, 6:57 p.m. CST

    Had me goin' for a sec

    by CaptFos135

    You had me going for a second, about Macaulay Caulkin dying. For a second, I thought it was true. Then, I stopped skimming and read. At least he can go against Leo DiCaprio or the like on "Celebrity Deathmatch" without any complications. Fascinating. Kudos to you guys on the nice site. This is my first time at this site, and it's pretty cool. Great job! Yet another satisfied customer.

  • July 20, 1999, 7:20 p.m. CST

    Synner I agree Cate Blanchett would make a superb Eowyn!!!

    by Mirror White

    I also would love to see Joseph Fiennes as Faramir! He would be perfect! Ethan Hawke would be pretty good in that role. But I can't see Uma Thurman as Galadriel I would prefer to see Emma Thompson, Loreena McKennit, or possibly a few others in that role. And I HOPE they don't cut the parts of the sons of Elrond!!! I mean sure, they mayn't have many lines but Elladan and Elrohir are too cool for words (pun intended!)

  • July 20, 1999, 7:24 p.m. CST

    Goodgulf, MPAA, & The LOTR

    by Mirror White

    I have your answer. Peter Jackson is planning on filming very detailed battle sequences which will be excised from the movie version (at least from the American release) but will then be put back into the video and DVD versions. Thats the plan. I only hope he also shoots some music and poetry scenes and does the same with them! :)

  • July 20, 1999, 7:57 p.m. CST

    Tony Hopkins shouldn't play Lecter

    by EyeintheSky

    In Hannibal, Lecter has a new face a la plastic surgery. It makes no sense for Hopkins to play him in this movie. Get someone else--someone leaner and meaner-- and then dub Tony's voice in!

  • July 20, 1999, 8:04 p.m. CST

    No Uma Thurman in LOTR

    by Melarkee

    Hope this rumor is totally wrong - Uma Thurman is not right for any role in the Lord of the Rings - well, maybe Old Man Willow....

  • July 20, 1999, 8:17 p.m. CST

    An "A" rating wouldn't work

    by marsyas

    The problem with the rating system isn't that we don't have enough classifications, it's that we already have too many. Essentially, R means "this movie is for adults". NC-17 means "this movie is for adults, and we really mean it". What would an "in-between" rating possibly mean? The core problem with the rating system is that NC-17 is so seldom needed that theaters can afford to refuse to show these films. Therefore, I propose that the MPAA eliminate NC-17 altogether, make R a little bit tougher, and change PG-13 to PG-15. Softer R films would go into the PG-15 category, and harder ones would be lumped together with the NC-17 films in the new R category. The theaters would be forced to show all R rated films because there would be too many of them to ignore.

  • July 21, 1999, 1:59 a.m. CST

    It's not about ratings, it's about content of the films.

    by Vikram_Vampire

    All of these ideas seem to be ridiculously complex and hence hard to implement. I believe that the issue isn't what the ratings are, it's what the films content is. What I mean to say is that the ratings should simply be applied to the film AS IT IS. I firmly believe that censorship of media is wrong. (obviously there will always be extreme cases where it is justified) Here in the UK we simply have a PG rating, a (little used) 12 rating, a 15 and an 18. As you are no doubt all aware, you are not allowed into a film over here unless you are over the correct age, even accompanied by a parent. While i'm not saying that this is right, it does allow for films to be released with the BBFC (our film classification body)to simply say - "that film is for over 18s - release it as such" knowing that a majority of people that see it will be over or near to this age. This doesn't obviously work for videos, but I digress. My main point is simply that, if the US had a strict approach to allowing people in to 'more adult' films like in the UK, maybe there wouldn't be so much hassle with censorship of movies in order to gain a lower certificate. People in the UK don't think anything of an 18 certificate, and the cimemas aren't frightened of them. I reckon this would also curb a lot of the media hype around films causing violence. It would be hard to implement, obviously, since everyone at the moment is so used to the current system and would reject changes that restricted people from taking their kids to nc-17 films. What are your thoughts on this?

  • July 21, 1999, 12:54 p.m. CST

    Mirror White: I agree on Fiennes!

    by Synner

    Yes he would an excellent Faramir. My other choices (as I have mentioned before I think!) GANDALF - Max Von Synow; SARUMAN - Ian McKellen; ARAGORN - Daniel Day Lewis; ARWEN - Jennifer Connely; DENETHOR - Charlton Heston; THEODEN - Oliver Ford Davis; BOROMIR - Adrian Paul; GRIMA - Tim Spall; and what do you think about Joseph Gordon-Levitt as MERRY (controversial)?

  • July 21, 1999, 2:42 p.m. CST

    The MPAA is about to collapse

    by EL Duderino

    I have never remembered a time when so many people have lashed out against the MPAA. With more harsh films coming out that constantly push the border of a rating, it will only be a matter of time before the entire ratings system will have to be completely changed. I personally think they should get rid of the NC-17 rating. If a movie is as bad as a pornography, then it should be labeled as "pornography". Summer of Sam, despite the amount of sex in it, could not be labeled this because there was no incredibly gratuitous sex material that was simply for giving you a hard on. Movies are art too, and if their not used for getting a hard on, then they should just remain R.

  • July 21, 1999, 3:43 p.m. CST

    Hannibal Casting

    by Steve-o

    Is it just me or did Harris write in the Lector face-lift as a way of excusing Hopkins? Also, is it way obvious he's setting up a sequel? Or is he really expecting us to believe that Clarice is Lector's willing tool (drugs and brainwashing aside)? And as I was reading the book, all I could think of was "Jeremy Irons is slim and in shape; Jeremy Irons is slightly weird ("My good man, you have NO idea..."); Jeremy Irons can be preternaturally graceful; Jeremy Irons could probably kill you with an amused half-smile on his face. And as far as age goes, he's been lifted and tucked, right? And Woods as Krendler? Talk about type-casting. Perfect Type-Casting!

  • July 21, 1999, 9:50 p.m. CST

    Scrap NC-17

    by StridingEdge

    Vikram is right. Although we live in the UK with the most oppressive censorship known to man (if you think the MPAA is bad, the scissor-happy vandals at the BBFC (the British Board of Film Classification) are much worse - the only people capable of finding scenes to cut out of children's films such as Muppet Treasure Island), at least we seem to have our rating system right. Surely the solution for the U.S. should be to scrap NC-17, keep the X rating for Adult films and change the R rating to exclude all those under 17 (even the content of most current R films seems unsuitable for those under 17). Changing the PG-13 rating to a PG-15 seems a good idea as well as a means of rating stronger PG-13 films and borderline R films. At least we will get to see the version of Eyes Wide Shut as Kubrick intended and not the stupid "Austin Powers" version.

  • July 21, 1999, 10:37 p.m. CST


    by Eisner II

    Does anyone know if Ali himself is associated with this project in any way or has at least given it his blessing? As for Smith, we will see what he can do, I think he might be able to pull it off;however,it can't be denied that he doesn't really look like Ali but I don't know of any big names that do...maybe that's why a no-name makes the most sense. Either way, I think Ving Rhames should play Don King because he was great in that HBO flick.

  • July 22, 1999, 1:19 a.m. CST

    LOTR and MPAA

    by no_mince

    Ian Holm as Bilbo, that's pretty cool if it's who I think it is, Bishop from alien, right? As to Ian McKellen, I feel compelled to agree with the current wisom and suggest he be reassigned to Sauron. But speaking of ratings, here in New Zealand we have a compulsory system approved by someone whose official title is 'Chief Censor' and has the power to ban or cut films. This does happen very rarely thoughg, and almost exclusively to porn flicks. Now, when I was a lad we had a relatively straightforward system, G, GY(recomended for 13+) GA(recomended for adults) RP13(<13 with adult) R13 RP16(<16 with adult) R16 R18.This was great as it warned parents that a film might not be good for the child without preventing them from seeing it if that was their wish. I think Batman was GA for the purposes of comparison. However in 1993 they redesigned the system to make it more 'compatible' with video and foreign rating systems. Now we have G, PG, M, R16, R18 except no-one semms to know when a film should be M and the same film is occaisionally M and R16, or M and PG at different theatres. Thankfully R18, while being the rating also given to porn films, doesn't seem to have the Kiss of death that NC-17 seems to have in your neck of the woods. In fact it just seems to encourage the sale of fake Ids (hee hee. As I recall, Pulp Fiction was R18 and cleaned up nicely at the box office. The only time there has ever really been any fuss in the last few years was when (believe it or not) a principal discovered his students had seen Romper Stomper(R18) and alerted the media. Yes, folks, South Park does reflect real life.

  • July 22, 1999, 8:45 a.m. CST

    Hannibal Casting

    by Zadig

    What I most remember from SOTL was Hopkins' voice and eyes. I can't imagine Lecter not having Hopkins' voice. Make-up could alter his appearance. The essential ingredient that kept Lecter from becoming just one more bogeyman was that he came to have compassion for Clarice. Hopkins' has a "soulfulness" that Irons for example lacks. If the actor playing the part can't convey Lecter's empathy with Clarice, Harris' ending won't work. Clarice seems to be a bigger problem. In "Hannibal" Harris makes a big plot point (Krendler) out of macho colleagues' hitting on her and hating her when she brushes them off. Her looks become much more important to the story than they were in SOTL. Foster doesn't really generate enough heat to make Krendler's frustration seem well motivated. Clarice isn't the devil's candy, but she does need to be much more sensual than the somewhat androgynous character of SOTL.

  • July 22, 1999, 3:24 p.m. CST

    Don't read this "Hannibal" Spoiler

    by Steve-o

    Hannibal Lector has compassion for Clarice? He drugs her, brainwashes her, feeds her a man's living BRAIN (no matter how hateful that person is)and he has compassion!?! Whoa, dude, where'd YOU go to Sunday School? All kidding aside, I think the whole point to Lector is we WANT to like him, we project human emotion onto him, but "the experts" in the novel point out again and again he has no connection to what we call "human". Just like vampires; we want to like them, we want to be powerful like they are, but they would eat us for breakfast in a heartbeat (unless we amused them). I've read critics saying that Harris softens Lector with that whole sister business, but even there Lector's dearest wish is that his sister will erase Clarice, subsume her existence. And I think you're selling Irons short.

  • July 23, 1999, 3:10 a.m. CST

    A Long Spoon

    by Zadig

    Steve-o claims : And I think you're selling Irons short. Dear Jeremy, The career has been in a slump lately, hasn't it ? And campaigning for a part over the Internet is cheaper than an ad in Variety, but.. SPOILER My interpretation is at odds with yours. Re-read "A Long Spoon" without endowing Lecter with total knowledge about his own actions. He is not the narrator and the supposedly "omniscient" narrator (whose interpretation becomes noticeably unreliable) knows - judging by the ending - less (as does Lecter) about what's actually going on than Clarice does. Her thoughts have been "hidden" from the reader, or have they ? The narrator doesn't know what's going through her mind (like he pretends to know what's going through Lecter's), but doesn't the reader? Don't take everything at face value : who is the character who proposes and who disposes ? Clarice knocks the cup on the floor and shatters it. She doesn't look at it. Lecter does. Is Lecter's obsession with the sister-Clarice thing to be taken literally or is that an excuse he makes to himself to justify something else he finds too disturbing to admit (so he won't have "informed" the "omniscient" narrator) but Clarice instinctively knows - and we know he doesn't find murder disturbing ? What did he really feel about the sister, what does he really feel about Clarice - is he being honest with himself ? Hmmmmm....... ?

  • July 23, 1999, 11:01 a.m. CST

    To Zadig

    by Steve-o

    I'd probably agree with you if I thought that Harris was a more clever author, or if he was writing for a more clever audience. I don't think he's anywhere near as clever as you do. I do think he's entertaining. I also think he's heading the way of Michael Crichton, pandering to the (potential) movie script version. I think the whole sister thing was aas big a mistake as "midi-chlorians" or the added first chapter of "The Stand". I also meant to say in my last message that you're selling Foster short as well. I can think of at least one madman who would disagree with you as well (although certainly no-one in Lector's phylum).

  • July 24, 1999, 3:45 a.m. CST


    by Zadig

    Being a reader of neither King nor Crichton, I can't judge. I think you're making a presumption about Harris' audience. I think, after the success of the film, a great number of people assumed they were Harris fans, without actually appreciating his work. Fran

  • July 26, 1999, 11:27 p.m. CST

    Ethan Hawke is the greatest man on Earth!

    by Browne

    He's my biggest rolemodel! A true artist of our generation. I mean, just look-Dead Poets Society, A Midnight Clear, Gattaca, Great Expectations, Alive, Reality Bites. Ethan Hawke has done so many wonderful films. I have 2 pages on him.

  • Aug. 15, 2006, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Is his lab at Los Alamos?

    by Wolfpack

  • Oct. 1, 2011, 8:05 p.m. CST

    Ah, Mori, you will be missed

    by orcus