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Ang Lee's Lust, Caution Gets an NC-17 Rating and Focus Keeps It!

by
August 23, 2007
Source: Variety

Have we reached a new revolution in Hollywood?! Ever since 1990 when the NC-17 rating was first created by the MPAA, no major theater chain (big or small) has ever played an NC-17 film. There are a few exceptions, like This Film Is Not Yet Rated last year, but for the most part NC-17 films are looked down upon. Ang Lee's (Sense and Sensibility, The Hulk, Brokeback Mountain) new film, titled Lust, Caution in English, just received an NC-17 rating but Focus Features, the distributor, has decided to accept it and still release it!

Based on Eileen Change's short story about a shy Chinese drama student drawn into an assassination plot against a Japanese collaborator during WWII, the Chinese-language film stars Tony Leung and newcomer Tang Wei. It was rated NC-17 for its sexually explicitly content. Focus Features CEO James Schamus, who co-wrote the film, commented on their decision.

"As with so many of his previous films, Oscar-winning director Ang Lee has crafted a masterpiece about and for grown-ups," Schamus said.

Typically when a film receives an NC-17 rating, the studio and filmmakers re-edit it to remove what the MPAA suggests and fight for an R rating. This time around Focus Features has decided to just leave it as is and release it. Most studios look at it as a risk to not get an R rating because no theater chains will play it and apparently newspaper are not even allowed to advertise it. This decision, however, I believe is brilliant and the first [giant] step towards a new revolution in Hollywood.

The film hits limited theaters on September 28th and expands on October 5th. It will probably only play in small indie chains, like Landmarks.

I'm incredibly impressed with this decision and Focus Features, they're pulling one of the bravest maneuvers in Hollywood. In this industry the movie theater corporations usually have the most power and always dictate certain decisions (like ratings). For once a studio is standing up against the chains and doing what they want. This is the type of thing that I hope will really make an impact, as long as the film performs fairly well. Bravo Focus Features - now everyone go out and see Lust, Caution!

Lust, Caution

[tags]Lust Caution[/tags]

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  • Andrew
    the MPAA is a stupid, stupid organisation
  • Nate
    I don't really agree with much about the MPAA myself. It helps a lot of people sleep at night, doesn't really effect avid movie-goers. I knew eventually this would happen. Maybe Saw IV will keep theirs now. For the record, when you are calling an ORGANIZATION stupid, try and spell the word correctly.
  • Ryan
    Seriously, when was the last time that you said 'MAN I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS MOVIE GOT AN R RATING'! NEVER! And I'm sure if you want to see an R movie than you'll find a way. I sneaked into R movies dozens of times and I'm sure most of you can say the same. However for Focus to keep the NC-17 I don't think they have much hope for Lust, Caution come awards time, no way the Academy esp. embracing an NC-17 flick.
  • Bravo !!! been a long time since someone had the balls to put the decision bback in the hands of those of us that pay to see good films. If Ang Lee felt that these "questionable" scenes are needed to tell the story or develope the character....then I, for 1 will be in line to see his great work once again !! and to answer Ryan- good filmakers do not make films purely for an award- the work is its own reward most times...and as far as acolades go- - Last Tango in Paris and Clockwork Orange did ok in a much more puritanical accademy !!
  • Kristen
    I think the MPAA has made a serious mistake by labeling "Lust, Caution" as NC-17. The listed reasons include sexually explicit scenes and language but where were those ratings for sexually explicit movies such as American Pie? The whole focus of American Pie, and movies like it, is teenage boys finding sex. I mean, they even had a character nicknamed "Stiffler". They had similarly graphic scenes with a man going down on a woman and several scenes about masturbation. But where was the NC-17 rating on that one? They have just as much, if not more, sexually explicit language and it is used in a much less mature manner. But that is perfectly acceptable to show to a younger audience? I believe that there are two serious differences between the "comedy" genre and "drama" one that caused the MPAA to label it as NC-17 versus R. The comedy genre treats sex as a goal for young teens whereas the dramas tend to treat sex both more realistically and maturely. In SuperBad, for instance, the two main characters spend the entire movie trying to get some ass. For them, they don't care who it's from unless they're hot. But in movies like "Lust, Caution", the characters have passionate, real sex. Sex is treated as a means for love, lust, espionage, etc... but that is real life. Furthermore, the MPAA lists horror genre movies as R even through their graphic violence is absolutely nauseating. The message that this sends to children is that sex is completely wrong but torture, murder, and other graphic violence is acceptable.
  • Manuel
    The MPAA serves a useful role. Maybe they could carry it out better, but I'm glad someone is doing the dirty job. Envelope pushing has become the sugar, or, MSG, if you will, of the entertainment business. Maybe it's time they give that envelope a rest. It has gone over the edge often enough already. How about pulling the envelope, for a change?
  • Jan
    At long last, there's one great Director willing to show the world that clever cute little vixens do exist in real life! Oh yes, there are clever little vixens, in real life, with guts, passion and intelligence to make macho and powerful men their puppets to destroy marriages, families and even governments - remember the Profuma Affair in Britain that brought down the Harold MacMillain government? And my salute to Focus Pictures for standing strong with Ang Lee to bring his film to movie buffs without ruining Ang's film and vision. Besides, who are those at MPAA to think that they have the creative brilliance and brains to distort and mutilate any artistic piece of work? It's about time American film buffs stop getting brainwashed that sex is like what we see in over-the-board silly flicks, like Superbad (probably its Writers/Director don't even understand the real meaning of passionate sex for they very likely never experienced one!), in which the macho idiots and their prey jump in and out in like those rape scenarios we get to hear in rape cases, not unlike trains gushing in and out of tunnels. Men seeking extra sexual gratification outside their marriages is as old as early history. Think the likes of L.A. Madame Heidi Fleiss and DC Madame, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, could have such protable business if all the naive wives and chiildren of dirty old men stop being influenced by films to believe the illusions tof males merely craving for sex to just sink in and out of any darn ass??? Seems as if these silly high-school/college-themed sex comedies have tendancy to base their characters on the mental psychology of rapists and pedophiles, rather than on norm male behaviors and desires. Sadly, members of the MPAA, too, seem to applaud to such fantasies. Maybe, that's why so many broken marriages in this nation, with so many mistaking crude and abusive sex as being the norm - as seen in so many warped comedies that pumped up box-office profits for so many studios whose CEOs are probably enjoying extramarital sexual relationships! Perhaps, governments, looking to be alerted to the type of games female spies do play, as even the title "Last, Caution" of Ang Lee's movie does subtly suggest, could even use this film to put their nations' intelligence on alert! And it is my guess that Ang Lee's movie will probably insinuate that women who play love-games with married men often come off as losers, too. Whatsoever this film brings to the screen is what I'd be ever so anxious to find out. I've seen the trailer on numerous occasions and can't rid my mind of its amazing artistic appeal - the sort I'd expect from a solid and brilliant film-director who understands and has the proven experience in building genuine artistic qualities and craft of filmmaking into his films! Yes, this film is on my top list to see and I'm already tempted to fly to see it at the Toronto Film Festival even before its release at the US theaters.
  • Mark C
    No newspaper is "not allowed to advertise" NC-17 movies. You really should look up something called the First Amendment at some point. Ridiculous. Some (mostly in redneck backwater states) have their own policies against it. And what' this "none has ever..." and "there have been exceptions" stuff? Either none have ever or there have been exceptions.

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