Thursday, December 30, 2021

Movie Ratings

The other day I watched a movie (Paint Your Wagon) that was rated "GP." No, that's not a typo, it was rated GP. And that got me thinking about how movie ratings have changed over the years.

It used to be that movies weren't rated. All movies released in the US has to meet the Motion Picture Production Code (the "Hays Code") that was put into place in 1930. This lasted until 1968!

Jack Valenti became the president of the Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA) in 1966. He thought the Hays Code reeked of censorship and didn't serve modern movies. So the MPAA came up with its ratings system. It started out as:

G: General Audiences

M: Suggested for mature audiences - Parental discretion advised

R: Restricted – Persons under 16 not admitted, unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian. (That was later raised to 17)

X: Persons under 16 not admitted (that was later raised to 18).

The MPAA didn't copyright the "X" rating and the porn industry took it over. And what's better than one X but three, so "XXX" became synonymous with porn. And putting out an X-rated film was box office death.

I watched another movie (Hellfighters) recently that was made in 1968. It was rated "G" but had enough violence these days it would have been rated "PG" at least. But that was early in the rating system and likely they didn't want to rate it "M."

In 1970, "M" was change to GP (General Audiences/parental guidance suggested).

In 1972, GP was change to PG (Parental Guidance suggested)

This system lasted until 1984. Then came Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was rated PG. But the violence was, to many audiences, shocking. So the MPAA came up with PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13). 

And in 1990, X was replaced with the completely unsexy NC-17 (No children under 17, which was later changed to no children 17 and under). NC-17 is still box office death. But at least it isn't synonymous with porn. 

(The only NC-17 film I've seen is Ang Lee's Lust, Caution)

When I was a kid (in the 70s), kids' movies were all rated G. Adult films were either PG or R. 

But now, I've noticed, kids' movies are all PG, adult movies are PG-13 or R. And you can have one (and only one) instance of the F-word in a PG-13 film. Two, and you have an R-rating. And R-rated films do not make as much money as PG-13 films.  About the only movies that are G rated are nature documentaries.

I don't make movie decisions based on rating. I enjoy all sorts of movies but I have noticed a large majority of movies are PG-13. 

Do you used movie ratings as a guide to what to watch, or what to let the kids watch? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

I Tried Cutting the Cable

I have been using Dish for my television programming for years. Don't ask me how many. I chose Dish over DirecTV because, at the time I got it, Dish had the better deal.

But it's expensive unless you go with the absolute bare minimum of programming. I'm paying about $120 a month for it. Because you have to rent your Hopper and pay for insurance on your equipment (but, when my kids broke a remote, they sent me a new one gratis). 

So I looked into "cutting the cable," which seems to be the trend these days, and go with a streaming service. I tried FuboTV because they have a one-week free trial. If I had stuck with them, I would have been paying about $80 a month (I had to pay extra to get the Pac-12 Network)(and getting the Pac-12 Network was another reason why I went with FuboTV). 

I canceled my free trial after three days. I have a very fast internet connection so I wasn't worried about streaming. I stream 4K UHD movies on Disney+ all the time with no problem, not even buffering. But I'd be watching something on FuboTV and suddenly the picture and sound would go away and be replaced by an error message. And I thought, if that happened while watching Jeopardy or a crucial part of a football game, I'd be livid. 

Also, FuboTV's interface was kludgy. It was hard to find shows you want to watch and harder still to record them. 

So, for now, I'm sticking with Dish. 

Have you "cut the cable"? What were your experiences. Or am I being too picky? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

8 1/2

I recently watched the movie 8 1/2. It was made in 1963 in Italy. It was directed by famed Italian director Federico Fellini. It was long, boring, and often bizarre.  Luckily it was only two hours and 18 minutes long. It was better than La Dolce Vita (another Italian film of that era) which was three hours long with zero plot.

I was looking through the Internet Movie Database entry for 8 1/2 and found out that this movie is one of Roger Ebert's favorites. And is director Martin Scorsese's favorite film. And I wonder what do they see in this movie that I don't? People also praise La Dolce Vita and I couldn't stand it.

It made me worry that maybe I'm too shallow to appreciate these movies.

So I Googled Steven Spielberg's favorite movies and I found a list of his top twenty movies. And his favorite movie: It's a Wonderful Life. He does have some I haven't seen by director Fran├žois Truffaut (who Spielberg cast in Close Encounters of the Third Kind) that I haven't seen.  But most of his are approachable movies. One of his favorites is Guardians of the Galaxy! He also lists Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa. It's a little over-long, but it's a good movie.

So I felt better after looking at Spielberg's list. At least I didn't feel so shallow.

Have you seen 8 1/2 or any other Fellini films? Or any other 1960s Italian films? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Twitter Gets Results

When I went to get my booster shot for COVID, I made an appointment through my county health district's website. And when I got to the store (Walgreens), I found out that having an appointment meant nothing. I detailed that here how there were people in line before me that I had to wait for. What should have taken 15-20 minutes took 45 minutes.

I complained about it on Twitter, saying something like "Appointments for COVID shots mean nothing at Walgreens." Walgreens' Twitter account DM'd me and asked where this was. I told them the store.

Monday of this week, I went back in that store to get a passport picture taken. (It was there or Walmart.) And I noticed a sign on the door saying "Vaccinations by Appointment Only." Which means when you do have an appointment, no one can just jump in line ahead of you. "That's progress," I thought.

It reminds me of the time right after I bought my car. I tweeted I was in Spokane and my son replied on Twitter: "Why are you in Spokane?" I said "Issue with the Audi." A few days later I got a call from Audi USA asking if everything is okay with the car. And, I don't tweet, blog, or sell books under the name I bought the car under. But they made the connection.

Have you had any experiences of social media helping you with a situation? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Guilty Pleasures

A while back I told a friend via text that I had watched Smokey and the Bandit. She said she didn't know what that was (she's younger than I). So I sent her a clip and she said, "No, I wouldn't be interested in that movie." And I had to laugh because I knew it wasn't her kind of movie.

But I find it hilarious and enjoy watching it. I guess you could call it a "guilty pleasure." Doesn't help that it's a fond memory from my teenage days, going to see that movie with a friend.

I have a couple other guilty pleasure movies. One is Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. It makes me laugh every time I see it. And Christine Taylor is gorgeous in it. It's just a silly, funny movie with no redeeming values. I love it.

Another guilty pleasure is Cars from Pixar. I like cars. And Cars has so many inside jokes for car people. I enjoy it a lot. It only has a 74% from Rotten Tomatoes which, I think, was the lowest Pixar Rotten Tomatoes score at the time. 

What guilty pleasure movies, television shows, or books do you have? Let me know in the comments below.