PARK CITY 2000 BUZZ: "American Psycho" NC-17; Next Wave Nabs Sundance Doc
by Eugene Hernandez
>> At Odds with "American Psycho" As Sundance Debut Approaches, MPAA
Brands it NC-17
(indieWIRE/1.18.2000) -- In last year's "Eyes Wide Shut," a pivotal group
sex scene became fodder for discussion and fascination among audiences.
That it was ultimately digitally altered to avoid an NC-17 rating
underscored a considerable threat on the part of the Motion Picture
Association of America (MPAA) to censor particular filmmakers' creative
Mary Harron's new film, "American Psycho," which will premiere at the
Sundance Film Festival this Friday night, would appear to have an equally defining
sex scene that, in this case, may need to be altered in order for the
film to be released theatrically with an R rating. For now, it has
been rated NC-17 by the MPAA. Interestingly, noted Lions Gate Films
executives said yesterday, the movie is being stung for a sex scene and not
its overtly violent scenes.
"While we are thrilled that the MPAA has acknowledged Mary's extraordinary
sensitivity as both an artist and a woman in the choices that she made in
her depiction of violence," explained Lions Gate Releasing co-presidents
Mark Urman and Tom Ortenberg in a prepared statement, "We still feelthat
the scene in question is integral to her vision and to establishing the
soullessness of the film's title character."
That "scene in question," according to two people who have seen the movie,
includes a three-way sexual act between lead Christian Bale and actresses
Cara Seymour & Krista Sutton, who portray prostitutes in the film. According
to Harron and Lions Gate, the MPAA is focusing on a specifc poriton of
the scene in which Bale observes himself in a mirror while having sex
with the two actresses. Of particular concern apparently is the blank
expression on Bale's face during the sex act. The MPAA is less concerned
with other aspects of the full scene, which would appear to be rather
intense and violent based on detailed descriptions given to indieWIRE
yesterday. While the MPAA did not specifically object to the violent way
that Bale's character has sex with the two women, film spokesperson
Jeremy Walker told indieWIRE yesterday, "The only thing that [the MPAA]
found objectionable was the explicit depiction of sex in that
scene -- the way they are having sex and the facial expressions."
FILMMAKER Magazine Managing Editor
Mike Jones, who watched the film
along with a group of editors from the Magazine in preparation for
an interview with Harron in the publication's Sundance issue, described
the offending gaze as "detached and self-absorbed."
"We were trying to make the scene as un-erotic as possible to underscore
that these women were being paid for sex, which their facial expressions
make clear," explained Harron in a statement yesterday.
Another viewer told indieWIRE yesterday that the mirror and the expression
it captures are crucial for gaining additional insight into the Patrick
Bateman character. "Even though [the sex scene] is a horrible thing
to watch," this female viewer told indieWIRE, "This sex scene will
lose a lot of its pertinence without it." Continuing, Jones said, "It is
almost as far removed as you can get from a sex scene, while still
having sex -- it's mostly about ego."
"The scene is not about sex, but about sex as a transaction," continued
Harron. "So we made it deliberately banal and distant. That Bateman is
looking at himself in the mirror and not at his partners seems to be an
issue for the MPAA, but his expression sums up his frighteningly detached
relationship to the world around him. To me it's one of the most
significant scenes in the film and to cut it would cause serious
In the FILMMAKER interview, which hits the streets in Park City
later this week, Harron describes the film as "a black comedy/horror film."
In the piece she tells Peter Bowen, "I am sure that this mix of genres
will make some people uncomfortable, since it goes from being funny
to unsettling without any transition -- I am prepared for people to
be disconcerted by it."
Harron and Lions Gate will appeal the MPAA decision after Sundance;
the film is set to open in April.
>> Next Wave Films Teams with Sundance Competition Doc "Sound and Fury"
(indieWIRE/1.18.2000) -- One Sundance competition documentary that clearly
has a significant amount of momentum as the Festival approaches is
Josh Aronson's "Sound and Fury," an exploration of deaf families and
culture. IFC's Next Wave Films has just announced a deal to represent
the movie. While the full length film has yet to screen for
distributors, indieWIRE caught the picture at a Docu-Club work in progress
showing this summer and now positive reactions from two recent press
screenings are beginning to trickle in.
Next Wave's Peter Broderick caught the doc, his company's first, after
a positive write-up following the movie's screening at the IFFM this fall.
While the filmmakers were not in need of finishing funds, Next Wave
came on board to rep the movie and now the team are strategizing a
theatrical distribution deal.
In a conversation yesterday, Broderick admitted that Next Wave
hadn't been finding docs with solid theatrical prospects. "We weren't
finding ones that really would have a theatrical life, the kind of
films that critics and audiences would really respond to," Broderick
explained. That changed with this project, he continued passionately,
"It is unlike any other film I've seen -- we absolutely needed to do
this movie." Next Wave was in Park City last year with the Slamdance
film, "Following," and at Sundance '98 with Joe Carnahan's "Blood,
Guts, Bullets and Octane."
indieWIRE's Tim LaTorre, who caught the Docu-Club screening this
summer, was immediately struck by the doc. "What's so great about
this film is the subject matter," he told me in a conversation
"It's really quite heart-wrenching," Tim continued, although he has
not yet seen the final version, "You see this family that is
exploding, you watch how they relate to each other and how they are
at such polar opposites over an issue -- the filmmakers came upon
this family at a time where you can really see the impact on the
The first "Sound and Fury" Sundance screening will be held this
Friday night at the Holiday Villlage Cinemas.