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The Lucky 13: Favorite Rated NC-17 Films

November 18, 2013

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With the wider release of the controversial French lesbian love story, “Blue is the Warmest Color”, I thought it would be a cool idea to look back at my favorite NC-17 rated films. The NC-17 rated movie is sometimes not for the faint of heart. They can be overly sexualized tales or sometimes feature over the top/hard core violence that many viewers would find uneasy to watch. Whatever it may be, the fact that some movies recieve the NC-17 rated slap by the MPAA, doesn’t diminish the quality of the movie. Hell, “Blue is the Warmest Color” received the top prize at this years Festival de Cannes, The Palme d’Or. So, I guess what I’m trying to say, to all the neighsayers, think twice before judging a book by its cover.

13. “Orgazmo” – After the success of their cult student feature film classic, “Cannibal! The Musical”, Trey Parker and Matt Stone decide to go in a different direction, an ‘orgasmic’ direction. A Mormon hero, caught in the seedy underworld of the pornographic industry, dawns his cinematic alter ego and fights for justice…with an orgasmic-ray.

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Now Available on iTunes

12. “Gummo” – This will not be the only Harmony Korine film on this list, but this certainly is probably the most difficult movie of his to get through. “Gummo” marked Korine’s directorial debut, produced on a budget of just over a million dollars. Not given a large theatrical release as many NC-17 films generally have problems with, it failed to generate large box office revenue with the lack of word of mouth. The film did generate substantial press for its graphic content and highly original, stylized narrative about a small/medium poor Midwestern town that had been previously struck by a devastating tornado.

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Now Available on iTunes

11. “This Film is Not Yet Rated” – This is probably the most ironic NC-17 rated movie, being that it’s a straight forward documentary about the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). And who has to approve this movies rating? You guessed it, the very subject of the film. The MPAA has been ridden with controversy for decades now, and in this doc we meet many filmmakers who’ve protest against the MPAA for the good of their film, or sometimes accepted the brand of that fateful NC-17 rating.

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Streaming on Netflix

10. “Bad Lieutenant” – Before the madcap Nic Cage/Werner Herzog version, there was the original Abel Ferra/Harvey Keitel “Bad Lieutenant”, which tells the story of one BAD cop that doesn’t know nice from despicable. Sex, drugs, and all things unholy, The Lieutenant does have morals about serving justice, when a Bronx nun ends up dead, and only he has the know how to investigate. So, why does it earn an NC-17? Anyone remember that episode of “It’s Always Sunny…”, THUNDERGUN…well, as they said in that episode, ‘The dude hangs dong’. That’s and the overuse of drug content slapped it with an NC-17.

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Now Available on iTunes

9. “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” – This is by no means a good movie, it’s a FANTASTIC Russ Meyers schlockfest, which was written by a very well known writer, or should I say critic? Yes, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” was scripted by Mr. Thumbs Up/Down, Roger Ebert. This marks his one and only time as a screenwriter, and who would’ve thought Ebert had it in him to write such an intense sexploitation picture, but alas, it was the 60s, free love and all that jazz. Upon it’s initial release, the movie earned the infamous X rating, regarded as the most dangerous letter in the MPAA, of course the X rating was disband and replaced with the now beloved NC-17.

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Now Available on iTunes

8. “Bully” – No this isn’t the 2012 doc that fought for a PG-13 instead of an R rating, this is the 2001 indie drama film based on actual events, about a plot to murder a mutual friend of several young adults in Southern Florida, in revenge for continual abuse and psychological torture of others. The film starred Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner, Michael Pitt, Leo Fitzpatrick and Nick Stahl, and directed by Larry Clark.

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Streaming on Netflix

7. “Kids” – And we’re back with Harmony Korine! Before he earned the right to direct, Korine was simply a screenwriter, and naturally he’s scribed some pretty colorful movies, but this was a very bold, realistic portrayal about young kids contracting STD’s in urban neighborhoods.  The movie created considerable controversy upon its release in the mid-90s, and caused much public debate over its artistic merit. Even with it’s NC-17 rating, it didn’t stop people from seeing such an important piece of cinema, earning a whopping take of $20 million, with a budget of $1.5 million!

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Now Available on iTunes

6. “Irréversible” – RAPE. Yeah, there’s no other way to get around this one, for those who’re familiar with French filmmaker Gaspar Noé’s work, you’re more inclined to know of his work simply for his psychedelic mind trip “Enter the Void”, but for most cinephiles, it’s for this particular picture that portrays the most realistic scenes of rape you’ve ever seen on screen. And I must agree, this is a one watch kind of film, because it’s extremely tough to sit through. Hell, even Roger Ebert called Irréversible ‘a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable.’

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Streaming on Netflix

5. “Shame” – If there’s one thing you can take away from the NC-17 rating, most of the time it’s all about the extensive scenes that have sex or sexualized content. Rising British filmmaker, Steve McQueen directs this second picture, twice in a row with his good luck charm, Michael Fassbender, about a New Yorker who’s simply a sex addict. The film takes us into the mind of such a character and gives us the harsh realities of sex addiction, and doesn’t make it a mockery like the Showtime series “Californication”. Fassbender is powerful, and gives a career best, that nothing else after it has been able to top it.

Now Available on iTunes

4. “Enter the Void” – Right back to Gaspar Noé! While this movie didn’t receive a rating at all, it’s a fair bet that it would earn an NC-17 for a number of reasons, but the last moment of the film where…actually I’d rather not spoil it, just watch the movie, I believe it’s still on Netflix. Gaspar is silently earning the title of being this generations Kubrick, his films are as sub-verse and avant garde, perhaps more so, as Kubrick’s films, and this unique odyssey of a movie is nothing short of a miracle in filmmaking.

Streaming on Netflix

3. “Blue Valentine” – “Blue Valentine” is a bit of a cheat, since it was officially given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, due to a scene depicting oral sex. Ryan Gosling accused the MPAA of sexism and misogyny. Gosling states, ‘There’s plenty of oral sex scenes in a lot of movies, where it’s a man receiving it from a woman – and they’re R-rated. Ours is reversed and somehow it’s perceived as pornographic”. So, The Weinstein Company, who’ve always had a mix bag of controversy of their own when it came to ratings, appealed the decision and aimed for an R without any trims to the film, believing the prior decision would significantly harm the film’s potential box office take in the United States. The company’s appeal was successful on December 8, 2010, and the film received the desired rating. But, prior to that release, when it was out on a limited release, it was NC-17, during that time I saw the film.

Streaming on Netflix

2. “Killer Joe” – Matthew McConaughey thrives in this movie, it’s a down right scary performance, and it’s the biggest reason why I love this movie from last year. Directed by “The Exorcist” filmmaker, William Friedkid, based on the Tracy Letts play, this Southern Gothic tales, follows a bunch of seedy rednecks all planning to screw one another over for some life insurance cash. Joe, a cop by trade, but hired killer by night, gets involved and things go from bad to fucked up by the end. Let me put it to you this way, you won’t eat KFC ever again after watching this movie.

Now Available on iTunes

1. “The Evil Dead” – I know! I know! I know! I put “The Evil Dead” on a lot of my Lucky 13 lists, but can you blame me? It’s so fucking good! The ridiculous gore value is far beyond brilliant, it’s literally one of my all time favorite horror films. Call me predictable, or call me lazy, but I simply call myself an undying fan of one the great independent horror films ever made.

Now Available on iTunes

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