Ahead of Eli Roth's cannibal movie The Green Inferno premiering at The Toronto International Film Festival next week, the MPAA have – coincidentally, I assume, as they have no jurisdiction North of the border – awarded the film an R rating and explained why.
Rated R for aberrant violence and torture, grisly disturbing images, brief graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use
TIFF's Midnight Madness Blog makes a pretty good gag about this rating:
Check out Roth's past MPAA scorecards. His violence started as "strong," then went to "brutal," then "sadistic," and finally to The Green Inferno's particularly evocative "aberrant." That's called "growing as a filmmaker."
The word "aberrant" also featured in ratings for Crash, Killer Joe and A Serbian Film, incidentally. It's not a new notion at the MPAA.
Where that rating tells you very little about the film, its own director, Eli Roth, can. Here's an off-cut from an interview I did with Roth way earlier in the year, but which seems timely to include now. This is an explanation both of the plot set-up and the political material Roth is interested in exploring with The Green Inferno. I have to say, it does sound interesting…
Even though horrible things happen in The Green Inferno it's really as much influenced by Werner Herzog and Terrence Malick, or even something like Apocalypto. It has that adrenalin rush feeling of the last twenty minutes of Hostel stretched out over a longer period but it's very much about student activism.
I've seen so many students in the US basically just hitting the retweet button and then they feel good about themselves. And then there's Occupy Wall Street, Free Pussy Riot, whatever the latest cause is, they want to latch onto it without researching it, and they don't really know anything about it when you actually talk to them. Okay, not everyone, but for a lot of people it's more re-activism, they're doing it to feel better about themselves not because they really care.
So here are kids that get caught up in thinking that because they have phones and they can stream video they can go and shut down construction and they do, it really works… but then their plane crashes and they're captured by the very people they saved. Food, from the sky!
There's an idea that you shouldn't be messing in somebody's business – you're a smart student, but to somebody else, you're an invader.
I don't want to analyse it too much but I always, in my own writing, feel very strongly about certain things. The Green Inferno, in the main, is about the main character, the daughter of a lawyer at the UN. He does everything by policy, and he tells her you can't just run in with your phone and be a cowboy and change things over night. She thinks that because she can stream and tweet and blog… it's like Kony 2012, that's what the movie is about.
Everybody bought these T-shirts and said "it's terrible, it's terrible" but do you think Joseph Kony's tweets made a fucking bit of difference? You can make all the YouTube videos you want but it doesn't mean anything. It's not the way to get things done. In The Green Inferno, these kids have this fantasy that they can fix everything with their phones but they get their asses kicked.
The Green Inferno premieres at TIFF next week with screenings on Saturday 7th and Monday 9th. Sadly, I'll be half a world away but I'll certainly be plugged in, looking for reactions.