'Blue Valentine,' 'King's Speech' appeals set

Amping up its battle over film ratings, the Weinstein Co. has hired a high-profile legal team to appeal the NC-17 rating the MPAA gave to “Blue Valentine” and the R rating given to “The King’s Speech.”

TWC, which announced in mid-October that it would appeal the “Blue Valentine” rating, said Thursday that the legal team includes David Boies, Bert Fields and Alan R. Friedman. Boies is the legal adviser on both films; Fields will handle “The King’s Speech” appeal, and Friedman has been assigned to the “Blue Valentine” appeal.

A spokesman for the MPAA said the appeals had not been filed and had no further comment.

“While we respect the MPAA, I think we can all agree that we are living with an outdated ratings system that gives torture porn, horror and ultraviolent films the same rating as films with so-called inappropriate language,” Harvey Weinstein said in a statement.

TWC noted that “The King’s Speech” drew an R rating due to multiple occurrences of strong language, even though it is used in a “nonaggressive, nonsexual, therapeutic way.”

The announcement included a statement from “Speech” director Tom Hooper, who said, “I hope that language can be judged by its context just as violence is currently judged in context. The f-word in ‘The King’s Speech’ is not being used in its sexual sense, or in its aggressive sense, but as a release mechanism to help a man overcome a stammer in the context of speech therapy, in a scene that is also very funny.”

Fields said the rating for “The King’s Speech” is arbitrary and irrational. “In my view, it violates the Weinstein Co.’s right to freedom of speech under the state and U.S. Constitution. It should strike fear in the heart of every director and producer,” he added.

The NC-17 rating for “Blue Valentine” stems from a sex scene between Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, who portray a couple attempting to save their troubled marriage. Gosling said the rating is “misogynistic.”

“You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted onscreen,” Gosling said. “The MPAA is OK supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex.”

Williams said the MPAA’s decision on “Valentine” reflects the cultural taboo that an honest portrayal of a relationship is more threatening than a sensationalized one.

“Mainstream films often depict sex and violence in a manner that is disturbing and very far from reality,” she said. “Yet, the MPAA regularly awards these films with a more audience-friendly rating, enabling our culture’s desensitization to violence, rape, torture and brutality. Our film does not depict any of these attributes.”

“The King’s Speech” opens over the Thanksgiving weekend, and “Blue Valentine” is set to launch Dec. 31.

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