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JACK MATHEWS

Henry Miller Meets the MPAA : Movies: Philip Kaufman's very adult 'Henry & June,' a tale of the controversial author's days in Paris, apparently is the latest recipient of the dreaded X rating. Its U.S. release is in limbo.

August 27, 1990|JACK MATHEWS

"Henry & June" is exactly the kind of movie that should carry an adults-only rating and enjoy wide national release. Despite its nudity and sexual frankness, its literary roots and setting would bore kids to death, and if it is trimmed for an R, thinking adults drawn to it for its subject matter will be insulted and disappointed.

If the movie-rating system had integrity, film distributors would not have to try to sneak adult films into broader audience categories, as Universal will apparently try to do with "Henry & June," and as independent Miramax tried to do earlier with "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down" and "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover."

At the same time, makers of broad-audience movies like "Fatal Attraction" and "Total Recall"--films rated R, but intended for anyone tall enough to R-each the box-office window--might find it harder to slip in as much gratuitous sex and violence.

For now, and for the past 15 years, American grown-ups who like grown-up themes in movies, have been essentially disenfranchised, and until the major studios and the MPAA loosen their grip they will remain so.

"We have liberation movements for everything else in this country," said Philip Kaufman. "It looks like the last group to be liberated will be adults."

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