Citizenfour is not your typical spy thriller, though it's got plenty of espionage. There's the US government spying on its own people. There's Edward Snowden spying on the government while it spies on its own people. All manner of subterfuge ensues. Laura Poitras' documentary doesn't quite have the pacing or gleam of a Hollywood John le Carré flick. (Though for a documentary, it sure does amp the suspense.) What Citizenfour does have in common with the thriller genre is its R rating from the MPAA. Ken Burns, this ain't.
But the IFC Center in NYC says screw that. We can't possibly let the censors block teens from seeing a movie about how the government hides information from its own citizens. That would be like some horrible Orwellian plot point. So the theater is letting kids in, ignoring the MPAA's recommendation. If you can vote in the next election (and potentially even the one after that?) then you are welcome to see this important film--that's the IFC's thinking. Boingboing reports that a sign outside the theater says "we feel it is essential viewing for anyone who may vote in the next election." The IFC website offers its caveat:
"While the MPAA has assigned CITIZENFOUR a rating of R, recommending that no one under 17 be admitted without a parent or guardian, IFC Center feels that the film is appropriate viewing for mature adolescents. Accordingly, we will admit high school-age patrons at our discretion."
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