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"It's an excellent film, very well balanced, full of fascinating talking heads, and beautifully put together." -Edward L

"This should be the fashion documentary that makes it through to the final 5." - Peggy Sue

"I saw this in the UK last week. I was fascinated --especially the relationship with Blow and reflections on his gender politics. Would recommend." - catbaskets

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Entries in Margaret (9)

Thursday
Apr142016

April Showers: Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Chris on Margaret (2011).

If you missed Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret during it's microscopic release in 2011, you aren't alone. The film spent four years in the editing room after wrapping in 2005, leading to a litigious post-production and a bare bones theatrical run. Even with its bursting ensemble of recognizable faces like Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, and lead Anna Paquin, Margaret couldn't get an audience without promotion, so it died.

But if you ever want to complain about Film Twitter, remember Margaret as the poster child for its ability to create a movement around a worthy film. Thanks to #TeamMargaret, led mostly by the film's passionate British fanbase, word of mouth (and curiosity) spread quickly. Eventually distributor Fox Searchlight made the film more readily available, even sending screeners out to a handful of critics for end-of-the-year consideration. The home release also features an extended version closer to Lonergan's original intention.

Sometimes we just miss a masterpiece, but they always have a way of coming back. (more after the jump)...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul122012

8 Degrees of Linking

/Film Angela Lansbury wanted for Wes Anderson's next film? Gah!
My New Plaid Pants JA delights me when he reorganizes the world. #TeamCharbender ! 
Oscar Metrics returns (yay Mark Harris!) with a conversation about 2012's first ½
Low Resolution thinks Salma Hayek is g-r-e-a-t in Savages and that the movie isn't so bad either 
Hollywood Reporter Channing Tatum's next two projects are lined up: Foxcatcher for Bennett Miller and another filmed version of daredevil Evel Knievel's life, both true stories.
Daily Mail ...and Chan is also interested in a Magic Mike sequel and has made a not-very-serious offer to play the male lead in the erotic drama 50 Shades of Grey
Guardian Chris Nolan is suggesting that someone make a Catwoman spinoff for Anne Hathaway. "She deserves it." 
Empire Josh Trank will helm the Fantastic Four reboot as expected (that's one reboot we'll be happy to see -- bad movies deserve to be rebooted, not good ones!) but Daredevil has lost its director. The rights to Daredevil may shift back to Marvel if the film isn't in production by the fall. Please let Fox biff this one. Marvel is better at this now! Keep them all in the same universe.

Have you picked up the Margaret Blu-Ray yet to see what #TeamMargaret was all about last Dec/Jan? I'll discuss it soon if you want. Here's an 8 Degrees of Separation Infographic detailing the various cast connections. I love that Ladyhawke is mentioned. So very random!

Friday
Feb032012

Oscar Symposium Day 3: Farewells and Futures

On Day 1 of the symposium we partied with the Best Picture field and considered Star Vehicles. On Day 2 we discussed movies that are hopelessly in love with themselves (to good and bad effect), the forever contentious Lead vs Support debate, the invisible arts of editing and screenwriting. We pick up there. Nathaniel was admitting he wasn't entirely comfortable falling for Margaret.... 

Nader & Simin: A SeparationNATHANIEL:  I've scraped my knees up on cold hard pavement. I too was caught up in #TeamMargaret excitement. I love it when critics remember that part of their job is to advocate for buried treasure rather than merely rubber stamping the critical darlings over and over again (Did Michelle Williams really need to hog the majority of critics awards for My Week With Marilyn, which is straight down the middle awards bait? They didn't see anything off the golden path that was worthy of praise?). But when I finally saw Margaret, I left somewhat dejected. There's a lot to love. But there is also just an awful lot. It plays, to me, like a series of brilliant pieces that haven't quite been shaped to fit the genius-level mosaic they're intended for. Or maybe I was just thrown by the length and those phone calls to daddy. Lonergan is a brilliant writer but a brilliant actor not so much.

And maybe I was still just high on A Separation (my choice for Best of the Year) which illuminates a bit of the same ground in terms of personal actions creating ripples that we can't possibly grasp the full reach of. And they both show us how flawed people (i.e. all of us) can get tangled up in very difficult moral, social, religious, political and ethical webs they probably helped spin.

KURT: I'm glad you brought up that comparison between A Separation and Margaret, because it's definitely something I was thinking about while watching the latter (in between all the reveling in how Lisa initiates an allegorical, post-9/11 war that's ultimately futile and only reaps money for people who don't deserve it). Though vastly different in structure (one drum-tight, one manic and sprawling), these two scripts hold a lot of similarities, and are, in my opinion, at the tip-top of the year's best.

I'm also glad that Mark brought up Margin Call and Tinker Tailor in the same thought bubble because I found myself linking those two in my head a lot as well. Both films are essentially corporate dramas with power players coping with crisis, and both teem with a kind of impenetrable language you really have to crack. I hail from the team that doesn't really buy all the "Speak to Me Like a Golden Retriever" crap, because A) I don't believe those folks would actually expositionally coddle each other, or need coddling, in that way, and B), as mentioned, the movie keeps promising through dialogue that it's clearing things up, when it's really just thickening its fog of jargon. I do believe Chandor took a highly commendable crack at presenting this world, and I don't know if I've seen anyone do it better in terms of writing (Oliver Stone certainly didn't), but there's a lot of pretense about those scenes that irks me. (I prefer his small details, like the gross arrogance the company shows by firing Tucci's head risk manager, and little shots like the one of Demi and Simon Baker in the elevator with the cleaning lady.)

...and we've reentered MI6 where we began!

As for Tinker Tailor, there isn't a lick of coddling, just a glimpse into a radically rarefied world, filled with so much code talk, names and lingo it's like Tolkien does MI6.

Symposium Wraps with Bridesmaids, eye candy and film futures after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb022012

Oscar Symposium Day 2: Invisible Art & Self Love

Previously on the Oscar Symposium... we discussed and defined the business of actors elevating their movies, spent time at "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"'s stale office party mingling with the nine Best Picture nominees (only one of which we all seem to love) and agreed that Brad Pitt deserves Best Actor. Eventually Nathaniel's second favorite movie of the year (The Artist) took quite a beating so he sulked off to lick his wounds.

And here we pick up for Day Two of our three day symposium...

MARK HARRIS: While we're waiting for our host... Nick raised a really interesting point yesterday in his persuasive case for Plummer, which is: Just what the hell is a supporting performance anyway? I like his definition (and Plummer would probably get my vote too, for showing amazing restraint in a part that could be played as one Big Moment after another). But I'm also drawn to performances like Jonah Hill's, in a role that exists purely to give Pitt's character a wittily contrasting somebody to bounce off of, and like Melissa McCarthy's (my favorite in that category, I'm not ashamed to admit), even though she's more a standout in an ensemble than a pure supporting actress. Do any of you feel that there are supporting performances this year that are miscategorized? The French clearly do, since when the Cesars nominated Berenice Bejo for The Artist, it was for Best Actress.

NATHANIEL ROGERS: I plead the fifth on category fraud. I've said too much over the years about that whole... nightmare.

KURT OSENLUND: I'm going to flip it on its head and go 'lead to supporting.' By which I mean, I think I'm one of the few who still believes Viola Davis belongs in the supporting category. I'll admit this is a complicated stance. I think it's the film/text that's guilty of cheaply attempting to make Aibileen a lead character, giving her a tacked-on coda of "closure" and trying to reduce the shame of taking a black women's story and still handing it, mainstream-style, to a white redhead. By extension, I think awards bodies are guilty for taking the bait. Ideally, I'd like to see Meryl walk away with Best Actress, Viola walk away with Supporting Actress, and Octavia sit comfortably with a nomination, for a performance that's highly enjoyable, but shrill and stereotypical and nowhere near as soulful as her co-star's.

My short answer to the 'supporting to lead' question would be that, this year, I actually think all of the supporting stars are placed where they belong.

NICK DAVIS: I don't think the ending of The Help feels tacked on. I don't even think it feels like closure: we have no way to predict Aibileen's next move, much less to presume its ease.  And from those opening minutes with all of her backstory and daily routine, and through all of Davis's impeccable playing of heavily weighted scenes, I think she's definitely a lead.  I know her screen time must be small compared to other leads, but at the very least, she falls squarely in that Marge Gunderson/Hannibal Lecter category where her charismatic impress is so profound from the lead/supporting borderline that it pushes her handily over.  It helps that even the blocking and costuming and editing and lighting choices keep conspiring to shift focus from Skeeter to Aibileen whenever they share a scene.  Emma Stone is just giving away those scenes, as markedly as Meryl all but erased herself in the Doubt standoff.  I wouldn't want anyone watching me act opposite Viola Davis, either.

MARK: At last, a fight! I'm going to strongly disagree about Viola Davis, who not only carries the emotional weight of The Help, but has considerably more screen time than past lead-performance winners like Frances McDormand in Fargo. Kathryn Stockett's novel isn't Skeeter's story, even if Skeeter is a storyteller -- it's told from the first-person perspectives of Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny. (So, if the movie were really true to the book, Octavia Spencer would probably have to be considered a third co-lead.) To me, Skeeter's "...and then I wrote the book" storyline feels as inorganic to what The Help is really about as the closure the movie gives Davis. The movie's emotional strength -- what there is of it -- lives in Aibileen's struggle; she's arguably even the title character. Yes, the movie is technically Skeeter's story, but only in the way that Training Day is technically Ethan Hawke's. So I'm happy Davis is where she is.

After the jump: The Help, Best Screenplay, and Masturbatory Movies

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan012012

Best of Year Pt 1: I Am Thirty-Two Flavors

I tossed. I turned. I Excel'ed. I Worded. I laughed at myself. I laughed at everyone else and their equally crazy assertions during top ten season. I worried what y'all might think. I worried about how I do think! And then I cast it all aside and just started typing and getting real with myself. You see, in earlier drafts of this Hugo and The Tree of Life, for example, were much higher but you know what? This is not consensus. This is me. Year End "Best" naming rituals are meant to be personal even though they're communal. Gather 'round my fire. There are plenty of places to keep warm, this being just one of them. (If you must skip ahead a few pages The Tree of Life dropped a few notches and Hugo no longer appears at all; I do not miss it all and, thus, made the right call.)

I kept trying to find a cutoff point for my year end "best" that I feel comfortable with and the magic finally happened at 32! The thirty-two highlighted films are my touchstones from this year at the multiplex. They're the only ones I just could not let go of when I tried to gather my memories and glue them awkwardly into this online scrapbook thingie known as The Film Experience. Two of the films even got glued together and I couldn't get them unstuck (Longtime readers will know I don't approve of ties but what the hell: new decade, more flexibility! If you're a purist shove everything else down one notch.)

squint your eyes and look closer
I'm not between you and your ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am thirty-two flavors and then some
and I'm beyond your peripheral vision
so you might want to turn your head
cause someday you're going to get hungry
and eat most of the words you just said

The following thirty-two pictures were presented in vaguely ascending order but then the stairs were all rearranged to fit them into categories and for flow so don't read anything into the order...

Planet Ape
The year's cinema was overflowing with adorable dogs (too many to mention) and doomed cats (The Future, Dragon Tattoo) but the animal that seized the heart and truly shook us -- opposable thumbs are so handy! -- was the chimpanzee. The Oscar documentary finalist Project Nim charts the disastrous emotional fall out of a science experiment in the 1970s in which a chimp ("Nim") was raised by agonizingly fallible humans and taught sign language. Rise of the Planet of the Apes charts the disastrous sociological fall out of a science experiment in the right-now in which a chimp ("Cesar") is raised by a agonizingly naive human and granted super intelligence. Nim was a very real living thing and his heartbreaking story makes you want to scream "NOOOooooooo" as forcefully as the imaginary Cesar does at the climax of his own tale. That Cesar feels nearly as real as Nim is thanks to the Marlon Brando of mo-cap acting Andy Serkis, a brilliant visual effects team, and the superb action direction of Rupert Wyatt. (Wyatt's command is so impressive that the pictures fairly obvious flaws don't even register until well after the movie ends. If I were a Hollywood executive I'd be wining and dining him and offering him every franchise job on the calendar until he picked one.)

Favorite Unrewardables
The best thing I saw this year that's not eligible for my annual Film Bitch Awards is The Loneliest Planet (previously reviewed), about an engaged couple exploring a foreign land, which went unreleased. It had me from the stomping alien mundanity of its first image but in the end what really made it work for me was its sense of touch. That's rarer and rarer in our weightless CGI world but the images just felt so tangible: a lovers caress, cold water in your hair, rocky ground under foot; turns out when a movie is that good at touching, it's hard not to feel it. I could reward Clio Barnard's The Arbor, which did get a brief release, but I wouldn't know how. It's ostensibly a memoir doc about the short life of the troubled playwright Andrea Dunbar. But is it a documentary? Barnard's riveting experiment still uses traditional documentary tools like reenactments and talking head interviews but performs them instead, with actors lipsynching. There are so many layers it's suffocating; all the better to pull you under with these lives trapped in hand-me-down poverty and addiction. That probably doesn't sound like an endorsment but The Arbor sure is a fascinating novelty act.

Hip To Be Square
Who knew that we needed a 29th version of dusty Jane Eyre? Turns out we did! Okay okay okay... even if we didn't it was welcome since it was a beautifully rendered stride forward in four cinematic journeys we're on board with: Michael Fassbender seems to take another leap forward every three months, Mia Wasikowska is one of our most promising young actresses and this is her best film performance yet, director Cary Fukunaga and his cinematographer Adriano Goldman, who are two for two (see also Sin Nombre) are not just unusually capable but also unpredictable. We'll jump on their next vehicle whether that means more speeding trains or horse drawn carriages or something else entirely.

Two more unhip choices, abundant foreign pleasures and a few "only you could make this" treasures... After the jump.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec302011

A Raggedy Oscar Podcast Reunion

Surprise! The old team is back together momentarily. Clearly we need more time than 40 minutes to get into everything that's going on in the Oscar race so this one is a totally raggedy conversation... a la Margaret and Rampart, two films that are discussed.

So welcome back to Katey, Joe, Nick from Nathaniel, your host here at The Film Experience.

UPDATE: The entire podcast is embedded below but it is having some trouble playing all the way through with Google Chrome. Works perfectly in Firefox or download from iTunes

Topics include but are not limited to:
• Cooking tips from The Help
The Iron Lady and Streep's hard sell for the third Oscar
• Team Margaret and Team Rampart, two wildly underseen movies that share some intuitive storytelling and vivid ensemble work.
• Critical advocacy in the age of consensus
• The silly battle lines drawn between Hugo & The Artist
• Shailene Woodley and Nick's Descendants agnosticism.

A Raggedy Oscar Reunion