March 13, 2012

Margaret - Cinema Village & Walter Reade Theater

Mike: Years after wrapping up production, Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret quietly opened, and quickly closed, at the Landmark Sunshine on Houston Street last Fall. As a huge fan of Lonergan's previous, You Can Count On Me, and having long been fascinated by the never-ending saga and controversy surrounding the film's post-production, I really wanted to see it. But I didn't. Reviews were pretty bad. It was 2 1/2 hours. I had a few opportunities to catch it but kept procrastinating. After it left the Sunshine, I figured I'd watch it on DVD in a few months. Something I mildly regretted, until many weeks later when I read more reviews of the film and found a handful of rave reviews. After a petition tried to encourage Fox Searchlight to schedule more screenings for end-of-year lists and awards consideration, I really kicked myself for missing it. Thankfully, it was booked at the Cinema Village in late December, and I made a point not to miss it. And I'm glad I didn't. Margaret was one of my favorite films of 2011.
It's been called a flawed masterpiece so many times now - something I agreed with at first, but ultimately to me it's simply a masterpiece. I can recognize the flaws and how muddled the film becomes towards the end, but I must admit to being completely engrossed by the characters and story throughout the 2 1/2 hour running time. There are so many facets to the film - so many avenues for interpretation. At times you feel sorry for certain characters, other times you admire them, and then moments later they'll do something that makes you completely despise them. I kept wondering what certain characters might represent, or how they don't represent anything but might tempt us to think they do. I particularly admired how much of a period piece the film is and how it captures a place and time but still manages to be so universally relatable. I thought it was absolutely brilliant. So much so that I didn't mind the week of back and neckpain I suffered from seeing it from the front row of the Cinema Village.
Margaret was the third in a triple feature for me that day. The second was In the Land of Blood and Honey, which I saw at the AMC Loews 19th Street a few blocks away. I rushed over to the Cinema Village to buy my ticket afterwards and had plenty of time, but I was starving (AMC didn't have its Smart Snacks, which I was counting on to hold me over until I was done with my movie day). So after I bought the ticket, I quickly got some lunch. By the time I was back at the theater, the room was packed and I sat in the front row. I had extra legroom, but sitting in a very compromised position I was left with terrible back and neck pain for the next few days.
Not to complain about the Cinema Village, though. I've been there only a few times before and generally dig the place. I was running fairly late, so it was completely my own fault. Though I'd like to blame AMC for not having healthy food, which forced me to get something in between screenings.
In February, The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center held a special screening of Margaret as part of the Film Comment Selects series. Naturally, I had to go, and this allowed me to bring Erica and another friend as well so they could see what the hell I've been blabbing about since December. Kenneth Lonergan, Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno and a number of other cast and crew members showed up for this event. The audience was filled with familiar faces, too - we saw Michael Cera, Dianne Wiest, Victor Garber and others also show up to see what all the hoopla's about.
Margaret should be coming to DVD in the next few months. In his Q&A, Lonergan only scratched the surface and I can't wait to hear what else he has to say about the film, and hopefully see an extended cut of the film.

Erica: Wow, After Mike's lovefest I don't need to write much. I am not a fan of Anna Paquin so a 2 1/2 hour movie with her as the lead was not that exciting to me. The movie was not bad. I essentially went to shut Mike up, but the q and a was interesting. The story was interesting but I do think the film could have been a bit shorter. Plus, I was distracted by Matthew Broderick's socks during the Q and A (they had what looked like fat snowmen on them....) anyway I do think this film is worth watching when it comes to DVD if for nothing else but to see what the controversy is all about.

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