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December 02, 2011

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I.V.

Seems the whole #TeamMargaret thing is working, at least here in Chicago. I just received an e-mail from the Fox Searchlight publicist (pretty unusual for a Friday evening) announcing an "awards consideration" screening of the movie next week.

I missed the film during its one-week Chicago run, so I'm looking forward to finally seeing it.

Oliver_C

Too bad they couldn't get Lonergan to direct the Oscars telecast. That's another production which can't run a femto-second under three hours for fear of sullying its self-importance.

Lex

I'm all for the MARGARET petition deal, but not being "one of you guys," it's vaguely disappointing that its aim seems to be to get more critics' screenings and awards screeners of it out there. Sounds like awards bloggers, critics and junket guys wanting some private screenings, but not much in the way of getting it released or re-released for the dirty unwashed.

In LA it played for a mere two weeks, both on the other side of town for me (and my car that overheats in 405 traffic)... I wish it would come back, but as I'm not on the DGA SCREENING CIRCUIT with powerhouse minds like Faraci, a bunch of jerkoff critics' group screenings don't do me a whole lotta good either.

Glenn Kenny

@Lex: I hear you, and frankly, I have similar misgivings, as I don't personally care at all about what gets any awards or doesn't. Every now and then I put in an application to get into some body like the New York Film Critics' Circle, for appearance's sake. This was a good year to get turned down, I think. But I believe the logic to the way the petition's phrased is: the more critics see "Margaret," the more year-end awards recognition it will receive, the more Fox Searchlight will consider bringing it back, and the more non-critic people will see it. It's a noble aim, although now that I have written all this I'm thinking are some people hoping to re-enact the "Bonnie And Clyde" revival myth via social media?

And as much as I myself admire "Margaret" I DON'T think that further exposure is necessarily going to lead to universal acclaim, or a road-to-Damascus moment for critics who were "meh" on it. I see a critic on Twitter trying to pin lukewarm U.S. response to "Margaret" on confirmation bias, and I think, unless you can actually prove it, it's really poor policy to ascribe bad faith, or specifically-clouded thinking, to people who don't share your opinion of a film. But that's fucking show biz, I guess.

jbryant

Yeah, I think a petition for more critics' screenings and awards screeners is much likelier to get results than one calling for a wider theatrical re-release. If the former succeeds and leads to more positive reviews and awards attention, then at least the film's ancillary life could get a boost. I don't think it was ever destined to be top box office draw.

Jaime

Glenn, thanks for the mention there. Honestly I don't think anybody who got involved with this and prompted me to start the petition (which I have to stress took about 3 minutes of my day, tops) figured we were going to create a sea change or land a bunch of trophies for the film. If I know critics, and voters, lots of die are already cast, even if ballots aren't filled out. So it's not about that.

There are two goals, as I see it: (1) to get the film shown to non-NY/LA critics, and (2) make the film a "thing" for a reasonably wider swath of cinephiles than were initially taken by it. We succeeded a little in (1), as FSL set up screenings in Chicago and Boston, and there may be a few others in line. Maybe they won't show it in Kalamazoo or Raccoon City or what have you, but not bad. For (2) we did well, too, and the fact that the film got terrific notices in the UK didn't hurt none, neither.

I'm happy to take the long view, too ... I think I speak for the #teammargaret folks when I say we simply didn't want to disappear, and that's kind of the road it was on.

Zach

Yeah, I wasn't able to catch Margaret during the fifteen minutes it ran, and I'm a friggin' NYer. I'm also hoping it comes back, as I'd like to see it on the big screen. If more screenings for critics are what it takes to make that possible, then go for it, I say.

Also, on a side note, it's nice to see Oliver C's ongoing quest to right the dire offense committed by Lonergan against the Gods of running-time contracts hasn't let up one bit.

md'a

My remark about confirmation bias isn't broadly applicable to any film I like that others don't (or vice versa), though I'm as human as anyone else and just as prone to you-just-don't-get-it-do-you?-ism. Margaret was perhaps the worst possible movie to wind up the subject of news stories about years spent in the editing room, given its very deliberate ungainliness. Having read the script, I can tell you that apart from several entire scenes that went missing, what's onscreen is precisely what Lonergan wrote, and always intended; whatever happened in post all those years, it wasn't a case of him trying to "find the movie" in a sea of incoherent footage. (I'm pretty sure he was just struggling to get it under 150 minutes without crippling it—a nearly impossible task.) But that was the natural conclusion for people to jump to, and I read several reviews that used more or less that exact phrase as they concluded that Lonergan never did figure out what the hell he was trying to say.

The likelihood of critics walking into a movie they know was wrestled with by multiple editors over six years and then emerging saying "Ah, I see, it's sprawling and unfocused and all over the place *by design*" (for better or worse—I'd be fine with worse, though I'd of course disagree) was decidedly slim. They expected a mess and they got one, so case closed: Clearly Lonergan meant to make something neat and tidy like You Can Count on Me and failed. Most of the reviews devote as much space to the production history as to the film itself. It's just unfortunate. Not that I think we'd have seen across-the-board raves had it come out in '06, but I do think *some* critics would have been less apt to draw hasty and essentially dismissive conclusions. That's all.

Glenn Kenny

Thanks, md'a. I do not, incidentally, consider your surmise even vaguely improbable or for that matter wrong; my "issue" was that such surmises, made in a blanket fashion, could have a poisoning-the-well effect. And yes, I understand how absolutely unacceptably sanctimonious such concern trolling looks coming from one such as myself, or just myself, period. Maybe I shouldn't of even brought it up. Good thing the case of "Margaret" would seem to be, for all intents and purposes, unique...

Oliver_C

Lonergan himself has voiced his approval (however reluctantly or belatedly) of the contractually-mandated, 150-minute theatrical release. Too bad it took him a five-year, Ciminoesque, litigious, career-derailing, Pollack-infuriating (and Pollack-outliving) bender of pretentiousness to reach this preagreed edit.

Bilge

The other thing about MARGARET is that a lot of the first wave of published reviews that came out about it were pretty mixed, and many of the folks who took up the cause of the film (well before the whole #teammargaret thing) had to see it in its theatrical run and didn't get to write high-profile reviews of it. (To this day, for example, I don't think our pal Vadim Rizov has reviewed it, because it was never his assignment -- and yet it was his exhortation on Twitter that made me go see it.) As much as I wanted the Twitter campaign/petition to inspire Fox to set up new press screenings and/or make screeners available, I was also just hoping it would let them know that there's a sizable contingent of critics/writers/bloggers out there who dearly, dearly LOVE this film. Luckily, it appears to have succeeded on both counts.

And as far as other critics taking another look and changing their minds, maybe not, but it's worth noting that some of those aforementioned mixed reviews were mixed not in a "meh" kind of way but more in a "wow, some of this movie is staggeringly great, shame about the other parts and/or the messy editing or whatever" kind of way. And that suggests to me that these are writers who probably would be open to revisiting the film at some point, since they clearly loved significant chunks of it. I'm probably wrong about that, but a guy can dream.

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