Thursday, 2 May 2013

looking at the movie, MARGARET

Sometimes on surveys or those 'who are you' fwd emails you get asked to name your favourite movie and I find that difficult.  I don't have a favourites list,  I just have a 'won't watch list'. 

The Movies I like are usually dramas involving the way people relate to one another or mysteries that reveal the true nature of the people involved. I love stories with layers and also appreciate the rather quirky raw life stories like Napoleon Dynamite or Moonrise Kingdom but these can be overdone easily.

There are so many wonderful movies, some are visual works of art, some are brilliant stories, some are just great fun to watch. And names! I couldn't even come up with the best name - such poetic feasts are promised by 'Children of a lesser God' or 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil'.  And think of the money invested in these books-come-to-life - millions and millions of dollars and euros are spent every day - employing thousands to stroke the egos of actors, directors and screen writers and all resulting in such rich entertainment for us - we may as well eat all we can.

I like watching DVDs at home. I don't have to go out, I can choose my time and even give myself an intermission. Also DVDs often have extras - interviews and behind the scenes footage. If we enjoy a movie we like to get as much as we can from it.  And you can miss so much in the theatre. Our oldest son studied film and multi media and in turn educated us to the process of filming scenes. In the movie 'The Children of Men' we found a scene in a car that is filmed on a 360 degree pan, all in one take. The shot takes in what is happening outside the car and inside... how did they do that? Where was the camera?  We had a few fun hours with that DVD, rewinding (do you rewind on a DVD?) and slowing it down.  

Shirley and Jack in Bernie
And movies based on true stories often interview the real people. One we saw this year was Bernie, with Jack Black. The movie itself was full of 'real' people from the real Bernie's home town and they were wonderful. Also, the movie changed my attitude towards Jack Black. I love how he sang in the car and dances in his band costume. So cute!

But, if I was asked to name the last really excellent movie I've seen I would be able to answer that.  A few weeks ago I watched a movie called 'Margaret',  and it affected me so much I'm still talking about it.

Maybe I noticed the title because my mother was a Margaret.  I read the brief outline that hinted at an intriguing story despite the fact that the main character was a 17 year old girl. I put it on our list in the movie club and then it arrived in our letterbox as a lovely surprise. 

Through the movie I gained understanding of myself at the age of 17, long ago. And with that came a realisation that would have been very handy back then, if I'd been able to understand. Even just for that personal experience this movie was brilliant, but it's also a good story.

Kenneth Lonergan, an American playwright, screenwriter and director is responsible for the script and direction. He filmed in 2005 and then had post production problems leading to a court case which held it up until 2009 and the movie was finally released in 2011. Apparently he made a movie that was over 3 hours long, hoping to edit it back to the required 150 minutes. On the DVD there is an extended version of 186 mins, which was what I watched and I can't see how you could cut a second of that. The actors, in order of some importance to me as a viewer include; Anna Paquin,  Mark Ruffalo, Jeannie Berlin, Kieran Culkin, Jean Reno and J. Smith-Cameron.

I have since read several reviews and gather that not everyone loved it as I did. I suppose it's not for everyone but I loved it - I loved the sound track, the scenes of the city, the people crossing streets and the snatches of conversation .... all that was part of the story, not just background but a real part of the story, the music and the city were characters too. The title Margaret comes from a poem read by a teacher (Matthew Broderick in a very small part) about two thirds of the way through - 'Spring and Fall' by Gerard Manley Hopkins, which starts ... 'Margaret, are you grieving', the rest of the poem is at the bottom of this page, for those who must know everything (like me).

Anna and Matt in Margaret
The heart of the story begins with a conversation Lisa has with her teacher, Mr Aaron Caije (Matt Damon). She says she doesn't like maths (geometry) and will never need it in her life and he says, haven't you ever thought you didn't like something and then changed and began to like it? She says no, and he asks her again. She says no again and then spends the rest of the movie facing situations that change the way she sees her world. Didn't anyone else get this?

I don't think she is frustrated as some reviews say, I think she is working very hard to find her way through the adult world and she's doing it all alone. No one really supports her, mostly because she's difficult but also they have their own problems, but still she's only 17 and trying to right wrongs but there is no one for her - until the end, at the opera, the music and the perfect duet and Lisa is in tears (and I was in tears too). She understands then that we can't do it alone, we should not be doing it alone ... and there is her mother, also alone and they find each other.

It is a tremendous movie, so touching, so like all our lives, just brilliant, and I am sorry that many people have passively watched this movie expecting to be entertained and missed the beautiful truth it holds. I saw no problem with editing, in fact I enjoyed the editing, the flow, the look and the sound - all 186 minutes. Best movie I've seen for a long time - a not to be missed review by Janine

This is a synopsis I copied from a movie site:     Margaret centres on a 17-year-old New York City high-school student who feels certain that she inadvertently played a role in a traffic accident that has claimed a woman's life. In her attempts to set things right she meets with opposition at every step. Torn apart with frustration, she begins emotionally brutalizing her family, her friends, her teachers, and most of all, herself. She has been confronted quite unexpectedly with a basic truth: that her youthful ideals are on a collision course against the realities and compromises of the adult world.

Anna Paquin plays Lisa in the movie Margaret

My final comment   - If only Lisa knew, if only we all knew at 17,  that the moment we start to think we know it all and can control our lives and other people's responses, that is the moment we should start learning that we don't and never will.

And for those interested,  my 'won't watch list' includes;

... movies made from books that I've read and enjoyed recently (I need to wait a few years), 
I have not been able to watch 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy because visuals of my first reading those books back in 1970 are still strong and I may never be able to see the movie version of 'Life of Pi').
... anything about zombies, vampires, devil worship or demons or those super fantasy video game style movies is a no no. (Back in the video days I even edited our copy of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, removing the bits I didn't like).
... most teen movies, especially involving American college students or sport competitions.
... wrongful imprisonment and torture - some movies I can't watch at all and other's I just have to keep my fingers over my face and peek.

.... but, sometimes we need to know the bad things and sometimes we need to watch to learn. 'Shooting dogs' was one of those, based on true life genocide/slaughter. It had to be watched and I now have a better understanding of some world situations. The characters are fictional but the story is real - based on actual events in 1994.  
After the Hutu President of Rwanda was shot the Hutu militias take it out on the Tutsi people and there is slaughter. The movie focuses on a group of 2,500 Tutsi refugees under siege in a catholic school. When they are abandoned by the UN they are murdered with machetes. 
The UN peacekeepers shoot local dogs that feed on the dead bodies of genocide victims, which were left in the street, but when the Tutsi's ask them to shoot their children to spare them being hacked to death, they refuse. It's a good title but strangely the movie was also shown under the title 'Beyond the Gates' and that does not have the same impact.
The goose bump at the end - going into the credits, we see shots of some of the crew on the movie - who are real life Rwanda genocide survivors. This certainly helps to cope with what went before.



And here is a quote on movies from our Clive James;    'All television ever did was shrink the demand for ordinary movies. The demand for extraordinary movies increased. If any one thing is wrong with the movie industry today, it is the unrelenting effort to astonish.'

Aussie Clive James

... and the poem from Margaret

Spring and Fall   by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1918)
to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

1 comment:

  1. You seem to have thought a lot about this, good value


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