In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

Thumb five acts poster

Jane Fonda in Five Acts

Director Susan Lacy has the great advantage of a subject whose life has been extensively documented literally since birth.

Thumb fahrenheit eleven nine

Fahrenheit 11/9

The messiness of Moore’s film starts to feel appropriate for the times we’re in. With a new issue being debated every day, is it any…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Primary margaret unloved

The Unloved, Part 48: "Margaret"

Today is the fourth anniversary of "The Unloved," so I wanted to do something huge, something different, something unwieldy, because those are my favourite kinds of film. The ones that seem bigger than the medium will allow them to be, that creep into your unconscious and stay there to pop out and remind you of their power when you least expect them.

I saw "Margaret" like many people in it’s slightly butchered theatrical cut in 2011 and even with its soul cut out I could tell this movie was different. It was loud and relentless and hard to watch at times. Cruel, even. But the more I watched the more I realized it was trying to show all of life in a city that’s come to represent one half of American life, the fast thinking liberals with more conscience than they know with what to do. 


"Margaret" hasn’t left me for longer than a few days since then. I found myself furious at its negative press. I got so wound up at Keith Phipps’ C grade that I may have gotten an AV Club account to yell at him about it. Keith is a national treasure and a friend and it seems ridiculous that I was so offended by anyone’s review of anything but that’s how passionately I felt about this movie. I felt like people were criticizing the act of self actualization, of growing up. That whomever I was about to become was somehow under attack because older folks weren’t taking this movie about growth seriously. Needless to say, I was a fun 21-year-old.

But every part of this difficult film has stayed with me. From Jeannie Berlin’s Star showcase to Anna Paquin’s believably stunted young woman to Allison Janey’s Movie infecting one scene performance. Her howls of confusion stick to the rest of the movie like blood stains. She is remarkable in this movie and the fact that she may finally get an academy award fills me with great delight. I used to watch her every week on "The West Wing." She’s one of the greats.

But frankly there isn’t a bad moment of performance in this movie, which utilizes poetry, literature, opera and theatre to help us understand the experience of being alive. This movie is a terrifying gift, one of the great films of my lifetime. So I tried to do something a little more formally adventurous this time out, something that fits its understanding of our collective footprint. This film understands that we’re all living our lives elbow to elbow, that everyone’s pain matters. I’ll never forget realizing how generous this movie is despite it centering on one of the most self centered women in film history. But Lonergan believes that even the most self absorbed of us can find other people and let them in, can pump the brakes on our self destruction, can remember to love before it’s too late. Margaret is one tough watch but it’s also one of the most rewarding. 

I wanted to use this film’s sprawling scope as a way to say thank you to everyone who has watched this series, who has recommended it to a friend, who has given one of these movies a chance based on my recommendation. I’ll never forget the elation I felt when Matt called me at work that day in 2013 and said to me he liked my idea for an essay on "Alien³" and "would I be making this into a series?" Working for this site as long as I’ve been allowed to is a dream come true. Meeting Chaz for the first time, covering New York Film Festival for this site, having Matt and Brian Tallerico say nice things about my writing. All of these things make me glad to be alive, glad that Cinema was my first love. Standing alongside such a fantastic array of writers helping to ensure Roger Ebert’s legacy is an honor beyond description.

The Unloved - Margaret from Scout Tafoya on Vimeo.


Popular Blog Posts

"You Were Expecting Someone Else?" Why a Non-White James Bond is the Franchise's Logical Next Step

Not only would Idris Elba make a great James Bond, the franchise has been building towards casting an actor of color ...

Grace and Nature: On Criterion’s Release of The Tree of Life

On the new Criterion release of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, which includes a new 50-minute-longer extended cu...

Jonah Hill, Emma Stone Star in Netflix’s Daring, Brilliant Maniac

A review of the phenomenal new Netflix show starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus