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Blu-ray Review Margaret Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    A tour de force performance by Anna Paquin and impressive work from her fellow actors truly elevate the sometimes histrionic teenaged angst that’s at the core of Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret. The coming-of-age drama doesn’t really offer anything new in this intense story of a teenager’s ideals clashing with the more practical and harsh truths about the world, but despite a lengthy running time, the power and directness of the performances overcome the sometimes flowery writing and occasionally unfocused storytelling.



    Margaret (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
    Directed by Kenneth Lonergan

    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Year: 2011
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 150 minutes
    Rating: R/NR
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
    Subtitles:  SDH, Spanish

    Region: A
    MSRP: $ 39.99


    Release Date: July 10, 2012

    Review Date: July 13, 2012




    The Film

    3.5/5


    After Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) innocently distracts a bus driver (Mark Ruffalo) on a busy New York City street, he runs a red light and hits Monica (Allison Janney), severing her leg. She dies in the street cradled in Lisa’s arms and afterward while giving her statement to the police, Lisa covers for the bus driver placing the blame on the now dead Monica. Some days later, however, guilt begins to get the best of her so that she strikes out at her actress mother (J. Smith-Cameron), distracted by her star part in a play about to open on Broadway, lets her schoolwork slip, and engages in risky behavior with sex and drugs. Eventually, she tries to right the wrong she’s done, but apart from Monica’s lonely friend Emily (Jeannie Berlin), no one seems really interested in setting the story straight. Angered, Lisa begins her own crusade to get some kind of justice for Monica.


    Those familiar with Kenneth Lonergan’s previous visceral drama You Can Count on Me know the extremes of emotion that the writer-director is interested in pursuing. The writing sometimes gets a bit out of control here with lengthy, hyperbolic speeches that don’t always sound like real people talking and some plot events (a quickie with her geometry teacher played by Matt Damon, smoking a joint with her best friend in Central Park and ridiculing her English teacher played by Matthew Broderick who just happens to be walking past) that seem like unnecessary padding and dramatic dead ends. The shouting matches where Lisa feels like she’s taking on the world, whether it be classmates during lectures, her mother, Emily, the bus driver, or the lawyer who is eventually hired to see what legal steps can be taken in the matter do tend to pile up and go overboard during the film’s lengthy running time thus lessening the impact of the points being made. Eventually, we watch as Lisa’s childhood illusions about justice and fairness come crashing down, all the while noting that, at least in the director’s way of looking at things, people don’t really know how to communicate with one another very well.


    There is a reason Anna Paquin has been a celebrated actress from a young age: she acts the socks off of this role (her reaction to a performance of  The Tales of Hoffmann at the conclusion is gutsy emoting at its finest making much of the screaming and shouting from the previous two hours totally worth it. J. Smith-Cameron is just as superb as a divorced mother struggling with a rebellious daughter who’s sometimes more grown up than she is. Jean Reno has a touching role as a tentative new Colombian suitor for the mother while Jeannie Berlin has several evocative moments as the friend trying to make sense of the tragedy and conflicted about dredging it all up again to assuage Lisa’s guilty conscience. Casting Matt Damon and Matthew Broderick in cameos as school teachers doesn’t pay big dividends due to the underdeveloped nature of their roles. The director himself plays Lisa’s detached father living in California and only superficially involved in her life to any significant degree.



    Video Quality

    4/5


    The film’s theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio is presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness overall is good but is not exemplary with contrast occasionally a bit too dull to allow viewers to hone in on the details. Color is quite nicely presented and always under control, even the bloody accident reds which come early in the movie and appear occasionally in dream sequences later. Flesh tones seem very natural throughout. Black levels are okay but no more. The film has been divided into 36 chapters.



    Audio Quality

    3.5/5


    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is more frontcentric than it should have been. Though Nico Muhly’s music and the excerpts from Norma and The Tales of Hoffman get a fine spread through the fronts and rears, the majority of the sound design seems concentrated on the front three channels with the rears silent for long stretches of the movie, surprising when a good portion of it takes place on New York City streets, police stations, and Central Park.



    Special Features

    1/5


    There are no bonuses on the Blu-ray disc. The second disc in the set is a DVD containing the extended 186-minute version of the movie. It’s presented in anamorphic widescreen and contains Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.



    In Conclusion

    3/5 (not an average)


    Margaret (an oblique reference to a name in a 19th century poem casually mentioned in the movie) is a lengthy, histrionically-centered drama with strong performances but a relentless, sometimes overpowering tone. The release contains no bonus material apart from the director's extended cut of the film on DVD. Fans of the star laden-cast may wish to give it a rental.





    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Second Unit

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    I loved You Can Count On Me, and have been awaiting this one for a while now. What I'm really interested to know, however, is – is the extended cut, supposedly made with the assistance of Martin Scorsese – better than the contractual, 150 minute cut? Is there time for the honorable reviewer to go back and let us know if it is significantly better, or just more of the same?
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    No time at all at present, unfortunately, but I AM curious about how these contributors could add more than thirty additional minutes to a film that's already longer than it needed to be (supposedly this was cut from the director's original four hour version). One day I will make a return visit to the DVD to see it, but I don't see much of a break in viewing/reviewing for at least the next two weeks.
     
  4. David Norman

    David Norman Producer

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    I was listening to a review on this on NPR yesterday and the guy basically said his first viewing he thought the Theatrical cut was 1/2 of a masterpiece, but the other half was a mess.
    After an intense negotiation from fans to finally allow the long cut to be produced, he's was of the opinion that 3 hour cut on the DVD was one of the great masterworks of the last 40+ years and despite
    the 3 hours cut, it felt shorter than the Theatrical. He was also a huge admirer of Paquan's performance and has already annoited her the heir apparent to great actresses of film history. It's certainly hard to argue her range
    Maybe one day the extended cut will be released on Bluray
     
  5. theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Second Unit

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    AFAIK, the extended, three-hour cut, is on the BR. I guess it will have to be a blind buy. And thanks Matt for the prompt reply; I guess I will have to make a blind buy. Everything I'm hearing about this suggests that the performances alone are worth the price of admission. Haven't really seen Paquin in anything substantial since Fly Away Home (the X-Men flicks were good, but essentially bit parts).
     
  6. pete s visnic

    pete s visnic Auditioning

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    Unfortunately,the extended cut of the film is on a separate disc which is standard definition only. I also heard the NPR review , and the reviewer indicated that in his opinion ,the Blu-Ray was suitable only for use as a coaster. i
    u
     
  7. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    I rented and watched the theatrical cut and really liked it, enough to go and purchase the DVD Blu-ray combo set.
    I am comparing the director's cut that is on the DVD with the theatrical cut that is on the Blu-ray right now, and it isn't a clean case of listing the added scenes or bits of dialogue that make up the difference in running time. It is an entirely different cut of the film, which scenes being cut to a different pace, using different takes and alternate shots and angles. So far the differences are quite subtle, but I'm only 20 minutes in.
    I am making notes for notable differences though, and I'll post them here.
     
  8. theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Second Unit

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    Man, that's so RATTY! I guess the costs of mastering two completely different versions of the film was too much for the studio to swallow, given the expected returns. Ah well, art and commerce collide yet again.
    As for rentals, I'd love to, but we don't get 'em up here in Vancouver anymore. Rogers Video went bust, Blockbuster too, and all that's left are a few independents (Tom's Video on the Grandview Highway), and they're having a tough time of it too. One day, soon, I guess I will have to pony up for more bandwidth so I can "rent" on a downloadable basis. Oh yeah, if you want Korean or Chinese videos, you can still rent those locally – you can even rent VHS versions often – though what a lot of those are, are discs made in the back of the store from downloaded files or taken direct off satelite by various means.
     

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