After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
An obsessed archaeologist named Kale (Luke Goss) is hidden away in the hills of the desert researching a Native American tribe that mysteriously disappeared. With the help of a well-meaning Indian historian (Russell Means) Kale discovers that a creature destroyed the tribe and he inadvertently unearths the remnants of the monster. Along with Goss the monster traps a rag-tag group of people including an alcoholic female sheriff (Emmanuelle Vaugier) a grizzled rancher (M.C. Gainey) a wise-cracking dude (Charlie Murphy) and others. To their horror this creature is a ruthless and cold-blooded killer who picks them off one by one. Although there are some character actors doing what they do best--especially Means as the wise and haughty Native American grandfather--in general the acting is pretty mediocre. Vaugier tries to do more with her role as the outcast alcoholic who's trying to hold onto her job as the local sheriff but ultimately it's one note. As is Goss as the obsessed scientist desperately trying to bring some veritas to his performance. Actually the very weirdly-shaped creature is the best actor of the bunch and that's not saying much. Matthew Leutwyler made a splash with his zombie comedy musical Dead and Breakfast and tries to follow up with Unearthed. He has assembled a competent special effects team to create one helluva creature--not your usual garden-variety monster here. This creature spits balls of acid which turn into worm-like things that burrow into people's skin. The creature also seems to have claws for hands and needles that come out of his skeleton. Nice image huh? Good thing Unearthed has such a scary villain because this film otherwise would be dullsville.