Revisiting “Margin Call”

I saw "Margin Call" during its brief run at the Lincoln Center cinema.  The show I attended looked to be sold out, and so were others than weekend according to press reports.  The film got enthusiastic reviews from the NY Times, the New Yorker, and other commentators.  It played briefly and disappeared.  I assumed they were hoping for Oscar nominations and would open it wide in January after they were announced.  But then it showed up in the local store as a DVD, which I promptly bought.  So now I've actually seen it three times – once in the theater, once on my laptop, and once at my brother's house with my brother and sister-in-law.  And every time I see it, I am more impressed.

This is a terrific film.  It is intense, witty, full of insights about human behavior and the financial industry, and features incredible performances from a stellar cast: Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, Zachary Quint, Penn Badgley… everybody involved is superb.  Mr. Chandor, the writer-director making his first feature film, does a great job.  The cinematography is gorgeous. 

So I'm puzzled?  Why did it open small and disappear quickly?  If the plan was to re-release in theaters after Oscar nominations, why did they issue it on disc and send it to retailers so quickly?  I hope it wins a wide following, because I think it is an important film to help people understand some of what was going on in 2008 when things seemed to fall apart.  And it is just so watchable!

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