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Martin Scorsese Calls ‘Silence’ His Next; Kenneth Lonergan Talks Longer ‘Margaret’ Cut

Posted by , on December 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm 

Recent comments on the part of one Martin Scorsese indicated that his next feature would be The Irishman, a mob epic that’s lined up a dream cast comprised of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel. It’s certainly one of many projects he could choose from at the moment, and that’s not even counting new jobs he might sign on to in the next couple of months.

Among those, a film I’ve been eagerly anticipating is his adaptation of Shusako Endo‘s Jesuit priest drama Silence, which would star Benicio Del Toro and Daniel Day-Lewis. Unfortunately, even though we like to bring it up in conjunction with his name whenever the opportunity strikes, the only formal announcement on it came in February of 2009; everything else since has been speculation or off-the-cuff comments.

That changed just a tiny bit this week, when Scorsese joined Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo on their Radio Five program (via BleedingCool). Though his statements this time around shouldn’t be taken as a formal announcement or great declaration, he happened to say the following:

“I’m hoping to do Endo’s book next, Silence… Not hoping, we’re literally pulling all the elements together at this point.”

I assume that “all the elements” refers to financing and a studio, two things a man of Scorsese‘s caliber is almost guaranteed to have as soon as he wants it. If there is any obstacle, it’s an unfortunate one: Regarding the involvement of Daniel Day-Lewis, he only responded with the slightly ambiguous “I’m not sure. Daniel’s working with Steve right now, Steve Spielberg.”‘

The picture he’s referring to is Lincoln, of course, which should finish production early next year — but what really matters is where Day-Lewis will be at that point. The man’s notorious for getting very deep into his characters (there’s a not-so-crazy rumor that he hasn’t left his Abraham Lincoln voice since March), a process that’s said to be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting.

A lack of familiarity with Endo‘s original work means that I can’t determine how much of a “character” he needs to jump into — if the research is extensive, the transformation radical. All that I can base speculation on is when production would begin. Should Scorsese not be pre-occupied with more documentary or TV work, Silence could get rolling by the end of next year. Might Day-Lewis still be too exhausted by this unsure point? It goes without saying that I’m pulling for him to stay on board — but I also wouldn’t want him to be overworked, thus incapable of delivering with all his talent.

Speaking of Martin Scorsese, his friend and occasional creative partner, Kenneth Lonergan, recently talked to Time (via ThePlaylist) about the recent influx of support for his divisive, frequently-delayed Margaret. After years of editing problems and legal litigation, a release at the end of September that about ten people saw (three of whom are myself, Jordan, and Jack Giroux) went much quicker than it came.

Yet, this past week on Twitter saw the hashtag #teammargaret sprout up in many a film fan’s feed, all in an effort to get extra screenings for voting critics this awards season. While Lonergan has been almost wholly silent in the months leading up to and following his movie’s release, Time managed to get him on the phone to discuss the movement.

Among his many remarks, the most notable would be the hint that a longer version of the film might be coming in the future. Someone unfamiliar with the project’s extensive history might wonder why a 2 1/2 hour drama that feels too lengthy should be any longer; to make a long story short through a hyperlink, there is a reason.

Although he “support[s] this Cut wholeheartedly and want[s] people to see and like it,” what got out still doesn’t entirely match his original vision. This is Lonergan‘s quote on how we could one day see it:

“[W]hile I fully support the released Cut, it’s also no secret that I tried to get a subsequent version released, which Marty Scorsese very graciously helped with, which even more fully executes my complete intentions — a cut that I still hope will someday, somehow see the light of day.”

This version that Scorsese helped out Lonergan with was declared as being too long by Fox Searchlight, who wanted a film under 150 minutes. (The one we got was 149.) Sounds like a great deal, but among the many problems inherent in getting this out there, the most significant is who will release it. It’s enough of a miracle that Fox Searchlight is setting up some additional showings for those in critics’ groups; going the extra step to release an extended version probably isn’t high on their list of priorities. Should Criterion be reading this (they’re not), I’d just tell them that a film closer to Lonergan‘s own vision might end up being worthy of their time and effort. Otherwise, Searchlight spending a few extra thousand to master another edition for the Blu-ray would be mightily appreciated.

Odd cuts and editing choices in the theatrical release were all the more evident to myself, as I’ve read most of Lonergan‘s original script, but I’m expecting those to have been cleaned up in the Scorsese-assisted cut. It at least pleased the man who made it in the first place, and that’s kind of all that matters.

When do you think Scorsese will get around to Silence? Is it possible that Lonergan’s preferred version of Margaret will ever come our way?


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