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Margaret Thatcher (#110 of 11)

DOC NYC 2013: Revenge of the Mekons Review

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DOC NYC 2013: <em>Revenge of the Mekons</em> Review
DOC NYC 2013: <em>Revenge of the Mekons</em> Review

[Photo: Frank Swider]

An exemplary documentary about an exemplary band, Revenge of the Mekons tells the story of the eponymous group by not only situating them in their proper musical and historical context, but by offering a telling look at the octet’s working dynamic and by outlining the specific qualities that have made them such a significant entity for the better part of four decades. Formed in Leeds in 1977, these art-school leftists began as a can’t-play-their-instruments punk band before gradually finding their footing, thanks to the influence of English folk, American country, and Margaret Thatcher’s devastating suppression of the miners’ strike, around the mid ’80s. Reformulating their sound, the band produced 1985’s classic Fear and Whiskey, considered by many to be the founding text of alt-country, and have been refining their approach ever since, maintaining the same non-hierarchical membership of eight since the early ’90s.

Poster Lab: The Iron Lady and J. Edgar

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Poster Lab: <em>The Iron Lady</em> and <em>J. Edgar</em>
Poster Lab: <em>The Iron Lady</em> and <em>J. Edgar</em>

There are plenty of Oscar contenders whose posters reflect a hunger for trophies (the most common sign being a slathering of laurel leaves and reminders of actors’ past recognition), but in the cases of The Iron Lady and J. Edgar, The Weinstein Company and Warner Brothers are going full-on campaign, stripping away the veneer that can downplay the rampant politics of awards season. Both images emit a roaring, pompous confidence in their lead candidates, as well as that dusty air of stuffiness that hovers over so many political ads. Though denoting stories that unfold on opposite sides of the pond, the posters see their gap bridged by a like-minded championing of ruthless ambition and nationalistic victory (not to mention a little red, white and blue). Forget subliminal—the folks behind these designs want a lot of bloody votes.

Anyone who’s seen the teaser trailer for The Iron Lady surely picked up on the Weinstein camp’s full awareness of the popular notion that Meryl Streep already has Best Actress in the bag for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. Banking on the idea that a mere peek at the actress in character will suffice, the one-minute clip is primarily a Streep pep talk from actors Roger Allam and Nicholas Farrell: “You’ve got it in you to go the whole distance,” the pair advises, speaking directly into the camera. And there, in a nutshell, is the film’s entire strategy.