Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The February Cultural Roundup

Vanessa Paradis in the phenomenal but overlooked Cafe de Flores ...
A Lit Chick ... you lazy girl, all you did was watch movies this month! Yup ...

The Descendants (U.S., 2011) directed by Alexander Payne
Café de Flores (Can., 2011) directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Drive (U.S., 2011) directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Iron Lady (U.S., 2011) directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Margin Call (U.S., 2011) directed by J.C. Chandor
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada, 2011) directed by Philippe Falardeau
Something Borrowed (U.S., 2011) directed by Luke Greenfield
Hugo (U.S., 2011) directed by Martin Scorsese

A Book of Secrets by Michael Holroyd
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Friday, February 24, 2012


Hugo channeling Harold Lloyd
  Hugo (U.S., 2011) directed by Martin Scorsese, 128 minutes
Nominated for ten Oscars:
Best Art Direction
Best Picture
Best Cinematography
Best Costume Design
Best Directing
Best Music (Original Score)
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mixing
Best Visual Effects
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

A film historian and enthusiast's dream ... this 3D film works on so many emotional levels and excels in every category it was nominated for. The book on which it was based is a creative, playful tribute to French film pioneer Georges Melies and the beginning of film. I know many adults are wearying of the 3D effect but it absolutely works here to enhance a beautifully told tale. I was enchanted, my friend was however ... bored.

Twelve year old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in the Gare Montparnasse railway station, maintaining the clocks for which he has an amazing aptitude and toiling on repairing a broken automaton (which bears a striking resemblance to the robot in Metropolis) left to him by his father (Jude Law) who died in a museum fire sometime ago. Hugo's nemesis is an over zealous Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) with a limp and a nasty doberman who hunts down orphaned children and packs them off to the police. Hugo eludes him by quietly repairing the clocks in the station, impersonating the work of his alcoholic uncle Claude who has since disappeared.

Hugo's father tinkered with the mechanical man until the museum burnt down and his father perished. Hugo now steals mechanical parts from Georges Melies (Ben Kingsley), the toy store owner in the station, to repair the machine but he is soon caught by Melies. Seeing the beauty of Hugo's drawings and Hugo's mechanical genius, Melies vindictively takes Hugo's notebook from him. Hugo follows Melies to his house and meets Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), Georges' goddaughter, who promises to help retrieve the notebook. Moretz is a perfect 30s heroine ... still childlike in appearance, not overly pretty, but spunky, intelligent, and with a good heart. Upon further reflection, Melies grudgingly agrees that Hugo may obtain the notebook back by working for him in the toy store until he pays for all the things he stole.

Hugo works part-time in the toy shop to atone and also faint-heartedly tries to fix the automaton, yet he misses one part – a heart–shaped key. It turns out that Isabelle has a heart-shaped key that fits in the automaton. When they activate it, the automaton draws a still from a famous 1902 film by Melies called Voyage to the Moon. Hugo then introduces Isabelle to the movies (something that she has never seen as she has been forbidden by her godfather) and she introduces Hugo to her favourite bookstore and books.

When Hugo shows Georges' wife Maman Jeanne the drawing she is alarmed (she recognizes her husband's work) then asks them to hide when Georges comes home. Isabelle and Hugo accidentally find a secret cabinet that holds dozens of drawings from Georges' films. But Georges is discouraged and depressed by their find as much of his work has been destroyed and, sadly, forgotten by the French public.

Hugo and Isabelle search for a book on the history of film and Melies' role in cinema history. An author, Rene Tabard (Michael Stuhlbarg), cites Melies having died in the Great War. Monsieur Tabard himself magically appears in the bookstore and the children tell him that Melies is very much alive. Tabard reveals that he owns a copy of Voyage to the Moon. The children return to the Melies home with a copy of the film that Georges reluctantly watches then begins to explain how he came to film, how he invented his special effects, and how he lost everything after the war. He also voices his regret that the the automaton was lost in the museum fire.

Hugo returns to the station to get the automaton for Melies, but is trapped by the Station Inspector and his dog. In the most spectacular scene in the film, Hugo escapes to the top of the clock tower and hangs from hands of the clock to elude the Station Inspector (in an overt homage to Harold Lloyd that you may view here).

Hugo grabs the automaton and runs but is cornered again by the Station Inspector and the automaton is thrown on to the railway tracks. Hugo tries to save it but instead the Station Inspector saves him and the automaton. Hugo pleads with the officer who is ready to take him away, but Georges appears and says that Hugo is in his care.

In the end, Georges gets an enormous cinematic tribute where Tabard announces that some eighty films of Melies' were recovered and restored. Hugo becomes Georges' apprentice and Isabelle decides to be a write Hugo's story.

It occurred to me during the film that just as the first film goers ducked the oncoming train they viewed in their first film - Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat shot by the Lumière Brothers in1895 - 3D has a similar effect on today's viewer. I felt as if the snowflakes of the many snow-filled scenes were falling on me. Navigating the workings of the clock with Hugo was both exciting and claustrophobic. The station is filled with lovely, whimsical figures as the camera zoom sin between their fleeting figures.

Scorsese, one of my personal heroes, uses 3D spectacularly and to great emotional effect. I could see how he might, as Wim Wenders has vowed to do after he made the documentary Pina, be unable to go back to conventional film making.

Voyage to the Moon

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Monsieur Lazhar

Alice and Mr. Lazhar
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada, 2011) directed by Philippe Falardeau, 94 minutes
Nominated for one Oscar: 
Best Foreign Language Film (Canada)

A quiet and powerful film about loss and hope, Monsieur Lazhar was nominated for for Best Foreign Language film as Canada's entry.

Montreal grade school students Simon (Emilien Neron) and Alice (Sophie Nelisse who brings to mind the American actress Anna Chlumsky at that age) discover the body of their teacher Martine hanging in their classroom one morning. Each morning it is the duty of one of the students to bring a carton of milk into the classroom and it is Simon's turn that day. This will prove a salient point later.

The school's principal (Danielle Proulx) frantically hires a substitute teacher Bachir Lazhar (comedian/writer Fellag), a recently arrived Algerian, when he approaches her after learning of the tragedy in the media.

Lazhar's personal history is complicated. He arrives as a refugee driven out by the violence in Algeria where he has lost family members after a terrorist attack but he poses as a permanent resident with a teaching background to obtain the job. He has a strong love of French culture that he tries to instill in the somewhat resistant students (dictation from a tome by Pascal raises some eyebrows) but they slowly seem to be coming around.

M. Lazhar's relationship with Alice (Sophie Nelisse) is most affecting and charming. They compare their places of birth (his is "Alger la blanche" - Algier the White - hers is Montreal City of Sludge). She cites herself as his favourite and seems to be the moral conscience of the classroom.

Simon, a high-spirited boy, appears to be involved somehow in the suicide of the teacher and there is some resentment in the school towards him, particularly with his friend Alice. Simon has a disconcerting habit of taking photos at unexpected times in the classroom. 

The story approaches the children from two angles: one teacher comments that  the students have to be treated like radioactive waste now - no physical contact at all is permitted - an atmosphere that creates a mild paranoia and fear amongst the teachers. There is suggestion that a misunderstanding between the teacher Martine having physical contact with Simon lead to an allegation of inappropriate behavior and hence her suicide. In the classroom. On the day that Simon was to bring the milk before class.

As the camera rests on the pretty faces of the students, the filmmaker seems to be saying that the Montreal classroom now resembles a more diverse community - Arabic-speaking and black students, hyphenated Anglo and French names, mixed cultural parentage are now the norm.This is the new Montreal.

Monsieur Lazhar has his own theories about how to deal with the suicide that appear to disturb the rest of the staff. That he encourages the children to speak of her death is enough to prompt an investigation into his background and sets in motion a course of action from which he can't retreat.

Fellag is wonderful as the gentle, battered substitute teacher who is somewhat befuddled but charmed by Quebecois culture and striving to forget some horrific secrets of his own.

The enchanting Alice (Sophie Nelisse) ...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Drive (U.S., 2011) directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, 100 minutes
Nominated for one Oscar:
Best Sound Editing
The unnamed Driver (Ryan Gosling) in this film, who works as a mechanic and stunt driver for low budget movies, also moonlights as a getaway driver on heists. The film was adapted not from the 1978 Walter Hill film The Driver but from a James Sallis novel of the same name with the screenplay by Hossein Amini.

Gosling has the perfect demeanor for this role. I don’t think of him as a particularly gifted or emotive actor. He often has a sort of flat, slacker expression on his face as if he couldn’t care less what you thought of him as a person or as an actor. Apparently this has a disarming affect on women of a certain age group (take a peek on the Internet for all the “Hey Girl …” memes where an imagined Gosling sweetly addresses his adoring female fan base).

But here, that cool, disinterested visage works. He can’t be emotional; he needs to be completely in control whether he is rolling a car for a stunt for an extra $500 or eluding the cops in the terrific car chase scene that opens the film beginning at the scene of a robbery, racing through Los Angeles with the two frightened robbers in the back seat and ends in the parking lot of the Staples Centre with the Driver smoothly gliding past a few cop cars looking for the suspects.

The movie has an odd but pleasant retro 80s feel from its shocking pink neon title to the sometimes inane pop music that accompanies the sometimes graphic scenes to the shiny satin jacket that Gosling sports for much of the film (even after it has been liberally splattered with blood). 

The Driver’s boss Shannon (Breaking Bad's terrific Bryan Cranston), who owns the garage where the Driver works, has a scheme. He wants to buy a stock car staked by mobster Bernie Rose (the fantastically frightening Albert Brooks). Bernie, a witty and acerbic petty gangster, is impressed with the Driver’s skills and agrees to pay the $300,000 for a 70% stake in the car against the advice of his business partner “Nino” (Ron Perlman) who changed his name to Nino to camouflage his business dealings and his Jewish heritage. Oh another small detail about “Nino”, he once had Shannon's pelvis broken when he found out Shannon overcharged him on a job.

The Driver soon gets involved with his pretty neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). Later, Irene has her car towed to Shannon's garage, and the Driver begins spending more time with them until Irene's husband, Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac whom you may also remember as the male lead from Madonna’s first film WE), comes home from prison.

Initially my thought were that Mulligan is too sweet, too passive for this role but realistically this is exactly the kind of girl that would get sucked into this life of petty crime and horror. 

Standard owes "protection money" to a petty criminal named Cook (James Biberi), dating from his stint in prison. Cook beats up Standard and threatens to come after Irene and Benicio. The Driver agrees to help Standard by driving him to and from a pawn shop that he is to rob, aided by Blanche (Christina Hendricks), Cook's moll, to clear his debt to Cook. 

Standard is shot dead by the pawn shop owner as he returns to the car after the heist. The Driver and Blanche hide out in a motel room and the Driver threatens Blanche into tell the truth about the robbery. Cook's plan was to double-cross the Driver and Standard and take all of the money for themselves (which turns out to be a million dollars belonging to the East Coast Mafia). Cook's men attack the motel room, killing Blanche and injuring the Driver after which he decimates both of the would-be killers.

Here there is a transformation in the Driver - he turns from being a seemingly passionless, cynical participant into a sort of killing machine. The principals get spooked. Bernie takes out Cook and Shannon to silence them. I won't reveal how but I will say Bernie's specialty is knives. Brooks (as Bernie) is revelatory. His performance should have been recognized by the Academy.

The Driver takes out the hit man sent by Nino to kill him (Nino was behind the pawn shop heist), Nino and his chauffeur, and ultimately Bernie - all in fairly inventive and very graphic ways. In his ultimate encounter he is wounded and leaves the city - his fate and whether he will live or die is unknown. 

Nicolas Winding Refn has an unerring sense of timing to create suspense for example coupling a long drawn out kiss between the Driver and Irene, set to dreamy atmospheric music, before the Driver turns on the hit man that is riding in the elevator with them and literally stomps the man's head into a horrific pulp before a dumb struck Irene. 

Gosling should have been recognized for his work here. I'm thinking of creating my own meme: Boy, you know I would have voted for you if I had been in the Academy ...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The girls are back in town ...
Bridesmaids (U.S., 2011) directed by Paul Feig, 125 minutes 

Nominated for two Oscars:
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Melissa McCarthy
Best Original Screenplay

I had to include this film ... this really is the funniest film I saw in 2011 and I was pleased to see that it received two Oscar noms. Everything about it works as a comedy - it's funny, profane, smart, and honest about how women sometimes feel about relationships with men, friends' engagements, marriage, and female friendship. Annie (Kristen Wigg) is a lovely, bit of a sad sack loser who is overwhelmed with bad luck. Her best friend Lillian (the always wonderful comic actress Maya Rudolph) has gotten engaged and although moderately happy for her it underscores how Annie doesn't like the way her own personal life is going.

She works in a jewellery shop, dispiritedly selling engagement rings to couples after having lost her business, an innovative but failing pastry shop called Cake Baby. She rooms with a very creepy brother and sister duo who eventually kick her out of her own apartment for being unable to pay the rent. She endures disastrous blind dates with unenthusiastic suitors. She is the #3 booty-call favourite of a handsome, charming rogue named Ted (Jon Hamm) who treats her horribly. Her mother (Jill Clayburgh), an AA sponsor who has never been an alcoholic, keeps urging her to move home as her fortunes continue to fail (which she eventually does do).  

Annie's status as Lillian's BFF is in jeopardy when the prospective bride is creepily encroached upon by the groom's boss' wife Helen (played with acidic sweetness by Rose Byrne) who slowly starts to usurp Annie's place as Maid of Honour.

Lil is hoping Annie and Helen will be friends but the gals can't seem to meet on common ground - whether they are literally beating each other up over a game of tennis, selecting bridesmaid dresses or planning the wedding shower.

Alas, Annie can't compete with the ultra-rich, sophisticated, beautiful Helen. She botches the pre-wedding luncheon with the bridesmaids by bringing the women to a dodgy Brazilian restaurant where they contract food poisoning before a dress fitting; she is so disruptive (looped on drugs and booze) on the flight to Las Vegas for the bachelorette that they are thrown off the plane and must return to Chicago by bus; she freaks out at the wedding shower because Helen has gone to such absurd, exorbitant lengths to woo Lillian as a friend (and stolen Annie's proposed theme for the shower). Lillian is so frustrated with Annie's manic behavior  that she kicks her out of the wedding party.

The only bright spot in Annie's life is a sweet-natured cop named Nathan Rhodes (the utterly charming Irish actor Chris O'Dowd) who keeps running into Annie but whom she pays little heed to as she is fixated on all the terrible things that are happening to her (which, admittedly, are pretty terrible). He urges her to return to baking and start a new business, an idea that she resists despite her obvious talents as a baker.

Some of the comic scenes here will be played unto infinity: the trying on of the bridesmaid dresses at a chi-chi wedding boutique after the women experience a bout of food poisoning is shockingly funny and rude. The aborted airplane trip to Vegas where Annie gets looped on meds and booze and starts abusing all and sundry. Annie's attempts to get Officer Rhodes (after she has pretty well dumped him) to help her find Lillian when the bride goes missing on her wedding day. These scenes will live on forever on "celluloid" and youtube.

It is subtly and cleverly subversive about female rituals. Why should a bridesmaid pay $800 for a dress she will never wear again and that she despises? Why should she be bullied into an expensive overnight trip for a bachelorette? Why aren't her feelings of being left behind valid when the engagement is announced and things aren't going her way in her own personal life? The "mean girl" Helen is proven to be not so much mean as lonely and insecure and by the film's end there is a tentative rapprochement between Annie and Helen.

Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumolo dredge up every petty, unhappy jealous feeling that women feel in these situations but don't like to acknowledge openly (Mumolo also does a hysterically funny cameo as an unhinged passenger seated next to Wiig on the plane).

And Melissa McCarthy totally steals the show as Megan the groom's unkempt, profane, vulgar sister and fellow bridesmaid. Whether she is helping the air marshal (and her future lover) take down Annie on the plane or revengefully stealing puppies from the wedding shower or proposing a "Fight Club" theme for the bachelorette ... she has the exact right amount of innocence, vulgarity and charm for this role.The nomination is well deserved.

The mark of a great comic actress is fearlessness ... and Wiig has it in spades (as does Melissa McCarthy). She will make herself look disastrously unattractive (the food poisoning episode); undesirable (being booted out of Ted's bed when he wants to just sleep); jealous, crazy and vindictive (physically destroying Lillian's Parisian-themed wedding shower at Helen's home). She is unshakable in her determination to make us laugh no matter how she comes across.

In the wedding boutique ... you don't want to know what happens next.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Andrea Riseborough and James D’Arcy as Wallis and Edward (W.E.)
W.E. (U.K., 2011) directed by Madonna, 114 minutes
Nominated for one Oscar for:
Best Costume Design
I was prepared to dislike this film ... very prepared. But it did charm me despite my dislike of Wallis Simpson and the sometime antics of its director. But I have a contrary nature. The more critics seemed to trash the film the more disposed I grew to see it.

Set in 1998, New Yorker Wally Winthrop, played by the lovely Australian actress Abbie Cornish last seen in Jane Campion's Bright Star, channels her loneliness and desire for real passion in her troubled marriage into an obsessive interest in Wallis Simpson (expertly portrayed by Andrea Riseborough) and King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy), more commonly known as David to his intimates. Wallis Simpson was an American social­ite and twice divorced divorcee who beguiled the future king and whose courtship prompted a constitutional crisis in England. David abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry Wallis.

The story shifts between the life of the modern day Wally and Wallis Simpson's relationship with the King. Wally haunts a pre-auction Sotheby exhibit of Wallis' effects - charmed by her exquisite clothes, jewellery and personal items. There she meets Evgeni, a handsome, gentle, Russian-American security guard (the red hot Oscar Isaac) who has recently lost his wife. It becomes a ritual to visit the exhibit in the wake of her lonely nights as her doctor husband is rarely around and she suspects him of being both unfaithful and unwilling to have a child with her.

Cornish is wonderful - striking the right note of wonderment and and romantic naivete. Wallis inhabits her daydreams, speaks to her, reprimands her, consoles her, even snapping at her at one point: "This is no fairy tale!" and "Get a life!" sounding very much like the Material Girl herself. It's a lovely touch - as the historical figure comes to play a nurturing role in the life of this unhappy, frightened young woman.

The English actress Riseborough, playing an American, is captivating too - I finally see (through this actress) the possible charm of this Simpson woman who, as is pointedly repeated, lacked beauty and social status prior to her second marriage to Ernest Simpson. 

Despite the protestations of the film goer to my left, after the film, that it sometimes reminded him of a perfume advertisement, I enjoyed the spectacle. As you can imagine, Madonna has an exquisite eye for clothes, design, the physical set up of each room and scene and the particulars of the attires of both women. At the press conference she talked about how she liked to physically lay her hands on each woman before she shot the scenes.

It is gorgeous and beguiling to look at but a little more truth about Wallis' political beliefs would have leavened this feast for the eyes. My biggest concern is the lightly passed over issue of Wallis and David's fascistic leanings. Madonna has said that these were merely unproved rumours although I would love to know how she reached this conclusion.

Anne Sebba, Wallis Simpson's first female biographer has said: "She's really quite a hard person to like, but I do think she deserves to be understood. No person could be all the vile things she's accused of being: a spy, a witch, a whore. The establishment put such heavy pressure on the image of Wallis that I knew she was ripe for a revisionist version." Mrs. Simpson, your time has come.

Riseborough, Madonna and Cornish at 2011 TIFF

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Margin Call

Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) during the moment of truth

Margin Call (U.S., 2011) directed by J.C. Chandor, 109 minutes
Nominated for One Oscar:
Best Original Screenplay

This clever film just disappeared into the ether despite an excellent cast featuring Stanley Tucci, Zachary Quinto, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Kevin Spacey and Demi Moore. I suspect two things frightened potential film goers: a very un-sexy title that gives you no hint as to what the film is about unless you are familiar with financial terms (please see definition below at the end of blog post) and the perceived murkiness of trying to untangle these minute details of financial mess of 2008 despite the film's best efforts to explain them.

As Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl fame) and Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto better known as the newest movie version of Star Trek's Spock) watch the human resources team decimate the trading floor of their investment bank (loosely modeled on Lehman Brothers) including firing Peter and Seth's boss, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci), the head of  risk management, Peter is left with a disturbing last message from Eric who hands Peter a USB drive that contains a project he had been working on and advises him to "be careful".

Peter (Zachary Quinto) completes the project and discovers (okay, hold on to your hats because I struggled with this too): "trading will soon exceed the historical volatility levels used by the firm to calculate risk. Because of excessive leverage, if the firm's assets in mortgage backed securities (MBS) decrease by 25%, the firm will suffer a loss greater than its market capitalization." MBS values took a hit when the housing market tanked in 2007. They are now virtually worthless. Suffice it to say that this ain't good for the company.

What absolutely floored me is that senior exec after senior exec refuses to look at the financial data prepared by the junior executive Peter Sullivan, who is referred to as a rocket scientist, because they don't understand the data before them. Neither do we. Peter must interpret the dire financial warnings contained in Eric's work for them (and us).

This precipitates a crisis overnight with the junior employees remaining at the firm all night with more senior executives trying to puzzle out if this information is true and then what, if anything, can be done about it. This meeting includes Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), division head Jared Cohen (Simon Baker), chief risk officer Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore) and the suave but vaguely sinister CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons). When in need of a suave villain, call in a Brit ...

Jared Cohen suggests a quick sell of all the toxic assets before the market can react, Tuld agrees. Rogers warns that once the worthlessness of the sales is revealed all business ties will be severed and the reputation of the company destroyed. Tuld is willing to take that chance.

Sam Rogers, head of the trading floor, can be as sleazy as the rest but there's a core of cynical honesty in him that can't be dulled even by the machinations of the corporation.
Peter Sullivan: Aren't you tired?
Sam Rogers: A little ... but I don't work as hard as you do.
Peter Sullivan: That's not true.
Sam Rogers: No it is. 

Eric Dale (Tucci) is sent for after he returns to his Brooklyn home and he is persuaded to come back with the threat that his severance package and health care package will be challenged if he doesn't. Several senior execs were aware of the impending crisis but did not act. The diabolical Tuld plans to offer Robertson (Demi Moore) as a sacrificial lamb to the board and tries to persuade Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) to remain on board.

The script is cleverly very subtle in revealing the unscrupulousness of these guys. Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) weeps imagining the death of his dog who is very ill with cancer at the very moment that 80% of his staff is being eliminated by Human Resources outside his very office. Robertson (Demi Moore) and Cohen (Simon Baker) literally argue over the head of a silent (and probably non-English speaking) cleaning woman in the elevator about who should take the fall for this economic disaster as if she is invisible (and likely she is to them) even though their actions will affect a great number of low income people in just such jobs. Cohen calmly shaves in the bathroom while listening to a junior employee (Badgely) quietly weeping in one of the stalls when he realizes what is about to come.

Finally on board with Tuld's plan, Sam Rogers tells his traders they will receive massive bonuses in the seven figures if they sell 93% of the MBS toxic assets that he describes as being part of a "fire sale". They are, in effect, both destroying their careers and their relationships with their clients by participating in this move. The team reaches the 93% mark just as the same human resources team begins another round of layoffs. Rogers confronts Tuld, asking to be allowed to resign, but Tuld assures him that this is simply part of the economic cycle (citing many other crisis) and urging him to remain as there is a great deal of money to be made from the coming crisis.

In the final scene, Rogers is tearfully burying his dog in his ex-wife's front lawn. After comforting him for a few minutes she warns him that if he tries to enter the house the alarm will go off. A fitting ending, every man for himself and that includes dead dogs too ...

*A margin call is an order by a brokerage for an account holder to deposit more cash or securities into a margin account when the value of the cash and securities currently in it falls below some defined percentage. Every margin account has a maintenance margin requirement, which is money or securities an investor must keep in his/her margin account in order to be able to borrow from the brokerage. (Source: