Gosford Park (2001)
Writer: Julian Fellowes
Director: Robert Altman
Starring: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Kelly Macdonald, Ryan Phillipe, Helen Mirren, and almost any other british actor you can think of....and Bob Balaban
A slow-boiling murder mystery set in early 20th Century British upper-class society. Includes a fair amount of that "upstairs/downstairs" thing of which we Colonists have very little knowledge.
this was good. i think i would have enjoyed much more if it had not been interrupted by really stinky thick black smoke cloud emanating from our basement, followed by three days of stink and furnace and hotel stayage drama. this is not the kind of movie one could only distractedly pay attention to and start and stop several times. there is a cast of hundreds, and it took awhile to figure out what was going on. despite the unfond circumstance under which this was viewed and now associated, there was quite the good movie underneath there. i guess i'm a sucker for any british period piece. i can admit it. especially now that my head has been turned by julian fellowes for "downton abbey" i would imbibe that shit full strength. anytime.
have i discussed this movie? sort of. you gotta pay attention. hundreds of characters. lots going on. stephen fry's character was a stand out, i must say. he was sort of the rock that bludgeoned the message of the movie into your brains. even if it sent skull fragments into your now brain pudding, it was done in an excellent way. you might even have said thank you. who needed that frontal lobe anyway.
This is good. Direction serves the plot well without continually jumping out of the trench and aiming at the Gerries. The average of the acting here is above average, so you get a couple of people who fall below the line by a bit (I'm looking at you, Phillippeeeee) and while it's hard to climb above it, one breakdown in particular truly wrenched at my heart.
I haven't yet watched Downton Abbey or its predecessor or any number of similar things, but I understand that this is similar in style, tone, and even substance. I don't think that's a detriment, as I am fascinated by this world; and it seems a pretty fertile field from which to reap some great stories.
Speaking of the story, it does that slow boil in a very good way. The movie is something like 70% setup, 5% crime, 25% comedown. Even though that distribution doesn't give us much of a chance to figure out the murder before the characters do, it's necessary for us to understand it at all. And understanding it is worthwhile.