Directed by Robert Altman.
Written by Julian Fellowes.
Starring Maggie Smith, Clive Owen, Michael Gambon and Kristin
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 1/16/02
As I continue the march towards the 2002
Oscars, I once again decided to see a film that might be up for
consideration when the award nominations are announced in February.
"Gosford Park" has a lot of buzz, but I haven't seen a commercial or
heard anything about it, so I went and checked it out today.
The film, set in 1930s England (I think),
revolves around the estate of Gosford Park, a fictional grounds
where a bunch of rich folks and a bunch of their servants hang out
for a few days sipping on gin and juice (...LAID back). What they
are really doing is enjoying a weekend of shooting birds and
drinking scotch, all the while doing the one thing that Scots and
Brits do best: gossip! While all of this is going on, the master
of the estate, Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon), is making
enemies fast, and someone decides to put him out of his
And, in the course of our 130-minute
journey, we meet a whole bunch of people who might be suspects. So,
like any other Robert Altman film (he also brought us "The
Player"...and the awful "Ready to Wear"/"Pret-a-Porter"), there are
a busload of stars that need screen time; here, they include Kristin
Scott Thomas, Clive Owen, Emily Watson, Jeremy Northam, and many
more. The film's set-up--which felt like the Tim Curry "Clue" film
from 15 years ago, except "Gosford Park" features *acting*--makes
for a whole lot of listening early on, since you know that someone
is going to get it and you want to make sure you know who it might
But, Altman does an incredible job of making
every scene count and then, halfway through the film (when the
murder takes place), deftly puts five or six suspects out there for
you to play with in your mind. Unlike many of these "Remains of the
Day"-lookalike films, this film actually isn't boring! This is
mostly because the script features plenty of subtle laughs and a
beautiful-looking estate that serves as the set.
All of the acting is perfect, but the best
performance of them all? For me, it is definitely Maggie Smith (she
was just in the first "Harry Potter" film), playing Countess
Trentham as a snobby old bitch...all of her scenes are great, and I
would love to see this performance get nominated. A great film all
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard