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Gosford Park 2002

R CC

As a hunting party gathers at the country estate, no one is aware that before the weekend is over, someone will be murdered twice! The police are baffled but the all seeing, all hearing servants know that almost everyone had a motive.

Starring:
Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon
Runtime:
2 hours, 17 minutes

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By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on July 14, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
The upperclass friends and relations of Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) arrive at his country house for a weekend of shooting, accompanied by maids, footmen, and valets, all of whom will be staying under one roof. Sir William is a mean-spirited and self-centered old man, married to a much younger, emotionally distant wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), with many family members dependent upon his continuing largesse. The hilariously waspish Countess of Trentham (Maggie Smith), who believes she has a lifetime stipend, arrives with young Mary Maceachran (Kelly MacDonald), who is trying valiantly to become a good lady's maid. Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam), a Hollywood star, and Morris Weissman (Bob Balaban), a producer of Charlie Chan movies, are the only guests without aristocratic backgrounds and inherited privilege. The atmosphere of the house, filled with venomous "friends" and relations, soon becomes even more poisonous.

The "below stairs" lives of the servants are also fully revealed, as they share living quarters, eat meals together, tend to the laundry and cooking, and gossip about their employers. The butler Jennings (Alan Bates) and the head housekeeper (Helen Mirren) run the household and try to guarantee that no real-world cares will intrude upon the lives of their employers. Since "upstairs" and "downstairs" occasionally meet very privately at night, secrets abound, many of them secrets of long standing. When Sir William is poisoned and stabbed ("Trust Sir William to be murdered twice"), nearly everyone has a motive for wanting him dead.

For director Robert Altman, the primary focus of the film is on the characters, their way of life, and their values, with the murder mystery secondary.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Well, strictly speaking he doesn't of course - Robert Altman never simply tags onto an established genre; he plays with it and makes it his own by turning it upside down. So, while the idea for "Gosford Park" may have been inspired by murder mysteries "Christie style" and by the likes of "Brideshead Revisited" and the BBC series about the Bellamy's Eaton Square household, we leave familiar territory the moment we enter the estate ... through the servants' entrance; for although large parts of the action take place "upstairs," it is manifestly told from a "downstairs" perspective.Read more ›
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I've looked forward to seeing this wonderful film in Blu for the longest time. Now that I have it I have to say that the picture quality is not at all good--in fact, it looks no better than DVD does on a decent DVD player. Such an opportunity wasted. And, I find I must keep my standard def version of this disc because none--that's right NONE of the excellent and informative special features from the SD version are on the Blu-ray version. There are no special features at all!
This is a very underwhelming release of a best picture nominated film. It deserved better. I didn't know how many stars to give it, but I'll say 5 star film, 1 star picture quality, so I gave it 3 stars.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The collector's edition DVD of Gosford Park provides comments by Altman and writer, Julian Fellowes as well as documentary on filming the film, out takes and filmography data. Fellowes comments, however, are wonderful insight to the history of English country house weekends, the arrogance of classism in British social history, as well as providing delightful rememberances of the author's own relations from whom he drew heavily developing his characters.
This is a film of seamless performances from every actor and underscores the strength of theatrical training in the British system over Hollywood's studio celebrity system. A little bit Agetha Christie, but not really, the story of a dismal weekend in the country is made all the better by Altman's direction, or ability to direct without interference in his actor's performances.
Stellar performances include Maggie Smith (Prime of Miss Jean Brody), delightful as the Countess without a pot to p*#s in, Michael Gambon (The Singing Detective), the victim of greedy in-laws and dog-haters, Jeremy Northam as Ivor Novello delivers blissful musical entertainment to guests and audience alike, Emily Watson (Metroland) demonstrates why she is one of the best young actors working today, and Helen Mirren and Clive Owen are mysterious players in the upstairs-downstairs dilemma. The depth of cast talent is akin to an archaeology dig, it just keeps getting better as time passes.
Gosford Park is a film that makes film watching a pleasure. In the hands of excellent players, a director who knows how to stage shots, and with a screen play that is both witty and informed, the audience can't loose. This is one of the best films of the year, it should be included in every film buff's library.
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