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HTF REVIEW: "Gosford Park" (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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Gosford Park




Studio: Universal
Year: 2001
Rated: R
Film Length: 138 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)



Tea At Four. Dinner At Eight. Murder At Midnight.
ZZZZzzzzz.
By all rights, I should not be reviewing this DVD.
There is nothing more than I enjoy least than
watching a boorish film about uptight English people.
Had it not been the fact that pressure has been put
on me to review this film, I would have not done so.

Watching Gosford Park was about as fun as
having a root canal. I feel really bad saying it,
because I know this film has received so much
critical acclaim including Oscar nods.

Director Robert Altman's whose 30 year stretch
of films include MASH and THE PLAYER, brings us
a film about a murder mystery at an English country
mansion. But the film is more than just that --
it's a subtle satire of the division between the
classes. Half the cast make up the "wealthy" class
and the other half are their servants. For exactly
1 hour and 18 minutes, I was forced to sit and
watch the droll interaction between these two
classes waiting for something....something to
happen.

What starts out as a dinner and shooting party
suddenly turns into a night of murder. After this
murder takes place emotions unfold and secrets from
the past are revealed that help the characters - and
the audience - solve the mystery.
It's hard to really talk about the people and
the characters in this film as they all sort of
meld together in their British accents and tuxedos.
The only person who stood out for me is Maggie Smith,
as the notable cranky Countess of Trentham.
How is the transfer?
I was not impressed with this transfer at all.
The entire film looks way too soft, as if filmed
through a cloth. There is a noticeable amount of
video noise evident -- especially in the red walls
and draperies which look oversaturated. The flesh
tone colors are way too red. Overall, the picture
looks muddy.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround is nothing to
rave about, either. Most of the rear surrounds
support Patrick Doyle's score, which is one of
the rare enjoyments I found in this film. This
score provided an ample amount of LFE bass response.
Other than shots that were fired during the film's
pheasant hunt, there really wasn't any effect
noises that the surrounds made use of.
Special Features

A Feature Commentary with Director
Robert Altman is provided on this DVD.
There are over a dozen deleted scenes,
most transitional. One is of Henry Denton having
drinks with the people upstairs, which is a social
no-no. Another scene taking place after the murder
shows the servants snubbing Denton, as they are
pissed off at him. Another scene has the servants
listening to the Inspector on the telephone and
a subplot about changing the will.
These scenes can be played with or without
commentary from Robert Altman.
(length: approx. 20 minutes)

The Making of Gosford Park introduces
us to Robert Altman. Altman is shown on the set
directing his cast, as interviews with cast
members reveal how much fun they had on this
film project. Altman never followed the script,
and rarely has any idea what goes on in the
script until after the scene is filmed and he turns
to his script supervisor to make sure it all went
well. You really get a feel for Altman's
unstructured method of directing, as you watch
him throughout this featurette. Finally, we
watch Altman's modest speech upon winning the
Best Director at (I think) the Golden Globe Awards.
(length: approx. 19 minutes)

The Authenticity of Gosford Park dwells
into the technical advisors of this film, most
who were butlers and other assorted service
people themselves. These advisors, like the
cook for example, were on hand to properly show
the actors how to authentically cook food according
to that period. Even the mannerisms of Jennings
the Butler were perfected with the help of a real
butler who had been in service. An interesting
look at how filmmakers strive to make their films
more authentic.
(length: approx. 8 minutes)
The film's original theatrical trailer is
included as are Cast and Filmmaker Filmographies
that are divided into those ABOVE STAIRS and those
BELOW STAIRS.
Coming Attractions includes a short promo
for the film's soundtrack as well as promos for
the DVDs Family Man, K-Pax and Patch
Adams
Final Thoughts
I almost feel like I am trashing an artistic
masterpiece that has received so much positive
attention. While I will admit that Gosford Park
is a sophisticated piece of film work with impeccable
acting, directing and design, it just isn't my
cup of tea. Frankly, unless you are into these
kind of films, you won't find it your cup of tea,
either.
Release Date: June 25, 2002
 

Marc Colella

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Thanks for the review.
Gosford Park is the type of film I'm interested in and I'm looking forward to this release.
Can anyone who's seen the film in the theatres let us know if the soft look was intentional?
You would think that Universal/USA Films would give a current Oscar nominated film a decent transfer.
 

Tom Rhea

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Altman's one of my favorite directors, and dvds of his movies are automatic purchases for me, but I have to wonder why he keeps doing commentaries. His commentaries on MASH and Nashville are some of the worst I've ever listened to. He seems bored with his own (incredibly brilliant) movies.
 

Jefferson

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But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?:) Actually, this type of thing is usually my cup of tea, but I didn't enjoy it either. Too many characters, too little development.
 

AaronJB

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There is also a terrific second commentary with screenwriter Julian Fellows, where he explains the class system of the time and goes into wonderful detail about how this society worked. It's a wonderful track well-worth listening to.

I haven't listened to Altman's track yet.
 
Joined
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I've yet to see this film but i will judge for my self.
Ron, it's sad to hear that you don't enjoy watching a bit of English heritage but never mind hopefully hollywood's next blockbuster ROOT CANAL III (which i hear is part of the upcoming TRILOGY set) will give you more enjoyment.
By the way ROOT CANAL II was superb but could have benefitted from having a DTS track. :D
P.s where the hell are you getting the time from to write all these reviews, you lucky, lucky man.
 

Rob Lutter

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I watched this on my plane ride from London back to the USA and it BORED ME TO TEARS... And I liked Altman's other work like 'M*A*S*H' and 'Short Cuts'
...but I guess, "to each his own." :D
 

Dan Brecher

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There is nothing more than I enjoy least than
watching a boorish film about uptight English people.
Ooooh, cruel! I don't agree, I love the film, I love Altman, but god you made me laugh out loud just now reading that. Genius!
This disc is certainly my cup of tea, what what old bean! :D Looking forward to the release very much, especially since it's so finely stocked with supplements.
Dan
 

Michael Reuben

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Ron, you're in good company. Here's what Glen Kenney, the chief film critic of Premiere magazine, wrote about Gosford Park last year:
Some advance talk has compared this Robert Altman movie to Jean Renoir’s classic Rules of the Game, and it does bear a resemblance to that work, in that it was made by pushing strips of celluloid through a box with a small hole in it. Okay, beyond that, both films are set on a large estate, both have scenes in which birds are shot, both feature intrigue between the upper classes and the serving classes. But there’s a world of difference between Renoir’s generous humanism and Altman’s crabbed misanthropy; between Renoir’s seamless structures and Altman’s slapdash splatter; between Renoir’s coherence and Altman’s smugness. While Gosford indeed boasts an impressive cast, Altman’s fecklessness pretty much reduces the likes of Derek Jacobi and Alan Bates to bit players who haven’t been given any bits.
After the film was released to general critical acclaim, Kenney felt obliged to go back and revisit it, and Premiere published his further comments last month. Guess what? He still hated it. :)
M.
 

Mark Evans

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Ron, you have my sympathy. I'm normally pretty woo-hoo for British film and all that jazz, but GP nearly put me in a coma by the time it was over.
I've got at least a cursory memory, and when I cannot remember the name of a single character by film's end, there's an issue with how the movie is engaging my interest. :D
 

Marc Colella

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Does this thread belong in the Movies forum?

Noone seems to be talking about the actual disc.

I'll ask again:

Is Ron's description of the transfer consistent with how it looked in the theatres? (for those who've seen it in a theatre)
 

Michael Reuben

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Is Ron's description of the transfer consistent with how it looked in the theatres? (for those who've seen it in a theatre)
It's hard enough comparing a transfer to a theatrical image. Comparing the description of a transfer to the theatrical image is a fairly futile exercise, IMO. The image in theaters did have a rather soft, filtered look; I suppose someone might find it "muddy", but I wouldn't call it that. It certainly didn't have "video noise", nor would I expect it to.
M.
 

Jodee

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I am anxious to see this movie again. My theater-going experience was ruined by people who must feel the same way Ron does:)
An entire theeater filled with people (people over the age 50, by the way, who should know better) talking incessantly. One lady was snoring loudly right in front of us. This is a movie one really needs to pay attention to.
I can only imagine these people told their friends afterwards how "boring" this movie is--which is ironic since this is a movie that demands one's full attention to dialogue and details in order to appreciate it's subtle charms.
Needless to say, this movie-going experience was so bad that we have hardly been to the theater at all since this.
Despite this theater experience, I really enjoyed the film, and I have no doubt I'll enjoy it even more on a second viewing when I catch more of the dialogue and the characters.
 

Tom Bley

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Ron, I feel your pain...lol...I actually forced myself to watch this movie because I got a screeners copy about 6 weeks ago. I was going to do a short review but thought why bother. I agree with you on the picture quality and my screeners copy only was in pro-logic. zzzzzzzzz.
 

Malcolm R

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Hmmmm. Loved the movie, but disappointed to hear about the quality of the transfer. I'd agree that the film did have a "soft" look about it, but it sounds like more care should have been taken with the technical details.

Wasn't this release postponed for a few weeks? Any chance they were tweaking the transfer for the final release and the screeners are not 100% up to par?
 

Jason Hughes

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I have to second what Michael said. While I have not seen the DVD yet, from Ron's description, it actually sounds like it faithfully reproduces what I saw in the theater (think Eyes Wide Shut).
Great movie, but obviously not for all tastes (but hey, wouldnt it be boring if we all liked the same movies :) ).
 

Justin Doring

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I personally think Gosford Park is a brilliant film, and it is precisely the type of film that is my cup of tea (pun intended), but I can certainly see how most would find it boring, as it is filled with subtlety and subtext.

From the moment I walked out of the theater after experiencing it, I knew I had to have the DVD, and the special features merely sweeten the deal.
 

Brajesh Upadhyay

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"Gosford Park" is a first-rate film, one of Altman's very best ... the wonderful interplay between all the characters, the top-notch acting, the sharp & witty dialogue, & things we slowly learn by the end. Maggie Smith is a riot in a performance she should've won Best Supporting Actress for. This film requires you to watch twice to really appreciate (you get too caught up trying to figure out who's who the first time around).

I just hope the DVD quality isn't as bad as Ron is saying.
 

BarryR

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I'll defend GOSFORD PARK too; being an Anglophile and great fan of such movies, it is definitely my cup of tea. Thing is, why review a film if one is so innately not into it? Or, just review the specs. Anyway, I can't wait to get it. :emoji_thumbsup:
 

Ronald Epstein

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Barry,

To answer your question....

It's my job to review films. I am sent
DVD screener product and I am expected to
return a review.

I can't just post specs on a DVD when a
studio spends money to send out product.

I think I did everyone a favor by being
totally honest about my stand with these
type of movies. The first paragraph of
my review clearly states that I am not into
these kind of films.

What does that do for the person that reads
the rest of the review? It creates a state
of mind as to what circumstances the opinion
is coming from.

In other words....

If I state I am not a fan of these type of
films, then most likely if you are, you will
probably love this film.

I hope you understand the situation. Thanks
 

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