HPPUB MOVIE REVIEWs of Gosford Park and The Cat’s Meow


Title: Gosford Park

Release Date:  2001

Nationality and Language: UK, English

Running time: about 137 Minutes

MPAA Rating:  R

Distributor and Production Company:  USA Films

Director; Writer: Robert Altman


Cast:   Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Northam, Ryan Phillippe, Clive Owen, Bob Balaban, James Wilby, Claudie Blakley, Maggie Smith, Charles Dance, Helen Mirren. .

Technical: Panavision 2.35/1, Digital

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   Well, any one for a game of Clue?  Or Mr. Ree?  This manners mystery-comedy of British society in the 1930s calls to mind those board games of earlier generations. No, the butler didn’t do it, but the characters are as colorful as Clue tokens, as are the rooms in the Gosford mansion. The outdoor goose-hunting scenes provide some relief the hothouse plant settings.  Tea at 4, Diiner at 8, Murder at Midnight.  Yup.  And the dinner was one of those Emily Post specials, with separate courses for fish, fowl, and meat.  Whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs.

   The film provides the appropriate satire on the mater-servant relationship, as when one servant says “I have no life.”  Well, Phillippe’s character wants to break out for a Hollywood career. At one point he says, “I am known in Hollywood for my discretion.” He looks just a trifle pudgy (and overdressed in “good clothes”) here from the lifestyle, all out of place from his usual roles.

   The credits say that this movie is based on an idea of Robert Altman (The Player). An idea, indeed. It’s a long pike from an idea to a feature movie.

   USA Films is known for its selection of eccentric material, from Traffic to the remastering of Blood Simple, to the Lynch-like black-and-white The Man Who Wasn’t There (where a barber plays a metaphor on leg shaving, down to his execution). Well, all this new film is missing is a pagoda.


   A similar film about high society is The Cat’s Meow, from Lions Gate, directed by Peter Bogdanovich (2002), introduced on opening night of the Minneapolis-St. Paul film festival. In this 1920’s period piece, the famous –Louella Parsons (Jennifer Tilly), Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), Elinor Glyn (Joanna Lumley), publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst (Edward Herrmann), and his mistress Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst) play another game of Mr. Ree on Hearst’s pleasure yacht, leading to, well…  The denouement, where the protagonist covers up his crime, strains credibility, more so than does Mr. Ripley.  Framed by black-and-white trailers, the film is spectacular to watch, with great, almost 3-D detail of all of the accoutrements on board and perfect hue and saturation in the rather metallic colors. The photography reminds one of VistaVision.

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