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Old April 5 2011, 02:16 AM   #308
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Location: Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Re: Movies Seen in 2011

30. Gigi (B-)
31. I Love You Phillip Morris (B+)
32. How To Train Your Dragon (A)
33. Tarzan (B+)
34. Oliver! (B+)
35. Gosford Park (A-)

The antepenultimate film of director Robert Altman, and the last one to garner really serious acclaim. Unfortunately for the late Mr. Altman, the Lord Fellowes seems likely to do to his film what Aaron Sorkin did to Rob Reiner a decade ago: turn their movie collaboration into seemingly a dress rehearsal for an acclaimed TV series. Gosford Park has the advantage over The American President in that Downton Abbey doesn't replicate the tone and character types to anywhere near the same extent as The West Wing did; and there's only one actor crossover, though it's a significant one (Dame Maggie Smith, playing basically the same character in both).

Gosford is, in other ways, at a disadvantage compared to its successor series: a television series (even a British one) has considerably more space for character exploration and observation on class issues than does a feature film, and nobody in Gosford Park gets a ton of development, though there are still some memorable parts. In particular, apart from Smith, the standouts are Dame Helen Mirren and Kelly Macdonald. I suspect that Kelly Macdonald would have been a bigger "thing" in the 2000s if she spoke RP instead of with a Scottish burr, because she's really good here as the closest thing there is to a main character. People like Sir Derek Jacobi are totally wasted, though.

I flirted with giving this a B+ grade, because in the end its more about the little details than anything else, but ultimately I thought the level of craft and enjoyment was too high for that. The plot is really, really easy to guess (so much so that I thought Helen Mirren's participation, at least, had to be a deliberate misdirection), but, again, Altman really doesn't care about that.
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