I first saw the Robert Altman film Gosford Park at the Sony Metreon in 2001. Darren and I were on the first night of a four day stay in San Francisco, and we decided to go see a 10:00 p.m. showing of the elaborate period piece.
In retrospect, it was a bad choice, at least in terms of timing. Nothing like sitting down for a long movie in comfy reclining chairs after a draining day of travel and sight-seeing, when one's body clock says it's already midnight. Darren was asleep within half an hour.
I managed to stay awake (years of boring graduate seminars had taught me the knack of keeping my eyes open under all circumstances), and I loved the film. So much bitchery, so much subtext, so many wonderful actors.
I watched the film again last night on TiVo, and I found myself completely charmed once again. The level of acting talent is astonishing, and like most Altman films, Gosford Park has a staggeringly large cast of familiar faces. Pretty, pouty Ryan Phillippe does a nice turn as a bisexual gigolo, Clive Owen is dark, handsome, and dashing, and Helen Mirren is impeccable as the prim, controlled housekeeper with a tragic secret. Oh, and there's a murder mystery.
Of course, movies like this aren't to everyone's taste, but I love the lavish attention to detail and the sharp eye for the rigid constraints of the British class system and myriad subtle humiliations endured by nearly everyone except the lord of the manor.
He, however, ends up poisoned and stabbed. It's all cracking good fun.
Happy Friday to you!