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Gosford Park

Year: 2001
Director: Robert Altman
Producer: Robert Altman/Bob Balaban
Writer: Robert Altman/Bob Balaban
Cast: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kirstin Scott Thomas, Charles Dance, Jeremy Northam, Bob Balaban, Ryan Phillipe, Stephen Fry, Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, Emily Watson, Alan Bates, Richard E Grant
Too long, too confusing, far too many characters. While it was a great idea to collect some of Britain's best actors together in an iconic setting (the manor house on an old-money weekend of backstabbing and murder, Cluedo-style), Altman does a Woody Allen casting job but goes overboard.

I don't think it was even that I watched it in six sittings. Within half an hour I'd lost track of who everybody was (it was hard enough because of the production design and wardrobe to tell them apart, let alone get to know their names).

You can see he's a masterful filmmaker and visual storyteller. The performances and sets are all faultless. It tell the story of a manor in the English countryside where various spoilt rich upper crusts, their maids and valets and the house owners and staff converge. The pivotal moment where the family patriarch is murdered is the only jolt in an otherwise smoothly flowing and unchanging rhythm and style.

But it's the cinematic equivalent of having a story downloaded into your head like Trinity receives instructions of how to fly a helicopter in The Matrix - too much at once.

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