[VIDEO REVIEWS]Having a good time with dead peopleDeath and a party make an odd plot combination. Sometimes the result is humorous, sometimes outright strange. "Gosford Park," which opened Friday on local screens, revolves around a weekend party at an English country mansion. When one guest is found dead, the rest are unfazed. The questions are whodunnit and why doesn't anyone seem to care?
Directors who have also used death and a party for their works include Clint Eastwood, Allison Anders, Quentin Tarantino, Alexandre Rockwell and Robert Rodriguez. The results were very different, but equally entertaining.
MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL (1997) ?"Midnight Garden" in Korean
Directed by Clint Eastwood. Starring John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, Jude Law, Lady Chablis and Irma Hall
Invitations to a Christmas party thrown by Jim Williams (Spacey) are much sought after by the blue blooded elite of Savannah, Georgia. John Kelso (Cusack), a New York City writer, is invited to cover the gala for Town and Country magazine.
Kelso brings along a recording of the big city's blaring traffic to help him sleep during his sojourn in the Old South. Kelso may have city smarts, but Cusack portrays him as an innocent bystander who becomes slowly enmeshed in a mystery.
The upper crust of Savannah is full of eccentrics, from a Married Ladies Card Club to a butler who walks an invisible dog to a wealthy but deranged man who threatens to poison the water supply. Williams, a millionaire socialite, seems self-possessed and normal, but by the end of his party he has shot and killed his young and sexy but violent lover, Billy (Law).
Kelso sees potential to lengthen his article into a book about Williams, and stays on in Savannah. As he tries to figure out the circumstances around the killing, the plot moves slowly and strangely, as if in a dream exploring good and evil. The movie is based on John Berendt's hugely successful nonfiction book.
FOUR ROOMS (1995)
Allison Anders, Quentin Tarantino, Alexandre Rockwell and Robert Rodriguez direct one segment each. Starring Tim Roth, Madonna and Antonio Banderas.
Ted (Roth) has just joined the staff of the Mon Signor Hotel, one of Los Angeles' most notorious dives. It is New Year's Eve, and he is asked to help the guests in the Honeymoon Suite.
The guests are none other than a coven of witches, one played by Madonna. They are trying to resurrect a dead stripper, and are missing one ingredient in their witches' brew: a sperm sample. That is only the start of Ted's misadventures.
The movie is divided into four sketches, each by a different director. Ted is the common thread who appears in all four stories. In one, he agrees to babysit for a gangster (Banderas). Everything that can go wrong does, and eventually the room catches on fire. Then Banderas returns home just as his children uncover a dead prostitute in their bed.
by Joe Yong-hee