Gossip (2000)

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Released 28-Mar-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Biographies-Cast
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Davis Guggenheim (Dir) & James Marsden (Actor)
Deleted Scenes-5
Theatrical Trailer
Alternate Ending
Featurette-Travis' Gossip Interviews
Music Video-Our Lips Are Sealed-Poe
Music Video-Mean To Me-Tonic
Featurette-Gossip Montage Shot Test
Featurette-Gossip Montage Extended Version
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 86:41
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Davis Guggenheim
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring James Marsden
Lena Headey
Norman Reedus
Kate Hudson
Marisa Coughlan
Sharon Lawrence
Eric Bogosian
Edward James Olmos
Joshua Jackson
Case C-Button-Version 2
RPI $34.95 Music Graeme Revell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I still haven't decided yet whether I like Gossip. The premise is quite good - three college roommates attending a communications class decide to start a malicious false rumour just to see how far and fast it spreads - and how much embellishment it will accumulate. When the victim of the rumour starts believing in it herself the situation turns ugly.

    However, the execution of the premise together with the "surprise" ending is somewhat flawed and problematic. I do like the pace of the film - it is well-directed and in the general the acting is uniformly strong.

    Cathy Jones (Lena Headey), Derrick Webb (James Marsden) and Travis (Norman Reedus) are three roommates that seem to have little in common with each other but are close friends nevertheless. Cathy is bright, studious and has a secret crush on independently rich, handsome and natural born liar Derrick. Travis is a poor art student who likes creating photo montages (I wonder how he can afford that fancy digital film scanning and editing equipment and those industrial grade design printers!). They share lodgings in Derrick's ultra chic apartment loft and occasionally attend communication lectures given by the supercilious Professor Goodwin (Eric Bogosian) — when they are not drinking or hanging out in nightclubs.

    One day, they decide to start a rumour that rich b**** Naomi Preston (Kate Hudson) slept with Beau Edson (Joshua Jackson) in a bedroom atop a nightclub (How many nightclubs do you know that have upstairs bedrooms? With three projectors displaying pictures on the walls?). As Naomi has a reputation for being chaste, the rumour spreads like wildfire. Problem is: Naomi had passed out at the time and when the rumour reaches her ears, she thinks she must have been raped and decides to press charges.

    Cathy feels really guilty and wants to confess - but once a rumour has started it's not that easy to quash. Then we discover that at least one of the main characters has a dark past and is not quite the nice but harmlessly mischievous person that we are initially led to believe ... As I've mentioned before, the film features a "twist" ending that may surprise you, unless of course you have a warped mind like mine and you saw it coming ages ago.

    Personally, I found the ending unsatisfying and inconsistent with the rest of the film - even though it did occur to me about halfway through the film. It doesn't sit well with the psychological profile and motivation of some of the characters, and significantly dilutes the original premise that malicious gossip can be really harmful. However, make up your own mind when you watch it.

    Trivia: Fans of Blade Runner will be pleased to know Edward James Olmos ('Gaff') reprises his role as a noirish detective (Detective Curtis).

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is an excellent video transfer, presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement.

    Sharpness, detail and colour saturation are basically reference quality, and the contrast for the most part (apart from 12:59-13:01) is extremely good. Indeed, this transfer features extremely deep, satisfying black levels (owners of LCD video projectors will know that these projectors tend to display black as dark grey so getting good black levels is an unusual treat). The downside of the good black levels is mediocre shadow detail. This transfer tends to exaggerate contrast causing a lot of shadow detail to be blended into black.

    The film source is extremely clean, as you would expect from a recent release. There is virtually no evidence of grain, apart from a brief scene at 73:40-73:49 where some grain is visible. This may be due to digital sharpening, as the commentary reveals that the director decided to choose a take where the camera focus was not perfect because James Marsden's performance was so good. This disc has very little in the way of film-to-video artefacts, apart from some moiré effects in the brickwork at 44:05-44:07 and also in the lamp shade at 49:39.

    This disc comes with one subtitle track, English for the Hearing Impaired. I turned it on for a substantial part of the film. It is not 100% accurate, but is reasonably close enough to be acceptable.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). Congratulations to Roadshow Home Entertainment - they have managed to achieve a near-miracle in DVD authoring - a mid-scene layer change that is unnoticeable - almost. The first 2-3 times that I watched the film I simply could not spot where the layer change had occurred. For those of you dying to know, the layer change occurs during Chapter 16 at 49:46 just after Derrick has spoken - the screen freezes for a split second on Travis.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc, an English track encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at a bitrate of 384 Kb/s as well as an English commentary track encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (192Kb/s).

    The English audio track is more than satisfactory. The dialogue is clear (apart from a couple of minor instances where the actors have mumbled lines) and there are no obvious audio missyncs (even during the party scene where Derrick's girlfriend's voice was over-dubbed).

    When I read on the DVD packaging that the film features "... a hip, alternative soundtrack featuring Propellerheads, Hednoize, Curve and Tonic" I was almost afraid the music would be mixed in at too high a level and completely overwhelm the dialogue, but thankfully this did not happen. In fact, if anything the music in the soundtrack sounds quite restrained and very much mixed into the background.

    This is a very dialogue-focussed film, and so the surround speakers are mainly used for music and ambience - and the subwoofer is rarely used (mainly to support the low end). Despite that, I was happy with the soundtrack - the use of the surround speakers was well integrated into the overall mix.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    I quite like the collection of extras found on this disc, but the video transfer for most of the extras leaves a lot to be desired. Also, I didn't like the way some of the extras were concatenated into a single title with no chapter breaks separating them.

Menu

    The menus are static but look pretty cool nevertheless. They do come with 16x9 enhancement, and are refreshingly Australianized (including a reference to the www.village.com.au URL).

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain

    I have never seen this trailer before, and it's pretty cool, featuring droplets of water merging in mid-air and very directional panning of sound effects.

Biographies-Cast, Listing-Cast and Crew

    This is a still listing the cast and crew. It links into separate stills listing other films featuring James Marsden, Joshua Jackson, Lena Headey, Kate Hudson and Sharon Lawrence.

Audio Commentary-Davis Guggenheim (Dir) & James Marsden (Actor)

    This is a fairly interesting and listenable audio commentary. James is mixed to the left and Davis to the right.

    The pair is reasonably talkative and chatty, and reveal interesting tidbits such as the film being shot in Toronto but made up to look like "New York" city, the voice of the girl that Derrick was kissing was replaced by that of the director's wife to make her sound more "sexy", and even a goof or two towards the end.

    The director even comments on the "over-the-top" nature of the beginning of the film - he wanted it to deliberately look more like a fantasized hyped-up image of college life to contrast it with the much darker tone of the second half of the film.

Deleted Scenes-5 (11:30)

    This contains a number of deleted scenes and unedited footage. Unfortunately, these have all been concatenated into a single title with no chapter breaks so you cannot easily navigate into each scene. All scenes are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 but with no 16x9 enhancement. The video transfer quality of the scenes is extremely poor, no better than VHS. The scenes have various frame counters and timers embedded in them, some have a big caption "Property of Warner Bros" emblazoned across them (just in case we were thinking of ripping them off and posting them on the Internet, I suppose), and others have the shooting date as the caption.

    We start off with three deleted scenes removed to tighten the pace of the film. I agree that they are pretty optional in terms of the storyline:

  1. Travis films Jones talking about the last time she heard the rumour they started and how it has changed.
  2. Travis paints over a picture of Beau on his collage while explaining what roles Travis, Derrick and Jones play in the twisted game they have created.
  3. Derrick runs into Detective Curtis and tells him more lies before the detective asks Derrick about a picture of Naomi which was stolen from her room.
    Then we get the original unedited footage of Naomi and Beau making out in the bedroom above the party. Is it just me, or is this extremely boring and non-gratifying?

    Finally, we get another deleted scene in which Derrick calls his parents and tries to ask them for help but they cruelly deny him. This scene was cut because the director didn't want the audience to have sympathy for Derrick (too bad, because the commentary reveals how the director asked actor James Marsden to milk maximum sympathy from the audience).

    Trivia: Originally director Davis Guggenheim's parents Marion and director Charles Guggenheim did the voices for Derrick's parents but unfortunately their voices can't be heard in the scene.

Theatrical Trailer (2:01)

    This is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement. It exhibits a moderate amount of grain in comparison to the main feature. The audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0

Alternate Ending (2:57)

   An extended version of the ending. I found this ending even more annoying than the theatrical one. This is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 without 16x9 enhancement (together with running frame counter and shooting date). The video transfer quality is quite poor, similar to the quality of the deleted scenes.

Travis's Gossip Interviews (4:38)

    This features various interviews (edited and interleaved with each other) of other students discussing the Naomi/Beau "incident" and is supposedly shot by Travis on a video camera. Not surprising, the video transfer quality is low, and the interviews are presented in full frame (4:3).

Grab Bag-Music Videos, Featurettes (10:35)

    This features a mix of music videos and montage scenes, all presented in various aspect ratios with no 16x9 enhancement. Again, the items have all been concatenated into a single title with no chapter breaks so you cannot easily navigate into each item. The audio track is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 with the surround flag turned on.
Poe's Music Video (Our Lips Are Sealed)
This is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The video transfer is extremely poor (sub VHS quality).
Tonic's Music Video (Mean to Me)
This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The video transfer is much better than the previous item.
The Gossip Montage Shot Test
This features someone reading various lines used in the "gossip montage" sequence in the film. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (plus the "Property of Warner Bros" caption and the frame counter). The video transfer is back to VHS quality.
The Gossip Montage Extended Version
This is an extended version of the "gossip montage" sequence used in the film. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (plus the caption displaying the shooting date and the frame counter). The video transfer is VHS quality.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     I would say both versions appear to contain pretty much the same features.

Summary

    Gossip, is an interesting film with a great premise that unfortunately (for me) has a "surprise" ending that didn't go down all that well. It is presented on a very well put together DVD with an excellent video transfer, a more than acceptable audio transfer, and a good collection of extras. Unfortunately, the extras are let down by poor video transfers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Saturday, March 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (203cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront left/right: B&W DM603; centre: B&W CC6S2, rear left/right: B&W DM601

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