Critic Reviews



Based on 23 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Many will find Kansas City unbearable, because Leigh (with a mouth full of jagged teeth and a permanent snarl) and Richardson (who totters along in a druggy stupour), give brilliant performances as extremely unpleasant characters. Furthermore, the ending is a real slap-in-the-face downer. But if you can get past that, this is the real stuff.
What he asks of the actors (those who are “soloists,” anyway) is not realism but the same kind of playful show-off performances he's getting from the musicians. And to understand the acting, it's helpful to begin with the music.
Kansas City can be regarded as a jazz tone poem on themes of race, politics, money and the movies themselves.
So much is satisfying in KC that its shortcomings are all the more discordant.
Though Kansas City has its share of arresting moments, the production as a whole is too superficial to be considered amongst the director's best work.
If the movie, which uses blues-based Kansas City jazz as a raucous, nonverbal Greek chorus, lacks the emotional range of Mr. Altman's masterpiece, ''Nashville,'' it still has its own brawling vitality.
For Altman, this is a major statement about American hypocrisy and society’s haves and have-nots, in line with many of his films, but issued in a kind of offhand way that delivers only glancing emotional impact.
Although the movie contains occasional moments of glimpsed accomplishment, Kansas City is for the most part a lame duck.
It starts out with several seemingly separate stories and characters, allows them to tease, overlap and shade one another, and then weaves them into one rich fabric. It's an allegory about American life -- a tough, cynical meditation on race, crime and the futility of human endeavor.
Kansas City is basically a head-scratcher.

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