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I saw Chicago with my sister yesterday and we were hoping that he movie
as going to be fun. We were fulfilled to the fullest. The movie
Lavishly well done, energetic and fun to listen to, Chicago is easily
on the top 10 best musicals ever. The music in the movie, the rhythm
just utterly spellbinding, that's how incredible Chicago is. The movie
mostly benefits from it extremely talented cast. Catherine Zeta-Jones
shines in Chicago and gives the performance of her lifetime. She
well-deserved her Oscar. John C. Rielly, Renee Zellwegger and Queen
Latifa deserved their Oscar Nominations.
The cinematography, sound, art directions, and especially the costume design they were all expertly done. I resisting the urge to dance and tap my shoe. What an amazing production it took to create this film. Everyone deserved their Oscar Wins or nominations whomever took part in the production. 1920s Chicago comes alive in breathtaking detail. Everyone whom likes musicals or music should definitely have a listen and watch Chicago.
Rob Marshell truly out did himself in this masterpiece. 10/10
Fictional characters, as a whole, get away with more than is permissible
reality. They do things we would never condone in our peers, yet still
manage to elicit our sympathy. Maybe it's a form of catharsis--instead
inflicting violence on other people, we watch someone onscreen do so and
cheer them on. Such is the case with "Chicago"--the film features a
rogue's gallery of criminals, con men, and crooks, yet most of these are
surprisingly likeable. And yet, the urge to root for the bad guys is
somewhat unsettling, for "Chicago" is a story about people beating the
by manipulating the public, illiciting their sympathy and playing on
deep-seated need for the bizarre and bloody.
Told one way, the story of "Chicago" sounds like a showbusiness drama: a young girl dreams of stardom. She is initailly naive but learns quickly, rising into the blaze of limelight while an older, more experienced rival resents the new face that's stealing the show. The twist is that the art is murder, and the stage is comprised of the papers, the radio, the courthouse, and the all-devouring public eye. The veteran is Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a nightclub singer who did in her husband and sister after finding them in what is usually called "a compromising position." The newcomer is Roxie Hart (Renee Zelweiger), a cutie-pie who shot her lover after finding out he was using her, and who expects her husband Amos (John C. Reilly, excellent as the quintessentail doormat) to stand by her afterwards. Both women are represented by Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), who brags he can beat any rap for the right price and is probably what Shakespeare had in mind when he made that crack about killing all the lawyers. Flynn's formula is simple: turn the client into a media darling, spin a tragic tale of the good girl ruined by bad choices, and an aquittal is certain.
"Chicago" is a musical, and the film uses a gimmick of establishing two worlds: the real Chicago and a surreal fantasy world in the form of a Jazz-Age theater, where the song and dance takes place. In many musicals this wouldn't work, but here it makes sense. Director Rob Marshall fuses the two worlds together very well, creating images that compliment each other effectively. Some of the concepts look like things you'd see in an editorial cartoon: a press conference becomes a ventroliquist act and puppet show, a trial is depicted as a literal circus. Others offer a reflection of the character's inner self: Amos, in the guise of a baggy-pants comic, bemoans the fact that, like all second banannas, nobody really notices him--even the fantasy audience seems indifferent to his performance (which is, in truth, wonderful).
The ensemble all turns in excellent performances in the acting category, but the singing is more uneven. Zeta-Jones has by far the best voice of the leads, as exemplified by the casually sensual "All That Jazz." Zelweiger is passable, mostly because one gets the impression that her Roxie has more charm and determination than actual talent. Gere only barely manages with the music, and does so mainly on the grounds that Billy Flynn isn't one of the more vocally difficult roles in the music theater cannon. But what he lacks in pipes he makes up for in the character department: his Flynn is a perfectly charismatic scoundrel, one whose talent and danger is in his ability to be so charming. Taye Diggs, who presides over the dream world as the Bandleader, doesn't get to sing, which is a shame because he can--he was in the original cast of "Rent"--but works very well with what he's given.
The mix of glitter and grime in "Chicago" is reminicent of last year's "Moulin Rouge," but those who thought the latter too excessive will probably find this one more appealing. Any fan of music theater, however, will not want to miss this film--it may just be the rebirth of the movie musical we've been hearing about.
I thoroughly enjoyed the current Broadway stage revival of Chicago
-- the Kander and Ebb original, with Bob Fosse choreography,
opened in 1975, starring Gwen Verdon (Roxie), Chita Rivera
(Velma) and Jerry Orbach (Billy), all proven musical theatre talents.
I saw the revival fairly early in its current run, starring Ann Reinking
(Roxie), Bebe Neuwirth (Velma) and James Naughton (Billy), who
are all proven in musical theatre as well.
The casting of this new film adaptation had me wondering -- Renee Zellwegger (Roxie), Catherine Zeta Jones (Velma) and Richard Gere (Billy)? Sure, they can act, but can they sing and dance?
Big time. The strength of their performances alone is almost enough to carry the film. Whether the stars come by these moves and voices easily, or were rehearsed within an inch of their lives, it's clear they come by them naturally -- they each perform their own songs, and the dance moves are both fluid and stylistically true to the Fosse choreography. Attention to choreographic integrity in this film is to be expected: director Rob Marshall is a choreographer by trade. The sizzling staging of Velma's and Roxie's "Finale" is practically a Fosse quotation from beginning to end, and is razzle-dazzling beyond the stage version, via the cinematography and editing techniques that only the film medium provides.
I was prepared for a watered-down Hollywood take on the wildly popular, 6 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival, but sans the stage talents that got it there. But I actually liked the film BETTER. The film's screenplay adaptation, by Bill Condon, fleshes out the narrative to allow an emotional connection to the characters in a way that I didn't experience in the theater. The film integrates the songs to the story by cutting between an electrifying staged rendition and the 1920's Chicago world of the narrative. This technique gives the characters space for an inner emotional life thus letting the audience better connect with them.
I did have a few quibbles. The song "Class", a personal favorite, was cut, likely to keep the momentum up as we rush toward Roxie's sensational jury trial, which delivers several musical treats of its own, and is the dramatic apogee of the story. And, while I found John C. Reilly a most pathetic but sympathetic Amos, I felt that Joel Grey evoked those qualities much more effectively in his Broadway rendition of "Mr. Cellophane."
The story, while providing an opportunity for some juicy songs and sharply funny characters, is more than just eye candy. Its portrayal of cynical manipulation of the criminal justice system by creating a celebrity-hungry media circus (the raison d'etre of Richard Gere's Billy Flynn) is more than apt today. But if there's any moralizing going on here, it's with a wink and a flash of leg. Chicago is a treat.
"Chicago" represents the latest salvo in a mini-revival of one of
Hollywood's most venerated genres: the live-action musical. Since the
of the golden age of big-budget studio song and dance extravaganzas,
musicals have appeared only at irregular intervals, and most have met
mixed critical response and equally indifferent gross figures (the most
recent example: Alan Parker's box-office also-ran "Evita"). But the
holiday-season success of the Coen brothers' music-filled Depression
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000) indicated a new song filling the
Hollywood air, a notion confirmed last May with the release of "Moulin
Rouge". Baz Luhrmann's phantasmagorical tale of 19th-century Parisian
decadence, memorably scored with contemporary pop tunes, may not have set
the summer box office on fire, but it was heaped with critical raves, won
enthusiastic cult following, and became the first musical in decades to
receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
"Chicago", the feature-film debut of veteran stage director / choreographer Rob Marshall, is not as radical or experimental as Luhrmann's picture. Like "Evita", it is a cinematic adaptation of a hit Broadway show, namely Bob Fosse's tale of two 1920s murderesses who milk their crimes for headline-grabbing glory. And, like Parker's film, it doesn't attempt to re-invent the musical; it's content to be a solid, well-crafted genre product that knows what audiences expect from a musical and delivers in spades.
Indeed, the story (adapted from the original musical by "Gods and Monsters" scribe Bill Condon) is the most radical thing here, following as it does the exhilarating up-and-down fame rollercoaster of two cold-blooded killers. Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) is a wannabe, a small-time song-and-dance girl who looks at the bright lights of the Chicago clubs and longs for her night in the spotlight. She gets it in a rather unexpected way after she kills her lover (Dominic West), a sleazy furniture salesman who'd filled her heads with lies about showbiz connections. Sent to prison, Roxie finds that the public's thirst for scandalous headlines has turned her into a celebrity, and the scared, confused young murderess transforms into a media monster, playing the people like an orchestra and turning her crime into an act of self-sacrifice. Roxie's rise to fame incurs the wrath of her one-time showbiz idol, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a Louise-Brooks-bobbed former chorine who's doing time for killing her sister and philandering hubby...and who was the number-one star of Murderess Row until Roxie sauntered in. Caught between these two vixens is Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), Chi-town's biggest celebrity lawyer, who's representing them both...and who has a few "razzle-dazzle" tricks of his own up his sleeve.
As anyone who ever saw Bob Fosse's films ("Cabaret", "STAR80") can attest, the man had a cynical streak a mile wide, so it's not hard to see why the tawdry material of "Chicago" (based on a real 1920s murder case) was attractive to him. Condon, fortunately, does not file down the story's rough edges, and his script scores some trenchant observations on the curious nature of modern celebrity. Velma and Roxie are just like Lorena Bobbitt, Kato Kaelin, and all those other small-timers who, through one stupid action or simply by being in the wrong place at the right time, become famous beyond any right they actually have to achieve such heights. And who lets such undeserved accolades come their way? Us, of course. The film's howling chorus of reporters and courtroom gawkers eagerly sucking up the latest sensational story are the on-screen stand-ins for the audience, whose appetite for scandal and thrills has become so insatiable that the unremarkable are remarked upon, the unworthy celebrated, the evil elevated.
It's a deep message for what is essentially a song-and-dance comedy, but Condon allows himself to engage its darker implications without cramming "message" down our throats. We are, after all, mainly here to see the numbers, and Marshall's expertise with choreography and music makes sure the songs (composed by "Cabaret's" John Kander and Fred Ebb) pack a satisfying punch. "Roxie" is our little killer's exhilarating ode to her impending fame, complete with her name in big red lights. "Cell Block Tango" finds Velma and a gaggle of murderesses singing about how their victims all "had it comin'", complete with some admirably sleazy choreography. Marshall's imaginative staging of "We Both Reached For The Gun", a musical press conference, has Roxie as Billy's wooden ventriloquist's dummy and the reporters as marionettes under his control. And, of course, there's a knockout closing duet for Velma and Roxie, the biting, excitingly filmed "Nowadays". I've never seen "Chicago" onstage, but if this movie captures the energy of the show, it must be one showstopper after another.
Marshall's direction is not always as assured as his staging of the musical numbers. Oddly, the film almost feels like it was shot in sequence, as Marshall's initially choppy editing and scene-pacing grows progressively more seamless as the picture goes along. This is crucial, as the numbers all take place in a sort of fantasy nightclub cut off from the main action. Still, Marshall generally gets high marks for his debut, and he is ably abetted by a top-notch technical crew. In addition to the aforementioned editing (by Martin Walsh), strong work is put forward by costume designer Colleen Atwood (who nicely recreates the sometimes anachronistically revealing dance outfits of the stage show), cinematographer Dion Beebe, and the set design crew, led by production designer John Myrhe, who are able to make their squalor a little more authentic than what one would see on a stage.
Of course, as with any musical, the lion's share of the picture's success rests on the shoulders of its performers, and while Astaire and Garland aren't losing any sleep, "Chicago"'s cast members acquit themselves surprisingly well as song-and-dance artists. Gere, slick with oily charm, displays a witty way with a lyric and a nice relaxed tap-dance style. Zeta-Jones, a dancer in London before she hit the silver screen, shows off the flashiest moves of anyone here, all the while oozing fearsome sexuality. Also turning in fine work are Queen Latifah as the corrupt warden of the women's prison and John C. Reilly as Roxie's hapless cuckold of a husband, whose "Mr. Cellophane" poignantly sums up his nowhere-man status.
As far as I'm concerned, though, this is Renee Zellweger's show all the way. For me, Zellweger's onscreen work has been wildly uneven, ranging from the agreeable "Jerry Maguire" to "Me Myself & Irene", where she seemed stunned to find herself in front of a movie camera. Here, however, her confidence is exhilarating, and as Roxie transforms from a timid criminal to a vampish media super-vixen, Zellweger projects sex, sarcasm, and sweetness (often insincerely) like nothing I've seen from her before. Her dancing is not as polished as Zeta-Jones's, but she more than holds her own, and her numbers are easily the most memorable of the film. Roxie may not be a star, but Zellweger certainly is here; I'm rooting for her to take home a Best Actress Oscar for this.
"Chicago" is not quite the masterpiece some of the early reviews have suggested. The lack of a more experienced director keeps it from being more than a top-notch screen transfer of a venerated stage work. Nevertheless, the film is funny and exciting, with plenty of memorable numbers, and it proves for sure that the success of "Moulin Rouge" wasn't a fluke.
Now...how about that Sweeney Todd movie finally?
I've been a tap & jazz dancer most of my life. Chicago "razzle-dazzled"
me into a state of great stage memories & utter delight in the revival
of a dynamite musical. Bring them on! Don't know about you, but I need
real entertainment... considering I live in the US during it's most
politically corrupt decade. I need a dance, singing & music that is
equal in intensity to my blues symptoms. "Chicago" is one of my
My favorite production is "The Jailhouse Tango." It made me reach way back to Elvis's "Jailhouse Rock." However, the stage of this era is much more well equipped to do such a gigantic show-stopping, lengthy, hysterically funny & ever so well danced & sung routine. I can watch that 1 number time & again & find something new I love about it. I also have to agree with the other commentators who couldn't find a single 'bad' number in the entire show.
Yes, Richard Gere can certainly dance & sing in a musical. I found the editing of the trial & Gere's tap dance utterly fascinating. You know, when a dancer is being filmed doing a routine we never know who or what will be in the final cuts. For instance, in "Staying Alive." I knew those dance routines & a few of the dancers. They were truly peeved at the nasty chop job that was done to great dance routines. Not so in "Chicago." Credit has to go also to terrific camera work which did the best job I've ever seen to avoid losing any parts of the stage or the all of dancers' movements.
Most outstanding is "Mr. Cellophane." Shirley Maclaine once did a TV version of "One" using her gorgeous figure & a simple hat, plus a series of ever so subtle dance moves that expressed pure classiness of pure Shirley the marvelous dancer. Reilly uses his costume & hat with those very few subtle moves to express the whole character he plays. It's easy to write he is quite emotionally moving & sings very well.
The contrast between the big production number of The Jailhouse Tango & Mr. Cellophane couldn't be greater. Tango is way high energy, lots of lovely female dancers & singers, with the exception of a very few males: Mr. Cellophane is nearly done in one man's singular slow motion. The choreography had to have been the dancers' delight! Yum.
Zellwenger & Zeta Jones make for a very similar contrast in both their dancing & singing styles. I was nearly shocked that Zeta-Jones could belt out a song Ethel Merman style! At times she brought Merman back to life. Zellwenger belongs in musicals she's so sizzling hot in dance costumes that accentuate a dancer's body & she can really sing while she's performing the piece quite exotically. I can see why prudish folks detest the show. It's sensuous with lots of sexy body work going on. Puritanicals Beware! Nevertheless, the way The Jailhouse Tango started off quite cleverly with such a simple sound as the drip, drip of a jail cell faucet to pace the rhythmic beat at the beginning of the production number was unique & brilliant. So that's one reason why I write that number is the one that stands out most to me. But just as I write that I recall the big number of the live human 'puppets'. How clever was that. Zellwenger & Gere pulled that one off masterfully together with much of the cast as their backup chorus.
I can't possibly understand anyone who writes that it was a flop or they didn't like it. But I do respect your opinions. 10 of 10, undoubtedly. (Chicago makes "Moulin Rouge" look like gooey overly-romantic, made for teenagers, face sucking >blek<. I'm too old to appreciate that nonsense. Give me the all out flaming musical for adults ::winking::).
PS--If you love song & dance musicals, or want to, see "Cats." (Or perhaps fast forward to Grizabella's scene singing & acting out Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic rendition of "Memories"). Musicals can take us away from the heaviness of today to another realm to view the insides of another character through their movements & songs. Thank you for reading me~
"Chicago" is a stunning, brilliant piece of cinema.
It tells the satirical story of a group of characters living in the windy city, in the roaring twenties: a voluptious vamp that burns in the spotlight, a red-hot mama matron, a greedy, flamboyant lawyer, a wannabe-star chorus girl, and her neglected, suffering, and lovable husband. There lives are interwoven and elaborated on, centering on the chorus girl's rise to fame, through shooting her lover. The genra here is musical. And every number is wildly entertaining, taking on the musical form of a vaudevillian show: there is a flashy, signature opener (All that Jazz), a legendary closer (Hot Honey Rag), a circus-show me act, and each character is rewarded a song of their own, to express themselves: the chorus girl, Roxie (Roxie), the voluptious vamp, Velma (I Can't do it Alone), the red-hot mama matron, Matron Mama Morton (When You're Good to Mama), the greedy Lawyer, Billy (All I Care About) and the neglected husband (Mr. Cellophane) dance gorgeoussly around in gold lamee, flapper outfits, sultry black vixon dresses, and tramp costumes to exagerate their personas.
The story's main center (the telling of the voluptious vamp and the chorus girl, fooling the public with their murders) is filled with juicy dialogue, and a beautiful flow from song to scene to song.
The talent of "Chicago" is unsurpassed. Renee Zellweger gives a legendary performance as Roxie, the chorus girl. Her brilliant, realistic acting, and her oozing charismaa through her musical numbers earned her an Oscar nomination, a SAG Award, and a Golden Globe. Richard Gere gives a fine, haughty potrayel of Billy, the lawyer, with a marvelous tap routine elaborating his talent. He was awarded a Golden Globe. Queen Latifah, and her wildly entertaining number (When You're Good to Mama), as well as her red-hot potrayel of Matron Mama Morton, earned her Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, the same as John C. Reilly who gives a beloved, funny, and heartbreaking potrayel of Amos. Mr. Reilly can belt out a mean Mr. Cellophane. But the highlight of Chicago's cast is Catherine Zeta-Jones, as Velma Kelly. Every time I view Chicago I am reminded of her brilliant talent. Miss Jones is a phenominal dancer, in rememberence of Cyd Charise and Ginger Rogers, as well as a fabulous tune belter, up there with Judy Garland. She's also an amazingly real actress, and brings beauty and class back to the movie musical. Her frankly beautiful potrayel of the vamp earned her a Golden Globe Nomination, a SAG Award, a BAFTA Award, and the grandaddy, an Oscar.
However, the man of the hour involved with Chicago is Rob Marshall, who is forever-presesnt behind the camera. He weaves a perfectly gorgeous mood throughout the memorable scenes, and his choreography and dancing abilities are on par with Bob Fosse. The star of Chicago is its impeccable dancing and choreography, with sure and creative movements everywhere you look. Mr. Marshall earned a DGA Award, and an Oscar nomination.
Chicago is one of the best films of the year, of the generation. Never before have I seen anything quite like it. It brings back the old movie musical, while giving a Broadway flare. It is completely revolutionary and legendary. A perfect 10/10.
Having just seen "Chicago", I must say I was very impress. Kudos to all
involved. Rob Marshall has done a fine job in adapting this beloved
to the big screen (not an easy task), and considering the fact that this
his first big-budget feature, his accomplishment is even more
The movie follows the lives of two women, living in the tough city of "Chicago" in the 1920's. Velma Kelly (played by Catherine Zeta Jones) is a sexy stage performer, who finds herself thrown into prison after a fit of rage results in the death of both her husband and her sister who have been carry on an illict affair with each other. The other lady in question is wannabe starlet Roxie Hart (played by Renee Zellweger), a married woman, who after being seduced and duped by her devious lover, get revenge on him by shooting him dead. This act of vengeance also see's her taking a trip to prison, and it's here that a battle of one-up-man-ship commences between the two ladies, as both use whatever means at their disposal to get (a) out of jail and (b) gain the most publicity doing it. The connecting factor between Velma & Roxie comes in the form of an unscrupulous high profile defense attorney Billy Flynn (played by Richard Gere), who also knowing when to take advantage of an opportunity, becomes counsel for both women and their respective cases.
"Chicago" is fortunate enough to have several things going for it. Aside from strong direction from Rob Marshall, the film is blessed with memorable performances from it's three leads. Catherine Zeta Jones oozes a vampish nature to her portrayal of Velma Kelly. Looking every inch the star, she commands a strong presence in the film, and appears right at home handling both the singing and dancing aspects of the role with ease and class, not to mention a high degree of sexiness. Richard Gere also plays his part in the movie with aplomb. Despite his questionable tactics and somewhat dubious nature, Gere lends a roguish charm to his character which has you walking away if not liking then at the very least admiring his character's quick skill and cunning guile. Gere is also a strong performer in the areas of singing and dancing (much to my surprise!!). However, it's Renee Zellweger who takes centre-stage in "Chicago" - and boy, does she relish every moment of it. She is without doubt, the "star performer" of this film. With sly nods to past "blonde bombshells" such as Jean Harlow & Marilyn Munroe, Zellweger runs the gauntlet of high and lows that require of her character. From demure & sweet, to sly & munipulative, you never know what she gonna do next. And as with Zeta-Jones & Gere, Zellweger also does justice when it comes to belting out a tune, or doing the hot step.
Our three principals are lucky to have an equally talented supporting cast to back them up. From John C Reilly as the down-trodden husband of Roxie Hart, to Queen Latifah as the "larger-than-life" matron of a women's prison, everyone in this film is right on the mark with their performances. Yet at the heart of any good musical, is of course the musical numbers, and in this respect "Chicago" does not disappoint.
From the opening heat of "All That Jazz", to the saltry "When You're Good To Mama", through to the electric "Cellblock Tango", onto the wistful "Roxie", then to the playful kitsch of "Razzle Dazzle" to the all-out "Finale" featuring Velma & Roxie, "Chicago" scores big-time. The choreography, costume & set designs are all terrific, giving the film the look and feel it's rightly deserves.
With the high-profile success of "Moulin Rogue" in 2001, "Chicago" is likely to follow in the same footsteps, and hopefully this will continue a trend in Hollywood to bring back "the musical" - with the same love & attention that has obviously gone into making "Chicago". I highly recommend this film. You're guaranteed a enjoyable & entertaining night at the movies..... with a smile on your dial, a tune in your head, and a spring in your step ....... go and treat yourself ..... you know you want to.......
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Unless you've been exiled to the Patagonia for the past twenty years,
then maybe you might not know the premise of Rob Marshall's perfect
rendition of Bob Fosse's CHICAGO which depicts the lurid events
surrounding a pair of murderesses, their shady lawyer, and the media
circus which ensues.
Kept on hold for years and going through a revolving door of directors and actors slated to play the leads and supporting players, and benefiting from the smash success of Baz Luhrmann's MOULIN ROUGE!, CHICAGO manages to virtually re-invent and resuscitate the musical to its fullest. Featuring dazzling visuals and musical numbers which segue seamlessly from scene to scene as it delves into Roxie Hart's vivid inner dialogue (with some exceptions, such as Velma Kelly's rendition of "I Can't Do it Alone" or Mama Morton's "When You're Good to Mama"), Rob Marshall breaks down the walls which in other way would have made the story less mobile.
CHICAGO tells the story of Roxie Hart, a vague young thing married to a colorless man, Amos Hart (John C. Reilly), but carrying on with a low-life Fred Caseley (Dominic West) who's made more promises than he can keep. She shoots him dead, and is thrown in jail where she meets Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a vaudeville star who's also in for the murder of her sister and lover, whom she found in bed together. The rousing musical number, "Cell Block Tango" is the show-stopper here, where Velma and five other inmates tell their story of how they arrived in jail. It is visually stunning, with each of the women using blood-red scarves which they use to describe their murders, and the dancers are in top form, sexy, ferocious, and dangerous -- pure Fosse material.
Into the story comes Matron 'Mama' Morton (Queen Latifah) who hooks Velma up with Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), the hot lawyer who takes on her case. Roxie, seeing she is down on her luck, has Amos hire Flynn, and he turns her story into the thing of tabloid fodder: soon everyone is following Roxie's move down to her hairstyle, and this of course causes Velma to go into a fit of jealousy since the spotlight has been taken away from her.
When seeing CHICAGO, it's not hard to compare it with the real-life circus shows that the trials of Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson have become. The climactic court scene in which Billy Flynn literally tap-dances his audience into exonerating Roxie despite the obvious evidence as showgirls pirouette over the bumbling witnesses is one that blurs the lines of reality with fiction, and the rapid editing sparkles in sheer brilliance. People don't want to hear the true story even though they may say so; to see Roxie as the innocent waif and Velma as the glamorous star is all they want as expressed by the movie's conclusion. Killers become media darlings and use up their fifteen minutes of fame -- that is, until then next lurid murder.
Fantastic performances are all over this film. Catherine Zeta-Jones brings forth the energy of a very young Joan Crawford who made a number of dance-oriented films early in her career. Richard Gere, ignored at Oscar time, stands out in his smarmy part and proves his capacity for dance and song, especially in his "We Both Reached For the Gun" number with Christine Baranski playing Mary Sunshine. Renee Zellweger reveals a vulnerable persona as Roxie Hart and comes across a little Marilyn Monroe, a little Ginger Rogers, and totally breathless, as in her two beautiful numbers "Funny Honey" and "Roxie". We don't expect her to sing well -- she's a wannabe star. Queen Latifah smolders as 'Mama,' so much that I wanted more of her. She reminded me of Sophie Tucker (whom the film mentions), all brass, tough, and sexy, and a less self-conscious Mae West. Her "When You're Good to Mama' is a more subtle take from Mary McCarty's growling number which made every line a symbol of double entendre. John C. Reilly plays the sap affectionately, and what a number he has! "Mr. Cellophane" is the saddest song ever, which he performs as the clown he has become. All in all, Rob Marshall has created a powerful, lurid film, made darker due to much of its subject matter but treated as if it were SINGING IN THE RAIN, full of instant classic sequences, and ending in a full applause.
Funny thing about watching a movie like "Chicago", which won the award for
Best Picture last year. I eagerly awaited the DVD, and when I first sat down
to watch it, I didn't finish it. I guess I just wasn't in the mood. I began
to wonder what all the hoopla was about. Now, a couple of weeks later, I
watched it from the beginning and now I "get" it. I must have been in a
different mood, because this time everything "clicked" for me, it was great
fun, simply a very entertaining movie. Now I'm glad I own the DVD, aside
from my desire to have as many Oscar winners as I can. The whole story is a
parody of fame, crime, and use of a slick lawyer to fool a jury. I will
enjoy watching it again and again.
My favorite scene was where Gere's lawyer was puppetteer to Zellweger's Roxie, the acting, the singing, the timing were all just perfect. It has been well-publicized that Zellweger neither sang nor danced professionally before "Chicago", and I found her more than adequate for the role of Roxie. In fact, I quite enjoy her singing voice. Yet, Catherine Z-J has the more powerful, trained voice, having started out on stage, and it is apparent when they are together that Z-J is the more seasoned performer. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well Gere handled his singing duties. Some have complained about his somewhat "nasal" singing voice, but to me it fit his character well. A rich, operatic baritone would have been out of character.
I viewed the DVD with the DTS track selected and it delivers with a fine surround sound. Plus, the picture is very sharp, in all a good DVD to own for fans of musical comedies.
I have come to consider CHICAGO the best and most satisfying movie musical that I have ever seen. And I like movie musicals. The first delight was how well Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and John C Reilly did with these roles-- acting, Singing!!, and Dancing!!! I was surprised, and amazed! In addition, the cheeky satire about America's obsession with the cult of celebrity and the three-ring circus that the media and opportunistic lawyers make of our justice system is razor-sharp and very timely. (It's a little like watching "O.J.: The Musical"!)The creative and brilliant direction by Rob Marshall is entertaining and wonderful. As I think over the films of the last ten years, this is the first one that comes to mind. I love it!! I simply can't watch without singing along! CHICAGO certainly deserved its Academy Award for Best Picture!!
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