Alex Da Large, Omenvoir, and "R" All Take In High-Kicking Stylings Of CHICAGO!!
Hey folks, Harry here in China... doing my job as well as taking in the culture... I tell ya, there's just something wonderful about looking out a window at Beijing and typing my goofy geeky stuff about movies. I mean, right there... I see the red and yellow flag of the People's Republic of China... and here in my room, I'm all about expressing my freedoms to knock the capitalist corporations of America and praise their subjigated artists for jobs well done. Hehehehe.... Anyway, here's Alex da Large with his look at CHICAGO, a film I'm dying to see...
Hey Harry/Moriarty I also was at the Chicago screening last night in
Edgewater, NJ and here are my thoughts about the affair.
Not a being a viewer of the original Broadway musical, Chicago follows the
trials of 2 murderesses in the 1920's, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones)
who's already famous and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger), who seeks fame, as
they're defended by their sleazy, opportunistic lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard
Being unfamiliar with director/choreographer Rob Marshall's background, he
directs the material as if born to it. The musical sequences are vividly
realized right down to the strong smack of the percussive drum beat which
was preeminent of the music of the time.
The look of the film holds true to the posters' color scheme. The screen is
awash in pinks, whites, & blacks amidst the foggy haze of floodlights.
Any number Richard Gere performed, he easily stole. This has to be one of
his liveliest and juiciest portrayals in quite some time and he carries a
tune with the best of them.
Coming in a not too shabby second Zellweger & Zeta-Jones acquit themselves
as if they were born Broadway hoofers.
John C. Reilly and Queen Latifah also do wonders with their one shot songs,
particularly Reilly's rendition as a poor schlub of a husband.
There were many 'name' actors playing small roles like Christine Baranski,
Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, & singer Mya. I get the feeling what drew the actors
to their meager parts was an opportunity to be part of an important work ala
the small turns in this summer's The Bourne Identity where we saw the likes
of up & comers like Clive Owen and Julia Stiles being part of a piece rather
then trying to make a small part memorable.
While Chicago is very entertaining, it doesn't continue the reinvention of
the musical that Moulin Rouge ushered in last year. Also from my vantage
point a handful of viewers did get up, to never come back. Possibly this was
due to the stretches in the film where one song would end and immediately
another would commence.
The British accented host at the screening did warn us of the potential
scratch marks and temp tracks but the print was very good. An attending
colleague, who is also a video editor, did mention the final credits looked
recently typed and some of the city shots looked a bit soft but being a test
print, it was quite watchable.
I wasn't part of the final focus meeting being that I was with people of
color and that wouldn't make a good pool of information to draw from. Oh
THE UGLY (POSSIBLE SPOILERS)
Anyone who has seen the musical may know that our heroines get away with it
and while their final song is seen as a triumph since they've overcome the
odds to make it back to the top, they also come off as being vein,
conniving, and ultimately manipulative so many audience members may come
away humming the music but once they start thinking about who they were
rooting for, they may need a quick shower to wash away the grime.
I feel Chicago will be a hit, maybe not as big as Moulin Rouge but if the
quality remains at this high level maybe the musical can finally make a well
alex Da Large
Next up is the honorable Omenvoir...
I went to take a friend to see RTP this past Monday
here in Kansas City, MO, and was offered a free ticket
to see a screening for "Chicago"!! I was really
surprised, because a.) I have heard a lot of
Oscar-buzz around this movie, and b.) what the heck
are they doing in KC showing a screening for a movie 4
months away from release??? Well, let's just say that
it was an uber-pleasant surprise. I thought I'd go
ahead and share my review with you guys, and even the
faithful readers, if you deem it worthy! Enjoy!
"There's no business like show business!"
And there's no movie that embodies this old phrase
better than Rob Marshall's "Chicago". And quite
frankly, no movie is BETTER thus far this year than
Chicago. I cannot spout enough endless praise about
this movie: the direction, the superb performances,
the pacing, the lush sets, the mood, the energy....
most of all, the energy. This movie is so jam-packed
full of life and bursting with excitement that I was
nearly exhausted at the end of it's 110 minute running
time! Dancing! Singing! Jazzing! Swinging! A
spectacle on screen and a feast for the eyes, this
movie has all the makings of a true Broadway musical
brought to the big screen, and possibly even a modern
classic in the making.
A bit of exposition for you: Velma Kelly (Catherine
Zeta-Jones) walks into a venue, apparently late for
her show, and without her performance partner, her
sister. We see her washing her bloodied hands off
before being introduced with the first of a series of
sexy musical numbers, which is interrupted by the
police, who come to arrest her for the double homicide
of her sister and her husband. Transition to a young
blond, Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger), who is a common
housewife and an aspiring showgirl in the "roaring
20's" and married to a simple mechanic named Amos
(John C. Reilly). Completely unknown to "cellophane
Amos", she is having an affair with Fred Casely
(Dominic West), who pretends to know someone in
showbiz just to get “a piece” of Roxie (That’s
literally what was said). When she finds out that
Fred lied to her about his ability to get her into
showbiz and was just “screwing around” with her (heh
heh), things get bad - namely for Fred. Enter the
(female?) county jail where things get interesting,
thanks in part to "Mama" Morton (Queen Latifa) who is
a shady jail keeper who can get things done… at a
price. It is here that the not-so-friendly
relationship between Roxie and Velma begins to
flourish. Enter Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), the most
rich, most famous, most successful, and most cunning
defense lawyer in all of “The Windy City”. For a
price, Flynn takes up the defense of both of these
ladies in order to save them from the ultimate
penalty: death by hanging. The plan: make Chicago
love you. If they love you, you are free. And from
there, the power struggle and fight for the spotlight
First-time feature film director, Rob Marshall, does
so much right. The pacing never lagged; in fact, I'd
venture to say that it was too fast. The
cinematography is superb - the look and feel of
Chicago and especially the grandiose musical sets are
spot on. The way that the "real world" and the
"musical world" are blended together was breathtaking;
the extended use of metaphors and parallelisms between
these two worlds was truly amazing. For instance, one
of the first musical scenes involves Amos trying to
cover up for Roxie's murder. Roxie flashes between
reality and a musical set, singing a cute, and
ultimately, hilarious song about her husband, who,
over the course of the song, figures out that Roxie is
lying to him! Absolutely brilliant work - and so well
implemented throughout the entire film. The humor was
taut and clever as well; I was laughing at least once
every five minutes. And the performances - the
performances!! How he coaxed these kind of
performances out of these guys (and gals) is a
This particular story is all about Roxie, and to my
delightful surprise, Zellweger is wonderful! She
nails the near-innocent-yet-devilish role on the head.
Who'da thunk it?? Zeta-Jones - oh wow. She sings.
She dances. She flirts. She shows a hell of a lot of
leg. Well, actually every girl does - even "Mama"
(*shudder*). But Zeta-Jones oozes with... with...
well, let's just say she's one sexy baby, baby. Oh
be-have! OK, now that I have that out of my system,
let's move on to the most surprising performance:
Richard Gere. It's common knowledge that this guy
really can't act very well. But guys, and I am dead
serious, he puts in the performance of a LIFETIME.
The 2 best scenes in the whole movie revolve around
Gere's Billy, and after the scene that I’ll reference
as "The Tapdance", the screener crowd erupted in
applause!! And given that the crowd clapped twice,
and the 2nd being at the end, that should give you an
idea of how impressed we all were at Gere. And he
sings too! "Mama" is hilarious and super, and in
probably the most underused, understated, and
ironically, most likely to be overlooked performance
was Reilly's "cellophane Amos." You can't help but
really feel for this guy - I mean his wife cheats on
him, kills another man, and goes to jail, and he still
tries to stand by his woman - the woman he loves, even
when she treats him like poodoo.
So what didn't I like? Well for starters, as good of
job ACTING that Gere did, he was the weakest singer of
all the cast. That's not to say I wasn't surprised:
it was still good, just not as good as the rest. What
else? At times, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer
amount of "stuff" happening on the screen, especially
during the musical numbers. This isn't necessarily a
bad thing though; it really added to the vigorous and
spirited tone of the film. Herein lies another
problem however: the ending needs some work - it was a
bit abrupt and left me with a lot of questions.
Questions like: "Whoa, did I miss the message of the
film?" I was so preoccupied with the spectacle that I
think I may have slightly overlooked the overall
theme: namely, that "All the world is a stage", and
sometimes we as humans will sacrifice anything to get
an audience. Yet, I don't think that it was entirely
my fault for not seeing more of it sooner than I did -
after all, the sheer amount of energy and lighthearted
approach to the darker themes allowed me to simply
overlook this fact, at least until the very end. I
also would have loved to see more of the relationships
covered and a few of the minor characters developed a
bit more. What was done, however, was fabulous - the
uneasy, and sometime downright nasty tension between
Velma and Roxy was a pleasure to watch. I believe the
majority of these problems could be dealt with had the
movie run just a bit longer.
What else can I say? It was an extreme privilege to
be lucky enough to see this movie four months before
release date, and based on the audience reaction, I
think they felt the same way. As for the doubters who
are not sure if this will be a “contender”, I was once
there. Let this put your doubts to rest: this movie
deserves to be on everyone's top 10 list at the end of
the year. It is a movie full of sleazy splendor,
polished choreography, elegant sets, sensational
music, and rousing performances. I can't WAIT to see
the completed product come December, and you should
feel the same!!
Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with another CHICAGO review that just popped up. Seems like they're doing one last big wave of screenings, but not in any of the places you'd think. Edgewater, NJ. Kansas. Testing it in places where they're less likely to get jaded industry responses. Of course, we've got eyes everywhere, so we're getting lots of quick reactions, like this one from the mysterious "R":
I saw the sneak preview of Chicago as well – and gotta tell you that I thought that it was a pretty good movie as well.
The movie had a good flow and was pretty well shot and put together. They did their normal “this is an early cut, don’t hold us against us” thing in the beginning but I didn’t really see anything out of sorts during the showing.
I don’t think that the general audience’s feelings about the movie were as positive as the other write in person said. There were patches here and there of people that did seem to really like it but there were others that left with a rather bland / flat look on their face. You will HAVE to go into this movie with the thought in mind that it’s simply a musical put to film with the attendant enhancements (bigger/better sets, more camera angles, etc.)
There were a couple of dance scenes that ran a little long, but that is really my main complaint.
The comments about Richard Gere – sorry, but he wasn’t that great in my mind. You know who pleasantly surprised me? Catherine Zeta Jones! I was horrible disappointed in her after “Entrapment” - and vowed to never see a movie with her again. I then gave in and saw Traffic which I thought was good despite her. This movie moves her WAY back up in the rankings with me. She was excellent.
But my number one for this flick? Absolutely, positively, Queen Latifah! Honest, I think that her opening song number is worth the price of admission alone! Never mind the structural engineering that was needed to create that dress that she is wearing. You could serve a meal on her chest it is so pushed up and supported!!!!