*** Official "CHICAGO" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris_Richard, Dec 17, 2002.

  1. Chris_Richard

    Chris_Richard Supporting Actor

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    I just got back from a screening of Chicago and loved it. Everyone does a great job with their singing and dancing, was impressed with John C. Reilly.

    There was no weak musical number in the film. The opening is really good but then it keeps building the energy back until the final number.

    The songs are all performed on staged sets. Almost all happen concurrently with the action and the editing between the two, where the character will sing and speak the same sentence, is impressive.

    This might be my favorite film of the year. I havn't left the theater so pumped all year. Hopefully LotR:TTT will have the same effect.
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Chicago". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    This is the real thing folks. When audience members in a sold out crowd applaud at some of the production numbers as if they were being performed live in front of their eyes, then the film has done like no other musical has achieved before.
    Unlike Moulin Rouge where there were some walkouts after its first 30 minutes, here, no one left and some even gave the film a rousing applause at the end. Interestingly, the applause continued as each cast member took their final bow with a clip of their performance at the end credits.
    Chicago is funny, vibrant, assured in its direction and delivery and a lot of fun. What makes it work is its talented ensemble cast including Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Taye Diggs and Lucy Liu. None of their performances go over the top. Everyone appears to be perfectly cast and having a really good time.
    Rob Marshall has done a very good job in transitioning the material from stage to screen. There is not a dull moment as a musical number is introduced “on stage” at just about every few minutes.
    The songs in Chicago are not the type that will make one sing or hum a tune as one exits the theater. Instead, what stays with the audience is the fun they had from the entire experience in just seeing a really good Broadway show, err… film.
    ~Edwin
     
  4. Talal

    Talal Stunt Coordinator

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    Ditto with the above reviews... great fun all around, and teh cutting between the "movie" and "show" segments was wonderful indeed. It was my first time at the Ziegfeld, and the enthusiasm of the crowd only made it more fun.
    I'm not even close to being a broadway musical fan, but this is a must see.
     
  5. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Chicago
    10 of 10
    This is not Moulin Rouge, a musical I happened to love. However, it carries the same power, the same lust for life, the same energy as that film, albeit in a jazzier stage-like package. As a musical brought to film it's divine, making the most of the unique medium and it's ability to cut between reality and fantasy.
    The songs were already top notch as the accolades the stage show received could attest to, but the performances here will still surprise you. Most of all Richard Gere nearly steals the show with 2 of the best sequences as the clever, controlling, fast-on-his-feet defense lawyer. That's not to say the Zeta-Jones, Zellweger, Latifah, and even John C. Reilly don't impress almost as much with their numbers.
    A good musical makes you want the next song to start up right after the last one ended. For me, this film did that. Jazzy, sexy, cool, fun, all in the spirit of Fosse of course.
    If you like musicals at all, this is a homerun for you. If you normally hate them then this is a maybe. If you liked Moulin Rouge you may or may not like this one so give it a shot. And if you like hot girls in sexy outfits doing sexy dances...definitely the flick for you. [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Has to be a front runner for this year's Best Pix Oscar.
     
  6. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    With Chicago, director Rob Marshall & screenwriter Bill Condon show the world how to adapt a Broadway musical for film in the 21st Century. By turning the songs into fantasy musical sequences they skirt the "why are these people bursting into song" issue that would usually distance modern audiences from this type of material. The editing is particularly brilliant, intercutting between the characters' "real life" and the cleverly stylized musical settings seamlessly. As a result, the film pulses with life & energy - you can't take your eyes off it.
    Marshall took a gamble in his casting but it pays off here. Catherine Zeta-Jones opens the film with the signature number "All That Jazz", and brings the house down immediately. Of all the cast she's the one you most believe could translate this performance to the stage. She's a lock for a Best Supporting Actress nom. Renee Zellweger is the perfect Roxie Hart - she's got the "sweet & innocent" thing down, and proves equally adept at portraying the cold, calculating side of her character. Richard Gere is spot-on as the lawyer, and the always-reliable John C. Reilly scores as Roxie's put-upon husband (and reveals a nice set of pipes in the process). Queen Latifah as Mama delivers her one song with verve and sassiness. Word has it another number of hers was cut - hopefully we'll see it on the DVD.
    In all, Chicago is a rousing two hours of entertainment, and a sure Best Picture favorite. But...
    Underneath all the razzle-dazzle, the film is empty, and I felt this throughout. Even while enjoying their performances, I found it impossible to connect with any of the characters. There's more soul & humanity in any given glance from Andy Serkis' CGI-animated Gollum than there is in the whole running time of Chicago. I don't blame the filmmakers or performers for this - I understand it's endemic in the source material. It's not a fatal flaw by any means, but in post-viewing retrospect it causes Chicago to fade just a bit.
    Nevertheless, Chicago rates a solid 9/10, and I give Marshall & Condon all due praise for helping to revive a near-dead film genre. Highly recommended.
     
  7. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Glorious entertainment and proof that the musical is back!
    Zeta-Jones should clear a place on the mantle for the Supporting Actress Oscar. Renee and Queen took my breath away during their numbers and Richard Gere amazed.

    ****/****
     
  8. Brajesh Upadhyay

    Brajesh Upadhyay Supporting Actor

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    Wonderful film. Every aspect of this film is first-rate. Thoroughly enjoyable.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] 1/2 [out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]]
     
  9. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    Another overrated movie in a year full of 'em. I agree with Craig that Chicago is lacking a basic humanity.

    Here's a truncated version of my review:

    Flashy, diverting, and empty to the core, the movie of Bob Fosse's stage musical Chicago is a satire that's every bit as shallow as the characters it wishes to skewer. Directed by Rob Marshall with a deft hand at making theatrical aesthetics look cinematic, the film doesn't infuse fake energy into its showpieces. Unlike the blenderized editing in Moulin Rouge, this restrained approach allows us to experience the performers performances. And stars Renee Zellwegger, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, and especially Catherine Zeta Jones have an uncannily seductive musical stage presence. Chicago is as technically well-made as its script requires, but its dumb approach to its subject matter strives to be endearing in the most appalling way possible. Intent on pleasing wannabe hipsters whose defining attribute is sardonic anomie, the movie debrutalizes murder of physical effect and moral repercussion. Death in Chicago isn't just presented like it ain't no thang, it's downright cute. (This skittish acknowledgment of unexplored issues may adversely make the film an Oscar favourite.) I realize that the film is trying to mock the depths of its characters' ambitions, but to do so it needs to stand above them, proving that it knows something they don't. Chicago fails to evoke interest because it considers it progress to be about nothing when it could be about something.
     
  10. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Well, I had a weekend to digest the film, but here's a snazzy little review.
    In short, I will be updating my top ten list [​IMG]
    To start, praise my tastes or damn them...I loved Moulin Rouge. With all my heart.
    And I said that to get it out of the way. These films aren't even really comparable except that they are two big budget musicals with Hollywood stars singing for the first time in a long time. Bless them both. For reference, I had never seen Chicago in any form.
    But my wife and I loved it. The cast does an excellent job bringing it to the screen, with everything that that entails. Singing, fancing, and just plain showmanship. Initially opposed to Gere, he really is in his element, and he steals the show a few times.
    What really stands out is the brilliant direction and editing. This is a great looking film that is expertly put together. I can't say enough how impressed I was at the production. I expected great dancing and singing (and got it), but everything else measured up as well.
    Acting: what a resume Renee is building for herself. She has just the right presence here, allowing for the supporting characters to shine without being forgotten. Reilly is pulling a Boradbent this year, and he does a lot with the character. Queen Latifah has, as expected, the best voice in my opinion. I liked her song, but I loved listening to her. Bring on the DVD bonuses. CZJ is not a favorite of mine. But that's personal. This is professional, and she does it. I am less wowed than others, but her turn her is top notch. And I already spoke to Gere...he's done this role before, but never with such life.
    It is a cynical tale, and it does indeed have a cold heart. But the energy in the show is infectious.
    Maybe I am just biased towards musicals, and I didn't know it [​IMG]
    9/10
    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  11. Fred Bang

    Fred Bang Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with everybody here who gave it 9/10. It makes it way right up to number 5 in my top 10 of the year.
     
  12. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Chicago -- I couldn't imagine it any other way; in fact, this is exactly the way I imagined it before I saw it, and perhaps the only way to make a musical movie today (that audiences will buy). The tone is perfect, and each of the numbers seems staged with skill and aplomb. While I enjoyed the movie, it wasn't really very much fun (except the fun in rediscovering previously-known pleasures) but perhaps I know the material too well to "believe" it properly. It does seem overly edited, but that is the current style; perhaps the pendulum will swing back at some point to showing talented people do what they do without camera manipulation. It's the Chaplin vs. Keaton syndrome: Chaplin almost always showed his full body, because as a performer he was enormously expressive, a theatrical mime caught on film. Keaton used his body as a prop for cinematic jokes and tricks. Most people would say Keaton was the better filmmaker, but Chaplin the greater artist (and funnier).

    For me, John C. Reilly and Queen Latifah came off best, because you got to see their numbers fairly straightforwardly, and the pleasure came in seeing these actors (particularly Reilly) perform as well as anybody. Richard Gere was OK, but admittedly, that tap dance was perfectly atrocious, shot mostly from the back, and cut to smithereens: perhaps because he really couldn't do it? Cathryn Z.Jones and Renee Zellweger were completely bested by everyone I've seen in the show before, including Verdon and Rivera.

    I should mention that something seemed wrong in the soundtrack last night -- like there was a channel missing. I heard the orchestral tracks loud and clear, but the solo voices were distant and echoey, as if the center channel had blown its speaker. There was no laughter in the theater at all during the show (packed show in New York City).
     
  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I guess I'm one of the few (surprise!) that didn't quite enjoy the performances as much as many here have.

    I thought Richard Gere's singing voice was either mixed too low, or just doesn't have the pipes to do the material justice. But on the acting side, he was good in the role of smarmy lawyer.

    I wasn't blown away by CZJ's voice or dancing, and when compared to the other dancers, she was lagging behind them in the dance department.

    Renee Zellwegger had a better voice than I thought she would given how she normally sounds, and I found her to be the better of the dancers between her and CZJ.

    I did like John C. Reilly's solo, he had a nice voice for that song. Queen Latifah's solo didn't quite do it for me, I just don't think she sold the song as well as someone else could have.

    The film as a whole was okay, it didn't really grab my full attention and make me sit up and take notice. The number I did like a lot was the one after CZJ's "All the Jazz" number at the beginning of the film (when the women were explaining why they were in jail).

    I'd give it 2.75 stars or a grade of B-.
     
  14. Colin-H

    Colin-H Second Unit

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    Chicago is a great musical, and you won’t hear me utter the last couple of words too often. The concept is great, the book is great, and the music is slick, as well. That does not necessarily mean, however, that it makes a great movie. Chicago is, in its essence, Roxie’s idealized retelling of her story. She is the protagonist, and no action takes place outside of her presence. Rob Marshall’s Chicago hops back and forth between Roxie’s fantasy and reality, which, in some cases, works beautifully, but tends to fail miserably.
    The opening rendition of All That Jazz, set to Roxie’s sexual encounters with furniture salesman Fred Casely, “makes the audience hungry and leaves ’em wanting more,” but without the “leaves ’em wanting more” part. (Did it even make me hungry? I forget.) “Cell Block Tango”, which is one of my favorite moments in the musical, was soulless and devoid of humor. In fact, all of the musical numbers set against the black void would’ve felt more at home in a Fosse revue. It’s almost as if Marshall couldn’t decide whether to create his own aesthetic or just completely rip off Fosse and the stage production.
    The movie didn’t start picking up until the wonderfully engaging presentation of “We Both Reached for the Gun”, which was the highlight of the film. In general, the musical numbers set on the Vaudeville stage were far better than those in the black void. If Marshall wanted to capture the musical numbers from the stage production verbatim, he should’ve just brought cameras to the Shubert Theater. It certainly would’ve been cheaper
    The second act was better, though it was very uneven. The best moments of the movie came when Gere was on screen, but I think that has much more to do with the script than his acting. The acting was over-the-top across the board, which is all right in the fantasy sequences, but it doesn’t work within the context of the real world
    This film simply failed to enchant. In fact, I’m not sure if Marshall even tried. It was cold and distant, almost like a sort of twisted documentary. Granted, the movie is not bad, it is just lacking vision. Chicago is an abstract play; the setting is within a character’s mind. It doesn’t take well to a literal, realistic interpretation. The only way to truly experience Chicago is to see the wonderful Broadway revival. Newsday critic John Anderson wrote, “the best thing you can say about Chicago is that it’s a great advertisement for the real, live thing,” and I completely agree. If you felt that the movie was worth your $9, I can guarantee you that the musical is worth five times that. ‡‡†
     
  15. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    I saw Chicago yesterday and I really enjoyed the musical / movie. I had not seen any trailers before hand. I thought the opening number "All that Jazz" was done brilliantly with the editing and quick flashes to both CZJ & RZ.
    This makes me want to buy All that Jazz on DVD even more
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    Chicago - [​IMG][​IMG]
    Well it was okay, better than average, with some excellent performances and phenomenal editing and stage lighting. But it was also a tired retreading that after the initially very very promising opening ten-fifteen minutes becomes more and more and more like a stage production, and less and less like a cinema production. They used editing extremely well at the points where the other performers on stage would freeze and the main performer would sing his solo then go back to the dialogue then back to the singing and back. and So forth, the best this was done was the one time they weren't actually singing, which was Richard Gere's tap dance, that scene was great. Chicago seems slightly scared of itself so it feels it has to isolate the numbers in a stagey fashion separate from the drama story so that the two don't have to interact and no silly questions like "why are they bursting into song" can be asked--because it's all supposed to be in the characters head. I'm sorry but I simply can't lavish praise on a film that is scared of its own Genres rich traditions, conventions and iconography. Moulin Rouge--for all it's frenzied-kenetic flair--was openly joyously delirously ecstatic that it was a musical. Moulin Rouge is the gay man (think Jack from Will and Grace) that has come out and is joyous to be alive and himself; Chicago is the gay man who knows he's gay but is too terrified to admit it.
    On this same note, Chicago did absolutely nothing with the cinematic possibilities open to them in bringing a stage production to the screen. Sure the steady cam at the very beginning was nice, but it virtually disapeared soon after. It would be an utter travesty if this won best director since this is the weakest directed (from a technical and creative side) film of the five nominated that I've seen. Someone took brilliant advantage of the editing possibilities, but never of the filming possibilities. Take for example My Fair Lady, compare "I could have Danced All night" which is a deliriously float through the entire house to the opening scene with people freezing, just as they would in a play. Now look at Chicago, none of the numbers really went all out balls to walls fun with any of the numbers. Take for instance, one of the highlights, the Jailhouse/Murderer's Row Tango. look how easy that would be on stage, you have to change absolutely nothing. Why not set it in the actual jail we passed by earlier when they brought Roxie in, why are we immediately transported to the faux-stage? It's uncreative and boring, the number was fun, but an hour into the film I was just waiting for two things, I wanted to see John C Reilly sing, and Richard Gere tap dance, which are the two best moments of the film. I was also hoping that Roxie would be convicted and executed to close the film, but no such luck.
    My guess is that the play ends with Billy saying "that's Chicago" without the very very tired number at the end which I'm guessing is the oscar nominated song (I could reallly care less) as this was the worst song of the bunch and most out of place.
    Performances, I'd award John C Reilly and Queen Latifah since they stole the show in every scene they were in. Catherine Zeta Jones smoldered marvelously on screen and did a very good job with All that Jazz being the second best number of the bunch (Mr. Cellophane is the best). I'm not sure if Roxie Hart is supposed to be a bad performer or a mediocre performer because the play/movie is very unclear on that point, but Zellweger was thoroughly overshadowed anytime she was on screen in a number with any one else. her actual acting is great. Same with Richard Gere, he smarms things up and for once it makes sense to say someone chews the scenery, because that's what he does. His acting is much better than anything else though, and he gives a vivacious performance that was perfectly matched to Queen Latifah's presence (too bad we didn't really see them together in any scene!).
    The lighting was spectacular, I won't say the cinematography since mostly they just photgraphed a stage production from mulitple angles, but they get top props for excellent use of stage lighting. Roxie's solo in white with the mirrors (I kept hoping to see the stagehands dressed in black moving them around, but alas!) was beautifully concieved of.
    Chicago is a by the numbers musical adaptation that's scared to be a musical, it gives off no buzz or vibe (at least to me) that good musicals should give off, even extremely stagey classic musicals such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or 42nd St. resonate more because they are unabashedly a musical. I love musicals in general, but Chicago did absolutely nothing for me. (notes that all the females in his party seemed to enjoy it and get some sort of vibe from it which totally passed him over)
    Adam
     
  17. BarryR

    BarryR Supporting Actor

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    I think CHICAGO had plenty of juice, and I hope it wins Best Picture simply to restore further attention and renewed respect for the musical genre. [​IMG]
     
  18. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

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  19. James Bergeron

    James Bergeron Supporting Actor

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    I went last night to catch this movie. Only 6 people in the audience (sheesh if the dvd was out they could of all came to my home theatre). Anyway, it was a great movie, I loved it, I felt like clapping after a few numbers. They sure wowed me.

    Mr. Cellophane was done well, it does slow the film a bit, but it's catchy and gives more "Feel" to the movie, making you feel for the character and his troubles.

    I have the CD soundtrack I was waiting to listen until after I saw the movie. The sound in the theatre was excellent and the picture quality top notch. Finally a screening I enjoyed!
     
  20. MikeFR

    MikeFR Supporting Actor

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    Saw this last night as well. Just have to say that I really enjoyed it and I am not really a fan of the genre. Especially enjoyed the 'puppeteering' number(or whatever you want to call it [​IMG]).
    Will definately consider picking up the DVD [​IMG]
     

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