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Chicago [XDBX Film Club 02]

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Chicago

Chicago

About

  • Released


  • Rating


    7.1
  • Genre


    • Comedy
    • Crime
    • Drama
    • Music

Overview

Murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.


Trailer

Credits

  • Catherine Zeta-Jones
    Catherine Zeta-Jones
    Velma Kelly
  • Renée Zellweger
    Renée Zellweger
    Roxie Hart
  • Queen Latifah
    Queen Latifah
    Matron Mama Morton
  • Richard Gere
    Richard Gere
    Billy Flynn
  • Christine Baranski
    Christine Baranski
    Mary Sunshine
  • Taye Diggs
    Taye Diggs
    Bandleader
This page uses the themoviedb.org API.
LimeGreenLegend
Posted (edited)

This month we're all singing and all dancing as we'll be watching Chicago, nominated by @Spinnaker1981 and @Danielle.

PcbtHOC.jpg

The theme for March was musicals, and you'd be hard pressed to find a musical with a better pedigree than Chicago.  Directed by Rob Marshall and based on the 1975 Broadway production, (which itself was based on a silent film from 1927, which was based on a 1926 play written by a journalist and based on real events) which was choreographed and directed by the legendary Bob Fosse, who basically invented jazz hands and was the man responsible for other classic musicals like Cabaret and the semi-autobiographical All That Jazz.  Chicago became the first musical to win best picture at the Oscars since Oliver! in 1968.  Catherine Zeta-Jones also won best supporting actress, with the film picking up additional Oscars for art direction, costume design, film editing and sound.  

Set in the roaring 20s in Chicago (no shit) the film deals with the theme of infamy, jealousy, and the celebrity criminal, with the plot centred around two women, Renee Zellweger, a housewife with dreams of the spotlight, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, a star of the stage, both of whom are murderers.  This is where Richard Gere's Billy Flynn steps in, a fast talking lawyer who turns the two ladies into celebrities for the sake of public support.  Queen Latifah, Lucy Liu and the ever brilliant John C. Reilly round out a surprisingly great cast.

The real star of the show, however, is the music.  Set during the jazz age, the film is filled to the brim with hot, fast moving, jazz numbers that really sells the sexiness of the shows in the film.  There are some absolutely classic musical numbers in this film, All That Jazz, Razzle Dazzle, When You're Good To Mama and Mister Cellophane will all be stuck in your head for weeks after hearing them.  The lyrics were written by Fred Ebb, a longtime collaborator with Bob Fosse, who also wrote lyrics for Cabaret, Liza Minelli's TV special Liza with a Z, and the Scorsese musical New York, New York.  The theme from New York, New York would probably become his most famous song after it was covered by Frank Sinatra.

There's not much more to say here, so come on babe, why don't we paint the town?

giphy.gif

This will be our film for the whole of March.  A new genre/theme for April will be decided towards the end of the month.

Have fun @Con;)

five, six, seven, eight...

 

 

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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Fido_le_muet

This film isn't on Netflix so will have to get it through other means...


 

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Con
14 minutes ago, Fido_le_muet said:

This film isn't on Netflix so will have to get it through other means...

As always check with the library if possible.

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punkbish85

My go to is renting it on Amazon.com.. although I'm not sure if it's available on every Amazon site.

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Spinnaker1981
Posted (edited)

I just want to say a couple of things:

 

First of all, play close attention to the lyrics of all the songs and there are some amazing lines there that will make you LSHMSFOAIDMT.

Also, don´t expect a jaw opening final scene, there isn´t any, but enjoy the road there cos its one hell of a ride!

You cannot imagine how happy I am to watch it again (and I watched this with a friend who had never seen it before right in the beginning of this year... :P

 

EDIT: I like those songs so much I can almost sing all of them by heart!

Edited by Spinnaker1981
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SINISTER120

I forgot to join the film club so I need to do that....

giphy.gif

 

They are watching a musical this month....

giphy.gif

 

;)

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Con
2 hours ago, SINISTER120 said:

I forgot to join the film club so I need to do that....

They are watching a musical this month....;)

I’m in too deep. :D  save yourself. Lmao. 

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Spinnaker1981

Don’t emidiately denny something you don’t believe in.... give musicals a chance... 😂

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SINISTER120

Singing in movies usually makes me contemplate eating a shotgun.

That said, I don't hate them all. If the music is something I like it's ok. The Blues Brothers is an excellent movie.

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LimeGreenLegend
2 minutes ago, SINISTER120 said:

Singing in movies usually makes me contemplate eating a shotgun.

That said, I don't hate them all. If the music is something I like it's ok. The Blues Brothers is an excellent movie.

That was my pick for this month. One of my favourite films of all time.

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SINISTER120
32 minutes ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

That was my pick for this month. One of my favourite films of all time.

That's cool. It may be a great movie, I've never seen it. It would suck if  we all had the same tastes. :)

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LimeGreenLegend
2 minutes ago, SINISTER120 said:

That's cool. It may be a great movie, I've never seen it. It would suck if  we all had the same tastes. :)

I meant I picked The Blues Brothers, it didn’t win though.


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SINISTER120
1 hour ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

I meant I picked The Blues Brothers, it didn’t win though.

Oh, lol.

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djw180

I watched this last night and it demonstrates perfectly why I don't like most musicals. The singing and dancing is all well and good, if you like that sort of thing - and I've never been a fan of Jazz, but there's no decent story being told. It's just a very basic plot to fill in the gaps between the songs. Even given my dislike for this type of film I do not understand how it won best picture at the Oscars given some of the other nominations that year (Gangs of New York, The Hours). It is impressive visually both in terms of the sets and costumes and it's well acted, but I struggled to stay interested in what was going on because basically there wasn't much going on plot-wise. I thought the best bit was the tango scene in the jail when the prisoners were all describing their murders. It's not a bad film but not my thing at all. So for me I'll give 3/5.

 

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LimeGreenLegend

Two weeks left to watch this for this month's film club.

I'll be watching this tomorrow, hopefully, and will try to get my thoughts up by Wednesday (depending on how much I have to say :D)

In the meantime, start thinking about what sort of film you would like to watch next month :) 


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LimeGreenLegend

All done with Chicago now.  I really enjoyed watching this again, having not seen it in about ten years.  Like @djw180 said, the main thing with musicals is if you like the music, and I love this type of ragtime jazz from the 20s so it was right up my alley.  I also thought it was really well directed, and the acting was solid all around,  my standout being John C. Reilly, but I love him in every film.

I've gonna flesh out the notes I took scene by scene now, like with The French Connection.  Apologies in advance for writing so much, and many thanks if you actually read all of it :) 

renee zellweger dancing GIF

We start off by zooming in to Roxie Hart's (Renee Zellweger) eye, which not only shows us that we'll be seeing the film mostly from her perspective, but also that a lot of it is happening in her head, the first clue that she's a fantasist.  Then the bandleader (Taye Diggs) counts in the film, "five, six, seven, eight" and it starts with a bang.  High tempo music with editing to match, lots of shots of a bustling club really starts the film off with energy.  We see Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) making her way through a back alley to the club, ripping her own poster in half, getting rid of her sister and leaving just her name.  We then see a gun in her bag and blood on her hands, add this to the fact that we haven't seen her face yet, and we get a strong sense of intrigue.  We only see her face when she hits the stage, turning a double act into a solo, taking all the attention for herself.  

We then get the first song, All That Jazz, which brings the tempo down and turns all eyes to Velma, who seems in total control when she's on stage.  At the back of the room, Roxie is watching, and we get to see her fantasy of being on the stage instead of Velma, but it doesn't last long before she is dragged out by the man she's with.  Edited to match the tempo and lyrics of the song, "roll your stockings down" etc, we see Roxie and the man who isn't her husband making love, the tempo increasing with the tempo of the song.

A few days later, we see again Roxie and the man and we discover why she's with him.  He's just a furniture salesman, but he told Roxie he had connections and could make her a star, and she is so desperate to be famous that she bought it.  He rubs that fact in her face, telling her she'll never make it, and she responds by shooting him dead.  This could be shocking if you don't know what this film is about and are just expecting a jazz musical about two feuding singers.  

We now meet Roxie's husband, Amos (John C. Reilly) and man, I felt so bad for him.  He is being used hard and he doesn't care because he's so in love.  This is shown by the fact that he is calmly confessing to the murder, taking the rap for Roxie.  This triggers a fantasy for Roxie where she is singing about him, Funny Honey, but listening to the lyrics you see that she only likes him because he's so devoted to her, "he loves me so and it suits me so fine".  However, during the song Amos learns that Roxie was having an affair with the dead man, and that's one step too far for him.  He turns in Roxie, and this turns the song into an argument duet between them, which I thought was excellent.  Roxie's selfishness is shown at the end of this scene when she learns that the dead man has five children and she just becomes angry, no sympathy.

Cut to the prison, and it is very drab and grey, contrasting with the bright colourful club from the start of the scene.  Roxie is introduced to Mama Morton (Queen Latifah) a corrupt matron at the prison, and fantasises the song When You're Good To Mama.  This very seductive song tells us that for the right price, or the right favour, she can help you out.  Roxie then meets Velma, who is already in prison by this point, and is excited to meet her, again showing how obsessed with celebrity she is.  Velma is shown to be the same in this scene by reading and criticising an article about her, which again impresses Roxie.

We get the first moment of silence in the film now with Roxie alone in her cell.  This is a big change from the loud, fast start to the film and shows that Roxie is now in a completely different world.  The only sounds are a dripping tap and the footsteps of the guard.  This turns beautifully into the next song, Cell Block Tango, in which several murderesses introduce themselves and what they did.  I love the use of dance and the red ribbons to represent the murders and the blood.  I also found it interesting that the only woman who said "not guilty" had a white ribbon, and she is also the only person executed during the film.  This could show that it doesn't matter if you're guilty or not, if you put on enough of a show you can get away with murder, which is basically the theme for the whole film.

Next up we get the first sign of animosity between Velma and Roxie.  Velma can see that Roxie wants to take her place as the hottest murderess in Chicago and she ain't gonna let her take it easily.  Mama Morton then introduces Roxie, and us, to Billy Flynn, best lawyer in Chicago who only takes the biggest cases.  He is introduced with the song All I Care About, and it starts off by telling us all we need to know about his character.  You think he's going to be the guy in the top hat, but it turns out he was the shoe shine guy, so already he's lying to us and being deceitful, playing tricks.  He also sings that "all I care about is love", but this is also clearly a lie as he states to Roxie that he'll only take her case for five grand, rebuffing her offer of sex as payment.

Next scene, in Flynn's office, we see that Amos has come back to Roxie, despite the fact that she cheated on him and is a murderer.  He manages to convince Flynn to take the case, despite not having enough money.  As soon as he's on the job Flynn has a plan, he starts fast-talking and the music kicks in to match.  We see him telling his plan to Roxie and she looks entranced with him, this is a guy who knows his shit.  We also see that all of the attention Flynn is giving to Roxie is being taken away from Velma.

We're now outside the courthouse, Roxie having just entered a plea of not guilty, and she is surrounded by paparazzi.  She looks so happy with this, she's finally getting all the attention she wants.  While taking questions from the press Roxie starts to say things that Flynn didn't plan, and just like most every character in this film, he wants the spotlight himself, so he takes back control and we get the song We Both Reached For The Gun.  This shows Flynn as a ventriloquist, controlling Roxie like a puppet, putting all the words in her mouth.  We also see him as a puppetmaster, in control of the press and the court, showing us again what a master manipulator he is.  

We now get newsreel footage of Roxie, we see her name on the front page of all the papers.  She's a celebrity now, and we can see this from her cell being full of flowers, letters and news clippings.  When talking about starting an act she is told "killing Fred Casely was your act".  This is telling us, and her, that people only care about the sensationalist headlines, they won't really care about her.  She ignores all this and instead fantasises the song Roxie.  This song reveals more of her awful, awful personality.  She says of her husband "safe sweet Amos, who never says no" so she's clearly using him.  She then dances alone in a black void with nothing but mirrors.  She is literally dancing with herself because that's all she cares about.  This song ends with her dancing on top of her name in giant red lights, the only thing you can see in a world of darkness is Roxie, there is nothing else to give your attention to.

Later we see that Velma is not happy.  Her tour has been cancelled because everyone now wants to see Roxie.  This leads to Velma going to Roxie, trying to suck up to her to start up a double act.  I love the way that the searchlight outside which was panning over them during the scene turned into a spotlight when the song I Can't Do It Alone starts.  I also love how the bandleader introduced this song, "ladies and gentlemen, Miss Velma Kelly with an act of desperation".  Velma then sings about how she and Roxie should be a double act, but during the song you can see Roxie isn't interested.  She's reading the paper with her name on the front page, and sitting there with her head on her hands looking bored.  Afterwards she coldly tells Velma "You're washed up...I'm a star".

The next scene shows us, however, that she may not be a star for very long.  We see Flynn in a restaurant telling some people about Kitty Baxter (Lucy Liu), an heiress who killed her husband and his two lovers and is now the hottest girl in the prison.  As she's being taken into jail we see all of the journalists ignore Roxie to follow the new story.  Even Mama Morton and Flynn, who calls her "Tracy", are ignoring Roxie.  In her head, she, and we, can see the big red "Roxie" lights fade to black, her star is fading fast.  Unwilling to give up without a fight, Roxie feints a faint and a pregnancy in front of everyone and gets the attention back.  

Coming out of the hospital Roxie is once again in the middle of a media circus, she is surrounded by the press.  At the back of the crowd Amos is trying, but failing, to break through to get to his wife.  No one will even listen when he's shouting "I'm the father!"  This leads to my favourite song in the film, Mister Cellophane.  The performance and the staging perfectly match the song.  We see Amos putting on clown make-up.  This could be a way of him trying to get attention, painting his face up bright, and also showing that he feels like a joke.  While he is performing the song the people in the audience aren't moving, they aren't even looking at him, "you can look right through me".  During the song we see him in Flynn's office again, but he doesn't notice him because he is being obscured by a newspaper with Roxie on the front page.  Flynn says "Oh, I didn't see you", which you can tell Amos hears a lot.  

Back with Roxie and Flynn, we now see that she thinks she knows more then he does, thinking that she got on the front pages through talent and because she deserves it.  Flynn is taking none of this shit and quits, telling her "you're a phoney celebrity, a flash in the pan.  In a couple of weeks no one's gonna give a shit about you.  That's Chicago".  Roxie should know this already, after the Kitty Baxter scene, but she's become so obsessed with staying famous that she can't see that.  

Straight after this Roxie learns that one of the women in the jail (the one with the white ribbon in the Cell Block Tango scene) is to be hanged, the first woman to be hanged in Illinois history.  Roxie is visibly distressed about this, not for the woman who is going to be hanged, but for herself, because she knows that without Flynn that will be her.  

We then get the "Hungarian Disappearing Act", which I thought was incredibly moving, watching this woman climb a ladder, put a noose around her waist and dive off, disappearing in mid-air to symbolise being hanged.  The image of the crowd bathed in red light applauding the swinging noose on an empty stage was beautifully done.  

Next scene and Roxie is back with Flynn, because she doesn't want to die.  She is being quiet and meek and agreeing with everything he says and following all of his instructions.  This leads to the song Razzle Dazzle, Flynn telling Roxie about the trial "it's all a circus...it's all a showbusiness, and kid, you're working with a star", showing us how Flynn sees himself as more of a star than anyone he's ever represented.  His costume here also shows this, bright glittery showbiz style jacket.  The courtroom is also presented like a three-ring circus with acrobats flipping all over the place and Flynn at the centre acting as ringmaster.  "How can they hear the truth above the roar?".

Amos is now in the stand being questioned by Flynn, and he gets totally manipulated without even seeing it coming.  He's also so happy when Flynn gets his name right.  As soon as he is done he instantly forgets his name and goes back to calling him "Andy".  He also calls the jury the "audience" and while Roxie is giving her evidence he is mouthing along with her, showing how much control he has over everything.  We then cut to Mama Morton and Velma listening to the trial on the radio and Velma is mad that Roxie is there instead of her.  She says "that was my bit!  I was gonna do that at my trial", which I just thought was a really funny line.  Roxie's diary is then bought into play, Velma seeing it as a way of getting one over on Roxie.

She turns up at the courtroom, dressed to the nines in stark contrast to Roxie, who has been instructed to dress conservatively by Flynn, as a surprise witness for the prosecution.  I love the way that Flynn's questioning of her is intercut with his tapdancing, the rhythm of the dance getting faster and faster, adding pace and urgency to the scene, the questioning, and Gere's performance.  This was so well done.  

We now see people all over the city listening to the radio with rapt attention, waiting for the verdict.  There is a fakeout, with the line "You have been found..." cutting straight to a newspaper with the headline "Guilty" before seeing the same newspaper with the headline "Innocent".  Two copies of the paper have been printed, the news has been written before it's even happened, because everyone wants a piece of the hot story.  It is revealed that Roxie was found innocent, but in the streets we see another woman murdering her husband and being bundled away.  Everyone in the court leaves to follow this new story, the Roxie case is done, she's old news now.  Flynn tells her "this is Chicago.  You can't beat fresh blood on the walls".  But even after being found innocent and avoiding the noose she is still angry "after all this I get nothing?!" showing how she still only cares about the spotlight, which has now faded away from her.  We also find out that Flynn tampered with the diary to win the case, showing how he also doesn't care about guilty or innocent, he just wants to win because that's what keeps him in the spotlight.  He tells her "I've never lost a case" and that is his entire reputation, and he will do anything to keep it, as we have just seen.

After the circus is done the only person left for Roxie is Amos, but she doesn't even care to pretend with him anymore, shouting at him "what do you want!?"  Gladly, Amos leaves her, finally realising that she doesn't care about him and never will.

We now cut to Roxie singing the song Nowadays, alone in a spotlight which slowly fades before cutting out completely.  It is then revealed that she is auditioning in a small shitty club in front of two people who don't know her, "isn't she that broad who killed her husband?" "who can tell the difference between them these days".  Leaving the club she runs into Velma, thinking she has come to brag.  She sees her ripped tights and realises that they have both hit hard times after their star has faded, maybe they need each other.  Velma suggests the double act idea again, Roxie says "it wouldn't work".  "Why not?"  "Because I hate you", "there's only one business in the world where that's no problem at all".

We then cut to a big theatre, Roxie and Velma's names in huge lights.  We see them on stage together in front of a huge audience, but is this just a fantasy?  It could be real and it could be fantasy and I like how you don't get an answer to that.  The flashbulbs of the photographers flash off all around them, sounding like gunshots, and the film ends.

I loved watching this, everything about it is so well done, the direction, the set design and costumes, the music and all the performances.  Richard Gere is so charismatic in a slimy way that fits the character so well, and like I said, John C. Reilly is brilliant in this, he takes a character you could hate for being so weak and letting people walk all over him, but he's so likeable that you just root for him.  My favourite songs, both in terms of the music and the direction, were We Both Reached For The Gun and Mister Cellophane, but honestly, as a fan of musicals, there isn't a bad number in the film.

9/10

Again, sorry for writing so much, but y'all should start to expect this every month :P

 

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Pb76

Great review @LimeGreenLegend, I would never want to actually watch Chicago, but with your review I don’t need to. 

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Spinnaker1981
Posted (edited)

@LimeGreenLegend  Some phrases from songs just keep clinging to my head...

 

In All that Jazz, She had just murdered her sister and husband but:

No, I'm no one's wife
But, oh, I love my life
And all that Jazz!

 

Cell Block Tango victims that are not:

And the he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times. 

Some guys just can´t hold their arsenic.                                         

And the translation from hungarian:

How did I find myself here? They say my famous lover held down my husband and I cut his head off. But it's not true. I am innocent. I don't know why Uncle Sam says I did it. I tried to explain at the police station but they didn't understand.

And the momorable:

If someone in the movie show
Yelled, "Fire in the second row
This whole place is a powder keg"
You'd notice him

Or when Billy gets it wrong and speaks with his own voice:

That's the thougt that...
Yeah
Came upon me...
When?
When we both reached for the gun!

 

And in the End when the voice says:

Okay, you babes of jazz. Let's pick up the pace.

Let's make the parties longer.

Let's make the skirts shorter.

Let's all go to hell in a fast car and KEEP IT HOT!

 

I absolutely love this!

Edited by Spinnaker1981
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LimeGreenLegend

@Spinnaker1981did you mean to tag me in an empty post?


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Spinnaker1981
2 minutes ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

@Spinnaker1981did you mean to tag me in an empty post?

Check again...

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LimeGreenLegend
2 minutes ago, Spinnaker1981 said:

Check again...

I see it now :)

Yeah, I loved all the songs in this film, the lyrics were so witty.

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LimeGreenLegend

One week left to watch this before our next film is chosen.  You can nominate a genre for next month in the main thread now.

@Con you built up the nerve to watch this yet ;) 

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Fido_le_muet
Posted (edited)

Saw it, kinda liked it despite my doubts about musicals. 

Still, I couldn't manage to stay focused on the film because of the singing and dancing every 5 minutes. Everytime I was beginning to find interest in the story, a song came out and I lost my focus. I do agree that the songs were perfectly integrated in the narrative and perfectly executed. It's just the concept of musicals that doesn't suit me. 

I liked most of the songs, they were pretty good, music and lyrics were spot on and the singing/interpretation by the cast was very impressive. 

I didn't like a couple songs. We Both Reached For The Gun was too weird for my taste. The puppet thing was creepy and it shut me off from the film completely. I was checking how much time was left in the movie and scrolled quickly through my Facebook feed during that song. 

Mr Cellophane made me feel uneasy. I felt such pity for Amos. But I do agree with you Lime that it was wonderfully done. Not just that song but every moment in the film showing us Amos's feelings. I love John C. Reilly as well, he's a great actor and he was very good here again. Poor Amos. I like him. Such a good soul. But so gullible and easily manipulated. Roxie played him all his life. 

Favorite song has to be the Cell Block Tango. I admit it, I loved the costumes in the movie because all the women were so sexy. Can't resist a girl in stockings. The girls were particularly sexy in the Tango scene and the light was perfect. Loved the ribbon thing as well. I must say the work with the singing and dancing, the interpretation, the light, the costume and the integration of these scenes in the plot was my favorite thing in the movie. And since that's the basic of all musicals, I guess it's a good thing I enjoyed it. 

The whole theme of the movie angered me. It's absolutely personnal and that's because of me. I don't like attention at all and I absolutely try to avoid the spotlight so I don't understand these people who want to be the center of the world all the time. I find it so stupid. Anyway, that's my personnal opinion. 

I still thought the character of Roxie was well done. At first, I thought she was just a starlet wanted to be a star. I quickly realized that she was completely obsessed with fame when she killed that guy early on and was only interested in her 'career'. Then we see that Velma is the same so it's fitting that they end up in a double act together at the end. They both achieved their goal, even if they hate each other, they're famous and at the center of attention. This makes me sad on a personnel level because it resonnates with what's happening today with social media and hyperconnectivity. Tons of people want their moment of glory and expose themselves on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, you name it. 

I loved Richard Gere's lawyer. I hate these kind of people who manipulate everyone around them but he was so well done I loved him. Great acting and interpretation. Definitely my favorite character. Everything about him was perfectly done. Except that puppetmaster thing. That was creepy. I see how he too is obsessed with the spotlight but I think it was balanced with his greed. That guy loves money. everything about him smells money, wealth and luxury. I don't know what he likes most. Fame or money. I loved that about the character. He's more complew than Roxie and Velma. 

The movie got many Academy awards and they're well deserved, especially the technical ones (costume, art direction, sound, editing). All these things were perfect. But Best Picture? Doesn't think it deserved that over The Pianist but again, my personnal opinion. 

What I liked most was the light and costume. That was wonderfully executed and graphically amazing. I like 20s jazz as well so I found the music mostly great, except for the two I mentionned above. 

I'll give the movie a solid 7/10. Not sure I'll watch another musical again but I'm thankful for the experience. never would have watched that if it wasn't for the film club. thanks guys. 

That's my thoughts about the movie. Sorry for the lack of structure in my review, I wrote it as it came to me. :D 

Edited by Fido_le_muet
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LimeGreenLegend

Great write up @Fido_le_muet I’m glad you came away enjoying it, apart from the few things you mentioned.

I feel the same about people who only want fame and attention so found most of the characters not likeable but still enjoyable to watch.

And yeah, nothing wrong with some fishnets ;) 

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Fido_le_muet
Posted (edited)

@LimeGreenLegend

Exactly ! They were not likable but enjoyable to watch. Kinda like Popeye in the French COnnection. 

Gere was a delight to watch. Good times everytime he was on screen. 

Edited by Fido_le_muet
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Con
On 3/24/2019 at 10:37 AM, LimeGreenLegend said:

@Con you built up the nerve to watch this yet ;) 

Watched it last night. Gonna gather some thoughts throughout the day and hopefully have a review up in a few hours.

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Posted (edited)

Musical March: Chicago

The outstanding cinematography and production designs did a tremendous job of making sure I kept watching once I tuned out of listening to the longer songs. I felt the cinematography really did a great job giving us the cinematic elements needed to keep this from just being a runaway musical which is what I was fearing, a color-by-numbers musical and this is certainly not one of those. I was not expecting story or character exposition through song lyrics -- which was great and really, really went a long way towards keeping me entertained during the singing. The story minus the singing and dancing was interesting and I enjoyed the prison moments the most and is where I mostly wished the movie was a standard film and we could just follow the story without interruptions (I could not help but feel that story details had to be sacrificed in order to make room for the musical performances), as I really kept saying, "you know there is a real cool women's prison story in there somewhere, Oh well." I was also blown the hell away by the 'Press Conference Rag' number thanks to the visuals and direction in that scene. I mean, there is so much to digest in it that I don't know where to begin, I will start with the fucking absolutely amazing set piece and creativity of turning the press conference into a ventriloquist performance, as the scene went on I found myself saying, "wow the visuals are only getting better in this song and dance number." I can not express enough how clever I felt that entire number was with its complex choreography and the puppeteer analogy with brilliant juxtapositioning of both worlds as we see reporters ask  questions and then intercut to the answer being given in the stage fantasy world. There were moments that gave me genuine giggles, like when Matron Mama Morton (Queen Latifah) changes her hair style, I spit popcorn all over the place because it was just so good and unexpected, and that is one of the things I really enjoyed throughout, those unexpected moments of visuals or dialogue that made me laugh. Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) was spectacular with her spot-on dance moves and vivid portrayal of her character and for me came across the least as a caricature. CZJ's 'Can't Do It Alone' number oozes with the desperation we are promised and I found it to be one of the more poignant and powerful performances just edging out the 'Mr. Cellophane' number.

The cast was fabulous and I was fascinated by how talented these actors truly are I mean, the 'Mr. Cellophane' number by Amos Hart (John C. Reilly) impressed me with how much it moved me to feel pity for his character and it is also one of the few songs I still remember and that is probably because i found it so haunting and depressing mainly thanks to the actor's dancing gestures. I enjoyed putting the visual clues together, what I mean is noticing how the real world is full of muted colors and grays as the real life scenario should be with the threat of "hanging" as punishment for the crimes, while the fantasy world is filled with color, glitter, costumes, audiences, and glamour. Also small cool visual things like flashlights in cop hands turning into the spotlight at the Onyx Club, I think that's what it was called. Another great visual moment comes in the 'Roxie (the name on everyone's lip)' performance, where Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) dances in the dark alongside mirrors, I couldn't help but focus on just how much work must have gone into lighting and blocking that scene and the song really goes a long way into showing how deep Roxie's delusion of fame really is as she sings about the fame, love, and admiration coming to her, despite that she is only famous because she murdered someone and it is manufactured sympathy and not proof of innocence that has people supporting her. I didn't look at the cast list before watching this and was pleased with the cameos such as Mona (Mya Harrison) and Kitty Baxter (Lucy Liu) and only wish they had more material. 

Twelve musical numbers...that was a lot for me but have to say felt grateful when the singing served to tell parts of the story that came before and of things to come. I didn't feel the story was strong as I would have preferred Roxie getting public sympathy because say, Velma Kelly paying inmates to rip Roxie's court appearance clothes or just having Roxie getting beat up. I had a bit of hard time just accepting that every member of the media would get behind Roxie out of sympathy and paint her with brushes of innocence. This media beehive-mentality prevented me from ever feeling that Roxie was ever in danger of being found guilty, never mind being executed and by the way, she killed a man who was a father of five. Yes, I know the entire thing was satirical but I felt that aspect was cartoonish.  Again,  just my opinion as I do know this is based on a play written in the period portrayed in the story and is why it probably stays close to the original and doesn't veer too much off course even if some things had to be altered to make it cinematic. 

Normally lack of story would be the reason I would not rewatch this and give it a low to medium score but I have to keep in mind the spirit of the film being a musical and people paid to go see singing and dancing breakout at any moment and story will get sacrificed to fit the performing numbers. As I am not familiar with this genre at all, I have a tough time finding something really negative to say about Chicago, what im trying to say is that I did not find anything to hate about it and saying singing and dancing is what I disliked would make me look silly considering the material. 

I was entertained by the way the songs were interwoven with the narrative and naturally captured me, especially early on as we are meeting the characters that we would take this adventure with. I can honestly say that this film did not suck and most of the songs were tolerable because the performers really cared about the product they were creating and it showed as I watched some B-Roll and behind the scene footage and you can see how much enjoyment there was in just the dance and song rehearsals and practices. Trust me non-musical fans and even haters, I honestly expected to mock this genre but Chicago kept me engaged to the end. Going into the viewing I figured I would FF the singing scenes but as the 'Funny Honey’ song starts and transforms into actual storytelling and not just a song, I knew this wasn't going to be the standard movie musical I usually envision in my head. Just because I dont watch musicals doesnt mean I dont admire people that can dance and sing. I just dont prefer my movies interrupting for song and dance.

If you like the occasional musical and have not watched Chicago, I would highly recommend it because I think you might be impressed by the spectacle and amazing direction and editing. A lot of work was put into making this and while I personally would not have given Chicago the Best Picture Oscar over The Pianist with Adrien Brody, I'm not mad because Chicago deserved the other five categorical Oscar statues it won. If you don't like musicals but are a scene analyst or love the craft of filmmaking, I would recommend you watch this because of the amazing creativity in the Direction. 

Final Verdict....4/5...for the passion on display by all involved in the making of this film and its different take on the standard act-stop-sing-a-song formula. I have a feeling that a musical like "From Justin to Kelly" would've had me stabbing my eyes and ears with forks by the second act but Chicago made me say, “not bad you tricky musical”. It still had me sit through twelve songs but I was given plenty of visuals, edits, and camera angles during the dance and song moments to keep me in appreciation of the craft applied to what I was watching.

Edited by Con
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Con

I’m just starting to read the thoughts already posted and found it interesting that Fido hated the dance numbers I thought were my fave and loved the Cell Block Tango which is probably the one I rolled my eyes at to hurry up and finish. :D

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LimeGreenLegend

All you guys saying you don’t like musicals but seem to like this enough :D 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

All you guys saying you don’t like musicals but seem to like this enough :D 

Yeah I enjoyed it because my expectations were so bad and is why I waited so late in the month to watch it. I think one of its strengths for me as far as the music was concerned, was that I had never heard the songs before, had they been singing billboard hits, I might have not been as engaged, for example it wasn’t Richard Gere singing Cher, not that there would be anything wrong with that, just would have made me check out instead of keeping me curious about what was being sung. 

Cheers to jazz and liquor and April’s upcoming pick!!!! 

Edited by Con
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