Friday, November 11, 2005

Dueling Reviews.. All that Jazz..

US Theatrical Release Date: December 20, 1979
Production Company: 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures Corporation
Filming Locations: New York City, New York, USA Palace Theater - 1564 Broadway, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA

Alright sports fans, Nix has challenged me to a duel!
Nix is a movie expert.. me I don;t know art but i know what I like.
The challenge is this, Review "All That Jazz" a movie that I will more than likely want to vomit all the way through.

Okay, I listen to Classical Music, I have seen more than one Ballet, and have even enjoyed Opera, but movies with much more than mood music in them generaly make me want to vomit for distance!

But with a review like this, I could be wrong.

Brilliant and reckless, self indulgent and obsessive, Bob Fosse's self destructive masterpiece of a semi-autobiography fuses the genres of the musical and the horror film in a flame of black magic. ALL THAT JAZZ, while far from perfect, demands viewing if for no other reason than it holds no punches while it stares its subject bluntly in the face. And the face in this case is none other than one of the maddest geniuses the American Theatre ever produced- the choreographer enfant terrible- Bob Fosse.

Webster's Dictionary presents these definitions of the word "horror:

- intense aversion or repugnance
-a state of extreme depression or apprehension
- and as an adjective- calculated to inspire feelings of dread

ALL THAT JAZZ inspires all those feelings as it intoxicates, infuriates (the steaming and sexy airline number is so overlong- but that is the point!) and wallows in the grotesque, while offering not a single apology along the way.

Fosse dares to take his audience deep into his soul and stare it down with unstinting rage against Dylan Thomas' "dying of the light". His cinematic alter-ego "Joe Gideon" (expertly played by Roy Schieder- a good actor absolutely brilliant here) is a egomaniacal pig. He uses, abuses and discards all around him- including his very soul. His devotion to "show business" and art is singular. Fosse captures the Everests and Canyons of the creative mind. But he does not romanticize or glorify the mercurial creative muse. He is too intelligent an artist for that. The creative genius can be a deal with the devil and Gideon (and Fosse?) eagerly signs his life away.

The dance numbers are magnificent- filled with Fosse's unique style of movement. The much vaunted opening "Cattle Call" sequence is a brilliant example of editing and color. The climatic "Bye-Bye Life" number in which Fosse morbidly films his own death deftly induces both euphoria and repulsion. Fosse's perfection and sense of rhythm intoxicates and seduces as we weaves beautiful bodies in and out of the frame. His choreography celebrates the venal and the holy in a marriage between the organic and the technically precise. There will never be another like him.

Yes, the film is dark. A cautionary tale to be sure. This a unique film that is not only a musical drama, but a horror film- a horror film where the monster is the creator himself.

Historically speaking, it is fascinating that ALL THAT JAZZ came out the same year as that other mad masterpiece- APOCALYPSE NOW (also a true horror film). In man ways ALL THAT JAZZ is the musical version of APOCALYPSE NOW.

Maybe not for all tastes, but a genuine work of art worthy of repeated viewings and analysis.

I still think it will turn out to be shit... should I risk my stomach contents and that the challenge? DAMN RIGHT I SHOULD!
I accept your gauntlet Nix.. and now taste mine!

1 comment:

NixEclips said...

Well, shit! Just reading whoever's review that is has got me itching to pop it in, again. I saw this flick when it was first released to theaters. Damn. My mom was stupid. With all the sex involved in it, it's no wonder I turned out so perverted.

Let's go, DeRex. Get it and we'll see what happens. Let me know when you get your copy, and I'll start my review.

Nix says: Bye bye life!