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Monday, September 28, 2009

Jarret's Frank Film Forum (FFF) -- A Review of "Chicago"

September 28, 2009: I've long known I'd make an excellent film reviewer, but since no one has asked me -- and heretofore my voluminous opinions have been squandered on a polite but distracted general public I tend to find cornered in video stores -- I thought it perfect to bring my cinematic wisdom to this Blah-ugh! forum and start setting the record straight about some of mankind's more noteworthy movies.

I thought I'd begin with "Chicago" (2002) -- a saucy but over-produced musical that relies heavily on the ghosts of Bob Fosse (and even Ben Vereen, who may or may not be dead) to carry what often felt like an excuse to get Catherine Zeta-Jones on film in her black stockings before she blew up like a balloon from child-bearing. Don't get me wrong -- I kind of liked it (even though I watched the better part of it on fast-forward). In particular, I found the "They Both Reached for the Gun" number mesmerizing, with Renee Zellwigger (or whatever the hell her name is) proving a perfect dummy, and Richard Gere demonstrating quite impressively that his fine singing is a far better feature to his persona than that gruesome genitalia he's forever displaying on film. (Of course, I could never really bash someone who works so hard on humanitarian causes as he does, and that fact alone makes his genitals that much bigger in my eyes!)

Zellwigger, meanwhile, (or someone close to her) must answer for what has happened to her once-cute face. She looks like she was stung repetitively by bees. It's very disconcerting, and I only hope that whatever she's allergic to, she'll stop eating it immediately.

Still, despite her strangely squished face, she carried herself admirably through this picture. In particular, the last number where she dances with Zeta-Jones, she inadvertently steals the show, making the Welsh beauty's jerky, haphazard efforts seem like she's the senior member of a mother-daughter act. Please understand, I think Zeta-Jones is a particularly great actress, but this vaguely self-serving effort was a slight embarassment, and her time might have been better spent staying in and spoon-feeding her increasingly decrepit senior husband. I was reminded of the awful dance moves put on by Natalie Wood in "West Side Story," and how the hype of Hollywood sews the Emperor's New Clothes and erroneously convinces us who's "good." (Fosse would have slapped his forehead good and hard over her performance.)

Lastly, simply by virtue of her awful name, "Queen Latifah" shouldn't be allowed on a marquee, and while her voice is considerable and strong, her acting is so wooden I had a hard time differentiating between her and a desk in the same scene.

All told, it's okay, but mostly I'm glad I watched it so that I won't have to watch it again.


  1. i think its spelled Zellwiggle...

  2. See, I think CZJ is an arrogant gold-digger with no discernable talent but an effortful beauty and an ability to wear frocks. Her dancing was embarrassing in that film. A heavily upholstered armchair has more grace and rhythm. (And choppy editing makes anyone look fantastic. Did you ever see RG's feet in the same frame as his head? I honestly can't remember, because I felt so harrangued with imagery)
    Let's all just watch Cabaret again and consign this one to the dusty oblivion it deserves.

  3. ever since i read this i can't stop thinking about Richard Gere in the American remake of Breathless - he was simply terrible and the idea that he could somehow be compared to Jean Paul Belmondo was a farce, but the shower scene featuring Gere's posterior pressed up against the steamy glass door was a cinematic classic, for this girl at least, so who really cares if he can dance, i mean really, who cares?

  4. should never underestimate the passport to universal success that is a pert derrière...