Please distribute this URL as you see fit. By Ted Baldwin

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CHICAGO

CONTAINS
SPOILERS
Terrific .
Lotsa fun.    Exquisitely staged production.    Like a night at the musical theater.

If this was the only movie Richard Gere ever did, he would have been nominated for an Oscar, which means this picture is nothing short of miraculous.
     Waited a while to see this. No particular reason. Not even because I heard so much good stuff about it. Just busy.

Chicago trips between reality and musical fantasy, interwoven to make what would be a pedestrian story fit for grade double-Z exploitation lotsa fun, nay, dare I say jaZZy?

Unlike Shakespeare in Love, which despite its richly staged production was as morally bankrupt as a communist organization parading anti-Americanism as anti-war dogma, Chicago parades morally bankrupt schemers caught up in the search for their flash in the pan and lays bare their emptiness, their jazzy, boozy induced criminality.

Where they get on, we get off...

Chicago jabs at the soullessness of its characters in many ways, breaking them one by one on the rocks of public fascination. It's the show girl in all of us that wants to be up on stage - it's the monster from the Id that will do anything to get us there - and punish mercilessly anyone standing in the way.

CHICAGO drops all pretensions and realities of saintliness right through the gallows humor door.


"Bang Bang. I fired two warning shots - into his head."
Whereas other, more politically motivated films might show this stage struck woman as a victim at the hands of evil non-women, Chicago shows her in all her duplicity - scheming ever to get on the stage, into the limelight, apple of the public eye, unconcerned even for her own safety...which is to say she don't even realize what she done was a hangin' offense.

After it is all sung and danced, and the poor show-girl-to-be gave it to the guy what had it etc., she now seeks out the solace of the slickest lawyer in town - one who loves her ... for her money. The irony is lost on only her.

"Let's just say if Jesus Christ were in Chicago today and he had 5,000 dollars, things might have turned out different."

"Cell Block Tango - (He Had It Coming)", perhaps the signature line of the show, is only one of the darkly funny glimpses into the attitudes of the women. Justified Homicide - sure they have had it with men. But when the chips are down, who do they turn to? A man. And a real louse. And this is precisely where Chicago succeeds. Any hint of moral superiority of women from the film itself would have tanked this sparkling juggernaut. What we see instead are people who think they are morally superior, because it's what they want to think.
In the quest for fame, the heroine's shining moment is stolen from her by a new ingenue of infamy - and the lawyer - sated in his quest for acquittal, licking the grease from the jury off his fingers, puts it into perspective.

In essence he tells her "It's not her the public wants. It's the notoriety - and that don't last."
(Don't ask me to produce a direct quote - it is either because I am lazy or disinterested. Go see the movie if you want a literal transcript.)

MUSIC RANT

Aobut the 10th time Velma says "and all that jazz..." I was tired of it. About the 20th time, I really started to get it...

Why tell you when, through the magic of internet "browsing" you can hear some of it for yourself.
Try listening to some bits and pieces at www. Chicago Soundtrack .com

Good stuff.

PRODUCTION RANT

Gorgeous photography, luscious colors, ingeniously timed and executed editing, romping stomping music and sweet sweet sounds.

I saw one edit I did not like, about 1:45:00 into the piece.
REVIEW RANT

I think the reviewers of this film have gone a little ape-shit above and beyond their usually glowing reviews (when they do one) - there could be a reason for that.

There is a long standing snobbery attendant to stage production versus film production. Reviewers tend to favor the theater, and review film either because their editors make them, (most likely reason), because they need the money, or because it is the closest thing they can get to a "real" reviewing job. The disrespect many of the reviewers have for film is pitifully obvious - and anything resembling a play, like Therese from the 80's, gets slavered over like a day old rib bone in the jaws of a rabid wolf.

CHICAGO is a stage play set to film, directed by a stage director, with a premise set for a vaudeville stage, with reality looking like a stage play interwoven with fantasy numbers looking like the true stage numbers they are.

The camerawork verges on stupendous, but if they had not moved it at all, instead taking up a single long shot from a middle-of-the-audience perspective I have no doubt some reviewers would have found this to be a much more satisfying experience....sigh.
WHAT IT REMINDS ME OF

More than anything is the Steve Martin pic "Pennies From Heaven", only this really works it. I will get the cd, and the dvd, and root for it on Oscar nite.
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