Category Archives: chicago

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Chicago

“SO HOW MUCH FOR THE RIGHTS TO ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S CHESS?”

A Film Review of Chicago

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

So how much for the film rights to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Chess? Or how about his Aspects of Love? Because judging by the critical success of Chicago, bad musicals is what Hollywood wants and I want some of that free cash too.

I’m not saying Chicago is a bad movie, it’s not, by no stretch of the imagination – I just want to know how it has swept the Oscar nominations this year. Now I’m not going to argue with the supporting actor and actress noms. John C. Reilly is damned good here and Queen Latifah is always amazing – she’s deserved the Oscar back in 1998 for Living Out Loud. It’s the nominations for Gere, Zellweger and Zeta-Jones I have issues with.

Yeah, ooh, ahh, they can sing and dance, big deal. Back in the olden days of Hollywood there was prerequisite to acting ability. And acting ability is what the coveted Oscar is all about. These three walk through these roles and they are capable of much more. If we’re giving out Academy Awards for bodies of work rather than an individual film then these nominations are fine. To me, they just don’t deserve it for Chicago.

The film does deserve acclaim. It’s a good old fashioned musical as opposed to new wave rock versions like Josie and the Pussycats and Hedwig and the Angry Inch which were just as good but unfortunately failed miserably critically. As a matter of fact the only thing that removes Chicago from the ranks of classics like Singin’ in the Rain and West Side Story is the dizzying cut and run MTV camera angles and shifts. Not good in an old fashioned musical.

My other complaint is that the songs are a bit too telegraphed even for a musical, you can almost know when to look at your watch and say time for a song. I suppose that may be unavoidable but it doesn’t seem that obvious to me in other classics of the genre.

The rest of the cast are standouts especially Lucy Liu and Mya and best of all, Christine Baranski is marvelous as Mary Sunshine – her performance here almost makes up for her being in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Almost. I don’t forgive easily.

Now don’t let me talk anyone out of seeing Chicago, it’s excellent. There is a rule about movies about expectation. If a film is better than you expected when you went in – it’s a good movie. The hype for this one killed it for me. The critics and the Oscar nominations had me expecting a masterpiece. Just goes to show you what critics know. 🙂