billyweeds - 07:30am Dec 28, 2002 EST (# 10058 of 10058)
is, as has been reported already by some of the press, one of the handful of really fine stage-to-screen musical adaptations, a shoddy genre at best. (There are only three other examples I would wholeheartedly recommend: Cabaret, Little Shop of Horrors, and The King and I.) Chicago
now triumphantly joins that group with a brilliant and kinetic treatment by director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon, featuring five terrific performances by people (well, except for Queen Latifah) one had no idea would deliver musically anywhere near this powerfully. Zellweger, Gere, Zeta-Jones, Latifah, and Reilly are all sensational. I wouldn't be averse to seeing any of them win acting Oscars. As for Marshall, he is an amazing talent who deserves any awards that come his way. The opening sequence is reminiscent of old movies like 42nd St.
--almmost hand-held in its sleazy excitement as Zeta-Jones arrives at the theater for a performance. And it just keeps on keeping on, right through to one of the most exciting final scenes I can remember, as the two Z-girls duet in a sizzling song-and-dance routine that tore whatever there was left off the Ziegfeld's roof last night. What a movie!
Unfortunately, I have much less good things to say about the other two films I saw this weekend. About Schmidt
is a good movie, but that's about it. Nothing wrong with a good movie, but this one has been overly hyped to the point where you think you're in for a masterpiece. Nothing like. Nicholson, for one thing, is doing "Jack" with a few variations. He is obviously having fun with his take on a midwestern everyman, but make no mistake, it is a take and little more. Meanwhile, Hope Davis makes her crabby daughter far too unlikeable. Kathy Bates and Dermot Mulroney provide amusing caricatures skillfully done. The best overall performance is by Len Cariou as a typical midwestern businessman. The performance feels real and lived in, which nothing else in the movie does. The film is sometimes funny, sometimes touching, but uneven in tone and uncertainly paced. I rather liked it, and would recommend it if the potential viewer lowers his/her expectations.
Which brings us to Gangs of New York,
which is dramatically inert though visually impressive. The story simply goes nowhere slowly. DiCaprio is totally dull and Diaz is okay but an example of the kind of stunt casting Scorsese usually avoids. Day-Lewis, the only truly interesting thing about the movie, is much too interesting. His performance is brilliant, no question--but actorish, affected, studied. His accent is like no accent ever spoken in the history of the world. His performance is so great it's not even good, if you catch my drift. The movie is lame but should probably be seen by all Scorsese fans. There's enough to it to warrant the viewing, but don't think that means I'm recommending it.