For Reel

All That Jazz (1979)
September 6, 2015, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Bob Fosse
3.5 Stars
All That JazzGiven the accusations regarding his self-indulgent impulses, it’s curious that Bob Fosse modeled his quasi-biopic after Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2–a move that suggests that Fosse isn’t merely touting his singular talents, but trying to seek validation by placing himself alongside the great artists who have come before him. More than the sum of its grandiosities, All That Jazz is a film that feels desperate, sometimes even pathetic. Fittingly, Roy Scheider plays the chain-smoking, speed-addled Joe Gideon as a man just barely hanging on, his “It’s showtime, folks!” serving as a mantra that feels less truthful each time it leaves his lips. In a great scene, dancers are rehearsing a number that isn’t quite working. Gideon, conscious of all the eyes looking to him for guidance, tells the dancers to simply repeat what they had just done before turning his back to the rehearsal. The scene summarizes both Gideon’s selfishness and the tremendous anxiety of directing–of knowing something isn’t working, but not knowing how to solve it. Even in the spirit of flamboyance, the editing can sometimes be a bit much–both the camera and the film’s editing suggest dance, but on occasion the editing distracts from the actual dancing on screen–but even skeptics of the film are likely to be won over by the sheer extravagance of the final, phantasmagorical number.

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