Oscars Project: Movie #1

(Explanation of The Oscars Project found here. And need I say it? This post contains SPOILERS.)

The kickoff film is Chicago (2002)--not exactly first on the list (more on that later), but the first I could get my hands on. It's based on the musical of the same name that presents the story of two women, Velma and Roxie, who aspire to stardom on the stage (of a packed gin joint) but wind up in prison for murdering their significant others, at which point it's up to slick high profile attorney Billy Flynn to redeem them in the eyes of the jury by any means possible. . . or else they'll hang. Oh, and there are singing and dancing numbers (Bob Fosse!) interspersed throughout.

My thoughts:

1. I really didn't feel much sympathy for Roxie, because she was fooling around on her husband and basically shot her paramour because she was furious with him for feeding her lines about getting her at shot at the big time when he just wanted to sleep with her. In fact, pretty much everyone in the big "He Had It Coming" number didn't really convince me, except maybe the one inmate whose man was physically menacing her out of jealousy. . . while she happened to be cutting up a chicken.

2. Catherine Zeta-Jones earned her Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She looked, sounded, and acted the part. A smash-up job.

3. That said, is there any scene Queen Latifah can't steal just by her mere presence? The woman must have liquid charisma running through her veins. Why don't we see more films featuring her very prominently? She was fantastic as the lead in Last Holiday, and also good in The Secret Life of Bees (such as it was) and Hairspray.

4. I never want to hear Richard Gere sing again. Maybe it's just me, but that was unpleasant and an embarrassment to the last name Flynn (and I can say that because there is vaudeville in my ancestry on the Irish side).

5. On the other hand, John C. Reilly's endearing rendition of "Mr. Cellophane" as Roxie's good-hearted lug of a cuckolded husband was just expertly turned out--sweetly maudlin and yet understated so as not to appear overly pathetic.

6. Do I agree that, as Peske and West say, that at the time of its release, Chicago "reassured us that when the going gets tough, the tough find a whoopee spot. . . and wait out the storm" (p. 24)? Maybe. I definitely agree with their mention of our "obsession with celebrity." (Ibid.) The fickleness of the public during the drama in the courts and the fascination with the latest crime rings true even today. I guess it's timeless.

They are definitely right, though, when they say that "if [waiting out the storm in a gin joint] doesn't work, there's always Queen Latifah." (Ibid.)

Next up: Erin Brockovich (complete list of movies for this chapter here).

Feel free to share your thoughts in the combox.


Amy said…
The part of Chicago that really sticks with me is the woman on death row whose ballet we see during the "He had it coming" number. She is an immigrant, innocent of the charges, and the only one who can help her (Billy Flynn) ignores her because she doesn't have "star quality" and he can't see further than the end of his own nose. This is the tragedy in "our obsession with celebrity"-- that everyone else gets lost.

I think Richard Gere was Just OK in this movie. I think Dennis Quaid would have been much better. Or they should have gotten one of the guys who played Billy Flynn on broadway.

And I heart Queen latifah too. Catherine Zeta Jones was great and I was pleasantly surprised by Renee Zellweger, though I did not find Roxie Hart to be a sympathetic character, at least not as she portrayed her.

So tied of all this stunt casting in musicals and in animated movies. I'd pay to see a talented unknown that have to endure the song stylings of Richard Gere again.
Cullen said…
I like Catherine Zeta Jones. Honestly that's about all I remember of the flick.
Kate P said…
Amy--I could NOT figure out what was up with the immigrant inmate, so. . . that changes things a little.
Dennis Quaid is an interesting pick; does he sing? I don't think I've ever heard it. I mentioned Gere to a friend who said he recently suffered through Pierce Brosnan in "Mamma Mia!" (someone gave his wife the DVD). Total sympathy there.

Cullen--I totally had a girl crush on her during this movie. How could anyone have cheated on that?
Amy said…
Way I figure it, if you're going to cast a guy not known for singing anyway, I can believe Dennis Quaid better as the image-obsessed attorney better than Richard Gere. I would have wanted to see Billy more over-the-top.

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