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The Statesman

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    Forget Broadway – Catch “Chicago” on the Silver Screen

    With 13 Academy Award Nominations,including Best Picture of the Year, you just can’t go wrong watching Chicago. In the spirit of Moulin Rouge, this epic picture brings Broadway’s hit playto the screen with lights, colors and costumes, and might have you believingthat you’re sitting not in a movie theatre, but at the base of avaudeville stage.

    Despite Chicago‘s overbearing tendency towardstyle-over-substance (the story could probably be told in 20 minutes), themovie is incredibly fun. The dance scenes are riveting, the music isentertaining and there is more lace and lingerie than you can shake a stick at(no pun intended).

    Chicago begins with a bang?literally–as the sultrysiren of the stage, Velma Kelly (brilliantly played by Catherine Zeta-Jones),rushes into the club where she has been a nighttime sensation to perform solothe act she normally shared with her sister. But the sister is dead, and so isKelly’s husband?and once the starlet washes the fresh blood off ofher hands, she dashes onstage to sing and dance a colorful rendition of theBroadway favorite, ‘?All That Jazz.’ Kelly is arrested in front ofthe crowd, including admirer Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger), an unfaithfulhousewife carrying on an affair with a man who promises to get her into showbusiness. When her lover admits he lied to get into her pants, Roxie pulls aVelma Kelly.

    Both ladies are sent to jail, wherethey are overseen by a warden called ‘?Mama’ (Queen Latifah). Whenthey fight over the services of Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), attorneyextraordinaire, Velma and Roxie become enemies. Seeing potential for publicity,Flynn takes Roxie under his wing, with the help of her broke-but-devotedhusband, Amos, and his life savings.

    Flynn sends Roxie straight to thelimelight, painting her as the ‘?nice Southern girl who was just defendingherself.’ With her fluctuating fame and crooked court case, Roxie learnsabout the fleeting nature of public admiration. The rest of the movie is ratherpredictable, but well-played and funny.

    Instead of having the charactersjust break out into song and dance a la Moulin Rouge, Director Robert Marshall decided to incorporate Chicago’s musical numbers into a series of fantasies concoctedby the aspiring, fame-obsessed mind of Roxie, who dreams herself on the stageof a club. While this does help to add believability to the movie, it alsoforces the storylines to move along a bit quickly, often leaving the audienceto feel that the movie is thefantasy.

    Chicago does a great job with casting. Zeta-Jones as Velmawas the perfect decision, and was probably the highlight of the movie. She isamazingly sexy, and has a background in musicals. Her look goes perfectly withthe arrogant murderess-in-the-limelight-showgirl image. Zellweger does a goodjob with Roxie, as well. Her shy and mousy image reflects Roxie’s timid,reserved ambition, and Richard Gere has no trouble coming off as the arrogant,charming Flynn. His slickness and bravado are very convincing, as are his dancesequences.

    Fast-paced and in-your-face, Chicago is a great movie. While the message isn’t too’?Mr. Rogers’ (murder makes you famous!), who really cares aboutthat anyway? Even if you don’t like musicals, and I don’t,you’ll like the sexy women and bold dance sequences.

    I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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