*Chicago (2002)*

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Starring: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Christine Baranski, Taye Diggs, Lucy Liu, Dominic West

Director: Rob Marshall (his first theatrical film)

Summary: Murderesses find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920’s Chicago

Other Nominations: Director, Actress (Zellweger), Supporting Actor (Reilly), Supporting Actress (Zeta-Jones)*, Supporting Actress (Latifah), Adapted Screenplay, Original Song (“I Move On”), Sound Mixing*, Art Direction*, Cinematography, Costume Design*, Film Editing*

This is the second time I’ve watched Chicago (the first was around its release when I was 14), and my reaction then is the same as it is now: it’s one of my favorite musicals. It’s very rare for the this to be the thing that immediately stuck out to me about a movie, but the editing here is really exceptional: it keeps the pacing zippy, gives everything a nice flow, but most of all it seamlessly switches back and forth between musical numbers and reality in a way that feels totally coherent to the viewer. As with any Bob Fosse work, the soundtrack is fantastic, featuring a litany of great musical numbers (including maybe my favorite for any film, the Cell Block Tango), as well as a healthy dose of cynicism with it’s cast of entertaining scumbags (with John C. Reilly standing out as the schmuck). I also love the whole look of the movie, especially the hairstyling which nails the popular 20s-early 30s women’s look to a tee. The other big thing that works so well about the movie is it’s casting-they hit a homerun with pretty much every decision here, but the single biggest highlight is Catherine Zeta-Jones with a career best performance and is basically a white-hot ball of charisma who can also sing and dance.

The only thing really holding the movie back is that the story is a little thin-not an uncommon issue for a musical (especially one that clocks in at just over an hour and 50 minutes). Overall, the tone, the songs, the performances and the overall liveliness of the movie won me over. Even if you don’t like musicals all that much, give it a look.

Rating: B+

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