Sunday, August 29, 2010

All That Jazz

To begin with, All that Jazz, the biographical film of Bob Fosse, is a frantic mess. This is appropriate however, since Fosse’s own life, especially during the time the film purportedly portrayed, was a frantic mess. Directed by the great choreographer and director himself, and starring Roy Scheider in an against type casting choice, the film follows Joe Gideon, a Fosse pseudonym, as he directs a Broadway play and edits an overbudgeted film about a stand up comic. He tries to deal with his girlfriend, ex-wife, and daughter, while bearing his soul to an angel in white (Jessica Lange) and consuming as many uppers as possible as he inevitably heads down a path leading towards death. Interspersed with musical numbers and frenetic cutting, All That Jazz is self-indulgent and pretentious, yet curiously engaging. The film probably details the period in his life when he was directing Chicago on Broadway while producing the Dustin Hoffman film Lenny. Though Fosse is not in the same league with other directing greats who have made similar biographical films (Fellini, Woody Allen), All That Jazz serves as a curious and interesting entry.