Chicago movie poster

How quaint: a Broadway musical transferred to the screen! (Directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall.) Apologetically self-conscious and campy, despite the present-day "relevance" of the courtroom antics and media manipulation in a sensational murder trial of the Jazz Age. (Commemorated already in William Wellman's rambunctious Roxie Hart.) There's a good deal of frenetic cutting and hyperkinetic camerawork, as if in mortal terror of being taken for a stage play. And the dingy, dungeony image hardly recalls the genre's Technicolor glory days. Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones (it must be without precedent for the two top-billed stars of a movie to be so close to the end of the alphabet) do indeed sing and dance as advertised, and in Zellweger's case, even act. Lest she never again land a role as anything other than a prison matron, she also amply demonstrates that the pounds she put on for Bridget Jones are all gone now. Yet her new figure -- thin as a rail, though knotted and gnarled with muscle -- cannot be counted an asset to the re-creation of the period. With Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, Queen Latifah. 2002.

Duncan Shepherd

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