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The Man in the Hathaway Shirt
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I have to admit the title of the DVD, All That Jazz--The Music Edition, puzzled me. Did the last version of the DVD have the music cut out??? Was this just a DVD of the songs, without any movie? Fortunately the naming of the DVD, like so many other things studios do and applaud themselves for, is just a meaningless gimmick. You get the whole movie just as before, in a transfer that looks very good to me. Some reviews called it a "soft print," but I think they're just seeing the photography the way it was intended, with fog filters being used extensively, especially in the scenes with Jessica Lange. Razor-sharp high-contrast cinematography where you can see every pour on the actors' face is a relatively recent phenomenon.
The movie itself harkens back to a different age, one where filmmaking was more personal and more daring. Fosse proves he's as brilliant a film director as he is a stage director. Sound fades in and out and overlap and go echoey. Some of the most dramatic moments are silent. There's rapid cross-cutting and temporal jumps. But none of it is gimmicky, it's all in the service of the story.
Some have criticized that story for being too sympathetic to the Fosse character, played by Roy Scheider in a career-defining performance. (No Oscar?!? Typical.) It's true the script is subtlety very sympathetic to Joe Gideon--despite all his failings, we are offered excuses, not the least of which is his genius. It's true that the screenplay isn't as hard on Gideon as it superficially comes across--this is *not* the hard-hitting, uncompromising, unflinching film that reviewer John Remington thinks it is. He's been "fooled," exactly the way the filmmakers intended. (He's also apparently never seen Fellini's 8 1/2.) Still, it must have been a brave portrait in 1979 to show a main character with an ex-wife and a small daughter popping pills and having open and free sex with every woman who crosses his casting couch. Casting Scheider was a triumph. He has a natural warmth that adds a lot to Gideon's likeability. I cannot imagine the original choice--Richard Dreyfuss--in the role.
The others in the cast are also very effective, from the ex-wife, played by Leland Palmer to the current main girlfriend, played by Ann Reinking. However, you'll note both female characters put pressure on poor Joe Gideon--one to choreography a lame musical solely as her comeback vehicle, one for fidelity only to go to the arms of another man as soon as Gideon takes ill. The other men in his life, mostly annoying producers, managers, agents and competing directors, are portrayed as small and narrow people. Never having worked in his profession, I can't say if this is accurate or not, but again, it *is* designed to make Gideon, for all his faults, look so good. Self-critical All That Jazz is not.
The movie, however, is well-written, directed and paced--until the ending. The last 20 minutes should have been 10. Once Gideon ends up in the hospital the pace starts to drag, and while the final set piece is brilliant and deliciously satirical, it goes on for too long. Still, all that jazz is a very good motion picture and one of the more important films of the 70s. But with a little tweaking, it could have been even better, a masterpiece.
This is Fox's second DVD of the film, and the extras are even more lame than those in the first. So lame they're not worth mentioning, or even checking out by the viewer. A lengthy interview with Schneider would have been nice. If you love this movie this DVD is worth owning, but not for the goodies. I wish Criterion would get its hands on this.