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EDITIONS
Monday, 17 February, 2003, 11:40 GMT
Chicago
Newsnight Review discussed the film version of the musical Chicago, which has been nominated for 13 Oscars.



(Edited highlights of the panel's review)

MARK LAWSON:
Chicago. That was one big production, like All That Jazz and Razzle Dazzle.. Did it razzle dazzle you?

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
No. I didn't like the show on the stage. I didn't like this, in fact, I liked it even less. I hated the constant cutting. The bitiness. The feeling you weren't quite sure were you where.

It's was too clever for me. I'm puzzled why it's got so many Oscars. The song and dance performances are fantastic. If you spend long enough hours in the gym kicking your legs, you will get there somehow in the end.

Richard Gere is a disaster.

LAWSON:
Is it because they have solved the problem with musicals, is that people have to start singing?

It's fantasy in the head of one of the characters. Stage the song and dance numbers. There are levels of reality, I thought.

BOYCOTT:
There is all that. But I still didn't like it.

TOM PAULIN:
I didn't either. It's just a series of routines.

You don't get dialogue out of which a dance routine and a song comes. Which you have to have in a musical, because it's dramatic and it leads you into somewhere else.

LAWSON:
The song sequences are fantasies which can't come part of the dialogue.

PAULIN:
I know that, but it means you just get one scene after another. It's good fun and perfectly all right, but it's just exhausting.

It's as if they are all on speed. In the gym. I don't know - do people kick their legs in gyms?

LAWSON:
They do. I think it makes an interesting comparison with Hours. The trick in both of them is in the structure and the editing.

It's how you put the material together.

ALLISON PEARSON:
I think it's funny making the choice between The Hours and Chicago two hard- boiled dames who have no feelings between them and the Hours who have three soft-boiled dames with lots of feeling between them.

I enjoyed it. They have figured out audiences aren't innocent now, to allow people to wonder on like Gene Kelly and just sing. This was designed for an audience with less of an attention span.

What I loved about it was it's a witty and bitter satire on relationships between celebrity and the media, didn't you think?

LAWSON:
Yes. And the coincidence with Catherine Zeta Jones being in the High Court, as the film's going out.

PEARSON:
And Richard Gere who has the press club using newspaper men as puppets.

LAWSON:
When he says "members of the audience, no, members of the jury".

PAULIN:
He is tap dancing isn't he? The sequence was good.

LAWSON:
Miramax spent quite a lot of money, but can you understand why 13?

BOYCOTT:
It seems an incredible number to me. Because people felt they had a good time. It's hype. Escapism hype.

It's the only musical that has an unhappy ending. Most musicals you go out thinking, the world is all right, it's The Sound of Music.


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