Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
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Its rare that a man gets to write his own obituary. Its even rarer when he turns it into a movie musical. But stage-and-screen choreographer-director Bob Fosse did just that in All That Jazz (1979), definitely not your grandfathers musical.
Film buffs will argue that this is merely Fosses musical version of Federico Fellinis famously autobiographical 8 Ĺ. Grousers will complain that its Fosses self-serving take on a very self-indulgent life. For me, at least, its never less than fascinating. It might not be a musical where you come out humming the tunes, but it has imagination oozing from every frame.
Jaws Roy Scheider plays Fosses alter ego Joe Gideon, a goateed satyr who tries to keep too many plates in the air at once, artistically and in his personal life. The story shows Gideon trying to nurse along a potentially disastrous Broadway musical, finish the final cut on a bio-flick that looks suspiciously like Lenny (Fosses story of Lenny Bruce), and juggle several relationships with women of his past and present.
Fosse definitely stacked the deck by casting many of his former lady-loves, including Ann Reinking as Gideons current lover, and Jessica Lange as his blunt-talking Angel of Death. Nevertheless, Fosse is hardly easy on himself. Gideon is a boozer, pill popper, and genial ignorer of any advice that might help him lead a longer and happier life.
This soon culminates in a hospital hallucination that is a supreme tour de force, not to mention the first musical to ever include a scene of open-heart surgery. (Its graphic, but in context, its all too appropriate.)
In one of the weirder career highs of movies, this has to be Scheiders peak. Gideon is all too self-destructive, but Scheider shows us the charisma that has everyone in Gideons life going along for the ride. The rest of the cast is great as well (including Wallace Shawn and John Lithgow in early roles).
Most musicals are all-out to please a huge audience. One gets the feeling that with All That Jazz, Fosse was the audience. But that doesnt mean you cant savor his high as well.
All That Jazz is rated R for adult language, sexual situations, nudity, and the aforementioned surgery scene.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older