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All That Jazz: Special Music Edition (DVD)

Fosse on Fosse
By Cole Smithey

One of the most iconic musical films of all time, Bob Fosse’s "All That Jazz" is an essential dramatized portrait of the man who single-handedly shaped the vernacular of jazz dance. Fosse co-wrote and directed the heavily stylized, choreographed and composed movie about his addictions to women, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol and most of all, dance. Fosse’s alter ego Joe Gideon (brilliantly played by Roy Scheider) is a womanizing choreographer reflecting on his life and career with a scantily clad angel (Jessica Lange) between a workaholic schedule spent editing a stand-up comedy movie and directing a Broadway musical. Flashbacks, flashforwards, real time episodes and "Fosse" time sequences combine to fulfill a tapestry of an obsessive artist coming to grips with his mortality when a heart attack threatens to take everything away.

Federico Fellini’s cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno energizes the picture with abundant visual compositions that compliment the powerful ensemble production. "All That Jazz" stands up as a cynical, sensual and visually exciting self-reflexive movie about the temperament and vision of a truly original artist. Roy Scheider inhabits Bob Fosse with an ease and nuance that makes this the performance apex of his career.

The special features section includes an informative audio commentary track by film editor Alan Heim discussing back-stories and minutiae. The "Portrait of a Choreographer" featurette is a hats-off to Bob Fosse from his dancers and fellow choreographers talking about his inspirational methods and their undying love for his genius. A second featurette "The Soundtrack: Perverting the Standards" is made up of interviews with dancers, choreographers and composers, such as Glen Ballard and Jerry Casale (DEVO), talking between clips about specific ways Fosse created a seamless movie musical that showed his warts and all. The final featurette "Making of the Song ‘On Broadway’," is a brief conversation with George Benson about his experience recording the film’s unforgettable opening song. There is a sing-along track for the song "Take Off With Us" with the song’s subtitles lyrics scrolling across the screen. An extensive Bob Fosse photo gallery and a production photo gallery include many candid color and black-and-white images from the making of the movie. There is a French language option, along with English or Spanish subtitles with the English version only. Aspect ratio is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with sound processed in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. (Movie: B+ / DVD Features: B) (20th Century Fox)

April 21, 2007 in Musical | Permalink