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All That Jazz – The Criterion Collection #724 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 14, 2014 by  



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“All That Jazz” is a film that is indicative of Bob Fosse’s theatrical and musical brilliance heightened by wonderful performances, especially from actor Roy Scheider and editing by Alan Heim. A Bob Fosse cinematic masterpiece and a musical that will be remembered for its unique style, “All That Jazz” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: All That Jazz – The Criterion Collection #724

YEAR OF FILM: 1979

DURATION: 123 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, 3.0 Surround

COMPANY: THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: August 26, 2014

Directed by Bob Fosse

Written by Robert Alan Aurthur, Bob Fosse

Produced by Robert Alan Aurthur

Executive Producer as Daniel Melnick

Associate Producer: Wolfgang Glattes, Kenneth Utt

Music by Ralph Burns

Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno

Edited by Alan Heim

Casting by Howard Feuer, Jeremy Ritzer

Production Design by Philip Rosenberg

Set Decoration by Gary J. Brink, Edward Stewart

Costume Design by Albert Wolsky

Starring:

Roy Scheider as Joe gideon

Jessica Lange as Angelique

Leland Palmer as Audrey Paris

Ann Reinking as Kate Jagger

Cliff Gorman as Davis Newman

Ben Verdeen as O’Connor Flood

Erzsebet Foldi as Michelle

Michael Tolan as Dr. Ballinger

Max Wright as Joshua Penn

The preternaturally gifted director and choreographer Bob Fosse turned the camera on his own life for this madly imaginative, self-excoriating musical masterpiece. Roy Scheider gives the performance of his career as Joe Gideon, whose exhausting work schedule—mounting a Broadway production by day and editing his latest movie by night—and routine of amphetamines, booze, and sex are putting his health at serious risk. Fosse burrows into Gideon’s (and his own) mind, rendering his interior world as phantasmagoric spectacle. Assembled with visionary editing that makes dance come alive on-screen as never before, and overflowing with sublime footwork by the likes of Ann Reinking, Leland Palmer, and Ben Vereen, All That Jazz pushes the musical genre to personal depths and virtuosic aesthetic heights.

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Bob Fosse, one of America’s well-known directors and screenwriters but also musical theatre choreographers.

Having won eight Tony Awards for choreography and winning an Academy Award for “Cabaret”, suffice to say, he had a great career and personal life.

So, in 1979, Robert Fosse and writer Robert Alan Aurthur worked on a semi-autobiographical fantasy which was based on aspects of Fosse’s life and career as a dancer, choreographer and director.  Especially during the time he was working on the film “Lenny” and the 1975 Broadway musical, “Chicago”.

The film would eventually win the Palme d’Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, win four Academy Awards and nominated for a further five.  And in 2001, was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.  And selected in 2006 by the American Film Institute’s #14 “Great Movie Musicals” list.

The film would star Roy Scheider (“Jaws”, “The French Connection”, “2010”), Jessica Lange (“Big Fish”, “Tootsie”, “Cape Fear”), Leland Palmer (“Valentino”, “James Dean”), Anne Reinking (“Annie”, “Shine”, “Beneath the White City Lights”), Cliff Gorman (“Ghost Dog”, “An Unmarried Woman”), Ben Vereen (“Funny Lady”, “How I Met Your Mother”, “Tensepeed and Brown Shoe”) and more.

And now, “All That Jazz” will be released on Blu-ray + DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

“All That Jazz” is a film that revolves around theatre director Joe Gideon (portrayed by Roy Scheider), who is working on his latest Broadway musical and also working on editing for his Hollywood film.

Because he is a workaholic, he is never there for his daughter Michelle.  He is a chainsmoker and often having sex with his dancers.  Always needing a daily dose of Vivaldi, Visine for his eyes, Alka-Seltzer, Dexedrine and daily sex, this is what gives him the energy to do both demanding jobs.

Meanwhile, trying to keep a relationship with Katie Jagger (portrayed by Ann Reinkng), his ex Audrey Paris (portrayed by Leland Palmer) and his daughter Michelle.

But all this work is starting to take a toll on his body and his heart and while dealing with this, he often has dreams of the angel of death named Angelique (portrayed by Jessica Lange).

But as Gideon’s health condition worsens and not willing to follow the doctor’s orders and rest from exhaustion, for a workaholic as Gideon, will the show go on or will Gideon continue to play with death?

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VIDEO:

“All That Jazz – The Criterion Collection #724” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is fantastic compared to its previous DVD incarnations.  Grain is visible throughout the film, the film has no blemishes and aside from the clothing of its era, there are no problems with the film’s colors.  The 4K digital restoration of the film shows, as the film features wonderful clarity.  There are no blemishes, nor are there any problems with aging, this film looks magnificent.

According to the Criterion Collection, “Undertaken by Twentieth Century Fox and the Academy Film Archive in collaboration with the Film Foundation, this new 4K digital restoration was produced from the original camera negative at Sony Colorworks in Culver City, California”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “All That Jazz – The Criterion Collection #724” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0.  Dialogue is crisp and clear through the center and front channels. As one can expect, the film is driven by its dialogue and music soundtrack. I detected no hiss, crackle or any problems with the lossless soundtrack.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original 3.0 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a magnetic track at Chace Audio by Deluxe in Burbank, California”.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“All That Jazz – The Criterion Collection #724” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Recorded in 2007, the audio commentary features “All That Jazz” editor Alan Heim.
  • Selected-Scene Commentary – (34:36) Recorded in 2001, the selected scene commentary features “All That Jazz” star Roy Scheider.
  • Reinking and Foldi – (33:59) A June 2014 featurette with “All That Jazz” stars Ann Reinking and Erzsebet Foldi and discussing the film, the scene and working with director Bob Fosse.
  • Alan Heim – (15:19) An April 2014 interview with “All That Jazz” editor Alan Heim ad the process which he and director Bob Fosse came up with the film’s editing style.
  • Tomorrow – (31:51) Bob Fosse an Agnes de Mille on Tom Snyder’s late-night NY talk show “Tomorrow” back in January 31, 1980.
  • Sam Wasson – (20:43) A 2014 featurette with Sam Wasson, author of the biography “Fosse” and discussing Bob Fosse.
  • The South Bank Show – (27:01) An episode of “The South Bank Show” hosted by Melvyn Bragg and featuring an interview with Bob Fosse back in 1981.
  • Gene Shalit Interview with Bob Fosse – (26:14) Featuring an interview conducted by NBC with Bob Fosse back in 1986, the year before Fosse died, with film critic Gene Shalit.
  • On the Set – A featurette on the set of “All That Jazz” with Bob Fosse directing the cattle call (7:58) and an interview with Roy Scheider (3:54) back in 1979.
  • Portrait of a Choreographer – (22:43) A 2007 documentary about Bob Fosse’s choreography style and features interviews with many talent and crew which collaborated with Fosse.
  • The Soundtrack: Perverting the Standards – (7:50) A 2007 featurette that explores the musical soundtrack of “All That Jazz”.
  • The Making of the Song “On Broadway” – (3:36) A 2007 interview with singer/songwriter George Benson about creating his 1963 version of “On Broadway” which would be used in “All That Jazz”.
  • Trailer – (1:41) The original theatrical trailer for “All That Jazz”.

EXTRAS:

“All That Jazz – The Criterion Collection #724″comes with a 32-page booklet. Featuring the essay “Stardust” by Hilton Als.

The Blu-ray version comes with both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film and special features.

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Often compared to Federico Fellini’s “8 1/2”, Bob Fosse’s autobiographical fantasy film, “All That Jazz” is rather fascinating because you know that what you see in the film are experiences that Bob Fosse had in his life but also getting to see the sexual and exciting musical numbers and amazing choreography which he is best known for.

In many ways, the film captures Fosse’s attention to detail when it comes to his musical numbers but at the same time, it is an egomanical film about a filmmaker and Broadway musical director who works hard, plays hard and knows that he pushes himself way to the brink of death and it’s death is what he must contend with.

While Roy Scheider is magnificent in the role of Joe Gideon, the character of Joe Gideon, was seen as part of the times.  A man that pushes himself hard to work on a musical, work on a major film and is dependent on sex and whatever drug that can get him to do his job.  He is a man that has sex with his dancers and a man that you are not meant to feel compassion for.

He is a powerful man that sees women as more of a plaything, he is a man that plays with death.  And while viewers see this dying man, instead of having the film continue on in solemn note, we are given musical numbers while Gideon challenges fate.  But while today’s viewers would look at the character as selfish and possibly unlikable, the beauty of “All That Jazz” lies within the fantasy world that Gideon conjures in his head while dealing with his severe health issues.

In some ways, the film sequences are quite brilliant as death was never featured in this type of way, let alone a musical with brilliant choreography numbers but this is all part of Fosse’s brilliance.  Production numbers that are sexy, small and effective, this is a man who sees his own death like his own theatre and film work, as part of grand exodus of life.

As mentioned, Roy Scheider gives a commanding performance, much different from the roles we are accustomed to seeing of him in “Jaws” or “The French Connection”.  The performances are fully fueled by musical numbers by Ann Reinking and the young Erzsabet Foldi and more.

The editing by Alan Heim is also one of the positive aspects of this film as the editing is skillfully done.  As with the cinematography by Gieuseppe Rotunno.

As for the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release, we are treated with a 4K digital restoration version of the film that features crystal clear dialogue and music and a plethora of special features.

Overall, “All That Jazz” is a film that is indicative of Bob Fosse’s theatrical and musical brilliance heightened by wonderful performances, especially from actor Roy Scheider and editing by Alan Heim.

A Bob Fosse cinematic masterpiece and a musical that will be remembered for its unique style, “All That Jazz” is highly recommended!

 






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