... AND THE ECSTACIES OF FOSSE'S VISION
The Michigan Daily-Thursday, March 20, 1980-Page 7
By CHRISTOPHER POTTER
While voicing my considerable reser-
gations last May about Woody Allen's
"Manhattan, I ventured the notion that
:-"the only measure of the justness of an
artistic ego'trip is whether the artist
:ossesses the sheer creative talent to
:get away with it." Though Manhattan
was a charming, -tenderly funny film,
its director's obsessive self-pitying
angst ultimately soured and suffocated
the ample pleasures of this not-quite-
audacious-enough work. Allen's film
emained a daring. gamble that suc-
eeded only as far as his innovative
abilities either raised or preferably
eclipsed his earthbound psyche.
And now as a kind of surpassing af-
tershock half a year later, we get Bob
Fosse's All That Jazz, the quintessen-
tial let-it-all-hang-out look-at-me-
everybody cinematic conceit. The film
epically dwarfs Allen's rather subtle
ego with what has to be the most naked
exercise in narcissism ever thrust at
the moviegoing public.
And by God, he pulls it off! Be it a
blistering personal testament or the
ultimate psychological con job, All That
Jazz is an overwhelming, fabulous en-
rat Jazz' is all brilliance
tertainment. Though Fosse's attempt
at self-canonization may be pure, bit-
tersweet blarney, his creative muse has
remained hard and glittering as a
diamond, turning his film into a
breathless celebration of glitter, of piz-
zazz, of all that he does best.
HOW CAN a story about a self-styled
autobiographical saint who's hounded
literally into the grave by a com-
bination of overwork, dissolute habits
and blood-sucking peers be enter-
taining? All That Jazz succeeds by
fulfilling its one mandatory
requirement z it rigorously cleanses
itself of the slightest trace of whining,
righteous self-pity. "Well, so it goes," is
the film's abiding gospel, "let's do it up
in style, anyway," becomes its ringing
To that degree Fosse's film is a
daring, wholly uncompromising work.
Manhattan's Issac Davis cries out sub-
tly but maudlinly to be loved, to find
sanctuary in a back-stabbing world.
Jazz's Joe Gideon knows his life is a
mess, yet he never rants over the in-
justice of it all. He's coolly aware we
don't know where the bullshit stops and
the truth begins." But undiluted bullshit
can stay interesting for only so long. We
want at least a breath of truth, an ounce
of introspection that doesn't evaporate
the moment it comes off the screen.
THERE'S NOT a single moment in
All That Jazz that might induce one to
shed tears, however mighty the film's
potential for morbid soap opera.
Fosse's tale is acted out on a kind of
grand fantasy level even in its
"realistic" moments, which are
somehow always a degree or two above
and apart from-the here and now. Jazz.
in effect becomes a joyous metaphysi-
cal wake, often sarcastically bitter but
always forgiving, always touching the
gentle, self-deprecating joke in the
myriad dualities of existence.
All That Jazz is a celebration of style
as philosophy, of the means justifying
the end, and what style Fosse brings to
his film! Jazz simply roars through its
two-hour running time - leaping,
twisting, churning through cinematic
rhythms which never miss a beat.
Fosse's opening audition sequence is a
miracle of choreography,
cinematography and editing, in which
his dancers seem almost literally to
take flight like ethereal, alien
creatures. His subsequent "Airotica"
dance slowly metamorphasises into a
misty, bubbling cauldron of liquid sen-
suality. Fosse seems always to possess
the right instinct, the innate sense of
proportion; even his death-fantasy
sequences, which are basically
parodies of standard musical produc-
tion numbers, take on a comic class
through their own ungainliness.
Jazz maintains a fairy-tale aura of
nocturnal show business and those it
breeds. There's scarcely an outdoor
shot in the entire film, as though its
protagonists agrophobically dread
leaving the safe purple-blue confines of
their theaters and apartments. Theirs
is a nocturnal love-hate world from
which there's no escape; however
much Fosse may despise the life, like a
hooked junkie, he cannot do without it.
OCCASI6NALLY he overdoes the
duality: A sequence cross-cutting
Gideon's open-heart surgery with
scenes of his show's avaricious
producers discussing how much - in-
surance money they'll collect if Joe
passes on seems gratuitously mar-
tyrish. The many interludes in which
Joe commiserates his past sins with a
surreal angel of death take on a hipster-
mea culpa artificiality, and Jessica
Lange, as the angel, is neither sinister
nor spiritual enough to let her charac-
ter take compelling form.
Yet the sheer dynamic verve of All
That Jazz sweeps away these few ar-
tistic lapses. Fosse has looked cockeyed
into his own soul and dredged out one of
the most genuinely offbeat master-
works in the history of film. The secon-
dary definition of "jazz" is insincere;
yet never has insincerity been explored
with such enthralling fidelity.
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THIS SEDATIQD ELEPHANT in Kenya is being used by artist Mihail Simeonoiv to make a life-sized cast of the
animal. Simeonoiv hopes to sell 10 bronze casts for $250,000 apiece.
NEW YORK SCULPTOR MAKES MOLD:
Big bull elephant gets plastered
OL PEJETA RANCH, Kenya (AP)-
New York sculptor Mihail, trying to
make art history as the first to cast a
live elephant in bronze, found a big bull
in the bush yesterday, had him
drugged, and made a mold from life as
the sedated pachyderm lay amid thorn
trees on this game preserve.
"It's easy. I feel very relaxed," the
*culptor said as he stood on the
elephant's ear during the two-hour
moldmaking process, after which the
groggy animal wandered back into the
IT WAS ONE of Kenya's most bizarre
wildlife expeditions, but one the sculp-
tor hopes will serve a good cause. The
idea has stirred controversy here,
The artist, whose full name .is Mihail
Simeonoiv, wants to sell 10 giant bron-
ies for $250,000 each to governments
and corporations eager to demonstrate
their regard for animals. The net
proceeds, about $2 million, would be
spent on conservation projects by 15
trustees from art, publishing and
wildlife-preservation circles in Europe,
Kenya, and the United States.
The 50-year-old sculptor hopes to
have the studio and foundry work in
New York completed in three or four
Mihail had the cooperation of Kenyan
game officials in carrying out the mold
SALT LICKS lured at least 11
elephants to an area near the preser-
ve's main house overnight. Mihail,
game wardens, and others set out in
jeeps and trucks after dawn, and two
light airplanes and a low-flying helicop-
ter helped herd one bull elephant to
within range of a government
Veterinarian, who shot a sedative dart
into his leg.
After the elephant dropped to his
knees, men from the sculpting safari
pushed him over on his side. Water was
mixed into a quick-setting powder and
buckets of it were carried in relays to
the animal, where Mihail and his
assistant slavered it over the hide.
Then they peeled the conipound off in
numbered sections, still flexible but
showing all the skin wrinkles. Mihail
said he would make permanent plaster
of Paris impressions from the mold
later in the day.
MIDWAY THROUGH the 'process,
men attached ropes to the five-ton
animal's feet and, with a truck tow,
rolled him over onto his other side.
After the modling team withdrew, the
elephant struggled to his feet, stood
quietly for some minutes and ambled
off, feeding on thorn trees.
He appeared unhurt, but some
Kenyan zoologists had warned that in-
ternal organs might be harmed by
rolling the elephant's great weight back
One letter-writer complained in a
Nairobi newspaper beforehand that
Mihail's "misplaced feat" was not art,
"for it would appear only to be an ex-
pensive and unnecessary demon-
stration of anesethesia and foundry
THE BURMESE HARP
(KON ICHIKAWA, 1956)
The haunting and poetic story of a young Japanese soldier
in Burma during the final days of WW 11 who attempts to atone
for the sins of war. Ichikawa's first international success.
Japanese with English subtitles.
OLDA&D $1.50 7:00&9:05
FRIDAY: THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE
THURSDAY, March 20-7:30 p.m.
GUILD HOUSE, 802 Monroe
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