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January 07, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-07

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Tuesday
January 7, 2003
michigandaily.com/arts
mae@michigandaily.com

A~Ulbetdigau Bafg
RTS

5

I

FAMOUS FosSE MUSICAL HITS BIG SCREEN

Take no notice of Grant,
Bullock in 'Two Weeks'

By John Laughlin
Daily Arts Writer

our"esy o"'ira" ax

Come On (Come on). Baby don't ya wanna go? Back to same old place, sweet home Chicago.

DEATH AND DANCING IN CHICAGO'

By Tara Billik
Daily Arts Writer

In 2001, Baz Luhrmann brilliantl
ed the movie-musical genre wit]
Rouge," undoubtedly paving the w
Marshall's spectacular movie adapta
1975 stage production "Chicago."
comer to motion pictures, Marshall t
with this new musical and succeed
with flying colors.
Though the film mimics the stacc
and highly stylized cinematographyc
Rouge," the musical interludes are
unobtrusive, and the clear-cut nar-
rative makes "Chicago" more
palatable for audiences. The film's
surreal song and dance numbers
pay slight homage to Lars Von
Trier's more experimental musical
film, "Dancer in the Dark." Still,
"Chicago" is accessible to both the
mainstream and film artists. This
musical's content can be easily appr
women and men alike being dousedv
ly clad but self-confident women.
From the opening sequence, Mars
out the eye candy and sets the energe
us to indulge in for the next 113 mi
one warning: don't sit too close tot
Catherine Zeta-Jones, as Velma Kell
our attention with a seductive perfo

the infamous "All That Jazz." Frenetically, the
camera cuts between this and the ensuing narra-
tive about Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger).
y resurrect- The film follows the starry-eyed chorus girl
h "Moulin wannabe who shoots her lover after he threatens
ay for Rob to leave her. Roxie winds up in prison where the
tion of the former vaudeville sensation and fellow murder-
As a new- ess Velma Kelly already resides. With the help
akes a risk of the matron "Mama" (Queen Latifah), both
s, literally, women acquire the assistance of the lawyer
Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), reputed for never
ato rhythm having lost a case. Roxie's dimwitted husband
of "Moulin (John C. Reilly) pays Billy enough to take
Roxie's case, and Billy plans to
S Iwin no matter what. As Roxie
gains public sympathy through the
*7k*7k media, her place in the spotlight
leaves Velma in the shadows. The
CHICAGO women prove they will do any-
At Showcase thing for stardom, caring more
about recognition than their own
Miramax lives. Though set in 1920s vaude-
villian Chicago, these themes of a
reciated by scandalous justice system and crimes-made-
with scanti- entertainment remain timeless.
Though the storyline stays simple, it pro-
hall dishes vides an adequate structure for Marshall to
tic tone for decorate using his elaborate cinematic tech-
nutes. Only niques. The film is funny, flashy and sexy,
the screen! yet, the dark subject matter elegantly weaves
y, captures its way throughout. Lighting shifts from the
)rmance of dark seductive ambience of leather bound

women on death row to the luscious colors of
a glitzy circus sequence. "Chicago" is domi-
nated by the juxtaposition between the real
and surreal. The fantastical song and dance
sequences are displayed through characters'
subjective fantasies, giving Marshall com-
plete power of artistic freedom.
"Chicago" can also be praised for the expert
performances of its all-star cast. Catherine
Zeta-Jones is the appropriate candidate for the
sultry vamp, Velma Kelly, yet Renee Zellweger
seemed a questionable choice. Nonetheless,
Zellweger's screen presence dominates the film
and is equally, if not more, alluring than Zeta-
Jones.' She gives Roxie Hart an enticing dimen-
sionality with her vulnerable yet underhanded
guise. Marshall provides the perfect opportuni-
ty for these actors to break out of their tradi-
tional roles. Who would have expected to see
the fumbling Bridget Jones as a seductive mur-
deress, or the well-reserved Gere in sparkles
and tap shoes? Also added to the mix is a fabu-
lous, and hilarious, performance by Queen Lati-
fah, Reilly's heart breaking rendition of "Mr.
Cellophane," and Taye Diggs spicing up the
atmosphere as a jazzy emcee.
"Chicago" awards the feel of a live stage
production,'and the cinematic qualities allow
each spectator the best seat in the house. Rob
Marshall's masterful choreography of music,
dance and cinema will surely be no stranger
at the Academy Awards this year.

"Two Weeks Notice" continues Hugh
Grant's forays in the romantic comedy
genre. Grant plays George Wade - a
wealthy man, but more simply, the pub-
lic face of a large corporation. Lucy
Kelson (Sandra Bullock) is a lawyer
who always seems to be fighting for a
cause to aid humanity and counters
Wade's attributes.
Their relationship is contrasted from
the very beginning of the film with a
beautiful title sequence that displays
comparative childhood photo albums.
When Wade's brother forces him to find
a new lawyer (one that Wade will not
sleep with), fate steps in with Lucy, who
approaches him in hopes of convincing
him not to destroy a historic building in
Coney Island.
Lucy is swept into Wade's limo, and
before she knows it, finds herself work-
ing for the man she stands morally
against. Her hope is that by working for
George she can help save the building,
thus doing some good in exchange for
working with her enemy.
A series of flash-forward sequences
ensue detailing the minor
disasters leading Lucy to
give her "two weeks
notice" to George. These
vignettes come to a cli-
max when Lucy is pulled Two
away from a friend's NO
wedding to help the At Show
absent-minded million- Qual
aire pick out a suit. Since
her contract is quite bind- Warn
ing, and George has
made it impossible for her to find work
elsewhere, Lucy tries to get fired.
George tells her he knows the game she
is playing. Only when she agrees to find
a replacement does George concede.
"Two Weeks Notice" starts at a quick
pace by means of its fast-forwards,
maintining a decent comedic atmos-
phere. Through subtle nuances in the
dialogue and actions, the relationship
potential between the seemingly polar
opposites is foreshadowed.
The film is not a Pygmalionesquer
tale, or a variant'of "Pretty Woman" as
one might expect from two such charac-

Courtesy or Warner Bros.
Wanna see my Ted Kennedy impresion?
ters. The strong will and independence
of Bullock's character keeps her at a
distance from such a trap, but at times
her "sweet innocence" comes through
and compromises some of her internal
values. However, this flaw does not nec-
essarily weaken Bullock's character in
feminist terms, but more simply shows
her as a woman with too much love and
compassion for others while just want-
ing someone to love her for a change.
The chemistry between Grant and
Bullock never seems to gel completely.
Through the addition of a "third wheel"
- the woman Bullock hires as a
replacement - the film is finally able
to create the tension required to make
the main characters explore and realize
their feelings for each
other. Perhaps the most
tragic mistake of the film,
y it chooses to use another
woman to create a
VEEKS "crowd." By choosing to
ICE make the third wheel
ase and another woman, "Two
s 16 Weeks" turns into the
stereotypical male fantasy
Bros. of two women vying for
his love. This type of cir-
cle downplays the female lead, height-
ens the male ego and is something that a
romantic comedy should not try to do.
George crawls back to Lucy in the end,
which places the characters in their nec-
essary positions, but this becomes noth-
ing more than a means to an end.
Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant are
both great players of romantic comedy,
but their chemistry in "Two Weeks
Notice" never seems to foster anything
close to a "Love Potion #9." "Two
Weeks Notice" is at times witty and
most definitely comic, but the romance
never reaches its full potential.

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