MUSICAL CHICAGO (12A) 113min .00

Chicago, 1929. Murder, passion, fame, sex and all that jazz . . . Rob Marshall’s long-awaited screen adaptation of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s celebrated musical explodes on to the silver screen. And explode it does because the film, like the stage show, is all about giving us an intense and prolonged bout of that old razzle dazzle.

Fans of Broadway/West End shows will know the characters and the storylines better than they know their own families, but for those who haven’t spent the last ten years shelling out their hard-earned on mega-budget musicals, Chicago follows the exploits of two murderous jazz babies - Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly - and their defence lawyer, Billy Flynn. Vaudeville star Velma (played in formidable fashion by Catherine Zeta Jones) is forced to swap the big time for jail time after she guns down her husband and dance partner/sister, while main protagonist Roxie (Renee Zellweger), a hopeless wannabe, finds her dreams of fame thwarted by her own crime of passion. That is, until she discovers that, with the aid of slick attorney Flynn (Richard Gere), she can manipulate the media from the confines of a prison cell and create


Like many a recent film concerning late 20th century ethnic skirmishes (West Beirut. No Man '3 Land) the acclaimed director of Chronicle of a Disappearance. Elia Suleiman. looks at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and plays up the absurd over the politically po-faced. ln a series of carefully designed vignettes. Suileman draws more on a dead-pan aesthetic also on show in Kitano and Kaurisma'ki than the adrenaline-driven political cinema of Stone or Costa-Gavras.

A Palestinian (Suleiman) living in Jerusalem is in love with a beautiful young woman (Manal Khader) from Ramallah. But their relationships fraught With as much external tension as internal desire: there are numerous checkpoint hassles involved in gOing from one town to another. while the

her own celebrity.

Moving between the reality of Prohibition-era Chicago and the interior fantasy world of Roxie Hart, where each character becomes an all-singing, all-dancing powerhouse, director and acclaimed choreographer Marshall skilfully succeeds in a potentially problematic stage to screen adaptation. This innovation, combined with the talents of scriptwriter Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters), who gives depth and vulnerability to central and peripheral characters, ensures that, certainly for

accumulated animosity in daily life has taken its toll On Suleiman's dad who gets carted off to hOSpital.

With his understandably melancholy disposition. Suleiman's character is unaware that the best you can do is absorb the


(15) 91 min 00

abswdity. feel a bit of humanity and try to keep the mind and

soul intact. It's this that makes the film especially interesting. The directors drawn not just to the absurd narrative. but also to a character who looks like he's internalised the chaos. Suileman‘s talked of a ‘deadly calm' concerning his own home town of Nazareth. but here he shows how it can permeate an

individual consciousness. (Tony McKibbin)

I Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 77 Jan: GFT. Glasgow from

Fri 3 7 Jan.

22 THE LIST 10180 Jan 2003

Plays up the absurd over the politically po-faced


Does justice to the musical

fans of the musical, you get more than you bargained for. Zeta Jones gets the chance to show off her stage school talents, but Gere is borderline ridiculous and Zellweger looks like she spent a tad too long fasting and working out in the gym for this role. Lacking enough sass and sexual innuendo, Cabaret this ain’t, but Chicago, the film, nonetheless does justice to the stage musical and the dazzling vitality of the business known as show. (Catherine Bromley)

I General release from Fri )7 Jan.

Formulaic ‘haunted house' horror

More formulaic ‘haunted house' horror from Thirteen Ghosts director Steve Beck, the only innovation being the marine setting, an Italian luxury liner found drifting off the coast of Labrador forty years after it mysteriously disappeared. When the crew of the salvage tugboat

Arctic Warrior board the spooky. Marie Celeste-like vessel

they find a fortune in unmarked gold bullion.

Unfortunately, it's guarded by the unguiet spirits of the

(Nigel Floyd)

ship's former passengers and crew. and the salvage team's avarice unleashes these vengeful ghosts.

The one eye—catching sequence occurs in the first five minutes. but then gets repealed later on. just in case you came in late or were too stupid to understand it the first time. This imaginative. flesh-slicing gore aside. there's nothing here to grab one's attention, least of all the unspeakable dialogue uttered by salvage captain Gabriel Byrne. his gutsy female side-kick (ex ER nurse Julianna Margulies) and the usual selection of disposable multi- ethnic stereotypes. The palpable ghost of a melancholy yOung girl threatens to introduce a hint of emotion, but the CGI images are fuzzy. and the plot logic illX/IOT still.

I General release from in 24 Jan.



(PG) 80min (unable to review at time of going to press)

How is it that American ‘coiiiedian' Dana Carvey. a comic ‘talent' whose career peaked in the early 1990s With the two l’Vayne's l/l/or/d films and has since consisted largely of appearances on Saturday Night Live (the TV sketch show which spawned his Garth to Mike Myers' Wayne). gets to play the lead role in this 'comedy"?

The more cynical among us might Suggest the former Holiday Inn busboy gets to play a master of disguise because he‘s mates With Adam Sandler. the exeCutive producer of this film. On the other hand. perhaps Carvey was the right man to play Pistachio Disguisey. ltalian waiter-cum-man of

‘Acting funny is not funny’

1000 faces. On the other foot. however, Carvey's talent is spread thinner than a watered-down bottle of Bud: he hardly seems capable of pulling off the hat trick of impersonations Peter Sellers accomplished in Dr S trange/ove.

But let's be fair and see what the American press had to say about Disguisey's slapstick antics. which concern a run-in with ewl mastermind Devlin Bowman (Brent Spinner. aka Data in Star Trek). or something. ‘The Master of Disguise pants and wheezes and hurls itself exhausted across the finish line after barely 65 minutes [plus fifteen minutes of outtakes].' said Roger Ebert in The Chicago-Sun Times. before a closing salvo: ‘Acting funny is not funny.’ Ouch.

(Miles Fielder) I General release from Fri l7Ja/i.