Sunday, 18 April 2010

Scene On A Sunday: Chicago

I’ve spoken enthusiastically about Chicago and about Catherine Zeta Jones in it before, and always my thoughts go to a particular scene in the film. I often refer to it as my favourite scene in the film, but the entire film is excellent – so I can’t be certain. Velma is at her wits’ end and knows that Roxie is taking so she goes to make her plea for a collaborative effort. It’s already funny because we’ve only just heard her tell Mama Morton that she would only suck up to Roxie “over her dead body”.
I love how she comes in so sanguine.
Mind if I join you? She's not being overconfident.She knows very well that Roxie does mind, but she's being the ultimate diva and ensuring that we never see her sweat. Then she takes out the box, oh so incidentally. Am I the only one who thinks that Velma probably confiscated the box of chocolates? Its seems like just the sort of thing she'd do, then go into her lie:
Look what some Johnny sent me. Triple cream caramels all the way from San Francisco. 

Roxie’s cold demeanour throws her though, even as she tries and tries to cajole mentioning her double act with her dead sister. I love her slight looks of fear like this one as she prepares for her “Act of Desperation”.  She's worried, and it's the first time we're seeing it.
 As she goes into the prelude for the number this particular short always amuses me.
Is that faux cheerfulness just for Roxie's behalf, is she imagining this double act with Roxie or remembering her departed sister? She starts out her number in typical diva fashion and I love how the camera cuts to Roxie’s bored face.
Say what you want about Renee, but she knows to sell her emotions with her face and doesn't she look so innocent in that costume? Nothing like the snake underneath. But back to Cathy, she attacks the number with fervour she's even frantic; just look at the shot below.
 It’s amazing watching her do her thing though,and I especially love the part where the music shifts into the Egyptian beats.
Cinematographer Dion Beebe makes her look so very good. It was an excellent year for the category, but damn I wish he'd taken it home. I heard a detractor comment that Catherine's height makes the scene awkaward, but I think it's her svelteness that makes her look so enticing, especially on that table.
Even Roxie isn't able to be completely stoic. Catherine ends the first part with aplomb, even if Roxie does shoot her efforts down.
But it's a good thing Roxie's a sceptic, because it leads into the very excellent part 2 of the dance.
She'd go...
The chair dance is something special, Velma/Catherine really is a talented lady and all the technical elements come together so well. I don't know who to thank most for this shot: Catherine (dancer), Rob (choreographer) or Dion (cinematographer).
See, how even Roxie's impressed by it all.

 As she climbs the steps to complete the number I'm amazed at how in character she stays - singing, dancing, acting and emoting. The number's getting more frenzied by the second.
 Here's a few partin' shots..
 The above shot really puts into perspective just how much dedication she put into this: no stunt doubles...and then the slide down the pole...
I love how the number ends with the shots of her face.
I like the first because because you can see how into it she is as she sings that final note, but the second one with the look of desperation is so poignant. Knowing how smart Velma was she probably knew that Roxie was not going to take her up on the offer... but what a thrill ride it was watching her plead her case.


Robert said...

This has to be one of my favorite scenes in the movie. You're so right, Catherine Zeta Jones just dominates every moment of this number, and I love Renee's reactions.

Malcolm said...

This is definitely off-topic so I apologize in advance.

I’m Malcolm from The Final Oscar and I wonder if you want to join in a smackdown I’m going to officiate. It’s between the nominees for Best Picture last 2008. I hope you reply for confirmation whether you’ll join or you’ll decide not to.

You can e-mail me in or you can just visit my site

I would truly appreciate if you join.

Thanks and have a good day.

By the way, yeah, I love this scene in Chicago. It's so playful.

Luke said...

I LOVE this scene! I think possibly the most amazing thing about it all is that Catherine is pregnant throughout most of the filming of this movie. What a trooper! :)

Simon said...

Great scene, yeah. But then, every scene's a great scene.

Wild Celtic said...

Great post. I like that you showed us all the part that you liked so much. Excellent frames you picked.

anahita said...

I love this film SO much, and this is a brilliant scene, although not my favourite. I can't even begin to think what my favourite would be...possibly cell block tango? Or we both reached for the gun...ah, I don't know!! x