Catching up on Classics: All That Jazz
“Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level.” — Ernest Becker
I sometimes forget how fun it is to watch a truly great movie. Like capital “G” great. Pretty much everyone I know has said that All That Jazz is amazing and given it near-perfect rating on various websites. So this was pretty anticipated for me.
Yeah of course this movie is great.
I found myself reading reviews of All That Jazz from when it came out and there are a surprising amount of negative reviews for it. People called it crass or filled with pretense, and I think that’s exactly what makes it so good to watch right now. From a technical standpoint, the DNA of All That Jazz hasn’t left cinema. Although, it might be more apt to say the DNA of 8 ½ hasn’t left cinema.
Visually this movie could come out today and fit right in with the academic circuits. The camera works as a floating eye both completely objective and somehow subjective. We see only what Fossee wants us to see but he doesn’t shy away from showing the nastiness of Gideon’s life and simultaneously his own life. It’s a very modern way of filmmaking and the editing feels similar in this way. We live in a scene for exactly how long we should be. I didn’t once feel like I wanted to be somewhere longer or shorter.
It’s pretty much a technically perfect film.
Watching this I was reminded of Ernest Becker’s book The Denial of Death. The works are similar in the way that upon release they were met with a fair amount of distaste. But, for certain people, they struck a chord. Becker writes that humans are stuck with this anxiety of dying and that everything we do is either to try and push that fear away or accepting the anxiety and growing with it.
Gideon is attempting to do both at the same time and ultimately it kills him.
Further in the book Becker says “The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.” Gideon has his moments of being a good guy. A good father to his daughter and dancing with her in a particularly phenomenal scene. Watching lovingly as his daughter and partner put on a number for him in their lavish apartment.
But the road always winds back to the madhouse.
A lot of really smart people have talked at length about this movie. I am not one of them. I come to you with a recommendation.
Watch the movie. It rules.