All that Jazz

Starring Roy Scheider. Directed by Bob Fosse. This is more ambitious movie that tackles similarly difficult subject matter -- with a lot of energy but less success -- Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz."

Like Fosse himself, the main character (played by Roy Scheider) is a successful Broadway director and chorographer, who has also made a hit in the film world. But life is too much for him. He turns to alcohol and drugs to help keep himself going, and his health begins to fail. The last portion of the picture is an extravagant "hospital hallucination" during which he tries to come to terms with the idea of his own death.

It was a radical idea to deal with such material in a musical-comedy format -- though Martin Brest accomplished the task (for a fraction of the cost) in the last few minutes of "Hot Tomorrows," with a lot more brio and optimism. In "All That Jass," Fosse borrows liberally from superior filmmakers (there's a lot of Fellini's "8 1/2") and coats everything with a lot of bouncy music. The trouble is, there's no insight to the exercise. Beneath the sound and fury, there seems to be nothing but a worried filmaker covering his anxieties with bombast and hoopla. It's colorful, but far from enriching.

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