chicago-02

Chicago (2002)

And all that Jazz… It was in 2002, when Rob Marshall decided to adapt a Brodway musical that ended up being one of his biggest hits. Winner of 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Chicago beat the competition with catchy songs, a bit of comedy and drama and lots of jazz. Starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and with an unforgettable performance by Renée Zellweger, our dear beloved Bridget Jones,  Chicago is a musical triumph and an amazing experience. Welcome to another edition of MUST!

Velma Kelly is a performer who is being charged of killing her husband and sister after finding them sleeping in bed together. She is a huge sensation and is living Roxie’s dream. Roxie Hart is the kind of girl who lives stuck in the middle of four walls and who dreams of becoming a star. So when a guy decides to conquer her by promising her the accomplishment of her lifelong dream, Roxie becomes obsessed with the idea of becoming the next Velma Kelly. Unfortunately for her, the guy was just trying to get laid so, without thinking a bit about the consequences, she decides to kill him. Together in prison, they will share their life stories while they wait in the death row but thanks to Billy, their bad luck is about to change.

In the middle of a Chicago devastated by corruption and conquered by midnight shows where young and good-looking ladies danced at the sound of energetic jazz tunes it’s really funny to see how people deal with their problems. Even though everything is a bit exaggerated, every single scene becomes memorable (from the prison to the court and back to the stage) and that is something Rob Marshall should be proud of. The songs are really catchy… There’s “All That Jazz” performed by Catherine Zeta-Jones and also the unforgettable “Cell Block Tango” accompanied by a powerful choreography that left me speechless. So every single event in the movie is constantly accompanied by a bit of music and when the characters interact with each other everything works so pleasantly well. Richard Gere is kind of a ladies-man (well that’s probably the only thing he can do with style) and he is simply there to connect the two female rivals that will clash with bad words, sexy dances and media manipulation. Gere is the lawyer everyone wants and has the style and charisma to get everyone’s attention. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger both share their talent and their dream in the movie in an unforgettable rivalry.

Rob Marshall’s first big hit and definitely an example of how good and powerful a musical can be, Chicago is a dazzling movie, capable of making you sing and dance. It’s energetic, captivating and filled with life and movement. I saw it in a midnight session accompanied by my mom and in the end we both enjoyed it a lot. Whether you enjoy musicals or not, there’s something beautiful about Chicago that makes it so enjoyable and different than the rest. Great and enthusiastic performances, an energetic rhythm and a story about love affairs, dreams and crimes, Chicago has the full package.

★★★★½

The-Boxtrolls-2014

The Boxtrolls (2014)

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  • Directed by: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
  • With: Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost
  • 96 Minutes

From the creators of Coraline and Paranorman comes this sweet and funny adventure that will please the entire family with characters and a lesson you won’t forget. The Boxtrolls sets the bar really high for this year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Feature contenders. Nowadays it’s rare to find a movie made with the heart and soul this one had, technology allowed a huge improvement in the animation field but at the same time kids are being introduced to the world of cinema with movies with no particular message or things to enjoy through years. I know that there are several exceptions but when a guy like me is exposed to a well-made movie like this one, memories from childhood years rise and that feeling of a great work is constantly there. The amazing work and the concept behind The Boxtrolls allow it to impress its viewers and it’s impossible to ignore the way it conquers your heart from the beginning to the end.

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In Cheesebridge, a modest city controlled by men who loved cheese, humans coexist with some curious and quirky creatures with bodies covered by boxes. The Boxtrolls were kind and funny and the thing they loved to do the most was to design and create stuff from everyday objects. Seen as monsters by the citizens, the poor little monsters only leave their home by night to look for curious and interesting objects that could be part of their amazing creations. Beneath the huge buildings and the large streets, the curious creatures were taking care of a young boy named “Eggs”, who lived peacefully with them even though humans believed that they would eat them during the night. To “protect” the people from Cheesebridge, a vicious and evil man with a tremendous wish of power, decided to exterminate all the creatures to gain the citizens’ support. Threatened by this exterminator night after night, the Boxtrolls need to gain some courage and strength and Eggs might be the solution for their problem.

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The characters of the movie reminded me a lot of Tim Burton’s “Nightmare before Christmas” for the way they interact with the viewer. The evil guys are really mean but two of them constantly doubt if what they’re doing is the right thing. Controlled by a vicious man who wanted to achieve power by all means, the team of bad guys worked as puppets at his hands. The governors of the city were like the most incompetent guys I’ve seen. Instead of dealing with the town’s issues, the brave and powerful men passed most of their days tasting and talking about cheese. The family values and the needed to help the other are therefore lost in the middle of vanity and greatness and this ends up driving a poor little girl into the world of Boxtrolls. Eggs is a courageous guy, helped and raised mostly by Fish and Shoe, who learns how to behave and how to build things thanks to the curious creatures that were seen as threats by the citizens of Cheesebridge. He is friends with all the trolls and he tries to teach them how to be brave so that they could fight against the vicious exterminators. It’s funny to see him believing he was one of them and the way he tries to help the friends that were constantly there to help him is a lovely way to represent the power of friendship. I have seen the Portuguese version of the movie so I can’t say anything about the characters. However, by looking at the names of some of the cast members it’s clear that The Boxtrolls rules in every aspect. From Ben Kingsley and Elle Fanning to Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, the amount of great voices is too damn high.

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The soundtrack works pleasantly well alongside with the adventure and it’s funny to see how everyday topics and issues are represented in the movie. There’s the father incapable of proving he loved his own daughter. There’s the evil man who wanted to achieve power without caring about the way he should do it and there is this clear image of what a family should really be. It’s funny to see how the citizens’ opinion works and how wrong they are for believing in a guy who didn’t show any evidences about the threat he was protecting everyone from. The Boxtrolls is about courage, about changing and about knowing who we really are and for the reasons mentioned above it deserves to be seen by everyone. The story is constantly improving and finale left me with a big smile on my face.

Visually brilliant, amazingly executed and with a touch of heart and soul in it, The Boxtrolls is one top quality animated movie with great characters, a lovely plot and a good lesson to take from it. It has substance and heart and a tremendous cast. The visual effects are really good and again the stop-motion style reveals itself as one of the best ways to design and create a world in an animated movie. I found the 3D quite good and even though it doesn’t had that much to add to the movie it improved some specific scenes. Funny, creative and impressive, The Boxtrolls deserves to be seen by kids and adults and it gives you a reason to take your family to the nearest theater.

★★★★½

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