Fosse. Quality (and consistency) over quantity is the case for Fosse. He only directed 5 films (between 1969-1983) and all are in the archives, 3 in the top 100 of their respective decade (the 3 1970’s films) and 2 landed in the top 500 of all-time. The 3 big ones all feature performers (Liza in Cabaret, Hoffman as comedian Lenny Bruce, and Roy Scheider playing essentially Fosse himself in the autobiographical All That Jazz) and Fosse’s trademark performance structure. There’s more consistency here than say Dark Knight/Memento from Nolan, Exorcist/French Connection from Friedkin, or even One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest/Amadeus from Milos Forman so Fosse lands here.
Best film: Cabaret. I think you can make the case the montage to end All That Jazz is Fosse’s single greatest moment/sequence as a director but that film isn’t virtually perfect throughout like Cabaret. Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey’s performance interludes break up the Michael York and Liza led narrative make for a bold formal choice that makes this work stand out even in a crowded time (1970’s) and place (the United States) for auteurs and masterpieces.
total archiveable films: 5
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 2 (Cabaret, All that Jazz)
top 100 films of the decade: 3 (Cabaret, All that Jazz, Lenny)
most overrated: I don’t have one for Fosse. There’s not much to choose form with only 5 films as a director. Sweet Charity and Star 80 don’t exactly have lofty critical reputations. I’m really close to both of the rankings of Fosse’s two films in the TSPDT consensus top 1000 (All That Jazz, Cabaret) and his only remaining film is…. Below.
most underrated: Lenny is underrated. It would land in my 500-1000 and it’s nowhere to be found in the TSPDT top 1000. The comedic performances act as a performance interlude to mirror the work done in Cabaret.
gem I want to spotlight: All That Jazz is an ambitious reimagining of Fellini’s 8 ½ with an all-timer of a montage sequence, a tour-de-force lead performance from Roy Schieder and music and choreography from quite possibly the musical genre’s greatest—Fosse.
stylistic innovations/traits: Fosse is remembered for jazz– not only for his 5 films but his work on Broadway and as a choreographer (in work other than just his films). Even in Lenny (a black and white biopic about a comedian) there’s an inarguable musical element (mostly in the erotic dance interludes with Valerie Perrine). Jazz, modern choreography are traits for Fosse but they are not inherently filmic. I think there two specifically filmic elements to Fosse as the cinema auteur. One is easy, it’s the editing. As he progressed throughout his career (the climax death montage in All That Jazz the highlight) he became one of cinema’s great editors of his era. Secondly, and I mentioned this in the blurb on Cabaret, there are the performance interludes (in all of Fosse’s three best films). In Cabaret, Lenny and All That Jazz there’s A). the straight narrative and B). the performances and they’re both separate and formally tied together. It’s an aspiring and unique structural/formal element so again we have Fosse as a director who made three great films that are consistent in structure (performance interludes), style (editing/montage), genre (musical/jazz) and even with the genius but self-destructing lead characters.
- All That Jazz
- Star 80
- Sweet Charity
By year and grades
|1969- Sweet Charity||R|
|1979- All That Jazz||MS|
|1983- Star 80||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives