All That Jazz (1979)
“Sometimes I don’t know where the bullshit ends and the truth begins”. So says filmmaker-choreographer Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) in Bob Fosse’s flamboyant All That Jazz (1979), incidentally commenting on the film’s structure as well, which shuffles between past and present, reality and fantasy. With palpable influence of both of 8½ (1964) and A Clockwork Orange (1971), All That Jazz is a hysterical, heady, unvarnished and often stinging portrait. Fosse’s film is a record of total self-annihilation – a spiraling descent into abyss beyond which redemption is impossible – of an artist with possible delusions of grandeur and of a man who obsessively squanders every opportunity given to him to begin anew. There is something convenient and self-pitying about artists using their works as confessionals, where a modicum of inbuilt repentance tries to fish for unwarranted redemption, but there’s also something irresistibly human and disarming about it. Gideon of All That Jazz is not merely flawed, he is a downright jerk, casually cruel and holding double standards. And yet, this does not undermine his sincerity when he says things that he does not mean. For him, truth and falsity blend into each other so much so that there is barely a difference between a lie that sounds sincere than a true statement. Beyond this point, it makes no sense whether he is an actor in his life or whether he is consciously directing it. Edited and directed with verve, All That Jazz is potent and electric, especially when it hits the raw nerve.