40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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All That Jazz (1979)

Is it considered cheating if I have two features in the same decade directed by Bob Fosse? I’m saying no. All That Jazz is another bleak and haunting Fosse musical, this time with shades of autobiography in it.

The film follows Broadway director Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider). Joe spends his days smoking, doing drugs, and seducing women with little regard for the people in his life, including his beleaguered girlfriend (played by Ann Reinking), ex-wife, and daughter. When he suffers a massive heart attack he’s confronted with the literal embodiment of the Angel of Death (Jessica Lange), who forces Joe to decide how he wants to spend the rest of his life.

All That Jazz is about Fosse himself, who did have a heart attack and tried to reevaluate his priorities. This was his penultimate feature; he’d take a four-year break before making his final feature, Star 80, and then die of a heart attack in 1987. Scheider’s Gideon is the ultimate little boy lost, who loves the women in his life, but just can’t seem to shake the perpetual feelings of boredom that cause him to hurt them. Life is about more than excess, and that’s something we’d see develop further with the 1980s on the horizon. The entire affair culminates with a massive “tribute concert” with performances by the likes of Ben Vereen, all meant to act as the last hurrah of a dying man.

Where to Watch It: Unfortunately streaming options aren’t available for this one, but Criterion released it on Blu-ray, and it’s worth a purchase.