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Kansas City

Where to Watch Kansas City

R
1996

Kansas City is a captivating crime-drama film released in 1996, directed by Robert Altman, it features an impressive ensemble including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, and Harry Belafonte. The film is carefully stitched impression of Kansas City during the great depression which features vivid and unapologetically harsh reality of the era. Its fascinating nexus of racism, crime, and politics elegantly unfolds on the canvass of Jazz music providing a rich textured background to the narrative.

The movie features Blondie O'Hara, portrayed by Jennifer Jason Leigh, a rather persistent and naive young woman who is married to a petty crook Johnny who idolizes the city's crime boss, Seldom Seen, played by Harry Belafonte, to an unhealthy extent. The plot ignites when Johnny, blinded by his ambitions, tries to rob a local African-American mobster and immediately finds himself out of his depth. The ensuing conflict draws the attention of the city's mob bosses and sets off a string of events that firmly anchor the rest of the narrative.

Blondie's desperation to free her husband compels her to kidnap Carolyn Stilton, a wealthy society woman, depicted by Miranda Richardson. The character of Carolyn is an opium-addicted socialite who provides a stark contrast to the streetwise Blondie. The dynamic between Blondie, a common woman with an uncommonly reckless husband, and Carolyn Stilton, a wealthy woman unknowingly married to a corrupt politician, becomes one of the central pieces of the narrative puzzle.

Meanwhile, the film explores the character of Seldom Seen in depth, as he navigates the underbelly of Kansas City, dealing with issues of betrayal and crime-control with a calculated cool. Harry Belafonte delivers a chilling and calculated performance as this mob boss who's caught between the realms of power and morality.

Kansas City, heaving under the weight of crime, corruption, and jazz, becomes a character in itself in the film. Robert Altman's attention to detail paints a vivid picture of the city in the 1930s; the jazz clubs, the clothing, and the racial tension provide a rich context to the narrative. Jazz music is not just a background score in Kansas City; it becomes an atmospheric element, shaping the narrative flow. Not only does it set the pace of the story but also encapsulates the volatile emotions, trials, tribulations, and triumphs of its characters.

In Kansas City, the lines between the heroes, heroines, and villains blur as each character fights for survival in the ruthless world they inhabit. Their flawed personas and unpredictable choices add layers to the storyline, ensuring that every turn is unpredictable. Altman, known for his unconventional storytelling, skillfully sets the stage then steps back, leaving characters free to move within their universe grappling with their strengths, weaknesses, and moral compromises.

The performances are particularly noteworthy. Jennifer Jason Leigh's Blondie is equal parts fearless and desperate, her every move and decision driven by a wild love for her wayward husband. Contrary to the mousy role she’s usually boxed into, Leigh delivers a stormy and fiery performance. Harry Belafonte gives a stellar performance as the gangster Seldom, matching ice-cold pragmatism with a philosophical depth rarely seen in a crime figure. Lastly, Miranda Richardson delivers an unforgettable performance as Carolyn Stilton, a fragile woman trapped within societal expectations and personal addiction.

Kansas City is a noteworthy noir that stands out for its historical richness and layered narrative. While it is a crime story on the surface, it digs deeper into themes of power, loyalty, survival and the American dream. The film’s exploration of racial tension, tilted socio-political balance and the unquenchable thirst for power in the backdrop of jazz music are particularly enlightening and moving. Ultimately, Kansas City is a unique experience packed with powerful performances, a compelling storyline, an unforgettable musical score, and a strong sense of time and place. It offers audiences a richly textured image of a decisive period in American history. Soak it all in and savor this cinematic gem.

Kansas City is a Drama, Crime movie released in 1996. It has a runtime of 115. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.3. It also holds a MetaScore of 57.

How to Watch Kansas City

Where can I stream Kansas City movie online? Kansas City is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play. Some platforms allow you to rent Kansas City for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

6.3/10
57/100
Director
Robert Altman
Stars
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, Harry Belafonte, Steve Buscemi
Genres
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