Berlin 1930, a destroyed economy, rampant unemployment, and political havoc. Into this chaos, enter an American cabaret dancer, a rich German politician, a young Jewish man struggling with his identity, a British teacher, and the all-knowing, all-seeing Master of Ceremonies.
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The end scene where it pans right into the fun house mirror, the distorted reflection of the audience and a man in a Nazi uniform is such a perfect metaphor that summarizes what this film tries to convey.
Though my favorite Fosse is "All That Jazz", I really love this one too. Joel Grey will be forever impressed upon my psyche, and anyone who knows Liza Minelli merely as DeNiro's co-star in "New York, New York" and Michael York as Tybalt or Basil from "Austin Powers", their performances in this should definitely broaden your horizons.
One of these movies that made me understand, when I was a teenager, that cinema could be more than pure saturday evening entertainment. Bob Fosse's choreography manages to re-create the so special atmosphere of the early 30's Berlin. Masterpiece.
So audacious and strange that I'm amazed that this is considered a mainstream film. Fosse turns the musical on its head, utilizing its songs as a tool of foreboding and dread. By looking at the rise of the Nazi's out of the corner of one's eye instead of directly on, history is given a sense of immediacy.
Splendid musical numbers, beautifully made and acted, but the film falters in the story department when it expects me to see some connection between the ever-so-70s-decadent game of musical beds in the foreground and the rise of the Nazis in the background.
The first sequence with Joel Grey was good, but not what you'd expect they start with, especially with editing that's too slow. But afterwards, the editing picks up and is really incredible. York's performance, for me, was often forced, and he's probably the weakest of the leads. Liza is Liza, and that could be a bad sometimes, but here she's good. Some of the songs, however, were a little boring. They feel dated.
Cabaret is campy, grotesque fun that unfortunately wears out its welcome about halfway through -- roughly the same time that Liza Minnelli's performance gets old. The musical numbers are fun and Bob Fosse's direction is good but beyond the Nazi subplot I wasn't all that interested. Entertaining, but seriously overrrated.