For Reel

Cabaret (1972)
August 27, 2012, 6:28 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Bob Fosse

Simplistic and messy, Cabaret is nonetheless one of the great pleasures of 1970s American cinema, featuring two impossibly charismatic performances and a haunting sequence in which, at a beer garden, a boy sings a song that only gradually reveals itself to be about the National Socialist Party. Michael York stars as a reserved Englishman who moves into the boarding house of an American artist in 1931 Berlin. She is played by Liza Minnelli in the role of a prototypical manic pixie dream girl – rife with appealing quirks, but clearly mentally unstable and nauseatingly self-involved. The rise of Nazism concurs with a frivolous ménage à trois, as if to intentionally undermine the contained, interpersonal relationship that clearly matters little in the dawn of the second World War. While Minnelli and York pay little mind to the state of the country, Joel Grey’s flamboyant emcee is politically-conscious, casually mocking the Nazis in an early number. At the end of the film, when the Nazis have finally taken seats in his cabaret – a location which serves as the last joyous monument of hope and freedom in the city – his energy reeks more of desperation, as if in performing he means to construct a wall between he and those who pose a threat to the continued happiness of he and his audience.

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