Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movie review: Cabaret

I'd avoided this movie, kept putting it off and putting it off. For one thing, it stars Liza Minelli, which is not a draw for me. For another, a lot of singing and dancing didn't really appeal to me.

It wasn't until I saw the 10th anniversary AFI 100 years, 100 movies that I realized there was more to the story.

Inside the Kit Kat Club in 1931 Berlin, it's all divine decadence. The MC, played to really creepy perfection by Joel Gray, introduces us to a world where "everything is beautiful." Beautiful as in a grotesque caricature of plastic, contorted and profane dancing girls. The only one who looks anything near normal is Sally Bowles (Minelli).

As obscene as things are inside the Kit Kat club, they're worse on the outside. The Nazis are moving from a fringe political group to a major power. The songs in the cabaret tend to illustrate and punctuate what's going on in the outside world. It reflects a dark world through a cracked mirror.

Only Sally seems immune, flitting through her hedonistic life without concern for Nazis or the young man who loves her (played by the very charming Michael York) or the man who uses her, or anything at all, really. She's a sparkling character who very rarely shows the real emotions going on beneath the party-girl veneer.

This is definitely worth a watch, for the experience.

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