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How to Enjoy Cabaret The Movie in its Original Language with Subtitles

This film is set in Belin beginning in 1931. Despite the rapid rise of Fascism, you would never know it inside the bawdy cabaret where much of the movie is set. Here, it is all laughter and gaiety--no sign of the coming war. The apparent stars of this show are Joel Grey (a master of ceremonies who has no other role in the film) and Liza Minelli (an incredibly screwed up American singer and dancer). The utter banality of the cabaret as well as Liza's personal life are a deliberate counter-point to the seriousness of the day. Despite antisemitism running amok, Liza is oblivious to it all--living her hollow and self-indulgent life. How she screws it up and the bizarre relationships she has are makes up about half the film and the rest consists of song and dance numbers. In many ways, it's like two totally separate films fused together.Surprisingly, I found I enjoyed the non-musical portion much more. Liza plays a fascinating character--a perfect film example of a borderline personality. This personality disorder is typified by love-hate relationships, self-absorption, self-destructive behaviors, magical thinking and an inability to accept that they are not the center of the universe. It's obvious that the writers had worked with some mental health professionals to nail this so well. While not fun to watch (after all, who wants to watch a self-absorbed idiot?), it was fascinating. Some of Liza's odd and self-absorbed behaviors included sexual relationships with gay and bisexual men which are destined to fail, extreme promiscuity, alcohol abuse, shallowness and magical thinking. Sadly, in some ways this sounds a bit like Ms. Minelli's real life, though I do wish her the best in her recovery.As for the rest of the cast, they were mostly there for Minelli's character to play off of. Yes, Michael York and others are there, but most of the reason seems to be to provide texture to Minelli's life as well as to provide SOME semblance of normalcy. They see that Germany is slowly descending to Hell, but Liza's character is simply oblivious.CABARET is a very good film, that I won't argue. But for the film to have garnered eight Oscars--that I find very hard to understand. Now it's true that many of these were for musical or set design awards, but still the film doesn't seem that exceptional. Perhaps I am just missing something or perhaps it's because I've seen other films about the Nazi period in Germany that just seemed better. Or, perhaps it's because I preferred the parts of the film where they were NOT singing--for as a musical, it's songs aren't all that memorable. Aside from the rather annoying "Money Makes the World Go Around" and "Cabaret", most people would have a hard time remembering the songs that play such a prominent role in the film.Also, while I do agree that Minelli deserved the Oscar for her demanding performance, I was very surprised to see Joel Grey get one as well. Yes, he did also work hard, but he really had no lines at all in the film--everything he did was singing and dancing and clowning around on stage. With no life beyond the stage, it's very surprising that he won. I assume that part of this was because with three nominees for Best Supporting Actor from THE GODFATHER, the three actors split their votes--allowing the unusual performance by Grey to grab the trophy. I know Grey can act, as he's been amazing in other roles, but here he just sings, dances and acts bizarre---an odd choice for the award.Overall, while this was a very interesting film, I didn't particularly enjoy it. I know MANY disagree with me and they may be right, but given my tastes I just didn't care for the film. In fact, had the film not improved in the second half, I probably wouldn't have finished watching.A final note to parents. This is a VERY adult film with lots of sexual content and frank discussions about homosexuality and abortion. Think twice before showing it to the kids!

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TheCanadian Review of American Studies, Volume 10, Number l, Spring, 1979 TheAge Demanded an Image: TheGangster as American JackShadoian. Dreams and Dead Ends: The American Gangster/ CnmtFilm. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1977. 366 pp. Daniel Golden Popular arts have a way of taking the pulse of a nation-witness the bawdy, participatory English music-hall tradition, the anguished recitatilie of the isolated French chanteuse, the dizzying alterations of lyricism and violence in the Kabuki, the decadent eroticism of the German cabaret. And, in America, the genre movie has, for over fifty years, documented a national obsessionin the celebration of fierce individualism. The dogged persistence of aself-made man, who defeats or goes down fighting against social constraint, the "system," is seen almost everywhere-in war films, westerns, gangster movies, even musicals. Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt in From Here to Eternityinsists at the cost of his own life that "if a man don't go his own way, he's nothing"; John Wayne as the Ringo Kid in Stagecoach is compelled to avengeblood murder and is then permitted to escape across the border, "safe from the blessings of civilization," according to Doc Boone; and in Little Caesar,the narrative unfolds only when Caesar Enrico Bandello seizes the day, boldly heading "back East, where things break big." The man of action is the dynamic center and source of the popularity of so manyAmerican genre films. The audience shares his urge to move, his private aspirations and yearnings. And no creature of American popular culture is more ambiguously enticing than the gangster. He has recently and quite logicallycome to supplant the western hero, for the spiritual geography has changed, the forbidding beauty of Monument Valley now displaced by the concrete overpasses and polyvinyl imagination of latter-day L.A. As Jack 72 Daniel Golden Shadoian's study, Dreams and Dead Ends: The American Gangster/ Crime Film, amply demonstrates, the gangster enacts the paradoxical dream so central to American life and letters: the pursuit of self-defining autonomy ina conformist mass culture. This confrontational dream is a national abstraction , and perhaps only Walt Whitman fully believed in the possibility of reconciling the individual and society. Though we seek "ensemble," a community based on equality and love, the grey bard himself also insists in Democratic Vistas on maintaining the "centripetal isolation" of a human being in himself, in identity, in personalism. Jack Shadoian avers that the gangster is central to a national imagination that, if not overtly hostile to, is decidely ambivalent about the growing restrictions of urban, collectivized society. Out of our misgivings, and out of the troubled matrix of the Depression, springs the modern oppositional man, the gangster. Some years ago, Robert Wars how gave us a seminal vision ofthe gangster as "tragic hero," with whom we identify but whom we must ultimately reject as he falls from momentary grandeur and the lights comeup in the theater. 1 Shadoian suggests that the rejection is necessarily incomplete, that "the gangster's continued popularity and his transformation from afigure reasonably close to historical actuality to a near-mythic condensation of forces is a sign of an entrenched moral/ ethical confusion of the culture" {p.6). Dreams and Dead Ends traces this confusion, making for valuable social and cinematic history, as it returns often to the interstices in gangster filmsof , crime and business. Both Andrew Carnegie and Vito Corleone, the Godfather, ! built empires on ruthless ambition, and, whether real or fictional, each figureI evokes admiration and envy, distrust and fear in the popular audience.I Though there is not a consistent polemical strand running through the book, Shadoian's Introduction does posit that "crime films are often disguised' parables of social mobility as a punishable deviation from one's assigned place," and these films underscore the covert if muddled class conflict that lies beneath the surface of so many American movies (p. 6). Thus the gangster can become a "monstrous emblem of the capitalist," and his downfall, imprisonment or death derive not only from his moral violations (he is, after all, a killer of men), but from his indiscretion of aspiring to ascend1 from his caste. These assertions appear as part of seven large...

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