Berlin, 1931. Liza Minnelli is a performer with several other near-transvestites in the filthy Kit Kat Klub. English teacher Michael York rents a room at the same house as Minnelli, and the two apparently hit it off, but the actors have such appalling chemistry its hard to tell. Minnelli’s Sally Bowles is amorous and self important, discussing only herself and is fully aware of the state her body is supposedly able to drive men to (though I don’t see it myself), whilst York is either dry or drunk, there is no middle ground. There are failed attempts to mine humour and songs about a man sleeping with two women and having a relationship with a gorilla, but the only song that’s any good is the closing Cabaret.
Choose life 3/10
Anyone seeking a straightforward musical, like Grease or Chicago, as was expected by this reviewer, would do well to seek elsewhere. A semi-autobiographical tale from director/writer/choreographer Bob Fosse, this shows musical director/writer/choreographer/everything else Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) as he discusses his life with angel of death Jessica Lange. There are occasional songs and dance numbers, and parts of his life are exaggerated and dramatised on stage. To use the description given to one of Gideon’s own performances (a very surprising sequence referred to as Erotic-Air), this film is “interesting, very interesting…unusual, very unusual.” It is difficult to decipher which parts are really from Gideon’s life and which are distorted and rewritten via his own limitless, unburdened imagination, from his own growing up in a burlesque house, being teased by barely clad women from an early age, to becoming a pill-popping, heavy smoking, heavy drinking perfectionist self-proclaimed liar who is “generous with his cock,” through to ruthlessly directing himself on his death bed. This ambitious, and possibly achieves what it set out to do, yet you leave the film unsatisfied, unsure of what you’ve seen and what to make of it.
Choose life 4/10