Saturday, 17 October 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 31 - Mother & Daughter Double Bill

First up was Mommy Dearest Judy Garland in:

172 – The Wizard Of Oz – 3 stars
Has this lost some of the magic now I’ve grown older? Or was I never really that taken with Dorothy’s journey through the land of Oz?
Dorothy Gale is whisked off to the merry old land called Oz (finally got the third of Family Guy's three Wizard references in the show) by a twister or is she just knocked out and having a vivid dream. The script cleverly sets up clues to everything that happens in Oz within the first 15 minutes.
The songs are OK (they use the same tune for each of Dorothy's companions, how lazy!), The Munchkins are still bizarre, the modulation done to their voices in the songs is extremely irritating but the highlight is still The Wicked Witch Of The West, hamming it up something fierce with her flying monkeys (monkeys always make a film funnier).
I think one of the problems for me was that I had recently seen the stage show Wicked, chronicling the lives of the witches of Oz when growing up, and was working out how it all fit together with the film storyline (pretty well actually).
Out of all the versions of the story: this, The Wiz, Return to Oz, Wicked. Give me Wicked anyday, nothing beats Defying Gravity!

373 – Cabaret – 1 star
What is it about Nazis and musicals? They are everywhere: Sound Of Music, The Producers, and now Cabaret.
It was daughter Liza Minneli’s turn with a plot that clearly had a major influence on Moulin Rouge (writer moves to seedy part of Berlin and becomes infatuated with a singer in a club who romances rich men for the chance of fame), and the most prominent eyelashes since A Clockwork Orange, this had a promising set up but ended up leaving me cold and unmoved.
In an odd move for a musical, the characters don’t sing to each other, with the only songs coming from the Kit Kat Club (led by an exuberant Joel Grey as MC), and describing the mood and plot of the film.
In Adaptation, the screenwriter Robert McKee tells Kaufman that “your characters must change, and the change must come from them”, and the two main leads don’t. They end the film almost exactly the same as when they started, which annoyed me no end.
Life is a Cabaret old chum... not mine Liza darling!

1 comment:

  1. I'm shocked by your marking for Cabaret! I consider it one of the best film musicals I've seen. The use of the songs keeps the whole things grounded in reality rather than the usual musical suspension of disbelief thing.

    The acting is great, the tone is very dark for a musical, and the music itself is spot-on. It may be that I first watched it directly after watching The Sound of Music (as part of a "musicals with Nazis in them" in my own little film festival a few years ago). Considering that Cabaret was only made 7 years after The Sound of Music makes the latter seem even more twee.

    It's also perhaps worth noting that Cabaret is set about 7 years BEFORE the Sound of Music, so it makes the plight of the Von Trapps (oh no, we have to leave our ridiculously fancy house and all our jewels) slightly less awful when quite a lot of other people were suffering rather more due to the Nazis.

    Anyhoo, that aside, I'd suggest you watch Cabaret again. But perhaps not for a year or so... I guess you have other things to watch for now...