Re: REDS - Beautifully written and, I agree with you. Not 100% aligned with you on CABARET but you make good points. It's never been a favorite of mine but then again, the only "musical" I adore is WEST SIDE STORY.To each their own,,,as someone here said.
But I think it's necessary to look at source material in a film and see whether it's faithful. From that perspective, "Dr. Zhivago" is a failure. However, I like it anyway, which is completely different. But even as a Lean film, it's weak. Basically, it's a bunch of pretty pictures set to music, and the most compelling, the snowscapes, Lean had nothing to do with, as those images were photographed and chosen by Nick Roeg.
It so happens that I saw "Cabaret" on Broadway and the whole point was that Sally Bowles can't sing. So casting Liza Minnelli in that role made no sense. It's a star vehicle that glamorizes the Nazis, and destroys the whole point of the show. Now I love Liza, and it's perfectly ok to like her singing those songs so memorably, but it makes her character and the entire narrative meaningless and empty. So one can like, even love the film for Liza and the inappropriate glamor Fosse infuses into a period that was savage and horrendous, but at the same time, one can also be objective about whether or not the film is successful in terms of the story and characters and what it's trying to show. And Fosse's film is all about showmanship and pretty photography at the expense of meaning and character.
As far as preferring a minor Lean to a major Beatty, that's perfectly ok. But then, sound and image aren't merely abstract, but have meaning. And while "Dr. Zhivago" may be perfect, it imparts almost nothing to me of what it might have been like to live though the Russian Revolution; while "Reds", which might be imperfect, does. It expresses both a sense of history as well as individual consciousness merging, which transcends sound and image, but somehow Beatty and his collaborators, for this particular viewer, pulled it off.