|Director||Dwight Hemion Barbra Streisand|
|Writers||Alan Bergman (written by)
Marilyn Bergman (written by)
|Cast||Barbra Streisand Steve Susskind Judith Gordon Philip Austin|
|Runtime||USA:125 min, USA:102 min|
|Plot||... search for Barbra: The Concert on IMDb|
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|In the wake of MTV, disco, and the rise of reality-based television and 24/7 gossip, the notion of the pop diva has become commonplace, the title conferred on an increasingly broad (and dubious) array of ladies who sing. Consider this brilliant 1994 concert special, originally aired on cable, both as a warning about the debasement of the term, and as a primer on how a true pop diva comports herself. Acting as producer and director, and weaving her considerable gifts as an actress through a sumptuous bouquet of wonderful songs, Barbra Streisand creates a beautifully structured two-act review that works on multiple levels.|
As autobiography, Barbra--The Concert shuttles adroitly between her plain Brooklyn origins and plush contemporary station as a Hollywood hyphenate. Using archival stills and film footage, as well as some deft film clips (such as a brief but disarming "duet" with Marlon Brando that reconstructs her "life-altering" teen crush on the actor) and witty sessions with an unseen therapist, Streisand manages to spoof her own image and tweak her supposed glamour, yet also celebrate her own persistent ambition and artistic achievement. Crucial to this self-analysis is a savvy choice of superb songs conspicuously skewed to Broadway musicals, from which she's chosen pieces that mirror her own beliefs and experiences. In the process, she makes such self-referential tactics seem revelatory instead of merely vain, succeeding in balancing romantic optimism, feminist self-determination, and flickers of amused detachment.
Spectacle and intimacy are likewise entwined to striking effect. A lavish stage set suggesting an oversized living room and the lush musical coloration of a full orchestra evoke great scale, yet the star meets her audience alone, a hostess ready to reminisce, meditate, or nakedly emote. Her hits are there, of course, but it's the thematic cohesion and collective emotional power that make Streisand's one-woman show a tour de force. Its five Emmy Awards are merely deserved confirmation that this is a rare entertainment indeed. --Sam Sutherland
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