Fox Lorber presents
The Directors: Barbra Streisand (2000)
" ...at the time, remember, it was harder for women to get to direct movies. And I felt like I was really reponsible—if this film was a flop, a lot more women couldn't get jobs directing. I was shocked and very hurt by what I thought was very... silly criticism... talking about my clothes or something like that. I must say I was kind of devastated by it, and I thought, 'I don't want to do this anymore.'"- Barbra Streisand, discussing her reaction to criticism of Yentl by women in the press
Stars: Barbra Streisand
Other Stars: Mimi Rogers, Brenda Vaccaro, Nick Nolte, Lauren Bacall, Marvin Hamlisch, Mandy Patinkin, Amy Irving, Pierce Brosnan
Director: Robert J. Emery
MPAA Rating: GRun Time: 00h:58m:25s
Release Date: 2000-09-12
DVD ReviewThis entry in the AFI series The Directors focuses on Über-woman Barbra Streisand—the only woman included thus far. She has been viewed as both priestess and pariah, but her wide-ranging accomplishments have earned respect across the entire entertainment industry: she's won at least one Oscar®, Emmy, Grammy, Tony, Peabody; countless lesser-known awards, and 7 Golden Globes—more than any other artist. And as if this portfolio wasn't impressive enough, earlier this year she was presented with the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.
Like the rest of this series, this documentary focuses on Streisand the director, through narrative biographical information and images, interviews, film clips and Streisand herself, discussing her work. Although she has only directed 3 films to date—Yentl, The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces—the power and impact she has created is worth taking a deeper look. Luckily, as with other, less prolific directors in this series like Terry Gilliam, we have an opportunity to spend more time with the intricacies of her films in this feature's short running time.
Interviews include Mimi Rogers, Brenda Vaccaro, Nick Nolte, Lauren Bacall, Mandy Patinkin, Amy Irving, and Pierce Brosnan. It is obvious that the people she works with have a great affection and admiration for her; it is Barbra who portrays herself as a perfectionist. But in the end, her impeccable eye and meticulous sensibility pays off in the brilliant manifestation of her vision—she literally understands her craft inside and out, and has a respect for her actors that inspires them to reach for that "thing" she wants. It is Marvin Hamlisch, who has worked with Streisand the actor/singer/composer/director who holds her in highest regard and conveys his sense of awe to us when he uses the words "supreme talent."
Discussions of Yentl take up the first half of this documentary, with the remaining time split between The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces. Barbra discusses directing from the minutiae of lighting and costuming to the larger picture of a woman wanting to be taken seriously in Hollywood as a director—and eventually succeeding. She manages to voice this latter frustration through her character, Yentl, in her acclaimed debut:
Bookseller: Sacred books are for men.
Bookseller: It's a law, that's why.
Yentl: Where is it written?
Bookseller: Never mind where—It's a law!
Yentl: Well, if it's a law it must be written somewhere - maybe in this [book], I'll take it.
Bookseller: Miss, do me a favor, do yourself a favor, buy yourself a nice picture book. Girls like picture books.
Yentl: What if I told you it was for my father?
Bookseller: Why didn't you say? Fifteen kopeks. And if you want to know where THAT'S written, it's in the front cover.
-from a scene in Yentl with Jack Lynn
This documentary makes it is difficult to deny that her work conveys the power of her humor, passion and broad experience to the screen.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B+
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Image Transfer Review: Originally created on video for television, the interview segments are clean and commensurate. Color ranges appear natural and Ms. Streisand's fleshtone seems accurate. Contrast and black levels are good.
The film clips are shown full frame, a complaint often seen with this series. Many are grainy and soft, but it is difficult to point to the transfer as the culprit, as this director has a tendency towards soft, diffused light.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Winstar presents The Directors: Barbra Streisand with a Dolby Digital Stereo audio track which is more than sufficient for the content. Interview and most of the film audio is extremely clear mono or simple, unassuming stereo.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
- Filmography and Awards
- DVD Production Credits
- DVD-ROM Instructions to link to DVD Newsletter
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsBarbra Streisand is a woman with chutzpah who is often chastised and maligned as women of vision and purpose often are. This documentary is recommended for her fans, and those who have dismissed this autodidactic talent out-of-hand, who might want to take a closer look.
debi lee mandel 2000-09-26