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Color Me Barbra (1966)
This is Barbra Streisand's second CBS television special, released in 1966. This show was revolutionary at that time, as it was in color.
The program, as seen on DVD (or on Netflix), is introduced by an older Streisand. It is divided into three parts. The first part is shot inside the Philadelphia Art Museum. Beautiful art valorized by a brilliant directing style. The camera follows Streisand as she admires the surrounding paintings and sculptures, and sometimes she becomes a painting and sings a song for the viewer. Brilliant.
The costumes, jewelry and make-up worn by Streisand are as beautiful as the art itself.
The second part is more comedic. Streisand talks a bit about animals, then takes the viewer on a journey to a *pink* circus. In the company of animals like penguins, pigs, a horse, and a tiger, she sings bits from 14 songs.
In the third part, Streisand, elegant as always, sings five more songs at the bottom of a long, wide staircase that seems to stretch directly from Heaven.
The music is fantastic. A studio album (Streisand's seventh) was issued in 1966. It reached number 3 in the US albums chart and was certified Gold by the RIAA. The track list for the CD is slightly different. Here are the songs sung in the show: "Draw Me a Circle" "Yesterdays" "One Kiss" "The Minute Waltz" "Gotta Move" "Non c'est Rien" "Where or When" "Pets" "Animal Crackers in My Soup" "Funny Face" "The Face" "They Didn't Believe Me" "Were Thine That Special Face" "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" "Let's Face the Music and Dance" "Sam, You Made The Pants Too Long" "What's New Pussycat?" "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" "Small World" "Try to Remember" "Spring Again" "I Stayed Too Long at the Fair" "Look at That Face" "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" "It Had To Be You" "C'est si bon" "Where Am I Going?" "Starting Here, Starting Now"
I had never heard these songs before. I like them all, but my absolute favorites are "Draw Me a Circle", "Gotta Move", and "Non c'est Rien".
Zig & Sharko (2010)
This cartoon makes me laugh so hard!
So far, this is one of the best Xilam productions, in my opinion. I was amazed to discover it's a French cartoon. I'm not too fond of French productions, but "Zig & Sharko" is an exception. I can easily "get" this type of humor (slapstick), even if I'm used to American and British comedies.
The inventiveness of the team working on this cartoon is so impressive: they always come up with incredible ideas. In addition, I really like this type of animation, it's more similar to what I was used to in my childhood (e.g. Wile E. Coyote). I love the visuals, the sound effects, the narration and directing style.
Two seasons of "Zig & Sharko" have been released, each season consisting of 26 episodes. Due to the nature of the stories, I would recommend it to kids ages 7+.
To Be A Child Again...
Great cartoon for preschoolers. If I were three years old, this is what I would want to watch all the time.
It's fun, educational, and the narrating voice for the English version is lent by Stephen Fry. It doesn't get any better than this!
Two series have been made, each consisting of 52 episodes. An additional season, called "Let's Go Pocoyo!", was created to teach English to Spanish kids. Three more seasons were released between 2016 and 2018. Each episode is 7 minutes long.
I like "Pocoyo" for its original format: made entirely using 3D technology, the background is white, and the narrator interacts with Pocoyo and the viewers. Each story teaches a word or value. The sound effects are very funny and the stories are smart and fresh.
Pocoyo's channel on YouTube is very popular. It offers a wide variety of videos in no less than 13 languages. A fun way for your kid to learn new languages!
A Happening in Central Park (1968)
This concert took place in Central Park (New York) in June 1967. Filmed in color.
The DVD edition is introduced by an older Barbra Streisand, who fills us in on the details of its production.
Streisand managed to gather 135,000 people for this concert. No accidents occurred, and the weather was clement.
Always gracious and funny, Streisand sang the following songs: "The Nearness Of You" "Down With Love" "Love Is Like A New Born Child" "Cry Me A River" "Folk Monologue/Value" "Can See It" "The Sound Of Music" "Mississippi Mud" "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" "Love Is Bore" "He Touched Me" "English Folk Song" "I'm All Smiles" "Marty The Martian" "Natural Sounds" "Second Hand Rose" "People" "Silent Night (Sleep In Heavenly Peace)" "Happy Days Are Here Again"
An album, entitled "A Happening In Central Park", was released the following year. It is the first live album by Barbra Streisand.
My Name Is Barbra (1965)
Perhaps it's because I belong to another generation, or perhaps it's just my not bearing black and white video (but I find it unlikely because I love old movies from the 30's). I loved "Color Me Barbra" (1966) for its original directing style and scenography, and I have to say that "My Name Is Barbra" disappointed me. I thought I was going to view a different show. Perhaps more money was available the following year, hence the huge difference between the two television specials.
If you are going to view "My Name Is Barbra" for the first time, expect to attend a concert.
Barbra Streisand is phenomenal, as always. She is a great entertainer with a lovely sense of humor.
An album was released the same year this television special aired (1965); it was certified gold and peaked at #2 on the US charts.
Length: 60min (55min Netflix)
This is an award-winning live television special from 1973. Barbra Streisand sings with music from several different countries, including India, Africa, Japan, and Germany. It also features a duet with Ray Charles.
Entertaining show. The musics, the scenography, and the directing style are very enjoyable. It has its funny moments, too.
An album (Streisand's fourteenth) was released the same year, but it wasn't very successful.
Barbra: The Concert (1995)
This concert is divided into two parts. At the beginning of each part, fans from the US (part 1) and the UK (part 2) are interviewed. Their clothes are so 90's, it's a dive into the past.
Many celebrities attended the concert. Some back stage shots are included, as well.
The orchestra was conducted by Marvin Hamlisch. The concert was interspersed with excerpts from Barbra Streisand's movies, as well as intimate details about her life.
A live album, entitled "The Concert", was released following the tour, in September 1994, through Columbia Records.
Track Listing: Act I "Overture" "As If We Never Said Goodbye" Opening Remarks "I'm Still Here/Everybody Says Don't/Don't Rain on My Parade" "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" "I'll Know" (with Marlon Brando) "People" "Lover Man" Therapist Dialogue #1 "Will He Like Me?" Therapist Dialogue #2 "He Touched Me" "Evergreen" Therapist Dialogue #3 "The Man That Got Away" "On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)"
Act II "Entr'acte" "The Way We Were" "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" "Lazy Afternoon" Disney Medley: "Once Upon a Dream/When You Wish Upon a Star/Someday My Prince Will Come" "Not While I'm Around" "Ordinary Miracles" Yentl Medley: "Where Is It Written/Papa, Can You Hear Me/Will Someone Ever Look at Me That Way/A Piece of Sky" "Happy Days Are Here Again" "My Man" "For All We Know" "Somewhere"
To Be Frank, Sinatra at 100 (2015)
Good for new fans.
The story of Frank Sinatra through the decades, from the 30's all the way to the 90's.
Quite an accurate (but not exhaustive) documentary that features pictures, video and audio footage, interviews with friends, fans and music celebrities.
Historical information is also provided. I would have avoided it in order to add more information about Sinatra.
In addition, I would have loved to hear more about his professional career, I'm not interested in gossip.
I have issues with the format of this documentary: the interviews can be viewed in full screen mode, while the video footage is displayed within an itsy-bitsy balloon in the middle of the screen against a black background filled with specks of dust. Why?
The editing is good enough, but not excellent.
A good start for new fans.
Length: 1hr 21min
Beautiful portrait of John Coltrane.
Written and directed by John Scheinfeld and released in 2017, this documentary describes Coltrane's life from childhood until his premature death, at age 40. It also deals with Trane's heroin and alcohol addictions, and how he rebounded by sheer willpower. His life was spared and his music improved.
The documentary features many interviews of friends, fans and family members. Wonderful pictures and exclusive footage are shown. Denzel Washington lends his voice reading excerpts from interviews.
Jazz fans will enjoy this documentary, very informative.
Length: 1hr 39min
A Message of Peace.
Amazing movie. Many sci-fi movies featuring flying saucers or aliens were released in the 50's, but "The Day the Earth Stood Still" stands out.
First of all, the message: a war-torn Earth is beginning to experiment with atomic power, and someone, somewhere, has noticed. Atomic power can be used for good, like interstellar transportation, or for evil purposes, like the total annihilation of an enemy. Humans are seen as immature children toying with a dangerous source of energy that could potentially threaten other planets. That's the reason Klaatu and Gort are sent to Earth. The message is simple: "grow up or you will be destroyed". It takes Klaatu the duration of the entire movie to relay his message. In the meantime, he is interrogated, segregated, and hunted down. Human aggressiveness is shown in all its irritating connotations, from irrational fear to plain armed hostility. The anxiety and dread of the 50's are palpable in this movie. Fear of the stranger, of whomever may be different, and of course, the Cold War is what this is all about.
There are references to World War II, also. The United States have paid a high price because of their intervention in the war. This movie was intended as a wake-up call to the leaders of that time, I suppose.
This is my first Robert Wise movie. Michael Rennie is superb in the role of Klaatu, I liked the chemistry he had with Patricia Neal. This movie shines. It's fast and lively. I would watch it a dozen times over.
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
This is one of the best Disney movies I've ever seen, I would never trade it for today's stuff (not even Disney's version of "Star Wars").
Many wonderful childhood memories are linked to "Flight of the Navigator", I think it was my first movie ever. Great way to get acquainted with American popular culture, by the way (I'm from Italy).
The plot is very original and well woven, both children and grown ups will be entertained. That was the time when NASA still rocked the house, I wanted that cap so badly... The special effects are believable, the spaceship looks real. I still find myself wondering how they pulled it off. It was 1986, after all. Music score by Alan Silvestri: I still listen to it today and it's as if time had never passed.
I'm thankful this title is available on DVD. A little gem, recommended.
This is a classic! The dialogues are not the best, the cinematography is a bit boring and the overall rhythm of the movie is way too slow for today's youngsters, but the technology used was the state of the art back in the day when the movie was filmed.
Being a movie released in 1982, the special effects are rudimentary, at times confusing, and somewhat annoying (the colors are too bright), but computer and video game geeks like myself will surely love this movie.
The plot is simple as compared to other movies of that era (like "Star Wars"), but the concept behind computer stuff is quite complex. And visionary, I might add.
I love the song played in the closing credits: "Only Solutions", by Journey. Another song by Journey ("Separate Ways") is featured in "Tron: Legacy", thus giving an idea of continuity.
Tron is a must-see for every science fiction fan. Kudos to Steven Lisberger for envisioning a computerized world that still makes us dream.
Into the Wild (2007)
Touching portrait of Christopher Johnson McCandless, portrayed starting from college graduation until his tragic death in Alaska.
I think all of us have heard the "call of the wild", at some point in life (especially in our 20s). How do you stay alive in an alienating world filled with greed and hypocrisy? The reality of things can be overwhelming, at times. The movie is the celebration of a free spirit who, burdened by the weight of the world and by his own personal issues, decides to travel in order to escape, or to find himself.
The cinematography is spectacular, highlighting the natural beauties of North America. Soundtrack by Eddie Vedder: one to remember. I suggest reading the book, too.
A generous soul, Chris McCandless (also known as "Alexander Supertramp") was lost too soon. I would have imagined him becoming a great humanitarian and making a difference. He will be remembered for the beauty of his ideas. Rest In Peace, Chris.
The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
This is one of my favorite romantic comedies. It's the story of Gregory and Rose, played by Jeff Bridges and Barbra Streisand.
The actors are superb: I admired Jeff Bridges in "Tron" and "Tron: Legacy", besides this movie. Talented actor, love his voice.
Barbra Streisand is divine, playing the role of the ugly duckling first, then transforming into a beautiful swan.
The whole cast is brilliant.
Each of us ladies has felt like Rose, at some point, but unlike most of us, Rose finds her Prince Charming... Thanks to an ad. Gregory is looking for brains, while Rose is looking for anybody who could save her from her toxic relationship with her obnoxious mother (played by a fantastic Lauren Bacall). In the midst of it all, Rose's sister, Claire, and her failed marriage with Alex, Rose's former romantic interest.
The plot is intricate enough to keep the viewers glued to their seats for two hours and six minutes. The ending is really sweet.
The music is lovely. The final song is sung by Barbra Streisand herself dueting with Bryan Adams.
Directed by Barbra Streisand! I spotted a few mistakes: an intruder in a shot and a few continuity mistakes, hence the 8/10 stars... But hey, give her a break!
"The Mirror Has Two Faces" is the remake of André Cayatte's "Le miroir a deux faces" (1958). This movie gave me many laughs. Recommended.
Thank you Netflix for allowing me to watch it!