Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter! Don't rain on Flickgrrl's parade, haters. QFest, the rechristened Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, is celebrating all things Streisand over the coming week. Can you say divacious?
Barbrapalooza kicks off Saturday evening July 10 at the Gershman Y with a with a screening of the (and Oscar-winning)Funny Girl (1968), her screen debut as vaudevillian Fanny Brice, the singer/comic who laughs to keep from crying. Wednesday, July 14 will be a night of Barbra Karaoke at Voyeur (admit it, you know those "misty, water-colored memory" lyrics). Thursday July 15 impressionist Steven Brinberg will bring his Simply Barbra show to the Arts Bank.
Flickgrrl wishes Qfest had programmed more Barbra films, showcasing her work as a comedienne, singer and director. The Owl and the Pussycat (1971), where she plays a ditzy hooker who hooks up with professor George Segal, is quite nice. Nicer still, What's Up, Doc? (1972), a remake of Bringing Up Baby, as a free spirit who attracts geologist Ryan O' Neal. In her comedies, she purrs her dialogue like an alley cat rubbing up against the leg of a potential conquest. The Way We Were (1973) and A Star is Born (1976), opposites-attract melodramas, have their adherents although Flickgrrl is not among them. She prefers the films Streisand both directed and starred, Yentl (1983) and Prince of Tides (1991), riveting studies of misfits who stop trying to fit in and simply accept themselves, which is the theme of almost every Barbra film. (And perhaps the reason that from the first the gay community has been so supportive of her.)
Streisand is shockingly underrated as an actress and a filmmaker. As a performer, she has a mockingbird presence onscreen, merry and wry, and also an intensity that brings the audience into her character's anxiety. As a director, she elicited performances of considerable depth from Mandy Patinkin (Yentl), Nick Nolte (Tides) and Lauren Bacall (The Mirror Has Two Faces). Flickgrrl never understood why Streisand is one of those polarizing figures -- like John Wayne and Spike Lee -- that people love to hate or hate to love. Do you?