Bronze – a star very much in control of her own image – cpn

View of a statue of Colombian singer Shakira at the Malecon in Barranquilla, Colombia, on December 26, 2023. Colombian superstar Shakira's Caribbean home city of Barranquilla unveiled a 6.5-meter (21.3-foot) hip-swaying statue in her honor on Tuesday. (Photo by AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION /

In Hit Me With Your Best Shot we choose a favourite images from selected films. Click on the images herein to be taken to the corresponding article from the participants.Bronze – a star very much in control of her own image and its various crescendos into iconography

by Nathaniel R

Is there any generation that was so deprived of the movie musical as Generation X? The eighties and nineties were so bereft of live action musicals that whenever one did arrive it felt like both an anachronism and an event. Yentl (1983), as it turns out, still feels like both…

For her directorial debut Barbra Streisand opted to return to the genre that had catapulted her to superstardom. But rather than the glitzy showmanship and comic chaos associated with both the genre and her previous work, she delivered her quietest most earth-bound musical. Another choice that made Yentl a novelty item both then and now: it’s a musical in which only one character sings. Just about the only normal thing about Yentl at the time was its “gender-bending” (a popular term in the 80s) following quickly on the heels of two cross-dressing / Oscar-winning hits: Tootsie and Victor/Victoria.

Silver – Yentl is verklempt seeing Avigdor in the nude. With the gorgeous light and scenery it’s like she stumbled into a Titian or Manet.

Yentl based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s story “Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy” is about a Jewish woman chafing at the restrictions of her gender who wants more than marriage and cooking. She longs for a life of religion and study, a life designated only for men, and disguises herself as a man to get it. She becomes entangled with another student Avigdor (Mandy Patinkin’s breakout screen performance post his star-making Tony win in Evita on Broadway) and his fiancee Hadaas (Amy Irving).

One of Streisand’s indisputable strengths as an actress and movie star — though I wouldn’t rank Yentl as an acting achievement per se — was how much boundless inner life she could inject into romantic and sexual feeling. From Funny Girl (1968) through Yentl (1983) … hell, all the way to Little Fockers (2010) if you’d like her ‘Women in Love,’ to paraphrase her hit song, are always richly felt and the chemistry with male leads is impeccably lusty. One always senses great sex is about to happen off screen.

How perfect is the lighting on this kiss? It feels both spiritual and carnal simultaneously. David Watkins was a masterful DP

Gold Medal – Best Shot. Romantic ecstacy stopped short.

In Yentl’s story climax, if not its final scene, Yentl finally tells Avigdor the truth. Once the proud but rigid man has recovered from his shock at his study partner’s ruse and confession, he stares long and hard at this woman before him. The two share a very brief moment dreaming of a future together and a kiss with the requisite music swell. But the music cuts short as Avigdor remembers the third part of their love triangle and conjures her presence with her name “Hadass”. Avigdor and Yentl’s love will not be consummated.

This end-of-romance is bittersweet, recalling the unhappy but deeply satisfying endings of classics like The Way We Were and Funny Girl. Streisand’s love burns bright and deep but she walks away alone. The entire scene from confession through kiss to ‘break-up’ is sensationally lit by Oscar winning DP David Watkins (Out of Africa, Chariots of Fire, Moonstruck) who gives Streisand the full glamour treatment bathing the star in sensual light. Streisand has often been criticized for her “vanity” but who wouldn’t have more than their share of that with her gifts? Which is why I can’t resist this crestfallen close-up, as my “Best Shot”, and not just because it’s her strongest movie star and acting moment in the film. Though she’s crestfallen, she looks positively luminous. She’s spent the whole film ironically hiding in order to live openly. But Avigdor isn’t the sun. And Yentl will now be walking in her own light.

Despite big feelings and the half-comic romantic pretzelling of its love triangle, Yentl as a film is surprisingly small and straightforward. Yentl gets her wish of a life of study and then realizes she wants more. She deserves the best of both worlds, the body and the mind. Cue that impeccably soaring finale ballad “Piece of Sky” to express her now limitless desires. Disney Princesses could never.

For all of Yentl’s subtle links and recalls to Streisand’s other classics, Yentl proved a one-off, or if you’d prefer, a bookend. She never made another musical and it essentially closed her superstar actress chapter (1968-1983) in which most of her movies were hits and half of them were musicals. But it also opened another career chapter, albeit a brief and unprolific one, as a director (1983-1996). Streisand has never officially retired from the cinema but it sure feels that way given that she’s only appeared in three films in the past 25 years and directed none. Revisiting Yentl, in its warm earnestness, big feeling, and glorious optimism, reminds us that it’s our collective loss.

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