Cinema: Barbra, a One-Woman Hippodrome

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At least Kris Kristofferson, affable and shambling, his pupils spinning like pinwheels, has a good few minutes at the beginning of the movie. So does Director Pierson, as he captures the schizy, druggy, enclosed, exploding tension of rock superstardom. After that, Kristofferson—playing the Norman Maine surrogate, John Norman Howard—is required to freak for Esther and explain his love by comparing the experience to fishing for marlin. It is the rendering of the romance that lays the movie low for good. John Norman (both names, please) is suicidal apparently because, like the film makers, he can not make up his mind whether to be Jim Morrison or Bob Dylan. His audience, he says, keeps looking for answers. "But," he declares soberly, "I don't even know the questions."

Well, at least Esther and John Norman get to put up an adobe house in the Arizona desert together before the sad end. They do it with the aid of a tractor and a cement mixer, in about half the screen time it takes Streisand to get through her everlasting final song. It must be said that, for all concerned, the song is harder work.

Jay Cocks

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