Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sparkle

Posted on Thu, Jan 18, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Sparkle
Studio: Warner Home Video
WorkNameSort: Sparkle
It's a shame that it took the release of the Dreamgirls movie to finally get this 1976 soul musical onto DVD. The packaging ' including the faux-Supremes pictures and the sticker proclaiming 'Before there was Dreamgirls, there was Sparkleâ?� ' wants to make sure you make the connection. Unfortunately, the similarities between the two are tenuous and superficial. Sparkle has a richer and more engaging story, and the music-biz darkness that Dreamgirls only hints at is fully ' if melodramatically ' engaged. Philip Michael Thomas and Irene Cara are decent actors, but the corny dialogue plainly reveals their shortcomings. Still, Sparkle ultimately aims to be a gritty and realistic piece of work, not simply a musically strong bit of nostalgia. The tight focus is on Harlem singer Sparkle Williams and her rise in the '50s from being a wide-eyed teenager in a group with her sisters to being a star. Well, not really a star; the film ends with her career pinnacle ' a gig opening for Ray Charles. Yet that small success, after a series of personal disasters and an injection of mob-money help ' is enough to validate the journey that the film follows. The music by Curtis Mayfield still stands up (duh), and this 'deluxeâ?� DVD presentation includes a mini-soundtrack CD of the movie's songs performed by Aretha Franklin (the actors sing the versions in the movie), including the No. 1 single 'Something He Can Feel.â?�

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