Skip to main content

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper Shine in "A Star is Born": Review

See the source image

Film Review: A Star is Born

This is what Hollywood does best. A timeless story told with big emotions and big drama. Bradley Cooper's new version of A Star is Born is everything I hoped it would be. It is, without question, one of the very best movies of the year.

The original 1937 version starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and was previously remade in 1954 starring Judy Garland and James Mason, and again in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. The 2018 version has Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, who also directs. The story is that a star battling alcoholism meets a young ingenue and their romance develops as her star rises and his star fades. The version this one shares the most DNA with is '76 (though this one is much better), as it retains that movie's innovation of switching the setting to the music industry rather than the movie industry. It also directly lifts the scene from '76 where the female character puts makeup on the male character while in the bathtub. 

Something that immediately sets Cooper's interpretation apart from all the others is that this is the first time I cared more about the male character than the female character. The script makes Cooper's character, here an aging country singer named Jackson Maine, more sympathetic than the characters played by March, Mason, and Kristofferson. Cooper's performance, especially in the scenes that address his addiction, is probably the best work of his career.

As for Lady Gaga, her acting is impressive. Scenes where her character, named Ally in this version, has to make decisions, especially early on in the film, are some of the best ones because you can see the impact of her decisions weighing on her. She also has an incredible voice, but this we already knew.

The music in the film is all good, except for the song that's intentionally bad. I predict the soundtrack will be a big hit. But does Gaga have a song worthy of becoming as associated with her as "The Man that Got Away" and "Evergreen" are with Garland and Streisand? The closest she gets to that would be "I'll Never Love Again", which is really powerful in the context of the film, but perhaps a bit generic. I suspect that "Shallow", a duet between Gaga and Cooper, will be the film's contender for the Best Original Song Oscar. 

As this is Cooper's first film as director, his directing ability was as much of question mark as Gaga's acting ability prior to this film. But he emerges as a major directorial talent, and an Oscar nomination for Best Director seems all but assured. The smartest decision Cooper made as director was hiring Matthew Libatique as cinematographer. Together they give the film a distinctive and artful visual style. The only negatives I can think of are that the movie is a little long, and the second half could be a tightened a bit.


I have I feeling I'll be watching this movie many more times as I await Cooper's next directorial effort, Gaga's follow-up film role, and, yes, the next remake of A Star is Born

What did you think of A Star is Born? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ranking the "Mission: Impossible" Films Worst to Best

The Mission: Impossible movies, based on the 1966-73 television series, are about Ethan Hunt and the Impossible Mission Force doing something that seems impossible at first, but always ends up being possible. Tom Cruise stars in all the films as Ethan, and other members of the team are Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg). I like the Mission: Impossible movies because each film has a different director and thus each one has their own distinctive feel. Sure, there are a couple of constants (Cruise is in them all, they all are spy/action movies, and they all have people wearing masks - a nod to the TV show), but going into a Mission: Impossible movie you are never quite sure what you are going to get. Sometimes it's a silly fun spy franchise, other times it feels like nothing more than an excuse for Tom Cruise do to some sort of crazy stunt. Since the first film was released in 1996, there have been five movies, with a sixth on the way. Here's how I would rank the movies …

Hollwood Surprises No One at Most Self-Congratulatory Award Show of Year: Golden Globes Review

Golden Globes 2017: Review

The Golden Globes are the most pointless award show all season. They are not given by critics or people working in the industry, but rather the HFPA, a group of 89 foreign journalists who are notoriously susceptible to bribes. They nominate sometimes awful films and performances in hopes big stars will show up to their party. It is necessary when selecting a host to find someone who wouldn't feed into the HFPA's already inflated sense of self-importance. Why Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were the ideal hosts for this show is because their jokes, while very funny, were also pointed attacks at the HFPA, the individual stars in attendance, and the celebrity complex as a whole. Ricky Gervais had the same basic idea, except less mean and thus less funny. I was nervous when in August when they announced Jimmy Fallon, the talk show host with a reputation for being nice, as the host of this year's Globes. Turns out I was right to be nervous that Fallon wouldn…

Ranking the Films in the "Vacation" Series

Ranking the Films in the Vacation Series

I love the Vacation movies. They are a rumination on one man's attempts to create lasting memories for his family, like the ones he remembers from his childhood. What he does not realize is that people tend to romanticize their memories, so any attempts to recreate perfect moments will only end in frustration, heartache, and probably injury. Because we know how Clark's (Chevy Chase) struggles will end, it is funny when the Griswold family's misadventures all reach the same inevitable conclusion. Over the course of five movies, the audience has gotten to know exactly what to expect from their plans, and the fun part is watching the silly, bizarre, or sometimes downright cruel snags in the road.  Here is how I would rank the five films in the series from worst to best: