A Star Is Born

RATED - (R) - 138-MIN-2018

                                      Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born Shines 

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The fourth time is the charm in (Bradley Cooper’s) newest version of (A Star is Born). It is a wonderful first-time directorial effort for him. What makes this one special, is the obvious love and care, Cooper has taken in crafting his version of it. He learned how to sing and play guitar to make it more authentic. The story may be familiar, and where it goes won’t surprise most, but in its genre, it is a wonderful and engaging film.

In particular, because all the concert scenes were done at real-life events, (the actors jumped onstage to perform in-between sets), it creates a natural and heart thumping authenticity to these moments. It also doesn’t hurt that the original songs are pretty good. (Lada Gaga) can not only act, but is excellent, and (Cooper) can sing.

 Jackson Maine (Cooper) is a very popular rocker/country singer, who is well into booze and pill addiction. He basically stumbles onto the stage, does his show, and then continues his binging until he is picked up and put to bed by his older brother and manager Bobby (a fine Sam Elliot) so he can make it to the next show. Jackson still loves the music but has been in the abyss for a long time now. One night, after another gig, he has his driver pull up to a local bar to kill some time before the next performance.

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It happens to be a drag queen bar, where a local girl Ally (Lady Gaga) and her friend Ramon (Anthony Ramos) who both wait tables at a restaurant frequent. Ally, as it turns out, is a talented singer and songwriter who dreamt of something bigger, but life got in the way. She is such a good singer, that she is the only female who is allowed to perform at the bar onstage. They love her…for good reason.

Jackson was just looking for a place to have another drink and doesn’t mind that all the men know who he is, and are going nuts over him. Then, Ally takes the stage in full queen glory to sing “La Vie en Rose” and Jackson is floored by this girl. Backstage, after the performance, he marvels at her talent and asks Ally to remove all the makeup.  She can’t believe she is speaking to Jackson Maine, but she is self-conscious about how she looks…particularly her nose. This is a running topic in the movie.

What follows next is a night together of just talking and hearing about who they are. They get into a fight at a cop bar, and she sings a bit for Jackson outside a 24-hour convenient store where they nurse her hand after she punched an obnoxious fan at the bar. Ally fires up something Jackson has lost in himself, and he really seems to want to know about her songwriting, which thrills her.

These moments are crucial to the film, because in order for this to work, we need to care about who these people are, and Cooper and Gaga nail all of their scenes. If you have seen any of the interviews for the promotion to this movie, you see, that right from the get-go, they hit it off personally and musically. It shows. They aren’t faking it, and the warmth that they have for each other is genuine. Jackson likes Ally a lot and he won’t take no for answer to see her again.

When Jackson invites Ally on stage, to sing one of her songs she showed him before, that he has now arraigned, it pure movie magic and Gaga, in particular, shines in this sequence. At first, because she is scared shitless that he is asking her to do this, then elated to the rafters when she comes on and starts singing; the middle a crescendo of her wailing and finally breaking free. It is the film's best moment.

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Of course they fall in love, and of course, Ally rises and Jackson falls further into the background, mired in his addiction that she tries to help him with. (Lady Gaga) can sing beautifully, but she is also a wonderful actress. I honestly knew little about her, outside of that fact she could sing, and she once wore a meat dress. It's kind of funny how, as Ally’s star rises and they try to market her a different way, how much it mirrors (Lady Gaga's) career in real life. She knows this world. (Cooper) really took a gamble here. He also takes one with the lower octave he chose to speak in, to mimic (Elliott’s) famous tone. It could have gone terribly wrong, but it works. They even mention it in the movie to show how much Jackson admires Bobby. I think (Cooper) has shown that he is an excellent actor before, and he does fine work here again as Jackson. It is a perfect fit. This
is one of the best films I saw this year.

There will be many well-deserved nominations come Oscar time for this fine film.

You should see this movie

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