10/8/18

A Star is Born - 2018

Maybe things ARE better the fourth time around. We watch this timeless tale of a star whose shelf life is nearing its expiration date, as he mentors a fresh young talent. It IS a compelling tale. This current version is nearly as good as the 1937 version with Janet Gaynor; and that one had the advantage of discovery, it was brand new to us. Plus it is always satisfying to watch an awkward young performer learn the ropes and gain professional polish.

In my opinion, first-time director Bradley Cooper shows a deft hand at the helm, in fact it's the best I've seen since the 2006 version of "Tell No One" directed by Guillaume Canet (which I highly recommend, by the way). Scenes have depth: extras act like people, not extras. Cooper manages to avoid most of the clich├ęs this one begs for, although that one tear was hard to forgive.

Let's look at the cast;
  • Bradley Cooper ("American Sniper," and "Silver Linings Playbook") is Jack, an Arizona-born star who fills stadiums with devoted fans and hopeful camp followers. After a successful appearance, he stumbles into a gay bar where an unknown singer impresses him. One drag queen tells him, "I don't care what you play, just look at me when you do it."
  • Lady Gaga ("American Horror Story," and "Muppet's Most Wanted") Ally is a hard-working, no-nonsense gal who walks out on an abusive boss and accepts Jack's invitation to his next concert, little realizing it will include a trip on a private jet.
  • Anthony Ramos ("Will & Grace") Her pal Ramon comes along to offer her some necessary moral support.
  • Sam Elliott ("The Hero," and "The Ranch") Bobby might be Jack's uncle. The theater I was in had no closed caption devices; as a result, I missed a lot of their backstory, sorry.
  • Rafi Gavron ("Snitch") Rez is Ally's straight-talking manager, who lays out the truth for Jack.
  • Dave Chappelle ("Chi-Raq") "Noodles" is Jack's driver, a considerate and wise man.
Many other actors were given their moment to shine, but time and space...you know... I must hasten to warn you, I thought I was in Samuel L. Jackson country with the countless F-bombs that were lobbed around, but I quickly became unaware of them. Suffice it to say, the R rating is richly deserved (alcohol and drugs) but we can watch for this one at the Academy Awards.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Please take a look:
* * * * * * * * * * * *