‘A Star is Born (2018)’: Film Review

Oscar season is kicking in and one of many that should look out for the directorial debut of an actor that turns out to solid when crafting something in front and/or behind the camera. Bradley Cooper is one of them as he tackles the fourth iteration of A Star is Born. With an actor turned director and a singer turned actress turn in some sweet melodies?

What’s the Story?: Country rocker Jackson Maine (Cooper) and a struggling alcoholic. After one of his shows, he discovers Ally (Lady Gaga), a singer with a great voice and writes her own songs but doesn’t perform them in public. Once he becomes infatuated with her, they start a relationship with the music and a romantic way through the rise as the fame of one person’s dreaming is beginning, one seems to be fading.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (2018)

Yes, this is the third remake of the of 1937 film of the same name. The other two that came before this were from 1954 with Judy Garland and the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Have I seen any of them? Nope. This has been in development for a long time with Clint Eastwood originally planned to direct this with Beyoncé in mind for the role. The hype has been real surrounding A Star is Born since its trailer debut back in June and the early reactions from the Venice Film Festival and TIFF, and it’s very clear that this might be the second remake to have a chance to win Best Picture.

You can look at the storyline and think it’s going to be pretty typical of the character traits that Jack and Ally are written with. Can that be a problem for some people? It could be, but it not enough to really falter to the entire movie for that reason. It is a remake, after all. But it can also become apparent when a normal person who wants to be famous to end up being in a relationship with a movie star or musician. In this instance, someone will instantly become famous by someone who’s stardom will slow be going downhill. We all kind of want that at someone in our future, and that’s what the script by Eric Roth, Will Fetters, and Cooper decided to take this as a heartfelt yet difficult story.

For a first-time director, Cooper really has an act when he’s behind the camera. The feeling that he wanted to make this his version of Crazy Heart is almost like a compliment. He obviously took the time to offer something new while throwing some class the previous films. The way that he films the concert sequences and nearly everything else is a big standout. And I love the cinematography work from Matthew Libatique. His directing also match what he can do as an actor. This is one of those occasions where I forgot Cooper was there and Jackson was a real person. And boy, can he sing and play the guitar in aces. This is the best performance he’s given that almost surpasses Silver Linings Playbook.

And I’m very happy to see Cooper in a fantastic movie like this. Because not counting his contribute as Rocket Racoon in the MCU, he hasn’t been in a great movie in a past few years, in my opinion.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (2018)

Lady Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, is one of those singers that I actually like. But it took me a couple years ago to really know who she really. Pushing aside her weird fashion sense that she been known for, her music is very catchy. She even proved herself to be a talented actress before this like in American Horror Story: Hotel, which she received a Golden Globe for her working in that season. Here, I’m still surprised by how great she really was and knew that she would after hearing she was gonna be staring here. There was nobody else that could fit the role as Ally. Gaga is also very beautiful and it’s hard not to fall for her. Oscar nomination, people.

With both of their talents combined, they had incredible chemistry with each other, especially in the first act when they just have some kind of conversation. Cooper and Gaga felt like themselves and genuine in the scenes they’re in. The movie wouldn’t be the same if the relationship wasn’t believable right from the start.

How’s the music presented in here? Best soundtrack of the year. It also sounded authentic since we the audience feel like we’re at the concert listening to them perform on stage, and some were impressively shot at Coachella and Glastonbury. The original songs are great (some written by Cooper and Gaga). The two best songs from the soundtrack that’s gonna be on everyone’s mind are “Black Eyes”, which opens the film, and “Shallow”, as heard in the trailer and that’s has a good chance of actually winning Best Original Song.

Cooper also brought some performances that were completely unexpected including Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s father was actually good, and it’s been a long time to hear someone say Dice was good in anything; Dave Chappelle shows up briefly as one of Jack’s friends, and I can’t forget to mention Sam Elliot as Jack’s manager and much older brother, who just owns every scene he’s in.

Sam Elliott, Bradley Cooper, and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (2018)It can be impactful in most cases. Nothing made me cry, but the “Shallow” scene kind of made me tear up because of how great the song is. The closest to making me tear up conversation between Cooper and Gaga that was powerful. And just like with La La Land, it provides a message about not giving up on your dreams and don’t stop believing in yourself.

This does have a couple of problems that kept me from really loving A Star is Born. Aside from the plot being familiar, I did feel like the pacing could’ve been a lot better as I felt the 135-running time. Shave off about 15 minutes and it would’ve been perfect.

Even before this came out, it really came to mind that I feel like musicals are kind of making a comeback. Not just because of La La Land, but in general. This made me want to come out with an original musical that’s in the same vein as this. The central idea is something about a relationship between two people, and it’s the music that brings them together. Sounds cliché, but one can dream.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (2018)

Everyone is praising what it one of the best remakes to come out of the 2010s and it’s needed. A Star is Born is well-made on all fronts that almost great despite the pacing. And all the credit goes to Cooper as the star, director, co-writer and co-producer of a musical romance that surprisingly worked. It is for sure gonna have some Oscar nominations come January including Best Picture, Cooper for Best Actor, Lady Gaga for Best Actress, etc. A Star is Born probably won’t end up on my best list of the year, but it’s one of those dramas that need to be checked out again when it’s close to being released on Blu-ray.

A Star is Born is a rare remake of the decade that outshines the originals with Bradley Cooper’s directing debut handling the music and the great chemistry between him and an outstanding Lady Gaga.

Grade: B+

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