Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Star is Born

Remakes elicit groans, yawns, moans and sometimes outright hostility these days, although I will point out we still line up to see them. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga star in this fourth iteration of the timeless story of fame and its consequences. I won't bury the lead here in that the buzz has been huge since the very well made trailer hit the big screen, the early reviews are pretty much over flowing with positive vibes and my audience reaction last night predicts only the best.

Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), a slightly faded but still popular country/rock (genre kept a bit vague) singer, has just finished a concert and is drinking with the full intention to do some more. His driver drops him off at the only open bar they find and he stumbles into a modern version of "meet cute' that is intended to quickly hook the audience. It's a gay bar with plenty of fans who recognize him and a drag show in full progress. Ally (Lady Gaga) takes the stage to perform, non lip syncing, and instantly catches his attention. What follows is one of those epic nights that we hope exists in real life. There's some not to miss fun with the drag queens, an almost bar fight and lots of talking about the power of music. Ally realizes she's being pulled into the orbit of a man who oozes a rough sort of charm and Jack finds himself in the presence of something he doesn't find very often - a truly talented singer and song writer.

Before she can take a deep breath, Alley is whisked away from real life with a romance that skips budding and goes full intensity, a viral YouTube video of her singing live on stage with Jack and the interest of the wider music industry. As this story tends to go, the love story grows and she rises to stardom, all the while with Jack's drinking and escapism deepening. The good, bad ugly of this situation simmers with the forgone conclusion that it will all come crashing down at some point.

I described the first meeting of Jack and Alley earlier as a "hook" and it does its job well. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga have such intense chemistry on the screen that the audience could not help but ooh ahh and laugh in all the right places. All of this works to let you fall for the instant attraction and love story that you will need to enjoy the rest of the movie. I think the only lag in the story for me is when Alley begins to adopt a more "pop" attitude for her music. It's partially the fault of a label that she signs with but some parts are overly cringe worthy. There is a Saturday Night Live performance that had me guessing if it was intended to be as cheesy as I found it. Thankfully the loss of momentum doesn't stall the overall story. The music? Well if you've seen the previews, trailers and promotional scenes, you'll already realize the strength of both the veteran and newcomer performances.

So yeah, go see this movie and appreciate it on the big screen. It's an A+ effort. One last thing. If you see it with anyone who says, "Oh wow Lady Gaga has such a wonderful voice", feel free to give them your most non judgmental eye roll and say, "Keep up. That's so 2013".