Like sands through an hourglass so are the days of our lives, and like rocks through a cement mixer so are the sounds that Bradley Cooper hocks out of his throat over the long, long, long two plus hour course of A Star is Born, the latest and most audaciously over-praised take on the decades old tale of fame's fickle bitch qualities. Buckle up, folks, this is one bumpy shake rock and rattling ride - somebody let me the hell off of this thing.
You'd think that Jackson Maine (Cooper) wouldn't so sound dry-throated all the time, given his tendencies to cartoonishly lubricate with bottles of brown liquid tucked away in every nook of his person (you'd be forgiven for thinking once or twice or possibly dozens of times of Nancy's Mom in A Nightmare on Elm Street, pulling her booze from between the towels in the hall closet), but then he's a man of greasy hair and greasier attitudes, and oh right Sam Elliott is standing right there. So buck up, B-Coop - manly business ahead! Stick out your business end and get a testosterone shot, toots - Oscars hang in the balance.
Oh I know, I know - I am a terrible cynic, and this pure-hearted melodrama means to be sweet pop entertainment, with big broad emotional swings. Its final scene, a dead echo off better Beaches, should have us all weeping and shuddering and gnashing our foaming mouths in our seats at the gorgeous and simple schmaltz of it all, something something. And A Star is Born did indeed have me smiling for its first solid hour or so. Its early instincts are well-managed, leaning into the true charms of its twin star power. Cooper sings beautifully (his speaking voice, well, that's a whole different ball of ear-wax) and smiles moreso, and he wears loose open shirts with great aplomb; Lady Gaga gets to be the center of attention and so her performance, at that point, rings true enough.
And then, like a love hangover, the sober light of day hits this sucker, the goggles are off, and good lord it's hard to see my own wee cynicism anymore in the face of this manufactured pablum, a Wilhelm's Shriek of shoddy gears shoved into the shape of a gasping heaving wreck of a thing. Scene to scene flails about in a timeless airless vortex of shabbily constructed moments - you can hear the ghost of Kim Novak whispering: "Here I was born and here he died, twas only a Diane Warren Ballad to you; you took no notice."
Fame, it turns out, is a two-edged sword! The music business, it turns out, isn't always concerned with quality! Why, I gasped, dear readers. The insight was cutting - or maybe that was just the seat cutting into my bored rump, who knows? It's as clear as A Star is Born's timeline anyway, a formless lump of lifeless staring tableau - Jackson stares at Ally, Ally stares at Jackson, the dog stares at a pile of burned meat and I stare at the back of my eyelids remembering how I have always been so against owning a watch and how if I weren't so anti-watch I could be staring at my watch right now counting down the seconds until I could run, run, run from this cursed theater and feel air and life on my cynical, wretched, free man's face again. Sing, sing to me of freedom, heavenly angels, I am coming home, closing all the windows, and drinking all the demons quiet, whisper quiet, again. (There, did I get melodrama right?)
Very sad for you.....
As you should be. it is terrible, just terrible.
It's really not that bad...there were some truly exhilarating moments in the first hour. And this over the top criticism of Bradley's performance is coming from somewhere else I presume.
even your bad reviews are great
"this over the top criticism of Bradley's performance is coming from somewhere else I presume."
Where would that be, Anon? I like Bradley Cooper! Scan through this site's history, we've been loving him since Wet Hot American Summer. And I complimented several aspects of his performance here - I said he has a lovely singing voice and that he looked great. But the speaking voice he's putting on is ridiculous and distracting, a Bale as Batman put-on job, and his performance becomes redundant and erratic the longer it goes on. I didn't think any of his scenes with Sam Elliot worked - it's all way too Try Hard - and I don't think he delivered his character to that ending with any genuine emotionally coherent arc.
Also his direction is clearly that of a first timer, and unsure of itself at several crippling moments. It just does not work.
Liked the acting and the music. Yes, time could have been a lot clearer and they were trying to fit too much story into two hours, but overall I think it worked splendidly.
I'm curious what you think those crippling directing moments were and why, though. (Not testing you - just honestly curious to hear your perspective)
Agreed, though not as vehemently. Thoroughly enjoyed the first hour and then...it lost me. And the attempts at hypermasculinity sidelined her story (thereby undercutting the last scene) in what is usually and more successfully almost a Sirkian female-centered melodrama. It's like if Christopher Nolan directed Far From Heaven.
Saw it this evening. Thought the music was great and loved that it wasn’t superimposed from studio recordings. But agree that it lost pace and balance in the last hour.
Also liked Bradley Cooper a bit more raddled!
Spot on review. I was watching it tonight dumbfounded at the hype surrounding this tripe. Pros: Bradley's singing voice, some of the songs, the first quarter of the film was fun and actually got me excited for what was to come. Cons: No chemistry whatsoever between Bradley & Gaga, the film was edited with a chainsaw, and when he drags her up on stage for a perfect "spontaneous" rendition of "Shallow", that was an apt description of what followed. Their relationship made no sense because they weren't characters, rather approximations of what the characters were supposed to be. Don't get me started on that horrible power ballad that closed the film that was the plastic cherry on this crap sundae.
OMG, J, you articulated everything I feared about this movie, and after seeing it last night, I have to concede it was even WORSE than that. I say this as a HUGE Gaga fan, who has followed her pop career from the beginning and loved her stint on "American Horror Story," but she is just playing the PG-rated, "Reader's Digest" version of her own life story here, which makes her zero-chemistry with Bradley Cooper even more baffling, because the real Gaga would never put up with a hot mess like his character for as long as the "Ally" character did.
I felt like I was watching a bad Lifetime Network movie of the week -- a trite, treacly, hackneyed, uninspired, poorly acted rehash of a timeworn tale told many times over in the past and much better on any number of those occasions (Bette Midler in "The Rose" anybody?). At moments, I thought, okay, there might be some "Showgirls" level camp value in all this, but when I found myself obsessing over the food Ally and Jackson were eating in every scene and craving me some French toast, I knew any hope this trainwreck had of hooking me was lost. (Some of the outdoor scenery was nice to look at too -- when Gaga and Cooper weren't chewing it up with their overwrought performances.)
Musically, the Jackson character's style of country-rock was okay, but the Gaga material was just awful, ranging from boring to unlistenable -- generic soul-pop and schmaltzy power ballads clearly written to capitalize on Gaga's ability to nail the vocal histrionics, which just magnified how much more edgy and interesting her music is in her real life pop career. And with Gaga having spent her entire career dodging accusations that she plagiarizes from Madonna, it didn't help that of the gazillions of songs she could've picked for her big opening number, it HAD to be the Edith Piaf classic "La Vie En Rose," which Madonna, of course, made the dazzling centerpiece of her last tour. It all felt -- dare I say it? -- REDUCTIVE!
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