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A Star Is Born Review – Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Shine In this Modernized Remake

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A Star is Born, from Warner Bros Pictures and Live Nation Entertainment, brings to the screen an unlikely story of love as mega rock star on a bender meets singer with the golden pipes in a drag bar.

Directed, written and starring Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born also stars Lady Gaga, Sam Elliot, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Alec Baldwin, Marlon Williams, Brandi Carlile, Ron Rifkin, Rebecca Field, Michael Harney, Barry Shabaka Henley, Michael D. Roberts, with Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real as the Jackson Maine Band.

A Star is Born begins in the blackness of the credits with the rising sound of applause filling the theater. As the lights go up, essentially, and the film begins we see a two dueling guitarists finishing up a show. The audience doesn't meet Jackson Maine, played by Bradley Cooper, until after the show is over and he is being driven home.


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Out of booze, he sees a bar and soon is sitting drinking with the doorman, Ramon, played by Anthony Ramos. Jackson Maine is a recognizable rock star. Sitting in a drag bar, the "ladies" all seem to know him.

Ally, played by Lady Gaga, is doing what not yet famous singers do, working a part-time wait staff gig, and singing at any club she can. Tonight she is the only non-drag singer in an out of the way queen bar. Unbeknownst to her, Maine happens to stay for her show. She delivers a beautifully seductive version of La Vie En Rose and ends up opposite Maine.

Without effort she captures the heart of this man who is struggling with his image, himself, his drug and alcohol dependency, life stardom, and for one second it seems a light cuts through all this darkness that shrouds him and he sees her and won't take no for an answer.

The first meeting scenes are fun, Ally is coy but smart enough to put what she wants above how she feels, and agrees to have a drink. As it is the age of smart phones and selfies, Jackson Maine is obliged, as he is trying to show his better self, to smile, pose, repeat until Ally, who hasn't yet mastered the obnoxious fan brush off, lands a solid punch and the classic bar brawl begins.

The two share some tender moments as he is icing her knuckles and whether it is an act or not she is falling. Refusing to head off to the airport to the next gig, she heads home where we meet her Dad, Lorenzo, played by an unrecognizable Andrew Dice Clay.

Jackson who is not used to being turned down, sends his driver, who explains, I can't leave without you and follows her throughout her entire day, until she gets to her wait staff job, determined to reel him in her way, and her supervisor just says the wrong thing and that's it. She out and brings Ramon with her and in the course of one hour her life changes forever.

This is the fourth remake of A Star is Born and having seen the first three, I have to say this version is a more honest and truthful one that goes to places where the others only alluded. This film is made for this generation, and legions of fans will herald it, as they did with each of the three before it as the best one. It is the one that will be remembered by many.

Cooper did well with a story that has been remade for every generation since the original with Janet Gaynor and Frederic Marsh in 1937 and mostly remembered for the 1976 version with Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand with a Judy Garland and James Mason in 1954.

Cooper's adaptation modernizes previous versions adding a brother, Bobby, played by Sam Elliot, and with a stint in rehab where the audience understands more about the torment behind the persona. As the ending of the film hasn't changed in 80 years, anyone who knows any of the versions understand what is coming. Cooper's version makes the ending an obvious, tormented choice. One he believes is out of love.

Ally becomes a musical sensation in her own right, secures Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin in a cameo. Her dreams as genuine as they are, come with many, including an evil, circumventing manger, played by Rafi Gavron, who turns her into a machine.

Obviously the soundtrack is filled with Lady Gaga and as it invokes memories of the film, even those who don't consider themselves Lady Gaga fans will enjoy the tunes. Lukas Nelson, Willie Nelson's son, and his band The Promise of the Real are featured.

Bradley Cooper's A Star is Born is a surprising. A flawless directorial debut for the academy nominee and is expected to be around during awards season.


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Andrew Dice Clay, and Sam Elliot deliver very good. awards season worthy performances.

Lady Gaga, an obvious star in her own right captures every nuance and shade of her character. Cooper is unrecognizable as the gravelly voiced, near tone deaf, superstar musician, singer-songwriter. They both deliver strong, vulnerable, exposing performances.

A Star is Born is a tearjerker that highlights the star making machine, the evils of the industry, the full access lifestyle, and the hope of finding tender, truthful moments in all the blazing fast insincerity of fame.

A Star is Born opens October 5, 2018. See it.

 

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