Movie Review: A Star Is Born (2018)

ASIB

Plot: A musician helps a young singer find fame as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral

Some people are born with a whole lot of talent. Like, sickening amounts. Two such humans, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, decided to collaborate in a project we never knew we needed quite this much. They are a powerhouse combination as Ally, the down-to-earth-but-wildly-talented Italian American girl who meets Jackson Maine (Cooper), where he stumbles into a burlesque bar one night while she’s performing. Jack, a country megastar is an alcoholic and on a slow medical decline due to his ever growing hearing impairment. Ally seemingly stabilizes him for a while, and as her star continues to shine Jackson’s doesn’t really grow dimmer so much as that his out of control problems rips their life into chaos.

Let’s first focus on the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper. He is a great actor, but might I say he is an even better director? There are strokes of genius moments – focusing on Jackson instead of on Ally while she performs, giving him as the actor enough time to show the feelings the character is experiencing while Ally changes some of his previous ideas. It’s beautiful and touching and inspired. The movie is also incredibly real feel to it, never shying away from the sweaty looks while artists are onstage that makes them so undeniably human – there is one particular scene where Ally is performing one of her new songs to a large crowd and she is sweaty and messy and very human. I am not too great at chatting about why I believe a director is great, but can I finally also add that the colors and use of lighting in this film is really good.

As an actor, Cooper undertook 18 months of vocal training to perfect Jackson’s gravelly country drawl. He also performs all the songs himself and sang live in all the shots in the film. Like I said, sickeningly talented. There is also a heartbreaking raw desperation to Jackson – sad and lonely and dealing with an idolization of a father who was anything but great. It’s impossible not to be touched by scenes where he describes how he was treated by the father he idolizes, and it is clear that his problems started

There is nothing particularly fresh about how the story is told, and even the ending is slightly darker than the usual route, it still remains a well visited topic. A Star Is Born is unique because, in my opinion, the following reasons:

  • Lady Gaga is not only a phenomenal performer with one of the best voices of our time. She is more than a passable actress. Cooper chose well to have her in this role and the movie couldn’t possibly have enjoyed this level of success with a less convincing performer. I will be honest and say that I never cared for her crazy theatrics on stage, but as this form? I can become a major fan.
  • The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga is off the charts. I hope they make more films together because they work seamlessly as a pair and were utterly convincing as a pair, so much so that there are STILL rumors about their off screen affair, which didn’t happen, because, ya know, maybe Bradley just isn’t the cheating type. However, it creates a tense and powerful atmosphere in this movie and the combination of the two makes you truly want it to work for Ally and Jackson
  • I had some moments rolling my eyes because the notion that only women who have poor self esteems and dress “down-to-earth” are worth noticing is played with a bit in here – let me just say that a woman can dress in a piece of meat and still be just as talented as Ally in ASIB (quite literally for Gaga), and still have the same amount of talent worth noticing.

Overall, this film definitely deserves the hype it got. and even though heartbreaking, I can commit to watching it again. It was THAT good.

Let me know if you saw it and loved it!

Rating: 8/10rev-1-ASIB-15481r_High_Res_JPEG

Advertisements

Blindspot 2017: The Departed (2006)

the-departed1

Plot: An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.

Rating: 8/10

I might get shot for this, but I’ve now seen two Scorsese films – The Departed and The Wolf of Wallstreet. Both are some of DiCaprio’s finest work, so I don’t have anything to complain about.  Are all Scorsese films this long? The length is about the only thing I didn’t like about The Departed. It’s three hours, and in my opinion only a few films are allowed to go on this long. It is good though, so I was able to sit through it and pay attention.

departed1

Jack Nicholson makes a great gangster. He is criminal and cold and deranged in this film, and has a menacing presence even when he is nice to people. Finding Colin Sullivan and helping him out leads to Sullivan’s corruption, which makes that kind deed null and void on the scorecard of humanity. Colin Sullivan is portrayed by Matt Damon, a man so good at playing the good guy that I didn’t even think he’d do well as the bad guy. He was phenomenal as the reviled Sullivan, who has a perfect place in the State Police and so convincing even hardened cop Captain Ellerby (Alec Baldwin) suspects him of anything but a hardworking officer. Leonardo DiCaprio, the world’s boyfriend, plays Billy Costigan. In contrast to Sullivan, Billy entered the police force with honorable intentions. He is railroaded by his familial history, and Captain Queenan (Michael Sheen) and the cantankerous Staff Sergeant Dignam (Mark Whalberg) both have a hard time believing that he is what he says he is. They offer Billy a way to still serve his country despite his past, and plant him as a mole deep into the Frank Costello’s drug syndicate.

departed2

I loved the smartness of the characters. Sullivan is immoral but is so fast on his feet that you can’t help but admire him. Costigan is increasingly desperate to get out and has sporadic outbursts no one can blame him for. I really liked Costigan – Leonardo is definitely one of the best actors I’ve ever seen on screen. He embodies his character, and although no outward displays of dread can be seen in Costigan, DiCaprio still manages to show you exactly how much anger and fear his character is dealing with. I also really liked Mark Whalberg’s character – he’s so ornery and ready to fly off the handle and action ready. He hated everyone and he didn’t care if anyone hated him back. Alec Baldwin as Captain Ellerby was an upstanding man. I liked him, his direct attitude and approach. He was a bit gullible in the end and quite easily fooled by Sullivan though. No one that pretends to be that good is really that good.

departed3

The pace of The Departed is controlled, carefully laying out the story. It feels that it took ages to get to the end, the majority of the films time is spent developing every character’s situation properly and showing the viewer how incredibly close Sullivan and Costigan were to each other at all times. Being in love with the same woman is the best bit though. Beautiful poetry. The last twenty minutes keeps me from bitching too passionately about the length. Those 20 minutes were action packed and dramatic, leading to an enormously if shocking end. I appreciated the conclusion of the film and would have been furious if it had ended in another way – no justice would have happened.

If you haven’t seen The Departed yet and enjoy tense, complicated and well thought out films, you should definitely give it a try!

Movie Review: Rock of Ages (2012)

rock_of_ages1_1339752508_600x450

Oklahoma native Sherrie Christian leaves her hometown for Los Angeles to become a famous singer. It is 1987. Drew Boley, a barback at the Bourbon Room, meets Sherrie as her luggage gets stolen. He tries to help her, but fails, and luckily manages to get her a job at the Bourbon Room as a waitress. The two fall headily in love.

Dennis Dupree, the club’s owner, is trying to find the money to pay the club’s outstanding taxes. He and his assistant, Lonny Barnett, decide to book Stacee Jaxx, a famous rock star, to get their club out of trouble.

On opening night, Dennis learns that the opening act has cancelled its appearance, and Sherrie convinces him to use Drew’s band, Wolfgang van Colt.

Constance Sack, a reporter for the Rolling Stone Magazine, is scheduled to interview Stacee before the show, and they nearly have sex. She leaves, and Drew sees Sherrie helping Stacee tie his pants, believing the worst. He breaks her heart, and after his successful opening gig signs up with Paul Gill, Stacee’s slimy manager. Both Drew and Stacee resign from their jobs at the Bourbon Room, and Dennis is back in financial trouble after Paul takes their earnings for the night.

The Rolling Stone’s article on Stacee reveals that Paul took the Bourbon Room’s earning for the night, and Stacee fires him. Meanwhile Drew is forced to leave his rocker image behind, adopting a humiliating boy-band look to suit the market.

Meanwhile, Paul has lied to Dennis and tells him that Stacee will perform at his club if Z Guyeezz, Drew’s new band, gets to be the opening act. Stacee learns that he is supposed to perform at the club when he calls the Rolling Stone magazine to profess his love for Constance. Sherrie tells Drew that she never slept with Stacee, and is planning to return to her hometown.

At the Bourbon Room, Drew’s band gets booed by the rocker crowd, and he leaves the stage to reconcile with Sherrie when she shows up. Stacee and Constance end up together, and the two managers of the club, Dennis and Lonny, accept their love for each other.

Rating: 5/10

As I blog more, I find that I am much more critical than I used to be. Last year this time I would have loved this frilly movie, scoring it at around 8. However, things (and I) change. The movie was fun, but terribly predicting. The actors didn’t reach their full potential. The superstar cast includes Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, and relative new comers Julianne Hough (Footloose 2) and Diego Boneta (Pretty Little Liars). With so many credentials under this cast’s cloak, it fell sadly flat. The only truly spectacular performance was by Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx.

Questions while watching Tom Cruise:

How can he be 51 years old?

Who did he sell his soul too to remain this good looking and YOUNG?

How come he hasn’t starred in a musical before – because he performed amazingly.

The movie also hosted comedian Russell Brand as Lonny, and as usual his performance was desperate. Man, I just want to dump that man in a bath tub. He needs a scrub more urgently than Robert Pattison. People think he is genuinely funny, but all that makes him funnier is his accent and dirty hair. Eugh.

Diego Boneta performed well, although not as good as he was in PLL. I enjoy watching his face (yeah) so I am looking forward to seeing him in other things. Julianne Hough (most notably dating Ryan Seacrest) performed really well. It is good to see her growing into an accomplished actress.

I would recommend this movie to anyone searching for funny, light hearted musical.