Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater and film critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.
It’s a good sign for a movie that, even when you know how it will end, it still moves you. Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut and Lady Gaga makes her feature film debut in the newest remake of ‘A Star is Born.’ This is the fourth version of ‘A Star is Born’ and, overall, this version is a success.
Cooper not only directs but stars as Jackson Maine, a big country rock star who is barely managing to keep himself together- at least while on stage when he is performing. He drinks and takes drugs to excess and, one night after a show, stumbles into a bar and catches a singer named Ally, played in a terrific film debut by Lady Gaga.
Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga; Vulture
She completely captivates Jack and he convinces her she belongs on a much bigger stage- with him. As expected, they fall in love and her star rapidly begins to ascend while his (with apologies to Neil Young) begins to burn out and fade away. How they try to cope and correct their relationship- and his career- while navigating the ups and downs of stardom is the rest of the story.
While Gaga really does captivate in her rags to riches role, Cooper’s results aren’t bad, but not quite as good as hers. Remember, he is directing himself, which can’t be easy- especially since, as I noted, this is his debut as a director.
He demonstrates a good directorial sense in most scenes, particularly capturing the performances in front of large stadium crowds- as some of these scenes were really shot during big rock festivals. But Cooper sometimes displays a knack for lingering for too long- and too closely- on shots of his own face. Still, he has managed to make that face look appropriately overly tanned and weathered while maintaining his good looks and charm.
As for Cooper’s singing, he does a decent job carrying his songs to make it convincing. But, if you choose to go see this new version of ‘A Star is Born,’ be prepared to strain to hear what Cooper is frequently mumbling in the many scenes when he isn’t singing. While the concert footage is about as loud as a rock concert (I actually plugged my ears in a few scenes) Cooper’s lines can be really hard to hear.
Bradley Cooper (l), Sam Elliot; Spin
Some people have said they feel he is trying to imitate Kris Kristofferson’s twangy drawl from the last remake with Barbra Streisand, back in 1976. But I disagree- it sounds to me like he’s imitating Sam Elliot, who here plays Jack’s big brother, Bobby- and Jack even admits he always envied his brother’s voice- so I am sticking with my assertion that’s where it came from for this movie.
While the original story is credited to four writers, including Dorothy Parker and William Wellman, this script is credited to Eric Roth, Cooper and Will Fetters.
Dave Chappelle (l), Bradley Cooper; IMDb
There are two entertaining cameos- by Dave Chappelle, as an old friend of Jack’s, and by Andrew Dice Clay, as Ally’s father.
If this film has a villain character- and it doesn’t, really- Ally’s manager, Rez, played by Rafi Gavron, is close as he tries his best to keep the imploding Jack away from the ascending Ally while he is concentrating on making her an even bigger success.
Lady Gaga as Ally; IndieWire
The film has several nice touches, Lady Gaga’s terrific debut and the exciting concert scenes all going for it. Even 40 years after the last remake, Streisand’s act is tough to follow but Gaga makes a good go of it and this film is certainly worth seeing. I give ‘A Star is Born’ 4 stars out of 5.
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