A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

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Roger Ryan
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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#101 Post by Roger Ryan » Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:31 pm

I would also add...
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...that it's not just the idea that Maine has the potential to embarrass Ally with a future relapse that triggers a depressive episode, but the fact that Ally lies to him about the reason for cancelling her tour. That's the moment where he makes the decision to end his life. While only Maine's alcoholism is addressed forthrightly in the story, it's clear he uses alcohol and drugs to fight depression (the scene where he recounts a suicide attempt at age 13 is a warning flag even if Maine recalls the incident in a somewhat amusing manner). As we know from certain recent high-profile celebrity deaths, it doesn't take much to convince someone suffering from depression to end it all.

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Brian C
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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#102 Post by Brian C » Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:21 pm

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Does Ally lie to him? I think it's one of the weaknesses of the storytelling that it's hard to know what Ally thinks of him by that point. We never see the aftermath of the awards show meltdown from her perspective, and we have very little to go on to even guess at her state of mind.

It's perfectly possible that the tour was cancelled for the reason she says; I don't recall anything the manager says that would directly contradict what she tells him. It's also possible that she hasn't really resolved whatever ambivalence she has towards him when it comes to her career. Hell, I don't think we even really have a strong grasp on what her career priorities really are - it could be that she doesn't actually like touring that much and was happy to have an excuse to back out of what was likely to be a grueling overseas trip.

Of course, I would agree that Jack thinks she's lying, and that drives his subsequent actions. But I wish the movie cared a little bit more about how she actually feels.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#103 Post by GTO » Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:41 pm

Roger Ryan wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:31 pm
I would also add...
SpoilerShow
...that it's not just the idea that Maine has the potential to embarrass Ally with a future relapse that triggers a depressive episode, but the fact that Ally lies to him about the reason for cancelling her tour. That's the moment where he makes the decision to end his life. While only Maine's alcoholism is addressed forthrightly in the story, it's clear he uses alcohol and drugs to fight depression (the scene where he recounts a suicide attempt at age 13 is a warning flag even if Maine recalls the incident in a somewhat amusing manner). As we know from certain recent high-profile celebrity deaths, it doesn't take much to convince someone suffering from depression to end it all.
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I disagree. I think he'd already made up his mind to off himself before Ally lied to him. I don't think he believed her, but his tone of voice indicates IMHO that he was already in a depressive episode. He sounded like somebody who'd made a decision and wasn't going to be dissuaded from it. And dammit now I have to go see it for a 4th time just to hear that conversation again!

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senseabove
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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#104 Post by senseabove » Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:25 pm

I think Cooper has a knack for the more intimate character-driven moments, even when the script and dialogue don't quite measure up to what he's digging out of them.
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That bathtub scene, for example, does great, convincing work in spite of the clumsy dialogue at showing how alcoholism can turn both alcoholics and the people who love them into monsters, lashing out in anger after the more desirable emotions—sympathy, hope, pity—are exhausted. The brief body shot of Ally standing up as Jackson storms out is a keen, if unsophisticated show of Ally's emotional nakedness after it—and the brevity of that shot is about as close to subtlety as the movie gets, unfortunately. (Is the angry clash stolen from the Streisand version? I haven't seen it yet...)
I'm also impressed/surprised that Cooper's Maine, whose demeanor and accent frankly seemed ridiculous in the trailer, is actually successful. The Sam Elliott impression is a clever conceit, and while the script is as blunt as a sledgehammer about what it means, I thought the scenes with Elliott were strong despite their bluntness and the effect was used well.

But the movie is hampered in the second half by so many odd scenes of rushed exposition and ominous foreshadowing—
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the proposal, the suicide attempt, the manager's tell-off
—and several moments that just feel like poor directorial/editorial choices.
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The final song, with its ever-drifting camera, would have been better served by just letting Gaga carry the moment. The first two flashbacks during it are obviously intended to formally prepare the viewer for that third, sweetly intimate one, but in doing so, that final moment's dramatic impact is dramatically undercut. The whole song, that final moment, would have benefited from a more hands-off approach.
But not letting Ally be Ally is the main weakness of the entire second half. We're given snippets that show her transforming or transformed, but we don't really get to see her experience it or enough of how she feels about it: Ally steps on the stardom treadmill and the rest of the story retreats to Maine's view of it. During the entire "Why Did You Do That?" performance, I kept wondering, how does she feel about this style change? Is she fully on board? When Jackson disdains it later, is she being defensive because she believes in it or because she doesn't? (And the fact that this had to be written seems to confirm I'm not alone...) The Wellman/Cukor story balances each character's experience apart from each other against each other, and the few moments with Ally
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—the "new look" in the tub, her attempt to persuade the manager to bring Jackson on her tour—
are brief, lacking the desperation and vulnerability of the scenes with Esther and the studio head, and coming at it from the wrong angle. So while showing her anger is an interesting twist, it needs to be balanced against her vulnerability for the tragedy to come through.

Contrast that with the absolute highlight of the movie, Ally's first time on stage with Jackson. Gaga conveys all of Ally's eagerness, disbelief, and violently wavering confidence so enchantingly that, in that moment, I was convinced she deserved the impending awards plaudits. But if she is capable of that range on the scale of a whole character arc, and not just one song, we'll have to wait for another movie to find out. Ultimately, she's given top billing for what, after Act 1, feels like a supporting role.

So—surprise—I think Cukor's version still does just about everything better (and Wellman's does most of it better, tho I wouldn't begrudge anyone thinking it the lesser of the two), but I do look forward to watching Cooper's take again.
Last edited by senseabove on Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#105 Post by Roger Ryan » Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:32 pm

senseabove wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:25 pm
...The Sam Sheppard impression is a clever conceit, and while the script is as blunt as a sledgehammer about what it means, I thought the scenes with Sheppard were strong despite their bluntness and the effect was used well...
You mean Sam Elliott, of course.

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senseabove
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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#106 Post by senseabove » Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:46 pm

Roger Ryan wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:32 pm
senseabove wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:25 pm
...The Sam Sheppard impression is a clever conceit, and while the script is as blunt as a sledgehammer about what it means, I thought the scenes with Sheppard were strong despite their bluntness and the effect was used well...
You mean Sam Elliott, of course.
#-o

And the least I could do is spell the mixup right... They're one of those weird pairs that are inextricably and inexplicably interchangeable in my head, despite having, afaik, nothing in common but a first name.

Anyway, fixed.

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TMDaines
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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#107 Post by TMDaines » Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:37 pm

So finally caught this. Enjoyed it very much, but was very unmoved near the end, which was unusual for for me. Thought the initial half of the film was much stronger, where Cooper and Gaga’s relationship was building and her star rising. I feel that the film doesn’t really deliver on some of the themes of the latter half, such as Ally perhaps becoming generic and his addiction. I personally lack empathy for most addiction, it’s a dereliction of agency and not a disease, and I didn’t feel their struggle as a couple.
thirtyframesasecond wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:53 pm
Casting Gaga might've been a good idea 4-5 years ago but her career has been on the skids for a while. If you wanted to cast someone who can sing, act and is relatively popular, at least ask Selena Gomez or someone.
What an odd thing to say. She’s not been pumping out chart toppers in recent years, but she’s been pursuing other interests and is a far more rounded artist than most pop stars. I think that’s one of her clear strengths as an artist in that she’s happy and has the confidence to go and do different things, whilst most celebs and their management are terrified of not being in the charts. She’s the biggest cert there is in current music to be relevant in 20 years time.

I think this thread was peak mfunk by the way, almost self parody with the over eagerness to shit all over the film followed by joy upon watching it. Worst and best thread of the year.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#108 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:35 pm

It looked and sounded very bad in the lead-up, was anyone actually expecting this to be a good film? At least I was honest about how I felt about it once I saw it, I can't say I see your gripe here

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#109 Post by KJones77 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:47 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:35 pm
It looked and sounded very bad in the lead-up, was anyone actually expecting this to be a good film? At least I was honest about how I felt about it once I saw it, I can't say I see your gripe here
I was expecting it to be a good film, yes. I don't know why I wouldn't based on the evidence. Good cast and a terrific trailer.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#110 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:33 am

I guess I just expected something much more sugary. Cooper keeps this thing tonally grounded in a way that I couldn't have ever expected.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#111 Post by dda1996a » Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:25 pm

But I still think first half > second half, and the first is just solid. The movie gets lost after Gaga rises to become a star and Copper's arc is just really badly written and underdeveloped. And all this was before I even watched the brilliant '54 version which is just absolutely fantastic and gets everything right. But at least this tries, and reminds me of the days of solid Hollywood studios pictures, which Panther and Rhapsody are not.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#112 Post by TMDaines » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:43 am

Talking about the film some more with my wife last night, I think she put her finger on what I felt the film didn't quite explore enough. She read the film as Ally being drawn to her career and fame, and willing to neglect Jack and her artistry for it. I think that is what the film ultimately should have been about, but I didn't feel as if the film did explore that fully. We only ever really touch on Ally selling out and its purely from Jack's perspective. Ally is seemingly in a career that is delivering fame, but I'm never clear whether she is satisfied artistically. Is Ally Maine happy being ALLY? Post-rehab, Ally is seemingly quite open to separating from Jack and focussing on her career, rather than being bound with Jack to fight his demons together for the long haul. As much as we moved to feel sorry and deeply embarrassed for her, the film still made her come across as cold, and my wife for instance went as far as to describe her as "selfish". For me, the film didn't grapple with these issues enough about fame, money and artistry, whilst still having to balance the public life with the deeply personal.

Beyond the Lights was therefore a better film for me narratively and in terms of exploring these issues.
mfunk9786 wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:35 pm
It looked and sounded very bad in the lead-up, was anyone actually expecting this to be a good film? At least I was honest about how I felt about it once I saw it, I can't say I see your gripe here
I expected it to be better than it was in the end, especially once I saw the trailer! I think Lady Gaga is a very unique, once-in-a-generation talent who will deliver something of interest in anything she's passionate about, and Bradley Cooper has demonstrated that his Hangover and pre-Hangover days were not what he aspired to do.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#113 Post by felipe » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:43 pm

TMDaines wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:43 am
Talking about the film some more with my wife last night, I think she put her finger on what I felt the film didn't quite explore enough. She read the film as Ally being drawn to her career and fame, and willing to neglect Jack and her artistry for it. I think that is what the film ultimately should have been about, but I didn't feel as if the film did explore that fully. We only ever really touch on Ally selling out and its purely from Jack's perspective. Ally is seemingly in a career that is delivering fame, but I'm never clear whether she is satisfied artistically. Is Ally Maine happy being ALLY? Post-rehab, Ally is seemingly quite open to separating from Jack and focussing on her career, rather than being bound with Jack to fight his demons together for the long haul. As much as we moved to feel sorry and deeply embarrassed for her, the film still made her come across as cold, and my wife for instance went as far as to describe her as "selfish". For me, the film didn't grapple with these issues enough about fame, money and artistry, whilst still having to balance the public life with the deeply personal.
I think the problem with the second half is that Cooper directing wants to show his character as much as possible. We don't really know how Ally is feeling or how she's dealing with fame because we only see it through Jack's eyes. I don't think the other versions ever lost sight of their "Ally" like this one does.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#114 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:35 pm

I think she was willing to neglect her artistry for it, but that had nothing to do with Jack. She clearly didn't find that aspect as important as Jack at least postures that he does.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#115 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:55 pm

I was mostly pleasantly surprised by A Star Is Born, even if the slow deflation of the narrative over the second half kept me from ultimately feeling anything more than moderately positive about it overall. Still, that's enough to put my reaction to its possible Best Picture win in the category of "disappointed, but not actively pissed off" — well ahead of some of the other nominees.

I agree with most here that the first half is a very good romance/musical, while the tragic drama of the second half didn't play nearly as well, largely because of Cooper's shift in character focus. We stick so closely with Ally's perspective through much of the film — keeping Cooper's character mostly as an aloof and difficult if appealing mystery — that largely leaving her behind to stick more closely to Jackson later on undermines the emotional impact of
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the suicide and its aftermath. Cooper's performance is very good, especially in the rehab scenes, but I felt unmoored by losing touch with Ally's point of view, which contributes to the confusion above around her motives for and feelings about cutting her tour short.
Still, the performances from the leads and key supporting actors work (including a fine cameo from a pleasantly mellow Dave Chappelle), the cinematography is better than expected, and the concert scenes are mostly well-done, which is about all one can ask for in the third remake of a familiar story.

Where I really don't understand the ecstatic reactions from some reviewers is that there are never any sustained moments of transcendent musical power or emotional impact: the only song/performance I thought was really hit out of the park was "Always Remember Us This Way", and the one moment that got me misty was Cooper and Elliott's driveway conversation. Both great but fleeting high points amid the steady, competent progression through the rest of the film; for this kind of project, I'd rather have a more unbalanced film with higher highs and lower lows than something that can't ever quite deliver a strong enough punch to deeply resonate.
TMDaines wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:37 pm
I personally lack empathy for most addiction, it’s a dereliction of agency and not a disease, and I didn’t feel their struggle as a couple.
What an odd thing to say.


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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#117 Post by swo17 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:44 pm

How could anyone argue with his closing line?
To spare myself potential disappointment, I’m raising a glass in advance to Bradley Cooper and A Star is Born. Surely a raised glass is as legitimate as a globe of gilded gold or a male statuette minus a penis (also gold gilded). God forbid it have balls this year!

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domino harvey
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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#118 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:48 pm

That's not a joke, folks, that's his actual last line. A little something for the fans of this thread

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#119 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:26 pm

Paul Schrader on Cooper:

“Here’s why I believe Bradley Cooper is the best director of 2018. In 1987 I directed ‘Light of Day’ with Joan Jett. Joan and I put long and serious effort into transforming her from a live music performer into a film actress. We had some success but overall I felt we failed. Part of it was due to screen chemistry, part to script problems but as always responsibility falls to the director. I didn’t accomplish what needed to be done.

“I see the opposite journey in Cooper’s direction of Stefani Germanotta. He took Gaga’s stage and musical personality and broke them down to their composite parts. Then rebuilt them into a screen actress. He was gifted in this process by time, patience, insight but also by the benefit of being an actor himself. Being a director isn’t just about framing shots, moving the camera and selecting lenses. Sometimes it’s about looking into the eyes of a performer and seeing who they can be. Who they want to be.”

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#120 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:34 am

Camille Paglia argues in THR that Cooper's version of the film is misogynist, but instead of making that case thoroughly — and I was open to hearing the argument given that my biggest problem with the film was the de-emphasis of the Ally character in favor of her husband — the essay spends most of its word count describing the earlier versions, with only brief asides jabbing unconvincingly at Cooper.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#121 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:10 am

hearthesilence wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:26 pm
Paul Schrader on Cooper:

“Here’s why I believe Bradley Cooper is the best director of 2018. In 1987 I directed ‘Light of Day’ with Joan Jett. Joan and I put long and serious effort into transforming her from a live music performer into a film actress. We had some success but overall I felt we failed. Part of it was due to screen chemistry, part to script problems but as always responsibility falls to the director. I didn’t accomplish what needed to be done.

“I see the opposite journey in Cooper’s direction of Stefani Germanotta. He took Gaga’s stage and musical personality and broke them down to their composite parts. Then rebuilt them into a screen actress. He was gifted in this process by time, patience, insight but also by the benefit of being an actor himself. Being a director isn’t just about framing shots, moving the camera and selecting lenses. Sometimes it’s about looking into the eyes of a performer and seeing who they can be. Who they want to be.”
As usual, he's totally right

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TMDaines
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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#122 Post by TMDaines » Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:46 am

That's true, but probably needs to be tempered by the fact that the film is essentially an auteurial work with Cooper also getting writing and producing credits. When the film peters out with a poor third act, he's a lot more responsible for that than a perfectly directed film with its director let down by a weak script. Cooper definitely uses Gaga well, but there was definitely a better film left out there.


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mfunk9786
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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#124 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:31 pm

Honestly, it's a movie that could really benefit from that, especially if those scenes are during the points when Ally's career is quickly ascending and we don't get an excellent look at her point of view of the plot's developments.

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Re: A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)

#125 Post by Fiery Angel » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:57 pm

Yikes, sitting through the draggy original for 135 minutes was enough of a chore. I'll have to make sure my wife doesn't know about this so I won't be subjected to even more of it.

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