If Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga together (and singing) wasn’t enough, there are many more reasons to see “A Star is Born.”
If the name of the movie “A Star is Born” sounds familiar, you’ve just aged yourself (and we are somewhat the same age), so you’re in good company. But if this is your first go around of this movie, that’s ok, because that’s the whole point: Every era deserves “A Star is Born.”
And while I could go on and on about comparisons to all the other versions before it, the one that remains constant is that it’s a timeless story on many levels that we all can “get” something from and move on with something to think about. For me on that evening of our media sneak peek at the film I was thrilled to see a film on my “can’t wait to see it list” that featured two of my favorite artists and that THE Bradley Cooper would be there *in person* to talk about the film. HOWEVER, when I left, I still wanted to talk about what I had seen, experienced, and as Cooper so perfectly said in front of the media-crowd, “I’m done with it, it’s now yours.”
“Music is essentially 12 notes between any octave – 12 notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer this world is how they see those 12 notes. That’s it.”
While I’m no movie critic, one of the biggest lines of the movie that stuck with me was when Sam Elliott (if you don’t know what an amazing actor he is, his voice alone should make you stand up straighter) repeats to Lady Gaga what Jackson (Cooper’s character) has said many times. “Music is essentially 12 notes between any octave…12 notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer this world is how they see those 12 notes. That’s it.”
So of course on the first layer of that he’s talking about artists. But really it’s everyone. Everyone and everything. While we all think we’re out doing some new, different, etc…like “A Star is Born,” we may be putting our own spin on it, but nothing is new and for it to be good, it doesn’t have to be new. It just needs to be yours.
The movie itself, as witnessed by all the different ages, demographics, etc. around me, will make you laugh, cry (a lot), make you anxious, and all that. And while I could go through the storyline, it too is not new, but the ageless story of a veteran celebrity that is on his way down (in more ways than one) and meets the new star that is on the rise. The issues between them may make the story progress, but it is a love story and one we all hope that will go differently than you know it already does in the end, but still hope will change if you just hope it to enough.
However, I’ll admit many parts of the movie I felt very uncomfortable. Not because of the topic matter, but more so, watching the cinematic angles used by Cooper (this movie is his directorial debut) make you almost feel like you aren’t watching a movie but you’re in it. Especially during the deeply personal moments where Gaga and Cooper are spending that odd, personal couple time together, you almost feel like you’re the third wheel and unfortunately Gaga is the only one getting “gaga eyes” from Cooper. His twinkle at her alone makes your toes tingle (among other things.)
I love more than anything a good story about rock and roll (like the good stuff that used to play on the radio that DJs played and not apps) with guitars, drums and made the hair on your arms stand up when you’d hear the first few notes start to riff. So this movie totally delivers – and unexpectedly, Cooper kicks ass as that quintessential “rocker,” that’s one part outlaw country, one part Eddie Vedder, and one part I couldn’t ever put my finger or my ear on (at the time.) So when later when we had the opportunity to ask him about his influence in his voice and his character for the movie, he mentioned he spent three days with Eddie Vedder to create his character as well as working my new favorite, the in-movie back up band, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real. But somewhere in there I saw a little Eric Church, a little Merle Haggard, and a touch of that Sam Elliott voice that “he stole” (which is actually part of the story line), that makes up “Jackson Maine.”
And I’d be wrong not to say that watching Lady Gaga was more “Joanne” and less Gaga, so for me, I was thrilled. Her voice delivers each and every time her, the real woman that we know as Gaga, shined through, just the way the film was meant to. But Gaga, or my preferred name of Stefani, wasn’t the only star that appeared in film that just continued to keep me sublimely happy and surprised…Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle, Andrew Dice Clay, and Hamilton fans rejoice when Anthony Ramos comes on screen.
I would be remiss not to discuss the issues of addiction, suicide, fame, social media, etc. that really are the cornerstones of the film, but rather if it’s a main storyline for you or just part of this love story, that’s all in who is watching it. But I think that everyone gets from “A Star is Born” what they want to get, which probably is why you might go see it more than once. If you read the reviews, it’s good. Damn good. Good acting, good soundtrack, good lessons, good entertainment – it’s good stuff. And this timeless screenplay that has transcended the ages is good. However, if this era actually learns a little something from “A Star is Born,” that might be the best thing that can rise from this film.