A Star Is Born (2018)
A Star Is Born is part slog, part hymn.
It's like going to church drunk.
Spirit and spirits.
This is the fourth rendition of the cinematic story.
This version seems a heavyweight Oscar contender. Perhaps what it has most going for it is that it's directed by an actor making his first feature film. The actors are a major voting bloc in the final Oscar voting. Bradley Cooper could well take advantage of that.
Robert Redford and Kevin Costner both succeeded in their directing debuts. Redford won the Oscar for directing Ordinary People (1980), which also won the Best Picture Oscar. Costner won the Oscar for directing Dances with Wolves (1990), which won the Best Picture Oscar. The actors love one of their own directing, especially in his debut.
Mel Gibson won for directing his second film, Braveheart (1995), which also won Best Picture.
Despite its being a film with the talented Lady Gaga as the ascending brilliant singer and songwriter Ally, A Star Is Born essentially is a Bradley Cooper film. He's everywhere. He stars - in a role gussied up from previous renditions - James Mason, James who? Bradley contributes to the screenplay, he composes music, and he directs. Boy, does he direct.
He has his cinematographer Matthew Libatique shoot him from every possible angle. Watch Bradley fall down, watch Bradley swim, watch Bradley sing, watch Bradley carry a dog. Don't worry, ladies, watch Bradley take off his shirt.
Bradley loves close-ups, especially of himself. He uses a lot of shots from behind characters, showing little. But he does have an appealing look, particularly his smile.
The dialogue is the weakest part of the film. The latest screenplay is credited to Eric Roth and of course Bradley. But it's lazy. The dialogue has more f-bombs than close-ups. Hearing a terrific actor such as Sam Elliott speak bad dialogue is disheartening. Fuck the dialogue.
This screenplay changes the leading male character's surname back to Maine. It was Norman Maine in the 1937 and 1954 versions. It was changed to John Norman Howard is the Streisand/Kristofferson version (1976).
In Bradley's version he's now Jackson Maine - Jackson Browne?
Clint Eastwood originally planned to direct a remake of A Star Is Born with Beyonce, but that fell apart. He gave the project to Bradley. Bradley probably should have remembered his mentor's sense of pace, because A Star Is Born drags too much.
However, overall, A Star Is Born has appeal. As always, Lady Gaga's voice is bold and soaring. But as an actress she is a welcome surprise.
Despite moments of pretention, the movie is heartfelt.
That quality makes it stand out in 2018.