Movies about show business are as old as the medium itself. From Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in the 1930's telling their teenage friends, "Let's put on a show, guys!," to the Broadway dancers of "A Chorus Line" (1985), there's something inherently entertaining about watching performers perform as performers.
In its fourth Hollywood version over the last 80 years or so, the new feature "A Star is Born" is shining brightly in American movie theaters this fall. In essence, it's a love story between an established rock star, struggling with substance abuse, and the young singer who he discovers and helps rise up to stardom.
The rock star, Jackson Maine, is portrayed by Bradley Cooper, in an excellent performance highlighting his character's heart and integrity. The young singer, Ally, is portrayed by Lady Gaga, whose naturalistic acting style and ease before the camera makes "A Star is Born" sing.
The overall look of the film is outstanding. The movie is filled with colors, brightness, and just-right production values. The film captures the look and feel of life in America in 2018.
The film's director is one of the film's stars, Bradley Cooper, who does an outstanding job in one of his first efforts from the director's chair.
The director of photography is Matthew Libatique, whose previous work includes the outstanding "Black Swan" from 2010.
Using inspiration from the screenplays of the story's earlier film versions, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper and Will Fetter wrote the movie.
Love is a major theme of the 2018 version of "A Star is Born." There's nothing tawdry or cheap in the relationship between Ally and Jackson. From their first meeting, we sense that they are souls meant for each other.
Music is another major theme of the work. From hard-charging rock played to arena audiences to quiet songs with heartfelt lyrics, the music of both main characters infuses the movie—its vitality, color and life-affirming quality. While the individual songs are not going to be classics, the overall effect of all the music gives the movie energy and power.
Lady Gaga, who until now has been known primarily for her music, wrote many original songs for the movie.
The first part of the movie seems incredibly fresh and original. For example, when Jackson and Ally first meet and start getting to know one another, the naturalistic writing and acting are noteworthy. Some of these early scenes between the two leads seem not scripted at all, but as if the camera just happened upon these two people talking.
The latter part of the film, possibly because it brings to mind more the earlier filmed versions of the story, feels more like Big Hollywood for me, and less innovative.
But even working within those Big Hollywood constraints—the story, after all, is about show business—the film is an outstanding success.
Have you seen "A Star is Born"? Like it? Not so much? I invite you to leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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