Tracker Pixel for Entry

A Star Is Born

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | October 10th, 2018


Carlson - A Star is Born

WARNING: The following review reveals plot information. Read only if you have seen “A Star Is Born”

Bradley Cooper directs himself and Lady Gaga in the fourth version of the show business perennial “A Star Is Born.” Despite looking, at least on the surface, like a calculated shot at Oscar recognition and glory, Cooper’s own history with substance abuse and suicidal ideation marks the familiar story with a deep personal connection. The chemistry between the leads and the full-bodied musical numbers will certainly generate some serious box office receipts if not near universal critical appreciation. With its rags-to-riches elements and behind-the-curtain peek into celebrity life, “A Star Is Born” is the kind of movie that will be remade for generations to come.

Cinephiles argue that George Cukor’s 1932 “What Price Hollywood?” bears enough similarity to the subsequent versions of “A Star Is Born” to merit a spot as the unofficial debut of the irresistible recipe: take one aging male star, add a meeting with a young and talented female aspirant, and combine into a tumultuous marriage that ends in tragedy. Cooper’s take is closest in milieu to Frank Pierson’s 1976 version with Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand, following most of the key plot pegs but consciously limiting the motif of professional jealousy and skipping the betrayal of adultery.

Cooper plays Jackson (not Norman) Maine as the booze and pill-addicted singer/guitarist invigorated by Gaga’s working class Ally (not Esther). A terrific early sequence in which the two spend the wee hours of the morning together, just talking in a supermarket parking lot, establishes the dynamics of their instant attraction and portends the future when Ally busts out an original composition that sobers up the part of Jack that recognizes a natural songwriter. Vulnerability on display by both participants, the scene pulses with a sense of fates being sealed.

Neko Case, not buying the fairy tale, has been perhaps the highest profile recording artist to troll the film before its wide release, attacking Cooper as a “beige demon who makes sure very standard white dudes get to be in everything.” Case’s extended commentary assailed what she read as the inauthenticity of musician behavior during live performance. I am not sure whether anyone mentioned that movies are inherently constructed objects dependent on the suspension of disbelief, but most viewers won’t notice the “fakery.” A more legitimate character-based concern is the extent to which Cooper’s Maine is, as Anthony Lane notes, a victim whose tough background guarantees “our pity and love,” as opposed to the “nastier” and more “dangerous” takes by Fredric March and James Mason.

Cooper’s filmmaking skills behind the camera are recognizably better than many performers-turned-directors (notwithstanding the staggering number of close-ups and the proliferation of the F-word). But on one account, his instincts are unimpeachable. The decision to cast Lady Gaga in the part previously played by Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, and Streisand is a masterstroke. Gaga’s mere presence allows Cooper a wide berth to go big with scenes and moments that play with and embrace camp. Ally slays Maine with a killer “La vie en rose” at a drag bar in her first big scene. Later, in a moment fans of the previous iterations will anxiously anticipate, Jackson will ruin Ally’s Best New Artist Grammy speech, this time passing out while standing up and pissing his pants on national television. The memes are already strong.

Recently in:

After nearly two and a half years since the people of North Dakota voted to pass the Compassionate Care Act into law in the state, medical marijuana is finally available to patients. Only one dispensary is open right now, but seven…

It was an, “aha,” moment, said Jeremy Jensen. A woman had her vehicle towed into the Fix It Forward Auto Care shop in Moorhead. Jensen and fellow Fix It Forward Auto Care co-founder Matt Carlson had the vehicle on a hoist…

Thursday, April 18, 5-9 p.m.Drekker Brewing Company, 1666 1st Ave N, FargoThe folks at Drekker have partnered with a handful of area artists and the Lend A Hand Up program. A program providing help and hope to families facing…

In 2016, the Rand Corportation’s National Defense Research Institute published a year-long study looking at potential consequences for transgender members to serve within the U.S Military. This study looked at seven different…

The Nordic ModelDr. Thea Hunter, a graduate of Columbia University and an adjunct professor of history at a number of elite colleges and universities, recently died at age 63 of extreme capitalism—and asthma—because of lack of…

Cocktail Showdown

​Yo ho ho!

by Sabrina Hornung

Well shiver me timbers. After weeks of sampling some of the finest drinks in F-M from more bars than we could shake a belaying pin at, the results of High Plains Reader’s 6th Annual Cocktail Showdown are in! For nine weeks,…

After three years Jon Beyer aka “Jonny B” has become the face and the beard behind Jonny B’s Brickhouse in Jamestown North Dakota. Besides the largest selection of craft beers between here and Bismarck, wood-fired pizzas and…

By Gary Usseryusseryg@gmail.comFYB. Three letters, three words, well known by the guys who make up Cascades, and anyone who is a fan of the five-man band. When asked what genre best describes their sound, I was bombarded with at…

Harmony Korine keeps a tight grip on his title as one of the most critic/critique-proof filmmakers of recent times with “The Beach Bum,” a sultry companion piece to 2012’s memorable “Spring Breakers.” Not without its own…

Arts

​Hold your head high

by Sabrina Hornung

“I started to look around at state arts council positions because I felt that even though I had never done that, I felt like it would be a really good blend of skills, so I started to look around in 2016. A few jobs came up but I…

Countless examples can be found throughout the history of great art that was only recognized as such after the life of the artist that created it. Such is true of Georges Bizet’s opera "Carmen."  While its reception during his…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

It seems like the threats to North Dakota’s Badlands never cease. Let’s go back and revisit Wylie Bice. He’s the rogue, rich, rancher up in Dunn County, on the eastern edge of the Badlands, who’s built himself a private…