3. A Star Is Born
Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay
Director: Bradley Cooper
I smartly didn’t wear eye makeup to the early morning screening of Bradley Cooper’s rendition of A Star Is Born, co-starring Lady Gaga. This is the fourth version of this movie, so the plot is familiar: An alcoholic musician, Cooper’s Jackson Maine, falls for a talented woman, Gaga’s Ally. As she enters the limelight, he self destructs. Tears -- whether for Judy, Barbra, or now Gaga -- inevitably ensue. But, remarkably, Cooper refreshes this old story with incredible music, deeply felt performances, and a serious portrait of an addict.
The first part of this film is utterly intoxicating. Jack, drunk and in search of anywhere to get booze, ends up at a drag bar, where Ally, in pasted on eyebrows, sings Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose.” They bond over the course of a night and end up developing a song in the glow of a supermarket parking lot. Jack persuades her to meet him at a concert, where he pulls her on stage and magic happens. For as infused with the buzz of new love as it is, Cooper’s vision and performance is also unsentimental, at least when it comes to Jack’s vices. Jack’s alcoholism isn't pretty, and it’s always present, even in his and Ally’s most intimate moments.
A Star Is Born flails a little as Ally starts her rise to pop stardom. Cooper somewhat shortchanges her transformation, and takes a couple of unnecessary detours. But Gaga never loses Ally, even as she starts a little bit more like, well, Lady Gaga. She ends up on an exquisite note of sorrow. Oh, and I would be remiss not to mention the soundtrack, which has hooks galore; one song, "Shallow," is up there with Gaga's best.