Some Thoughts On “A Star Is Born”
Hand Bradley Cooper this, he has given the world the perfect movie and soundtrack for the Trump age in “A Star Is Born,” one in which everything about it is the precise opposite of what it is. Cooper’s often told story about the up and down world of stardom is a fulminating fantasy of what is real versus what is not while, in a perfect realization of Trumpism, nothing at all is real, it is fakery and shim sham.
All the three previous versions of “A Star Is Born” is better.
1952 – The best of the lot, with 32 year old Judy Garland belting the hits and James Mason, sodden, belittling, jealous, and difficult to like. Director George Cukor was sensational and by all means see the just shy of three hour masterwork. – A
1937 -wiith Frederic Marsh as a ridiculous charming film star and the exquisite Janet Gaynor who, at 31 years of age, may have been a little to leave her midwestern home for Hollywood, and yet is so touching in the early scenes -risking her life for the slimmest of hopes, just like today, you have as much chance of winning the lottery as becoming a movie star and yet, chance alights on her. As Marsh goes down, Gaynor goes up – A
1976 – A not untypical 1976 star vehicle for Barbra Streisand, who, at 34 years of age is little long in the tooth for this movie, and Kris Kristofferson, who is everything Bradley Cooper can’t act or pretend or sing to be, Kris said more about addiction on “Sunday Morning Coming Down” than Bradley does in his entire movie – B
2018 – Lady Gaga, age 32, can’t sing as well as Streisand or Garland, can’t act as well as Janet Gaynor or Garland -though she gives Streisand as good as she gets. Bradley takes his story seriously but he is looking at the wrong story. All three previous movies were clearly soap operas, they were Peyton Places if you like: a different form of dream machine. The closest we have to this is not Bradley weirdly ill suited “Star” but “Notting Hill”. Over anything else you think the movie is about, at its heart it is getting you close to The Fame Monster… Which means it should be tailor made for Lady Gaga but her clearly exalted figure makes it seem so wrong minded. Essentially she should have Hugh Granted herself, Floppy, the way he makes small talk with Julia Roberts in the book shop. The beginning doesn’t quite work, it doesn’t quite get the rhythm right. Maybe it is more Bradley’s fault, with his large nose and quirky smile he is made to be sparring with Jimmy Fallon on late night, not emoting with a beard. Perhaps it they had reversed the sexes.
Anyway, the first half hour is the best of 2018’s “A Star Is Born” and once they start trading in drag clubs for tour busses all that is left is the music and the performances and the music sucks and while Lady Gaga is in full Joanne mode, the songs are terrible. Really terrible. “Shallow”? Are you joking me? Streisand had “Evergreen” and Judy had (for fuck’s sake) “The Man Who Got Away” and we are supposed to take “Shallow” seriously because the chorus goes “sha-la-la”? It’s a terrible song off a terrible album from a stupid and misguided motion picture.
The best moment in 2018 is when Lady Gaga performs an EDM pop song on Saturday Night Live, that works as a reminder as to how unique the early Gaga was.
If you don’t remember…
2008 – The Fame – A
2009 – The Fame Monster – A
2011 – Born This Way – A-
2013 – Artpop -B+
2014 – Cheek To Cheek – C
2016 – Joanne – B-
2018 A Star Is Born – C-
The very thing that made her the greatest pop star since Madonna,made Gaga fall to earth with a bang, she couldn’t maintain the art in the artifact, she had to get real though, in fact, she was real. In 2018 she is pretending to be less than she is when in reality she is less than she was. As for Bradley, he doesn’t have an ounce of James Mason chops, Mason played Humbert Humbert in “Lolita” a couple of years later, he never had the sort of ego where he refused to be unlikable. Bradley? Has there ever been a more decorous drunk, Bradley’s idea of nasty is telling Gaga she is ugly. Once, in a bathtub.
Like I said, it is part and parcel of the hallucinogenic where it is impossible to believe anything you see and hear, and impossible to believe this shallow, flabby, star turn. And yet people do.