A Star Is Born (2018)
October 5, 2018 9:27 PM - Subscribe

From Rotten Tomatoes: Seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers and falls in love with struggling artist Ally. She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.
posted by gryphonlover (37 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The full interview of Lady Gaga on Colbert is exceptional, and gives some insight into this as yet unseen by me film.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:15 PM on October 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I...have opinions. Choosing to remake a movie that was first made in 1937 (or, arguably, 1932, since the film it was cribbed off of was written then) seems like a bad choice in 2018, especially THIS 2018. The centering of Jack, the relegating Ally's hard work and dreams to a side story, the meet-cute that literally involves consuming Ally's performance, the male-gaziness of the whole thing was very bitter on my tongue. As was the final number.

I felt that an opportunity was missed—a chance to take the material and go in a different direction instead of using it to further explore a broken man's brokenness. Even Ally's grief was given short shrift, and though I respected Cooper's portrayal of a man struggling with substance abuse and Gaga's embodiment of Ally, the film and the adulation it will undoubtedly get just feels misplaced in this cultural moment.
posted by mynameisluka at 12:25 AM on October 6, 2018 [16 favorites]

Mynameisluka, I totally agree! I really wanted to like this movie and it got such great press. While the songs were good, I couldn’t help but think...are we still making movies in 2018 that don’t pass the bechdel test?
posted by tinymegalo at 1:09 AM on October 6, 2018 [6 favorites]

Really enjoyed it despite its shortcomings, was fully and properly moved throughout, loved the music, stupendous performances especially from Lady Gaga, to the degree I didn't even think "oh she's a great actor too?", just enjoyed and loved her work. I had a great time. And Shangela!

Did NOT love the cookie cutter English jerk baddie, did not love how the set up a super dated dichotomy between Proper Rock Music With Integrity and Worthless Pop About Asses, especially when it's goddamn Gaga they cast, who has long proved you can make pop music that is worthy and complex and, well, Art.

It was a great time... I'm interested to see how much it holds up on second view.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:03 AM on October 6, 2018 [9 favorites]

Having totally missed the hubbub leading up to the film, I immensely enjoyed this Ringer article summarising it.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:04 AM on October 6, 2018

I haven’t seen it and am still on the fence. Having seen the trailer several times, my only thought was, “Huh. I guess Jennifer Lawrence’s singing isn’t strong enough — Bradley Cooper seems unable to make a movie without her.” Good the hear that Lady Gaga’s acting is strong; I have only ever seen her on screen before as a one-scene wonder in an early Sopranos episode as a friend of Meadow’s, and at the time she was 14 (Baby Gaga, I suppose).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:21 AM on October 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I am so on the fence. On the one hand, everything that's hit the Internet so far is swoonworthy. On the other hand, I hate the plot of this movie and I don't WANT to see the depressing, insulting shit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:29 AM on October 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I saw it on Thursday, and went in with low expectations because the trailer wasn't the most compelling and, unlike the people surrounding me, I'm not particularly a Gaga fan (I like her music but don't seek it out).

But I... liked it? I mean, I pretty much cried for the last half-hour or so, so it definitely got under my skin in some way. Gaga is phenomenal and I immediately fell in love with her character the moment we meet her (along with her BFF played by Anthony Ramos, who is still my favorite character next to Charlie).

It wasn't until much later that I realized I could have used more women in the movie, because Ally definitely could have used someone who saw through Jackson's BS to be like, "Girl, what are you doing?" Maybe she should have stayed in better touch with her drag queen friends.

I did love that you could write a thesis based on Ally's makeup trajectory. Going from a natural look except when performing in drag (so kinda an all or nothing), to going full-on glam even during her down time when she starts cultivating her pop character, back to a more natural-but-slightly-glam look. It's subtle but I appreciated it.

Oh and I got a kick out of the creative ways they would shoot scenes so that the massive height difference between Gaga and Cooper wasn't that noticeable.

The plot is admittedly thin and frustrating (although they do their best to make us understand why Ally would choose to be so loyal to Jackson), but I don't think that's why most people are going to watch it, anyway. It's going to be for Gaga and the music. And in that case, it's pretty darn great.
posted by paisley sheep at 10:32 AM on October 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

One of the things that rubbed me the wrong way was the casting of Andrew Dice Clay as Papa Gaga. Had I gone in blind, I would have felt less ambivalent about his warm and funny performance, but knowing his background as a gross, woman-hating comedian, I felt yucky liking him as much as I did. This led me down a path where I wished we saw Ally’s relationship with her Mom... but also wondering how the story would be different if there was room for more than one female character. I know Gaga has tended to be the lone woman/BFF to gay men in her scenes, and this film played with that, but I kept thinking: if there was another woman in a substantial role, how would the film unfold? Would she be an enabler, or would she try to talk Ally out of pursuing Jackson? How would Ally react? (I found myself wishing Allison Anders has directed this remake, since she’s written extensively about the previous versions of the film and does well with difficult relationships and music movies.)

Seconding the comments about how bad the music was. The ass-in-jeans song sounded like Cooper was shooting fish in a barrel, and nothing about that song suggested Grammy material. I wish they’d gotten more inventive, but that might have complicated Maine’s perspective.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

I would pay to see this if the gender roles were reversed.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:18 PM on October 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Casting: PJ Harvey and Justin Bieber?
posted by ominous_paws at 11:33 PM on October 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ally's "sellout" songs here are interesting to compare to the "sellout" band in La La Land - there I felt there was at least some ambiguity as to whether or not there even was a correct choice between purism and populism, where there's just not even a hint of that here.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:40 PM on October 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

PJ Harvey and a Sam Smith type.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:25 AM on October 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

it isn't shown whether Jackson continues to go to meetings after he gets out of rehab, nor if he has a sponsor; I thought that Carl was an addiction counselor who worked at the rehab.
posted by brujita at 2:49 AM on October 9, 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed it and sniffled a bit at the end, but it was so weird. It's like they expected the audience to be familiar with the story, so the actual plot bits didn't need to be developed and they could focus on a dream 1970s with YouTube and nose-touching. There were around 20 years between the earlier versions, but it's been over 40 years since the Streisand one--there were definitely people in the audience when I saw it who thought there would be a happy ending.

Also, singing about heartbreak in a cowboy hat is just as fake and bullshit and just as real as singing about asses while wearing leather pants.

You're not the only one still thinking about the dog from 'A Star is Born'
posted by betweenthebars at 4:28 AM on October 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

While I really have no interest in seeing this one (having seen the first two versions is enough for me, thank you) I find it really odd that, in all of the tv adverts I've seen for this movie, Gaga's role is minimized to the point where you wonder if she even has a part in the movie at all. None of the ads have her speaking, and none of them have her singing. She barely has a part in the ads other than as briefly-seen, doe-eyed support of Cooper. It's such a stark omission as to feel quite deliberate.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:13 AM on October 9, 2018

in all of the tv adverts I've seen for this movie, Gaga's role is minimized to the point where you wonder if she even has a part in the movie at all. None of the ads have her speaking, and none of them have her singing. She barely has a part in the ads other than as briefly-seen, doe-eyed support of Cooper.

Really? Because all of the trailers I've seen would lead you to believe that the film is just about the triumphant emergence of New Pop Star from humble beginnings. (To the point that I've been genuinely annoyed by the trailer's insistence that Lady Gaga was just too, too plain to be successful as a performer.) She certainly has lines, and the emotional climax of the trailer is her going out onto stage and then grabbing the mike before launching into what I guess is the signature song.
posted by praemunire at 10:17 AM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


Why did Bobby come back? I had to use the bathroom during the SNL part.
posted by brujita at 1:46 PM on October 9, 2018

I don't think any specific reason is given other than during the SNL section, he mentions that he's been "working for Willie" and happened to be in town, and wanted to see Ally's performance.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:09 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

So I saw it today, and the teenagers in the theater were all WEEPING for the last thirty minutes or so.

I was totally unmoved. I'd actually never seen any of the previous versions and didn't have a strong sense of the plot (I thought it was just, "humble girl makes it big") and I agree with the critiques that this was just unbelievably bereft of women for a 2018 film.

That said, the only bit of meta-casting I appreciated was Dave Chappelle as the guy giving the speech about when it's ok to just walk away from all the fame for a long while.
posted by TwoStride at 6:00 PM on October 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

Oh, and I also spent a huge part of the movie stewing over how we're supposed to believe that Ally was too ugly to make it big. I know that's apparently part of Gaga's mythology as well, but, UGH. I mean, in that sense the sleezy manager seemed totally accurate and cartoon villanish in basically being, "you're thin, white, and young: get some backup dancers and heavy makeup and you're all set!"
posted by TwoStride at 6:02 PM on October 9, 2018

Well, I finally saw it after my therapist told me to see it (and got annoyed when I was all, "I dunno, I'm still debating on the depressing") because there were some lines in the movie she thought were relevant to me with regards to performing. It was interesting in a depressing way. The two of them are really winning and cute together (though I dunno on sexy when he is wasted a lot of the time) and he was a lot less awful/insulting than I was expecting on the downfall. Them together on stage (except the last time) was adorable. The music was really good. Gaga was absolutely lovely and the acting was great, especially Bradley Cooper's (that scene on the bed at the end, oh my god, his eyes). His getting choked up the last time he sees his brother and says about the voice.

This is more the dude's movie than the lady's, though. Maybe should be "One Star Is Born, One Star Dies." I feel very sorry for him.

I loved Ally's Emmy dress and want one. But oh, that poor sad Jackson peeing himself on stage, oy. I wanted to rage hit the British agent. And anyone notice all the hanging foreshadowing? Fuck, the first time he's in the limo there's four NOOSES hanging on a lit up billboard behind him!

Women being too ugly to make it is a default in the business from what I hear. The whole thing with the nose was very Streisand and we all know she heard it too.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:14 PM on October 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

My problem with the asses-in-jeans song isn’t that it’s an asses-in-jeans song per se. Gaga’s early hits were unabashedly sexual, but there was a level of absurdity that made them stick out on pop radio. (Thinking here of the “wanna take a ride on your disco stick” line in “Just Dance”, which was weird and funny enough to cut through the signal-to-noise ratio on your local iHeart station.) Even though Gaga adhered to the pop template, her sense of humor and exaggeration made her stand out. The asses-in-jeans song was disappointing because it was so boring and sounded like something you’d hear from a second- or third-rate pop singer.

I know I haven’t commented as much on Jackson, but his music is supposed to be boring. It sounded like something you’d hear in line at Starbucks. When Ally started getting support, I was hoping she’d be more like Gaga and less like someone at the top of the bill at the Kiss Concert.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:55 AM on October 10, 2018

(Thinking here of the “wanna take a ride on your disco stick” line in “Just Dance”, which was weird and funny enough to cut through the signal-to-noise ratio on your local iHeart station.)

My son was a huge Lady Gaga fan when he was in first grade. One day I came by the school to pick him up and his teacher greeted me:

Ms. Bradley: Ben is a Lady Gaga fan.

Me: Yes he is!

Ms. Bradley: Ben. what was the song?

Ben: "Love Game."

Ms. Bradley: Ben was teaching the children the lyrics to Love Game. Ethan's mother was quite upset.

Me: We'll talk about this on the way home.

[on the way home ...]

Me: Ben, so ... this song. What are the lyrics?

Ben: "Let's have some fun, this beat is sick, I wanna take a ride on your disco stick."

Me, thinking he's in first grade and surely oblivious: So, what ... uh ... what do you think a disco stick is?

Ben: Oh, it's a penis.
posted by mph at 8:58 PM on October 10, 2018 [18 favorites]

I went in being all mad about the Bechdel Test and expected it to be a weepie about male fragility, but I really liked the trailer, and I wanted to see Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. So I went to see it, and oh boy, I really loved this movie. It made me feel a lot of feelings I didn't expect. I thought some of the songs were gorgeous (I expect Shallow to be on repeat for a while).

I think what I liked about it more than anything was that it was about two people who love each other and support each other and respect each other's talent, even if one of them is a falling-apart alcoholic. I expected them to have Jackson get all jealous and possibly abusive and there were some ugly scenes, but for the most part, he was in love with her talent as much as anything else and that was really cool to see.

As for the differences between Ally's and Lady Gaga's career, in some interview, she said the biggest difference between her when she was starting out and Ally was that she always had confidence in herself, and Ally doesn't. And you see that in her pop music stuff - that SNL scene actually reminded me of the first time Ke$ha was on SNL (it was a disaster).

It wasn't until much later that I realized I could have used more women in the movie, because Ally definitely could have used someone who saw through Jackson's BS to be like, "Girl, what are you doing?" Maybe she should have stayed in better touch with her drag queen friends.

Yes. She desperately needed someone who would have been like "I know you love him, but you can't carry him, hey, let's go to an Al-Anon meeting!"
posted by lunasol at 11:58 PM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

I didn't know the story going in, and while it was clear there wouldn't be a happy ending for Jackson, I expected Ally to get much more focus in act 3 - when she started her own career there was a huge shift in her creative direction and I wanted to see her rebel and take back control from the dickhead producer.

It wasn't until much later that I realized I could have used more women in the movie, because Ally definitely could have used someone who saw through Jackson's BS to be like, "Girl, what are you doing?" Maybe she should have stayed in better touch with her drag queen friends.

Yeah, this - in general I would have liked to see Ally retain a bit more of her own life from before she got signed.
posted by Urtylug at 11:00 AM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

It also just occurred to me today: we have a whole set-piece around Ally's horror at what celebrity means for Jackson at the beginning of the movie (she even punches a cop!) and then we see absolutely nothing about how she experiences her own growing fame. I'm not too mad about that because the movie is really about their relationship, not either of their careers, but it would have been interesting to have at least a small call-back to that moment.

I think this speaks to the one thing that kind of bugs me about this movie, which is that the first half or so and the second half or so feel tonally like very different movies. The first half is romantic and charming and full of amazing musical sequences, and takes place over the course of ... about a week? The second half is very dark, episodic, and seems to take place over the course of at least a year. It's not a huge problem but it's a little unsettling.

That said, it's a few days after I saw this movie, and I keep thinking about it. The songs are stuck in my head. I definitely want to see it again.
posted by lunasol at 1:14 PM on October 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

I have problems with the plot, the lack of women, the cliches and the melodrama...but DAMN, the acting is just amazing. Gaga makes Ally live and breathe. Hell, live and breathe fire. Cooper is phenomenal, especially considering he was also directing. But the one who isn't getting enough acclaim is Sam Elliot. There are a couple scenes of his that are just gut punches, not so much in the way they are written but the way Sam delivers. If he doesn't get a best supporting actor nomination I'll be shocked.
posted by Ber at 8:10 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I am a huge Lady Gaga fan and did enjoy the movie, but found it hard to watch her be treated so badly during Jackson’s alcoholic moments, and even though I avoid spoilers all costs, when I saw that the foreshadowing of the hanging I wish I had known in advance. I haven’t seen the first two iterations.
posted by ellieBOA at 5:03 AM on October 20, 2018

Just saw this movie. I liked it, even if I do have some quibbles. I was happy to see Gaga do such a great job here.

I do think the movie would have been stronger if it had decided to go all in on focusing on the destructive relationship between Jackson and Ally, with all the music stuff in the background, or focused more on the industry and Ally's rise to fame, and the toll that takes.

Personally, I would go with the former, just because I think their relationship was the more compelling part of the film. I enjoyed the music, but I felt like the whole "selling out" storyline has been done to death, and the film did such a cursory job that it felt like it was just going through the motions.

I also think it would have been more compelling and complex if Ally's father had been the one to sit Jackson down and give that speech about her dragging him down, rather than the manager guy. It just felt too obvious and so clearly bad intentioned, especially since the manager's interest was an economic one. I feel like if it had been Ally's father, it could have been more of a tough love kind of moment (and preferably after we see her father try to talk Ally into leaving him because yeah, someone really needed to sit her down).

But even though it wasn't a perfect movie, it definitely dug its claws in me. I never saw any of the previous iterations, but I'm frankly glad I had heard vague spoilers, so that the ending didn't come as a shock (although it was heavily foreshadowed. My feelings about the movie are also complicated by the fact that I've been on both sides of the addiction thing (as the person struggling to get sober and also watching someone I'm close to struggle and fail to get sober). Cooper did a good job of showing that, but it's always tough to watch that kind of thing, at least for me personally.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:43 PM on October 26, 2018

Oh, and it makes me really happy to read that the dog Charlie is Cooper's real life dog. The image of the dog lying down outside the garage towards the end just about broke me.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:44 PM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Finally saw this. I did not have high expectations at all - but happily they surpassed them. Not to the point that it was my favorite thing ever, but more like, "....well, that wasn't bad."

I did feel that the pace of Ally and Jack's romance was super rushed. I know that some people get swept off their feet and fall head over heels in love, but that felt like one minute they were meeting at a bar and the next minute she was moving in; it just felt super-fast.

Not a fan of the super-slick produced version of Ally, but that is probably more so a matter of my own personal taste (I tend more towards Jack's music personally).

...The scene with Ally and her friend Ramon in the private jet en route to Jack's concert, on the other hand, was flippin' adorable, with the two of them completely freaking out and trying out all the fancy stuff and panicking because they spilled champagne and being all "omigod you lie down on one couch and I'll lie down on the other because we can because we're on a plane that HAS COUCHES HOW IS THIS OUR LIFE AAAAAAAAAAAAAH". Then also the scene where Ally is about to do a concert but is freaking out in the bathtub, and Ramon goes in to join her and places a video call to the drag bar so everyone there can give Ally a pep talk. Basically any scene with Ally and Ramon was charming as all hell.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:49 PM on February 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I saw the extended version of this tonight and liked it very much. More music, more happy moments between Ally and Jack that were very sweet. I figured I was going to be the only one there on a Sunday night, but there were other folks too.

While I don't quite think Bradley Cooper should have won Best Actor, I do think he could have used a best actor nomination after this movie. The aforementioned look in his eyes in his last scene with Ally still killed me.

And I have to say: I prefer au naturel-ish Gaga to platinum blonde, super tan Gaga that she's back to these days. She's so much prettier when you can see her and not just facade. I hadn't even noticed that her hair was back to its usual color in the last scene in this movie.

I also thought stuff like "I don't remember that she broke up with some guy named Roger in the bathroom?" and I did not recall that Jack tried to kill himself at 13, only managed to break the ceiling fan, his dad never noticed and the fan stayed on the floor for the next six months. WTF? Also, his dad was 63 and knocked up an 18-year-old? EWWWWWWWWWWW. I'm not sure if that was added-in stuff or if I just don't remember it now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:16 PM on March 3, 2019

Jenfullmoon: the Roger breakup, the ceiling fan story and the weird stuff about Jack's dad were indeed all in the original cut of the film. They were a little subtle though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:10 AM on March 4, 2019

While I don't quite think Bradley Cooper should have won Best Actor, I do think he could have used a best actor nomination after this movie.

He did get nominated, just didn't win. The nomination he didn't get was Best Director, which definitely sparked some outrage. Not from me, though, due to my aforementioned issues with the movie's pacing.
posted by lunasol at 4:29 PM on March 4, 2019

Got a week’s free trial of HBO. Saw this was available, thought, what the heck, it’s supposed to be good. Stopped caring pretty quickly, but stuck with it, because I guess I still haven’t learned to trust my instincts. Hated it so much I watched all of Chernobyl to make myself feel better.
posted by sageleaf at 11:26 PM on June 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

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