Film Review: A STAR IS BORN (USA 2018) ***

A Star Is Born Poster
Trailer

2:31 | Trailer
A musician helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

Director:

Bradley Cooper

Writers:

Eric Roth (screenplay by), Bradley Cooper (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »

The third remake after the Judy Garland/James Mason and Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson entries, A STAR IS BORN, Academy Award Best Actor nominee Bradley Cooper’s

directorial and screenwriting debut arrives in Toronto for a commercial release right after great hype at both the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals.  Having high expectations, I was ultimately disappointed.  The film is good but not that good, falling into the trap of the typical failed romantic drama due to personal demons and artistic conflict – predictable storyline of personal conflict and over-staged drama.

The film opens with super singer Jackson Maine (Cooper) performing live at a huge concert.  It is an amazingly shot scene complete with a screaming crowd, astounding acoustics and musical performance, setting the stage for more outstanding performances to come.  And they thankfully are, whether performed by Jackson or his rising star, Ally (Lady Gaga).  But Jackson is clearly on a self destructive course.  He arrives at a bar after the opening concert, dropped off by his chauffeur.  He ends up in a drag bar (because Lady gag has the hit gay positive song, “Born This Way”) where he is impressed by Ally’s performance of La Vie En Rose.  Apparently she is so good, she is the only non drag performer allowed to sing there.  Jackson takes her home and this is the beginning of the relationship in which Jackson also grooms Ally to be a star.

The rest is history and the story almost everyone in the movies is aware off.  As Ally rises to fame, Jackson downward spirals into losing his.  Jackson also suffers from a hearing problem and has a rift with his older brother and manager (Sam Elliot, who is good but mumbles half his dialogue).

Cooper’s film captures the atmosphere of the rich and famous, from the parties, the glare of the spotlight, the attraction of fame as well as the pain that comes with it.

The main trouble is that it can safely be said that the audience has seen all this before -a star’s rise to fame, her lose of identity (clearly mentioned a few times to make its point) and conflict of interest.  Cooper’s film attempts to bridge the gap between having a solid relationship and a successful singing career   This does not happen.  One basically has to give up family life for musical fame.  This story is more effectively told in the gut wrenching documentary BAD REPUTATION, about the life and career of girl rock and roller Joan Jett, that coincidentally also opens this week.  BAD REPUTATION puts A STAR IS BORN to shame.  BAD REPUTATION is the real thing where Jett maintains her identity, ditches family life to launch a successful music career that audiences can root for an identify with.  A STAR IS BORN, unfortunately sinks into predictable melodrama  at many points.

The film also suffers from having two protagonists Jackson and Ally instead of just concentrating on Ally.  Cooper is ok, he has his star charm but it is Lady gaga that makes the movie.  She does not look anything like the Lady Gaga everyone is used to seeing and it is her that the audience sees that a real young and rising star is born.  Move over Madonna!

Still A STAR IS BORN will be well received by many as a love story that hovers between the shadow of tragedy and the bright light of artists at their peak as observed by many of the teary eyed audience (mainly females) who left the theatre at the promo screening.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPxGl3B2I4A

Advertisements

Film Review: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 2 (USA 2017)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

guardians2.jpgSet to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

Director: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn, Dan Abnett (based on the Marvel comics by) |
Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell

Review by Gilbert Seah 

 
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY Volume 2 follows exactly the path of sequels – louder and more of what were found in the original.

If the first film is your cup of tea, is is doubtless that you will enjoy the volume 2 – because it is nothing more than a replica of the same, only with Disney/Marvel going haywire and completely berserk. The best example is the climatic fight scene where during the battle between the hero and villain, the hero suddenly turns into a pixeled chomping Pacman. (Silly but funny!)

The films does boast an awesome soundtrack. Those who love the oldies, might go out and buy the soundtrack, maybe even skip the movie. There are are familiar songs, some seldom heard for a long time and some choice ones I have never heard before. The film is scored, as in the first film by Tyler Bates.

So, who are these Guardians of the Galaxy? The leader is an unchallenged Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who has a romantic fling with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an alien orphan fighting to redeem her past crimes. There is also Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a highly skilled warrior, Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper). There is absolutely no explanation why Baby Groot is in this film after a larger Groot died in the original film.

Subplots are thrown in with additional characters like Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora’s sister. The only other character of importance is Quill’s dad, Ego (Kurt, Russell) who turns out to be the film’s villain.
The plot of the film involves the Guardians of the Galaxy saving the Galaxy from destruction, once at the start of the film and then again. But the guardians are a comical troupe led by no less than a character of the same mould. They obviously get not trouble while saving the galaxy – all these antics supposedly providing fun and reason for millions of cinemagoers around the world to cough up money for an admission ticket or even more to see the film in imax 3-D.

The film contains lots of irrelevant and meaningless quotes that should amuse those easily amused. When Quill’s father turns bad, Quill’s adopted father Yondu (Michael Rooker) tells him: “He might be your father, but he is not your daddy!” Or goes the another saying: “I know who you are, because you are me!”

There is a lot of ego on display here. Not only is the villain named Ego but he is also omnipresent as the entire planet which is also called Ego. There is the egoistic rivalry between the two sisters and more important, the rivalry between the father and son. The father is the personification of ego. He says:’What I have planted is an extension of myself so that eventually, everything is me.”

It is evident that director Gunn has put in a lot of effort to make Volume 2 worth the price of the admission ticket. But take away the special effects and production design, dazzling and expensive though they may be, and what is left is a narrative mess of a tedious convoluted plot littered with irrelevant humour.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cv2ueYnKjg

_________

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Movie Review: JOY (2015)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

joy_poster.jpg
JOY (USA 2015) ***** TOP 10
Directed by David O. Russell
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Donna Mills, Elisabeth Röhm, Virginia Madsen, Diane Ladd

Writer/director David O. Russell has been known to made films with strong family content like SPANKING THE MONKEY, THE FIGHTER and. His last movie AMERICAN HUSTLE shows him successful in a completely different genre – business. JOY, a film about a housewife named Joy Mongano (Jennifer Lawrence), a struggling single mother who with the help of family and friends succeeds in inventing and marking her miracle mop invention combines the best of the two genres.

Joy has not the typical family. Her grandmother (Dianne West) who narrates the story, her TV-addicted mother, Terry (Virginian Madsen), two children live with her in her house together with her divorced husband (Edgar Ramirez) who lives in her basement. Her dad (Robert de Niro) suddenly moves in, and causes some havoc. But to survive, Joy decides to manufacture and sell her magical mop, going all out – to make it or go completely broke. This is a film about mending broken dreams and making them finally come true. JOY is a true joy to watch, a feel-good Christmas film with all the peers and quirkiness found in a Russell movie. The film moves at a manic pace, especially in the beginning, capturing the spirit of AMERICAN HUSTLE.

Jennifer Lawrence (MOCKINGJAY) delivers another knock-out performance capable of winning her another Oscar nomination for Best actress. Her two memorable segments especially the one where she freaks out in front of her daughters is enough to make one cry. The other has her telling her stepsister in words that will eventually go into movie history: “Never ever speak on behalf about my business … again!” Bradley Cooper has a smaller supporting role but one cannot get enough of his character on screen. Ramirez as the divorced husband is surprisingly good and truly as in the words of the film, they make ‘the most awesome couple in America”, despite not being married.

There is also some neat words in the script. In one scene, Joy’s father tells Joy that it is to possible to have the same dream, to which she replies she has had the same dream twice. If one has the same dream, that means having that dream twice, so how may times is the dream dreamt if one has the same dream twice. Funnier still, is the fact that what that dream is, is never revealed in the film. Also, Joy’s business financier and father’s girlfriend, Trudy’s (Isabella Rossellini) four rules of business success is a real hoot.

The trailer has a scene with Joy blasting off a rifle. In the film, she is upset and blasts the file taken in a rifle range next to the father’s shop. The trailer leads the audience to think Joy has shot someone, especially with anther scene with two cops handcuffing her and taking her away. But tis is not really what transpires in the film. It is a clever editing of the film to form a trailer to look more exciting with events imagined by the audience. Thought his to be a brilliant touch.

JOY has got mixed reviews so far from critics. I have read a few but am unconvinced of the reasons that JOY is faulted with. JOY to me, is a smart fell-good movie, appropriate for Christmas
and shows director Russell in top form.

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com