Just a thought… You’re never going to kill storytelling because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it. [Margaret Atwood]
Hello from wintry Winnipeg. We don’t have the snow here that greeted us during a brief transfer in Calgary yesterday (briefer than planned, as my WestJet flight was uncharacteristically late in taking off from Victoria), but it’s cold – near freezing. Honey, I am not ready for this! But the reception last night from folks at CREA was warm enough to keep me cozy all the way home.
This past weekend I had to do something to take my mind off the Kavanaugh confirmation (yes, it depressed me that much) so Rob and I had a good old fashioned date. Well, maybe not so old fashioned: dinner and a movie isn’t our thing as we consider the gluttonous amounts of popcorn we inhale at the theatre actually to be our dinner. But we headed downtown, picked up our reserved tickets, loaded up on popcorn and reclined in style to take in – at long last – A Star is Born.
Although it would seem that Beauty and the Beast isn’t the only “tale as old as time,” this was my first experience with a movie by this title. Having not seen the 1937 Fredric March/Janet Gaynor original, the 1954 Judy Garland/James Mason version (until Monday night), nor the Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson remake, I had only the raves from TIFF and the trailers that had so captivated us to go by.
By the way, Lady Gaga, who co-stars with writer, director, singer and songwriter Bradley Cooper, says that the film really bears little resemblance to its 1976 precursor; we’ll know after seeing it this weekend on TV. Check your listings if you’re interested in seeing it.
I discussed this movie and its predecessors with guests on the weekend and, to my surprise, it became clear that not everyone knows the basic storyline! I thought everyone did. So with that in mind, I won’t even allude to anything that happens. I think you know the basics: a superstar (actor in earlier incarnations; singer in the later ones) discovers an unknown talent and helps to make her a superstar, too. Then hilarity ensues. (Just kidding. It does not.)
I know comparisons are not fair, but when a movie’s been done so many times, it’s almost impossible not to. By the time Kris Kristofferson embraced one of the co-lead roles in 1976, he’d already been on the silver screen, but was known chiefly as a singer/songwriter. Bradley Cooper, on the other hand, has really only achieved fame as an actor.
Well, here’s a real revelation: he’s one hell of a rock-country singer, contributed to the writing of some solid songs, acts beautifully and directs the film with such deftness that he’s likely to become the ninth actor to be nominated for Oscars both as an actor and director (joining such luminaries as Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier and Warren Beatty, to name three). He’s just that good. The guitar work he does is not just convincing, it’s REAL and his performance almost guarantees him the Oscar that has eluded him despite four nominations.
Then we get to Lady Gaga, who turns out to be the actress that a singer with whom she’s frequently compared, Madonna, always wished she could be. The casting of Stefani Germanotta (aka Gaga) in the role of the singer/songwriter who’s molded into a superstar could not be more pitch perfect. And better still, she makes the role her own, leaving other comparisons – like that to La Streisand – in the dust.
This incarnation of A Star is Born will be the film to beat at the Oscars next year, but as we all know, a lot can happen in the run up to movies’ big night. (Just ask the aforementioned Warren Beatty.) You don’t want to miss this one, though. I wish I could say more about the film, but again, I don’t want to be your spoiler.
Oh, one note: there are more f-words than F-chords in this movie, just so you know. I was too busy eating popcorn to clutch my pearls, but just in case you know someone thinking of going who might feel differently…. (Also, drug and alcohol abuse is rampant.)
On a much different note, this weekend we’re taking in First Man, starring, coincidentally, another actor who embraced playing an instrument (piano) and singing for a role that elevated him to Leading Actor Oscar status in La La Land. I’ll let you know if, in my humble opinion, it’s worth your IMAX money to see Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong.
Don’t you love when it’s grown-up movie season again? Have a good Wednesday and I’ll be back with you for a red-letter day here tomorrow.