A Star is Born has been told so many times that it’s almost becoming a generational right of passage. It doesn’t matter the entertainment venue, as some young woman is always trying to rise with the help of a veteran male. You can almost feel the vocal minority of the Internet getting ready to rage, but here’s a neat trick. Turn off the smartphone and laptop and go outside. Reach out to people face-to-face and talk about this sort of thing. It’s a shared cultural trope throughout most of the Western World and parts of the East.
Lady Gaga plays into the role in a way I haven’t quite seen Judy Garland’s take in the 1950s. Honestly, I never thought that calling that kind of take ‘brave’ would ever be relevant again. This age wants to prescribe a certain weight to a narrative about a woman deeply caring for a troubled man. The groans inspire the thinkpieces that all miss the point. Even with the co-dependent care, this is still Gaga’s film.
Bradley Cooper directs this adaptation with an eye that’s on par with the past three versions. There is very little flourish, but many references back to the older takes. Award show embarrassments, cancelling tours for support and the inevitable reality of what must come to play. Yet, it’s still Lady Gaga keeping the focus. Why does matter? Well, because it shows how much of the original story stays true. Even with the original version that went out of its way to bottom out Gaynor.
Watching awful behavior onscreen seems to be an invitation for the blind mouths of Medium and YouTube filmdom to cry wolf over every little decision. Maybe it’s the years that Cooper spent studying under Eastwood (the original director before passing the baton), but something carefree is at play here. Formulaic storytelling is still predetermined, but I thoroughly enjoyed a direct story that doesn’t care about appeasing to loud bases.
Even the detractors try to make excuses for why the film isn’t angering more people. They just love the music and they’re not paying attention to the film. Ladies and gentlemen, I was over Lady Gaga by The Fame Monster. Shallow is going to win the Oscar for Best Original Song. Gaga is getting nominated and favored to win, even with Olivia Colman nipping at her heels. Straight played storytelling that entertains and creates a world will take the popcorn cinema people to that next level.
I’m at a point where I’m not kicking those people out of the cultural airspace for enjoying a film like this. Hell, I’m getting so resentful of the so-called tastemakers who bemoan the monoculture yet try to create culturally approved canon. Complain all you want. Make new hashtags and find something new to cry about. A Star is Born 2018 style is great. Plus, it inspired one of my favorite film conversations of the last decade.
But, that’s a story for another time.