“A Star Is Born” ( 2018)

For me, “ A Star Is Born” (2018) is a fourth remake with the same toxic dose of melodrama as all the others. Why,  Bradley Cooper, why ?  Why not write a new story to show off your singing, guitar and directorial talents?

I’m guessing that Lady Gaga and the fountain flow of economic pay-offs have something to do with the answer. My movie ticket-taker told me she saw your film twice and purchased the sound track. Love at first sight, mentorship, obscurity followed by a shared stage, then acclaim for the neophyte while you, the star, falls~really falls. But, alas, there is no discernible font of innovation here.

Oh,well, before the first screen shot is seen, we hear the fans screaming. In this 2018 version, Cooper is Jackson Maine~ the same Jackson as Fredric Marsh, James Mason, and Kris Kristofferson before him. It is a great contrast to Cooper’s climatic scene where he staggers and crawls up to the Emmy mic and wets himself.

Cooper is very easy on the eyes. The steroid shot in the tush being my favorite. His six-pack side shot does not bemoan his character’s beer drinking, either. He is on beautiful display. Cooper seems to do it all in this film, even fall in love spontaneously. His fourth song, “ Maybe It’s Time To Let The Old Times Die” is how I felt about the Arizona return to his Father’s “gravesite”with its “ hot wind and history”. Editing is not deemed important in “ A Star Is Born” (2018).

But then there is Lady Gaga. ( Stefani Germanatta) As Ally Campana, I like how she labels her dad with “celebrity disease”. Her interplay with her wanna be crooner patriarch is perfect. The family dynamics chemistry better than the romantic. The breakfast scenes better than the bathtub ones. When her dad opines, “It’s all my fault.” She easily rolls her eyes with, “ You don’t have that kind of power, Dad.” She is a mixed bag. Her vulnerability is hit and miss. The same with her uneven acting. I hated her anger scenes, and felt she was stronger in the “triage” role of caretaker. Smashing the hallway memento posters was almost silly, as was her punching the picture taker. Is this what being a modern woman means? Please!

She will be up for an Oscar for best song, but it won’t be for Edith Piaf’s  “ La Vie En Rose”. “ I’ll Never Love Again” showed her real talent.

Sam Elliott is admirable as Bobby, Jackson’s half brother. He makes the most of his scenes without show-boating his tears. My favorite line may be Cooper’s as he is found sleeping in the grass, “in my mind I made it to the door.”

 

 

“I’ll See You In My Dreams”

      When more than three fourths of our life is over, “So What?” may be a sobering question. Somehow the film “I’ll See You In My Dreams” makes mortality, at least the idea of it, a no brainer. One lives like one always has lived with daily rituals in place and friends in one’s corner. Blythe Danner is matter-of-fact, practical, and no nonsense as she has an aged and ailing pet put down, deals with a rat in her house, bouts of loneliness, and the quirks of friends.

Set in Southern California, this is a slow, low budget, slice-of-life film that empathizes with rather insulated and well-off seventy-year-old white women,who find themselves bored with golf and bridge. Sally (Rhea Perlman) longingly jokes how sexual the “tee” vocabulary is what with “ball”, “hole” and “stroke”. The retirement home Speed Dating and the medical marijuana forays seem contrived and equally pathetic. The pool boy relationship Carol (Blythe Danner) invests in is more realistically linked to her teacher/songstress background. Poor souls looking for support and connection is thematically here as Lloyd (Martin Starr) needs Carol’s attention and support as badly as she needs his.

In one scene, Lloyd takes Carol to a karaoke bar after being impressed with her East Village club history.
Danner’s rendition of Julie London’s “Cry Me A River” is pretty weak,while throaty. The best part of this Indie film is in the details.The bouquet of daisies replaced by the bowl of lemons,the dog’s leash, the digital clock’s red numerals, and the endless wine guzzling leave their mark.The cemetery urns,dust and the left cigar and the small trowl door knocker all leave us knowing that Carol will keep living each day and dreaming about tomorrow.

Brett Haley,director and writer, does a good job with Cath ( Malin Akerman) ,Carol’s daughter’s role~just enough love,concern and tension. Enjoy Danner’s blue,gray,and accented yellow wardrobe as you learn about her husband’s death twenty years ago. Her raised eyebrow,her classic trench coat and Riedel clinks make us know what she is thinking when one has “30 seconds to shift”. Georgina ( June Squibb) and Rona  (Mary Kay Place) complete the cast of  girl friends.

Sam Elliott’s Texas charmer role did surprise and his remark,”Hard to lose somebody no matter how many legs they have,” later has ironic resonance as his fate is learned. The song lyrics of the young pool cleaner/cum poet make the title of this film make sense.