Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce you to Tony Farinella, a fellow film buff who will now be contributing articles to The Ultimate Rabbit. This is his first review for the website, and we look forward to reading many more from him.
It is very rare that a film like “A Star is Born” comes along. When the trailer was released, I must have watched it about fifty times. When the soundtrack came out, I listened to it every single day and still do today. Many people are often quick to judge when it comes to remakes, especially for one like “A Star is Born,” considering it has been done multiple times in the past. However, this one is different and far and away the best version of the film to ever come along which is truly saying something. It all starts with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. They are the straw that stirs this drink.
The word authentic is used a lot when it comes to the filmmaking process. It was especially true when it came to “A Star is Born.” In order for this film to be as effective and powerful as it ultimately ended up being, two things needed to happen. Number one: Lady Gaga had to be believable as an actress. She has acted before, but it has never been on this level. Number two: Bradley Cooper needed to be believable as a singer. It can’t look like he’s lip syncing or just trying to fit in and not look out of his element. He IS Jackson Maine in the same way Lady Gaga is Ally.
When that happens, you have movie magic. No film has affected me as much as 2018’s “A Star is Born” since 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby.” There is something to be said about having a dream and having someone believe in you. The story has been done before, but it is told in a way that brings something new to the table, especially with Bradley Cooper as the director. He is the director and he is more than up to the task. The music is incredible, catchy, and it truly brings the viewer into this musical world.
As far as the story, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) has seen better days. He is boozing at a very dangerous level and is also really into drugs. He props himself up on stage, but he is not the man he used to be as a performer. This frustrates his brother, played by Sam Elliott. There is only so much he can take of Jackson being late or not taking things seriously. However, when Jackson has a chance encounter with Ally (Lady Gaga), he sees something special in her.
All her life, people have told Ally they like the way she sounds but not the way she looks. They talked about her nose and have criticized her. Legendary comedian Andrew Dice Clay plays her father in a tremendous performance. He’s a driver, and he talks about how Paul Anka once told him he had more natural talent than Frank Sinatra. As his daughter tells him, she doesn’t have the same disease he has where he loves to hang out with celebrities and feel important.
With Ally and Jackson, both are the missing piece in each other’s lives. Jackson tells her she has a voice, has something to say, and is the one who needs to say it. Ally brings out the best in Jackson musically and as a person, even though he is still struggling with his demons. When he runs into an old musical friend, played by another legendary comedian in Dave Chappelle, the friend tells him he looked like his old self up on stage with Ally. However, as Ally’s star is rising, Jackson is starting to hit rock bottom.
People are taking notice of her because of Jackson, but Jackson can’t be left alone with his alcohol issues and his ability to self-destruct at any moment. She’s becoming more of a pop star, but she isn’t really sure she likes it. She tells her manager she doesn’t want to lose the part of her that is talented. With fame, there comes a lot of wonderful and magical things, but it is very complicated for both Ally and Jackson. They need to figure out how to handle it to save their relationship and also their careers.
As mentioned earlier in the review, “A Star is Born” has tremendous songs, and they are performed live. Because of this and of the way they are shot, it brings an intimacy to this film. This is a very intimate film, make no mistake about it. The love between Jackson and Ally feels incredibly real and raw. The music is there without any frills. It is just great music and it is not done in a way which sounds staged or phony. This is as real as it gets in terms of moviemaking. It is incredible what Bradley Cooper pulled off here as a director.
The third act is a tough one, as I’m sure many people are aware of by now, but it is also a hopeful act without giving too much away. The final performance and the way Lady Gaga looks into the camera, that is golden. It does not get any better than that. For this and so many other reasons, “A Star is Born” is my favorite film of 2018. After watching it twice, once in the theater and once on Blu-Ray, I don’t think I have any tears left in me to cry, quite frankly. Those tears were earned though, and this is what makes it such a special movie.
Lady Gaga has said this a number of times, and it is true: “You can have a hundred people in a room and all it takes is one to believe in you.” This is a film that anyone with a dream of making it in a field they are passionate about needs to see and watch over and over again. It is possible. It is possible because of the love and support of another person and the belief in yourself. :A Star is Born” isn’t just the best movie of 2018, it is also one of the most important films of the year as well.
* * * * out of * * * *
Blu-Ray Info: “A Star is Born” is released on a two-disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack, which comes with a digital copy as well. You can also pick it up on DVD and 4K.
Audio and Video Info: The film comes presented in 1080p High Definition with an aspect ratio of 16×9, 2.4:1. The film looks magnificent on Blu-Ray and really pops and stands out. The audio is also out of this world on the following formats: Dolby Atmos- TrueHD: English, DTS-HD MA, English 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital: Français 5.1 (Dubbed in Quebec), and Español 5.1. Subtitles are in English, French, and Spanish.
Special Features: There is a thirty-minute behind-the-scenes special feature, which includes interviews with just about every major actor in the film including Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. They talk about the process of getting this film made, how it took three years, and what it meant to all of them. It is called “The Road to Stardom: Making A Star is Born.” Music Videos are included as well as songs and performances not seen in theaters. All in all, there is some good stuff here, but I would have loved a commentary track and an even lengthier behind-the-scenes of the film, as I know a lot went into this. Depending on how this film does on Oscar Night, I’m going to go out on a limb and say they will be releasing it again with more special features.
Own “A Star is Born” on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition on February 19