Talent, Training, & Chemistry Can Overcome All: A Star Is Born

It would be easy to raise the question: why create another remake of the film A Star is Born?  The 1937 version (Janet Gaynor, Frederich March), and the 1954 version ( Judy Garland, James Mason) are of Academy Award linage and as view-able today as when released.  The 1976 version (Barbara Streisand, Kris Kristofferson) is of similar lineage and success, however it feels less powerful and somewhat dated today.

So why make an updated version?

First, the story-line about personal hardship, developing a lasting and true relationship, heartbreak, and absolution is an easily pliable and reusable one of which Hollywood can bank.

Second, and this becomes more and more obvious as this version moves through its 136 minute run-time; Talent, Training & On Screen Chemistry.

The 2018 version of A Star is Born is bursting with talented performers, makers of music, and creators of film.  Some of the performers, especially Bradley Cooper, clearly trained extensively in order to become truly skilled in the craft they portray on screen (e,g, musician, singer).  And finally the chemistry between the leads (Cooper and Stefani Germanotta a.k.a. Lady Gaga) is undeniable.  The eye contact between the two leads when they meet for the first time early in the film seals the deal for onscreen chemistry.

A Star Is Born (2018) is a musical at its core (without the dancing).  The songs and music is nothing short of superb; full of variety and breadth.

Germonatta is exceptional as Ally.  There is no hint of her (albeit successful) Gaga stage personality. Ally is gentle, natural, and vulnerable.  Ally is full of talent who is either fearful of further rejection and or unable to personally promote it.  Cooper is mesmerizing as Jack.  Jack is a gentle-soul full of melancholy due to a hard early life, one that is even more so after professional success.

The screenplay by Eric Roth (AA Forrest Gump, AAN The Insider,  AAN Munich) and Copper is a winner that takes what is best about major films, with little to none of their weaknesses.  In A Star is Born there are no trite and contrived scenes about infidelity (personally or professionally).  There is heartbreak – revisiting its past through dialogue and present through imagery.  It all seems so real and sincere in A Star is Born.

—–  Jeff’s Other Thoughts and Worthless Trivia

Have you ever been unprepared and shocked to experience something (in a good way).  I love when this happens to me – it makes life new and rich.  For me, it occurred twice in A Star is Born.

First, there is the opening scene with Bradley Cooper as Jack performing the hard-edged Country Rock song Black Eyes in what appears to be at a major country music festival before a huge audience.  What you see in A Star is Born is truly the musician and singer Bradley Cooper performing with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. For 18 months prior to filming Cooper worked extensively with Nelson learning to play guitar to and  Tim Monich  to extend his vocal range and refine his singing voice to match the character.  The Producer’s secured time at two major concerts.  The deals required no additional time requested and no retakes. Germonatta also convinced Cooper that all music and singing be performed life (i.e., no lip-syncing or fake playing of instruments).

Second, there is Germonatta/Gaga transforming into Ally.  It is Butterfly like.  With little makeup, a natural hair color, and simple clothes Germonatta seems like a real person.  Ironically the story of A Star is Born has self-serving handlers and promoters move Ally directionaly towards a plastic and unnatural stage presence (bright red hair and 8,432 dancers as backups).  Ally ultimately is not comfortable with all of the changes.

The 2018 version of A Star is Born has something in common with its 1937 and 1954 cousins – great screenwriters.  Dorothy Parker created the 1937 version.  Moss Hart created the 1954 version.  Eric Roth has lead credit in the 2018.  All three are considered some of the very best at their craft in history.

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