REVIEW: “A STAR IS BORN” (2018) Warner Bros.

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“A Star is Born” version 4.0 is here. And with it, we get not only Lady Gaga, but Bradley Cooper in his directorial debut doing double duty as lead actor as well. Straight off the bat I have to say this was a fantastic film with deserved praise for both its stars performance and their chemistry. The rise of fame from Gaga’s character to the declining career of Cooper’s was a roller-coaster ride of emotion. And the soundtrack can be just summed up as WOW!.

This 2018 updated version is very much in tune with today’s world and thankfully so, as I can only confess to seeing the last two versions and they were too kept in time with the day/age of music of that period. The first half of film for me is certainly the strongest part as we get to meet our main characters Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), a musician who is struggling to cope with his life and Ally (Lady Gaga), who thru a through a random stop, meetup where she is performing at a drag bar that Maine stops in while in an alcoholic stupor, for just one more cocktail.

We get a very good supporting cast here who all stand on their own in their parts of the story. Once again, I am impressed by Andrew Dice Clay’s performance – something I’d never thought I’d see or say, as Ally’s father Lorenzo. Her sidekick throughout the film is Ramon (Anthony Ramos) and her manager who takes her down fame’s sidewalk Rez (Rafi Gavron). Cooper has his own great support in Sam Elliot as his much older 1/2 brother Bobby. Bobby is the one who has picked Jackson up off the ground – literally – and wrapped him up at night before any major damage can be done.

Cue to the second half of the film. While still great does have more than a few cliche moments which can be a bit distracting especially if you have seen the other versions. Coopers directorial eye is certainly great capturing some great brilliant musical performance shots and always capturing the characters emotional thoughts. I certainly would have liked more Dave Chappelle scenes and loved the different type of character he played.

If I had to sum up this film – acting/directing/story/soundtrack in the best way possible it would be as follows: Gaga out-sings Cooper by a long shot, though make no mistake, he does a passable job. But Cooper on the other hand, out acts Gaga – who again, does well for a first time starring role – but cannot compete with either Streisand or Garland’s previous acting performances while her voice is just as comparable. Realistically speaking, those two are a tough act to follow for ANYONE. I know everyone is screaming Oscar, but personally, and again this is just me, I think it might be to early to call that yet – though it’s all a possibility.

While it’s a very tough job to pull this off as this type of story was maybe thought to have been done to death, but truly congratulations to all on a job well done.

Grade: B
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Monday, October 1, 2018 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
‘A STAR IS BORN’ IS OUT WORLDWIDE FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2018

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REVIEW: WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR” (2018) Focus Features

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“Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is hands down, the best film I’ve seen all year. And you might say “Oh it’s not a film, it’s a documentary” and you would be right. But it is still the best film of 2018 so far.

“WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR” is a beautifully done, heartwarming tribute to Fred Roger’s and his Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood show – which changed children’s television forever. This film highlights Rogers’ humanity and decency and shows how he brought his message to children everywhere. He was a Christian pastor who brought his values to work – without trying to preach or force his religion on you. I must say as a person who doesn’t believe in religion myself..he was truly the epitome of the word “good christian” probably the last of his kind as many who tout themselves as that now, couldn’t hold a candle to this man. And he gave everything to kids and truly cared about their views of the world and what happens to them.

His message remains timely today and also shows the importance of PBS. Interviews with everyone from his wife to his co-workers capture the essence of this wonderful human being.
The film is so well done and emotional – making you laugh, smile and yes, even grown men had tears during some remarkable moments. He made me think again and want to pass along his message of Love..yes..Love people. Do I wonder how he would handle today’s horrible effect of reality TV and what is going on with children being shot at school..yes I do. And I sure wish he was here to help in this time of inexplicable hate.. Please do yourself a favour and watch this film – it might give us all pause to think for a moment.

Grade: A+
@pegsatthemovies

Thank you to @filmindependent and @lacma for this screening.