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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My “Last Call” with the cast of “Justified” ~ Paley Center Event

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Note: Series final for Justified is Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Being this was my #1 in my review of “Top 10 Shows I am watching right now” with Justified being my numero uno to watch, saying goodbye to it and everyone on it was heartbreaking yet so fun..as they say, parting is such sweet sorrow. So to bid it one last adieu tonight as The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills hosted “An Evening with FX channel’s Justified”. Featuring some of it’s top cast members: Timothy Olyphant “Raylan Givens”, Joelle Carter “Ava Crowder”, Erica Tazel “Rachel Brooks”, Jacob Pitts “Tim Gutterson” and the shows creator, Graham Yost who all came to say farewell.

To start off with, with some fun tidbits from the press line interviews:
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Jacob Pitts..When I asked him about Tim and Rachel, you know everyone loves them – what are the chances of a spin-off for The Tim & Rachel show?
His answer being he doesn’t think there is much of a chance..though he would not be opposed to it..but said “that’s a small ship in big seas.”
I made the 2nd question a fun one of “Who is the prankster on the set?” and with no hesitation whatsoever, Tim! He’s gotten the writers a few times with what he thinks should be in a scene..and Jacob helped him on some of those capers (lots of laughter) though “we are grown adults who have a professional job to do and we do it coldly and with precision”.. (more laughter)

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Joelle Carter.. when I asked what’s next for her, she put it out there that she would love to do another character as strong as Ava..while having a few juicy movie roles come her way also. Which is something I think we all would love to see also. As for rolling around in the dirt and getting battle scars from filming, yeah, when it came to the end of the series, she was glad that part of it was done.

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Graham Yost.. As I was going to pitch him the Rachel/Tim spinoff idea as he’s the creator riiigght.. Jacob came running up behind him and wanted to pitch it himself, we had a few good laughs as I called him out on totally trying to poach and pitch my idea..heyyy.. 🙂 it was all in good fun as while Graham likes it too, sadly..it’s not gonna happen.

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Timothy Olyphant.. I asked him what’s next for Timothy Olyphant and as he’s noted on various shows like Ellen & Conan..he’s looking for a job!! And yep..he is. We talked tennis for a moment as I’ve sat by him at Indian Wells for a match watching his good friend Mardy Fish play, and asked if maybe the pro-tennis circuit was on his radar. Fear not all, he’s sticking with acting. And on him being the prankster of the set.. naaahhh..we agreed he’s an angel and they have no idea what they are talking about. ha!
Sadly I didn’t get the chance to interview Erica Tazel as press line was being wrapped up and I had to choose between that or running in and getting a seat at the panel. :/

Moving along to the panel – you can tell how much this cast not only enjoyed working with each other and on this show, but the respect they have for each other, and most definitely Elmore Leonard, who passed away in 2013 during the 4th season of the show, acknowledging how much they missed working with him. There is no doubt the man had a way with words, but this cast delivered those words like no other. He definitely made an impact on all the cast who worked with him and that they wanted to carry on his legacy in the right way was made apparent.

The fantastic guest stars that they had over the years who made fantastic characters, some of the favourites names by the cast: Margo Martindale “Mags Bennett”, Jere Burns “Winn Duffy”, Ron Eldard “Colton Rhodes” and Sam Elliott “Avery Markham” to name a few. They loved all their guest stars and for those of you wondering..while not a villain.. Patton Oswalt aka CONSTABLE BOB LIVES!!

Jacob puts it out there that he would have been fine with Boyd Crowder killing off his character Tim, though hey..he just might as we won’t know until next week!
They all seemed to agree that on favourite scenes, the #1 by far was the animal in the bag with Dickie and Coover. And the shows willingness to always just ‘go for it’ and ‘swing for the fences’ is something Olyphant notes that he just loved.
One of Joelle’s best scenes was of course probably one of ours also, where Ava gets her hair cut in prison. Now little did we know at the time, that was actually her real hair stylist who she kept saying she was sorry she was hurting her but she’d never cut hair with a shiv before!!!

While we got no spoilers for the finale..though trust me, some people tried, but hey, we REALLY don’t want it spoiled do we!! I for one, want to see it unfold as it happens because there are so many ways it can go and I’m excited for it, but we did get a note that the finale will have a lot of flashbacks from the past as Graham Yost appreciates that the fans pay close attention to these facts. Also, we do find out ‘What matters to us’ as Raylan has said to Boyd.

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Now right smack in the middle of all this, Jacob Pitts announces he’s gotta use the restroom and to the ensuing laughter that comes with that announcement, Graham Yost asks to “please leave his mike on for this”. Stellar moment of laughs with this stellar cast.

And yes, they all took some souvenir’s from the set: Graham Yost – a “Welcome to Harlan County” sign which received a big collective “ahhhh” from the audience as I think we ALL want one of those. Erica Tazel – took her nameplate. Joelle Carter – took her parking spot nameplate. Timothy Olyphant – took something he had made during early during the shooting of the show, didn’t name what it was tho..maybe his awesome hat..we don’t know..but he pretty much readily admitted he took stuff all along..ha! Jacob Pitts – I think he said socks.. yep..socks.

Favourite violent scene – hands down the arm-chop and the Winnebago fight won!!

As I’ve noted before in panels like this, some of the best questions and funniest moments are when the audience gets to ask questions as you NEVER know what will happen.
First off Timothy being asked on his being possibly being type cast in Western type series i.e., Deadwood and now Justified, though not exactly a western..kinda the genre is what the point was being made..his response was priceless “you mean being cast as a badass, yeah that would be awful wouldn’t it” in other words, nope not worried.
Then asked about his similarity of looks to Garrett Dillahunt (Ty Walker) not worried at all..he’s a great actor and had a beard after all.

And yes, Walton Goggins teeth are that white in real life!! says Joelle..she’s seen them up close..

The character of Boyd Crowder was actually supposed to die in Season 1 but the chemistry between Raylan & Boyd was undeniable so they decided to keep him around for awhile.. and here we are at the series finale and he’s still standing..as of now.

I think the fact that they noted they were all brought to tears on set at the end of filming says a lot of how much they noted they will all miss working with one another.

And with that we say goodbye to the wonderful cast and creator of Justified. Thank you for an amazing six seasons and for entertaining us so well through it all. To everyone from cast, guest stars, writers, producers and crew, a heartfelt–Thank You!

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And that concludes my fantastic last ‘date’ with the cast of “JUSTIFIED” Hope you all have enjoyed the show as much as I have and be sure to tune in for the series finale, Tuesday, April 14th.

@pegsatthemovies
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