A STAR IS BORN : THE BIRTH OF A PRODUCER… BRADLEY COOPER
THE CAPTAIN CINEMAXX HAS WATCHED : A STAR IS BORN * SPOILERS *
This project is dating back to 2011 with at first, Clint Eastwood behind the camera and Beyonce Knwoles interpreting Ally. The fourth remake of A Star Is Born (1937) finally came to the big screen. In the process, you’ll have noticed, the production endured some major changes, including Bradley Cooper’s nomination to the direction and Lady Gaga as the main character. And if this might be the first time for Bradley Cooper as a director, It’s not the first apparition of Lady Gaga on the big screen. However, it is the first for her to be the main protagonist in a full-length movie.
A Star Is Born was indeed a risk-taking. Both « newbies » to their respective function, the two actors had to bear a huge responsibility : Try and offer to the public a genuine and unforgettable musical drama that is part of the zeitgeist. So, what about it?
SYNOPSIS : Jackson Maine, an old unfashionned Country Star, encounters Ally, a very promising young singer. And while they are falling in love for another, Jack sent Ally on the stage and made of her a singer loved by the public. Soon, he’ll be fully overshadowed by the success of the young woman, it will be harder and harder for him to live his own fall.
After reading the synopsis, we quickly see that this resume is a bit contradictory. Indeed, Jackson Maine isn’t an unfashionned country star since A Star Is Born opens with one of his sold-out concert and is followed during the first part of the movie by a Tour that gathers thousands and thousands of people every time. So how could Ally reach such a notoriety on the social networks if Jackson happened to play in front of like a hundred of people?
Anyway, let’s skip this small detail and focus on one of the main element : Is Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s duo convincing? Everybody will agree with me on that aspect, they ARE convincing. This duo is irresistible. But beyond the complicity between the two actors, the two characters wouldn’t be as good without a good story and fine dialogues.
In order to help him, Bradley Cooper called for one of the best Hollywoodian producer : Eric Roth who had directed Forest Gump, The Horse Whisperer, Munich and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And as always, Roth transformed a classical tale into a true human, authentic and without counterfeit adventure. The characters’ development is progressive (though I’m a bit reserved regarding Jackson Maine, but I’ll come back on this later) and both of them received a certain attention. And above anything else, none of them overshadows the other, there is a real balance between the fall and the ascension, which is important in order to highlight the fragile and intense love-story between Jackson and Ally and understand the stakes. Rhythmed by the ever so tender, thrilling, harsh and violent dialogues, A Star Is Born is a real emotional jewel. There is a whole lot of really touching sequences (for example their preposterous encounter, or their complicity during the shows or in private…) that offers to the wholeness of the movie a lot more than just a romance between two ordinary people.
The only blackspot of the scenario I can think of is about the consistency of Jackson Maine’s individual development, which is essential to understand the stakes of the character and the movie. As a matter of fact, sometimes it’s kind of hard to get how and why is career isn’t working anymore. And I think that Ally’s growing notoriety isn’t responsible for that. At least, the movie never really explained it. Because never a producer came up to Jackson and said him « Your music isn’t working anymore », « There is no longer interest in your songs », « You haven’t been releasing hits for months », « The public has enough of your alcoholic clowning », or anything plausible. We brutally pass from a famous singer to an ex-Country star forced to sing in pharmaceutical forums. And without any explanations, It’s been hard for me to fully immerge in Bradley Cooper’s film. I see a man going through crisis, drinking and trying to get back up. I see the deprivation of a man but not of his success.
A soundtrack is born
Whether it is a musical comedy or movie, America knows how to compose melodies and write songs that draws attention, and A Star Is Born is no exception. A bit less « powerful » than The Greatest Showman, is no less effective.
The Pop tone in most of the « sad » songs, which aims to make us cry, succeeds thanks to Bradley Cooper’s astonishing tone and the mastered vocalizations of Lady Gaga.
Songs like Shallow, Maybe it’s Time or I’ll never love again clearly are among the most beautiful and touching that hits us directly. But it’s not only about the melody, it’s also the choice of the words, the stories the songs tell us, and that’s the point of the movie. Too often nowadays, lyrics don’t really matter and thus the stories told are no longer interesting (unless you are willing to foolishly move your body without thinking). A Star Is Born might then be a nostalgic satire of a bygone era where text-songs were replaced by meaningless dancing melodies?
A Star Is Born strength is unquestionably the actors’ interpretation of their respective characters. We already knew that Bradley Cooper was an excellent actor, but the real surprise here is Lady Gaga’s performance swiftly passing from a shy and innocent young girl to a confident and mature woman. She offers a simple interpretation (thanks to her natural makeup) which is completely contrasting with the outrageous and extravagant Lady Gaga we know, but it is that simplicity that makes her character lovely and allows us to identify with her.
As a conclusion, A Star Is Born definitely is a musical movie that will mark 2018 due to the complicity of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s duo, both excellent in their respective role.
Despite the lack of explanation regarding the reasons of Jackson Maine’s musical failure, the classical scenario has a lot of sublime and touching scenes in store for you, all of that directed by a meticulous Bradley Cooper (even if some esthetical light-play are unnecessary) and cradled by an emotionally powerful original soundtrack with thrilling lyrics.
First success for Bradley Cooper and his very personal production. We can say that we just witnessed the birth of a (future big?) producer…
SPIDER-MAN NEW GENERATION : SONY PICTURES ANIMATION’S JEWEL
THE CAPTAIN CINEMAXX HAS WATCHED – SPIDER-MAN : NEW GENERATION * SPOILERS *
Dating back to 2015, Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse is typically the blockbuster a bit sketchy that required an extreme conscientiousness, both regarding the writing but also the animation; those past years, there wasn’t any important visual risk-taking (excepting Dilili in Paris for 2018).
Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse is non-conforming and is above any
« classical » animation movie and offers a real colored show, with an explosive and original production, featuring a plethora of unusual characters through a well carried-out story full of action and emotion.
On my side, I must admit that the initial project didn’t really excited me. My melancholic side – for me Peter Parker is the true and only Spider-Man and I regret all these IronHeart, Hulk Cho and duplicates arising just to suit the social trend – prevented me from really immerge myself into it. The fact that a Spider-Man movie with the character Miles Morales as its center (by the way I haven’t read any of its comics) really didn’t hyped me. Until…
Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse is a really puff of fresh air in the actual film-landscape where « sanitized-works » full of bland and messy images rules. This movie, realized by Peter Ramsey (Rise of the Guardians), Bob Persichetti, Rodney Rothman and written by Chris Lord and Phil Miller (The Lego Movie), did the opposite with an authentic and crazy visual esthetic, just like the Spider-heroes’ universe! Futurist, « Watchmenian » and full of colors just like in the Spider-Gwen comics, and the scenes she’s the center of are identical regarding the colors to her own comics.
Thus, Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse took the comic books’ codes to offer a succession of sequences as beautiful as the previous one, some in slow-motion (Miles Morales’ fall’s sequence is just astonishing), some explosive action scenes that are fluid, jerky and cartoonish in the same time. Sometimes the screen was split in cases or with onomatopoeia which highlights an important situation (WHOOOAAAA !!!). We can also spot some written cases transcribing Miles’ thoughts, which brought this quite pleasing piece of originality.
Now, regarding the scenario, Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse follows the classical plan of the hero’s origin story. However, the scriptwriters succeeded not to fall into clumsiness and the old clichés we can often expect from this kind of productions. The movie also provided some unexpected plot twists : Miles’ uncle’s identity revelation for example. The producers also avoided the cliché of the muscular, handsome, tidy and well shaved super hero in the way of Superman to present a Peter Parker with a prominent belly, scruffy, and with a beard. A devastated Peter Parker that broke-up with his beloved Mary-Jane Watson after an argument : She wanted a child, he didn’t. And ironically, Peter ended up facing Miles Morales. The movie will then become an initiatory trial for our Peter Parker who’ll become a mentor but also a substitution father for the young Miles and he will end up convincing himself that he might be a good father after all. Moreover, the dialogues have been written finely which is quite rare. The humoristic replicas all have the intended effect on the public (make laugh) whereas the dramatic scenes are so deep emotionally, that we have to be emotionless not to cry, specifically the one involving our beloved deceased Stan Lee which was extremely emotional.
Moreover, the humor in it will be greatly appreciated by those who had all the references. Self-derision (the one who really marked me might be the scene of the dance just like in Raimi’s Spider-Man 3), but also the references to the movies, the cartoons, the comics, to old or new characters, nothing’s spared! But it wasn’t mean, on the contrary! Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse is full of the love of the creators for the webhead’s universe. We can feel this love in every frame, every introduction, every evolution in the characters until the final outcome and the post-credits scene. And that’s because of this that Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse is a success!
Regarding the characters, everybody finds its place despite the abundance of secondary characters. Even if some of them are more highlighted (like Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy), some apparitions of Peter Porker, Peni Parker and Spider-Man Noir are always powerful and brings funny or touching replicas. Concerning Spider-Man Noir, he contrasts with the colorful world of the movie whereas Peni will have her lot of Japanese Animation’s influence. All of that might have created some inconsistencies in the movie and deteriorate the images or the textures, however the universe (futuristic, japanesise-ish…), the colorations (contrast between black and white), and the movements blends together with an astonishing simplicity with the simplicity of the 21th century of Miles’ universe. By the way, we can also note the sumptuous acrobatics and choreographies of the Spider-Men/Women, which Spider-Man : Homecoming was really lacking. The movie really searched to captivate the public with simple and in the same time vertiginous stunts that always succeeds to immerge us into the action.
The only blame I could charge Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse with might be its generosity. By willing to offer a wide variety of characters as different and exciting as the other, the movie sometimes forget an essential part: to develop the primordial aspects to every singly super-heroic production, the super-villains’ psychology. Indeed, we easily get Wilson Fisk’s (The Kingpin) motivations which aims to « revive » his wife Vanessa and his son. However, it’s difficult to get inside his deep despair. We could have get used to a few flashbacks or a sequence full of pure emotion that would have revealed his heart or soul completely. A villain with weaknesses makes him more complex and ambiguous and we can identify ourselves with him which makes him way more interesting. However it’s just a minor detail without big impact on the overall quality of the movie.
To conclude, despite my first « a-priori », Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse literally took me in. I discovered touching characters, I was unknown of like Miles Morales and Spider-Man Noir (I fell in love with this one!!); and if the point of the movie was to introduce comics readers like myself or younger people to little known heroes, then it is a total success.
Moreover, the movie never boasts the fact that the main protagonist is black, contrary to Marvel Studios with the recent Black Panther movie, and that’s why the movie avoided a whole lot of recurrent clichés like racism or police violence.
It was visually impeccable, just like the writing. The graphical craziness that is Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse will always remain in the Animation history for its production quality and his innovative risk-taking.