FILM UNFILTERED - Cooper and Gaga give Oscar-worthy performances in ‘A Star is Born’

FILM UNFILTERED - Cooper and Gaga give Oscar-worthy performances in ‘A Star is Born’

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There have been three previous iterations of “A Star is Born” with the last version being in 1976 with Barbra Streisand. This week the film is updated with Bradley Cooper and popular singer Lady Gaga.

There were two big main stream movies released last weekend, “A Star is Born” and “Venom” and I vigorously suggest that this is the movie you should go see. It’s far more enveloping, enjoyable and entertaining than the competition.

Bradley Cooper plays an aging musician named Jackson Maine. He is a hard-drinking, fading star with daddy issues and happens upon the young singer, Ally (Gaga), after finding all of the liquor stores closed after a concert and wandering into the bar she is performing at. He is impressed by her talent and he becomes instantly smitten with her and takes her under his wing in a whirlwind fashion. He is awed by her talent as both a songwriter and singer. He coaxes her on stage at his next show and she becomes thrust into the spotlight herself in this age of YouTube, and the video goes viral. As their romance blossoms and her own career begins to take off, his falters a bit with his own jealousy and alcoholism rearing its ugly head.

This film is an excellent look at how the music industry can manipulate, maneuver and control the destiny of artists. Gaga’s Ally is shy of the spotlight at first but once she gets a taste of it she soon succumbs to the lure and fame. The film plays to Gaga’s strength as a singer and performer and definitely highlights her talents and abilities. She doesn’t have to act as much as simply show up and be herself.

Cooper is excellent here, whether playing guitar or espousing about being raised by his older brother who factors heavily into his life. Cooper is one of those actors who really inhabits the personality of his roles and makes them so believable.

There were two other interesting casting surprises here, the first being Ally’s father played by a much older and tamer Andrew Dice Clay. At first, I didn’t even realize it was him, but as the film progressed, every time he showed up I was impressed. The second was Dave Chappelle playing a childhood and lifelong friend to Cooper’s character. Chapelle, of course, is a comedian and seeing him as a calming, guiding influence to the troubled Jackson was an enjoyable diversion. Sam Elliott and his indomitable silver mustache (with hair to match it now) plays the older brother, Bobby, babysitter and wrangler to Jackson.

This is a solid film and it would not surprise me to see either of the leads get some Oscar buzz in January for their roles. Cooper not only starred in this but takes his first turn in the director’s chair. Considering the prolific and enviable list of directors he has worked for, it’s no surprise that his first effort turned out this good.

But it’s the chemistry between Cooper and Gaga that is the draw. They feed off each other and really help the other actor rise higher, achieving stellar performances. One of the year’s best for certain.

The film is rated R.

Bradley Cooper, left, plays a fading musician and Lady Gaga is an unknown singer who is cast into the spotlight in this latest remake of “A Star is Born.”