732181, It's good enough. Bradley Cooper is Boomhauer from King of the Hill.|
Posted by Frank Longo, Wed Oct-17-18 11:58 AM
Cooper does a fine enough job directing, especially with the first half, and it's definitely elevated by the performances, *especially* Gaga and Elliott's. It nails a couple of its "big moments," which is really all it needed to do. It'll clean up with Oscar nominations.
That said, the movie structurally is a sprawling mess. Cooper is going for this "paint a wide picture of their lives" thing, but he's no Robert Altman. It really starts humming at the beginning as Gaga comes up, but it *really* starts to crawl once she starts finding fame. Plenty of sequences are included that could be cut without affecting the movie in the slightest. He also likes doing the thing where you let a scene go on for ten to fifteen seconds longer than maybe it should, which again I'm sure is supposed to feel "immersive," but it also made start to feel restless.
It also has the weird, disconcerting thing that many of these types of movies have, in which the man is a drunk and an asshole and a mess... but he also represents "truth and soul and beauty and purity of art" and this sort of bullshit.
There's this scene early on where Cooper sees Gaga do essentially a drag performance, and he's enamored with her... but then he makes a big deal about removing her makeup and seeing who she "truly is underneath"... but I feel like the makeup and the "performance" is a key part of her artistic expression (it's certainly a key part of drag in general). So I feel like the movie misses the mark on that crucial aspect of music. Along with, y'know, being totally clueless about how social media and YouTube and other modern day things work. This movie could've been set in the 70s and it'd make little to no difference.
Cooper is genuinely just doing an amalgamation of Bridges in Crazy Heart and Sam Elliott Voice here, and while that works more or less in Cooper's early charming drunk scenes, I didn't really buy him as much in some of the other scenes. The more he has to emote while in this character, the more it seemed like an affectation imo. Gaga, however, is truly terrific beginning to end, Elliott is genuinely deserving of the Oscar nomination he'll get, and Cooper does a nice job of bringing in some great, sometimes unexpected, character actor faces to round everything out. The movie's also obviously very well-shot. A few of the songs are blah, but the ones that pop *really* pop, like the Shallow song, and the one Cooper sings about the old ways (which I found out in the credits was written by Jason Isbell, so not much of a surprise that it's great).
It's worth checking out, especially for those who dig big musical moments and for those who like old-fashioned melodramas. This'll get, minimum, 10 Oscar nominations. I left thinking it was a mixed bag, but the bits that work really do and are likely worth it for most anyone intrigued by the trailer.
(Side note: the trailer for this movie is one of the best in recent years.)