10. It’s human: Upon their first meeting, Ally says to Jackson, “No one ever asks you about you, huh?” What a revelation, because it is so true–as fans, how often do we actually care about our idols, and how often is our focus OURSELVES–what THEIR music does for US, OUR experience and excitement at the concert. I loved that ‘A Star is Born’ focuses on the humanness of Ally and Jackson. While it is clear that both reach stardom, the movie is less about how much money they earned, the amount of followers they incur on InstaGram, how many records they sold, and so much more about their private lives and reminds us that pop stars, celebrities, singers are regular people, too.
9. The artistic and innovative film techniques: A good movie to me is not necessarily one that has an intricate plot line or captivating characters, but rather a movie that uses film techniques in artistic, innovative, and creative ways (like The Revenant). I LOVED LOVED LOVED Bradley Cooper’s directing style. The film utilizes a variety of close ups in which we, as the audience, become very intimate with the characters, and these shots effectively capture the humanness and realness of these characters. For example, as Jackson begins apologizing for his actions, the close ups reflect his eyes glancing, not at the viewer, but at something just behind us–we see the regret and embarrassment in Jackson’s face, but like a real-life apology, he is bashful and unable to make eye contact. In contrast, the final scene of the movie is a close up of Ally, looking straight at us, the audience–so that we can reside in her grief with her.
8. There is a perfect balance of humor and silence: In the beginning of the movie, Jackson stumbles into a drag bar and signs a drag queen’s fake boobs. I felt like the humor in this movie was quite appropriate–we do not laugh at the drag queen show–at their makeup, their dance moves, their singing skills, their dressing room chatter. Instead, we laugh at Jackson’s situation–that here he is, a big star, in an unfamiliar environment in which he does not speak the language, does not know the drag custom (but he is obviously willing to learn). This doesn’t lead us to stereotyping or rejecting the drag scene, but rather empathize with Jackson (I’m not sure if Lady GaGa was behind this, but I thought it was a brilliant way to handle this issue of acceptance).
I also thoroughly appreciated the use of silence in the movie. Silence is often very uncomfortable–as movie goers, we are trained to see ACTION! ACTION! ACTION! and for our scenes, conversations to go a mile a minute. So, when we encounter a movie that utilizes silence, we get uncomfortable, but I think this is also what makes the movie so real. When Ally and Jack sit outside of the grocery store, there is silence between their responses to each other. When Ally goes to visit Jack in rehab, there is silence. When Ally tells Jack her European tour is ‘cancelled’, there is silence. In movies, we are used to our characters having inspirational, well-written, back and forth banter with each other, but that is not real life. Real life is allowing a comment to settle in before responding. Real life is assessing a situation. Real life is not actually knowing what to say, so there is silence.
7. Ally/Lady GaGa’s ability to forgive and love Jack: Addiction is a family disease; while one person may technically be the ‘addicted’, the interactions with those close to them also impact the behaviors, and I love how forgiving and loving Ally is to Jack anytime he relapses. I think, so often in these situations (based on my observations of Live PD), as the family member, we are often inclined to get angry, to yell, scream, shout, to deem the person a failure–to which all of these behaviors may feed the addiction. Instead, Ally’s response to Jack is, “I feel hurt”, and then she reminded him that he was still loved; that his actions did not define his character, and that she still loved him and was willing to move forward.
6. Bradley Cooper is hot and his dog is adorable: …did you know this was his actual dog?
5. How delicate Jackson was to Ally: Bradley Cooper and Lady GaGa’s on screen chemistry is SO beautiful. With these kinds of stories, we often get this douchey rock star who is abusive and takes advantage of the small-town-no-body, and I love that Jackson is so careful, so delicate, so loving towards Ally. When he touches her, it is with love and care. When he speaks to her, it is with admiration and respect. When he works with her, he is supportive and endearing; he listens to her ideas, he knows when she needs a piano in the recording studio, he shares her successes with others–I fall in love with Jackson falling in love with Ally.
4. The banter: Particularly in the beginning of the film, I loved the banter back and forth between Ally and her boss, Ally and her dad, Ally and Jackson–it is set up in such a way that I, as the viewer, feel part of the conversation (and I always love feeling included in the drama). In addition, I loved Ally’s Northeastern accent.
3. The very tasteful composition of the Rated R scenes: I (personally) reject movies that have five minute romantic scenes; if I wanted to see that, I’d turn on 50 Shades of Grey. However, I felt like ‘A Star is Born’ includes these scenes in a very tasteful and artful way–we don’t see anyone naked (except for a split second when Ally is standing up in the bath tub), the focus is on the beauty and care of their intimacy, it does not drag on for longer than three seconds, and we don’t actually see Jackson (SPOILER ALERT) hang himself at the end. Rather, the film communicates that these things DO happen (the flashing emergency lights, the dog waiting outside of the garage), but does not ruminate on the actions themselves, and allows us not to recognize Jackson for his physical views, but rather his intangible legacy.
2. Who knew Lady GaGa could act, and Bradley Cooper could direct?: It is like when we see celebrities, such as David Ross, jamming it out on Dancing with the Stars–we love to see celebrities in their elements, but we also love to see their hidden and diverse talents, and Lady GaGa and Bradley Cooper demonstrate just this in ‘A Star is Born’; they aren’t JUST a pop singer and an actor, but also a very convincing actress and an imaginative director (apparently Lady GaGa began in acting school but never captured a role, and thus went to singing instead. Without this film, the world would have never known her multiple talents!)
1. It’s moving: In literal terms of movement, I never felt like there was a dull or down moment in the film; I felt like the pace of Ally and Jack’s relationship, the movement of her stardom, the downfall of his character to be strategic, appropriate, and just enough; there was never a scene that seemed to drag on for too long nor a scene that was cut too short (except for the dance rehearsal scenes–I’d love to see more 5, 6, 7, 8!). But in a spiritual sense, the film is moving. I felt like the ending was a little abrupt–I never quite emotionally was able to recover from Ally’s final song, but I think that was carefully and tactfully done so that I carry the emotions of the film with me as I leave the theater–carrying the grief, the love, and the humanness of what I just watched for the last two hours with me…
…which totally happened. I wasn’t the only one leaving with tear-stained cheeks, and as I left the movie, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own relationships–maybe I should be a little more accepting, a little more forgiving, a little more enraptured in the beauty that love curates.