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A Star is Born (2018)

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I am not making this up.

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Clint Eastwood wiIl produce as well as direct the script by Will Fetters along with producers Billy Gerber and Jon Peters (who made the infamous 3rd version of A Star Is Born with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson). No male lead is cast yet, but the possibilities are endless. The project, which has been at WB for several years, had hoped to pair Beyoncé and Will Smith. But how about P Diddy (who's turning into a surprisingly fine actor along with Beyoncé's husband Jayz), Eddie Murphy (reteaming with Beyoncé after Dreamgirls), or any white guy imaginable though Robert Downey Jr and Jon Hamm are names that have been floating? Of course, Clint has had a huge interest in music on screen (remember him as a jazz DJ in Play Misty For Me?), directing Bird, doing all his own scores for his movies and even received an Avademy Award nomination for one of them. Then again, I'm one of thise huge fans who thinks Clint can do anything. And Beyoncé scored big at the box office in Sony/Screen Gems' Obsession. The idea is to start shooting in the Fall.

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WB courting Tom Cruise for 'A Star is Born'

With execs buzzing about his performance as an 80s rock star in Warner Bros. and New Line's upcoming musical "Rock of Ages," Tom Cruise finds himself being courted by WB to topline Clint Eastwood's "A Star is Born" along with Beyonce. . . .

While there haven't been any negotiations, let alone a deal, the studio has been talking to Cruise to gauge his interest in the project, a prospect that Cruise didn't immediately reject, given the chance to work with Eastwood for the first time.

It's unclear whether WB would be willing to accommodate Cruise's schedule, but should he pursue the project, he'd play an over-the-hill musician who falls for a young singer who he's trying to help make a star.

Over the past year, WB has eyed Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Leonardo DiCaprio for the plum part.

Variety, March 9, 1:09 PST

Is Tom Cruise Heading For Another Rock Star Turn In ‘A Star Is Born?’

EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cruise is talking to Clint Eastwood about joining Beyonce in A Star Is Born, the Warner Bros remake. This comes after Cruise morphed into an Axl Rose-like 80s rock icon in Rock of Ages, so he’d be able to handle the singing part of that comes with playing an over the hill musician who helps launch the star of an ingenue he falls in love with and who watches him slide while her star soars. . . .

Deadline.com, March 9, 4:09 EST

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This is a significantly worse idea now than it was in January, with the Oscar triumph of The Artist. One remake of A Star is Born per generation is enough. And the musical angle will make it seem like an opposite-sex Crazy Heart.

Edited by SDG

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Beyonce is out for the lead. Eastwood wants Esperanza Spalding to replace her, "though no discussions or offers will be made until the director nails down his male lead."

And there's this:

Screenwriter Will Fetters recently revealed to us that his script for the remake was heavily inspired by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, so Eastwood presumably has an interesting take on his hands.

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Whatever happened to Eastwood's project? Did it become the new Bradley Cooper film? Will Fetters has a screenwriting credit on it. Anyway, the Lady Gaga version is quite good, IMO.

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I'm pretty sure this is what became of Eastwood's project - I'm hoping to check it out tonight.

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Jon Peters has a producer credit on the new film, so yes, it would appear to have evolved from this Clint Eastwood project. (Bradley Cooper, of course, scored his biggest box-office hit ever by starring in Eastwood's American Sniper.) (American Sniper has since been surpassed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Avengers: Infinity War, but Cooper only does an animated character's voice in those films, so American Sniper remains the biggest box-office hit that showed us Cooper's face.)

I found this film pretty shallow, personally, and I thought Cooper's behaviour in the first half of the movie (which appears to cover a mere 24 hours or so) was kinda creepy in a way that the movie never really acknowledges (aside from Lady Gaga briefly, and non-seriously, telling one of Cooper's drivers that he's acting like a "stalker").

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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I cannot remember the last time I saw a film so meticulously crafted to win an Oscar, or several Oscars, as I expect this will. It's a passion/ego project of its star/director, it has just enough connection to current social movements such as #metoo and #timesup, without ever really challenging any status quo of the showbiz industry, there's a predictable and tragic ending which would have easily been avoidable with more believable screenwriting to give a sense of a profundity, it's edited to within an inch of its life to make sure every scene is a potential Oscar clip, and the cast are giving it their all in some pretty enjoyable performances that make me almost not care about any of the above. And Lady Gaga is a fantastic actress, and I will not begrudge her winning best actress, as she almost unquestionably will.

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On 10/5/2018 at 6:43 PM, Joel Mayward said:

Whatever happened to Eastwood's project? Did it become the new Bradley Cooper film? Will Fetters has a screenwriting credit on it. Anyway, the Lady Gaga version is quite good, IMO.

Cooper said in an interview, if I recall, that Eastwood approached him about doing before  American Sniper, but he felt he was too young at the time. 

Story here:

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“I was 38 when Clint brought it to my attention,” Cooper says. “It was a different character (from Maine, the Cooper version) but we talked about it and I just knew I was too young. I felt like I hadn’t lived enough. Deep down I knew I would’ve had to really act.” With a laugh, he adds: “A lot.”

So he told Eastwood no thanks, which hurt. “I mean, I’d put myself on (audition) tape for so many of his movies, from ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ to the priest in ‘Gran Torino’ to J. Edgar Hoover’s lover (in ‘J. Edgar.’) I thought: I can’t believe I’m sitting here saying I don’t think I can do this.” But then, after they did the cultural touchstone “American Sniper” and Cooper transitioned into a yearlong commitment to “The Elephant Man,” he felt ready.

“I just kept thinking about it,” Cooper says of the well-worn, endlessly adaptable “Star is Born” narrative. He’d been working toward directing for years, hanging around editing suites on everything from his short-lived run on the ABC-TV series “Alias” to his fruitful collaborations with David O. Russell. “I felt I always wanted to be a director, but I needed something I had my own point of view on. The structure (of the story) allowed me to investigate the themes and ideas I wanted to investigate.”

 

P.S. (I changed the thread title from 2012 to 2018.  

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There is a lot to commend this version, and it may do well in this year’s Oscar race… but I can’t quite put it in the “must-own” category.

Taking into account the positives (which there are many, including breakthrough performances from the two leads), the negatives I have are the following:

Lady Gaga’s performance is more a revelation that she could be “normal” than be other-worldly. The fact that she had played a charade of bizarre characters for so long, make us forget that she was a “normal person” before she stumbled upon her fast-track to fame. The performance works, and there’s moments of genuine emotion, but let’s not make this out to be a stretch as it is: it’s easier for her to play “normal” than for Meryl Streep to play Lady Gaga bizarre.

The songs, while passionately performed and not uninteresting, are forgettable. Perhaps my mistake is reading a biography of Prince and the making of Purple Rain around this time. Purple Rain is the inferior movie with the far-superior soundtrack. Audiences were humming songs on the way home from the theater, and there’s nary an ounce of fat on that landmark recording. Not so here. Good songs, but not memorable.

The ending didn’t feel true. Sorry, it didn’t. We live in an age where, while there have been notable celebrities who had gone the same route as that central character, those which had done so had different baggage than this lead thespian had. And those real-life actors who had the same baggage as this central character… some of them toughed it out, had a few years in career purgatory, and came out the other side all the more wiser and more brilliant. I’m thinking of Johnny Cash. I’m thinking of Robert Downey Jr. I’m thinking of Rob Lowe. Heck, even James (“Guardian of the Galaxy”) Gunn could very well be on the mend as I write. Hollywood is a fickle place, but it also loves comeback stories, for which this central character could have been… but only then, the drama would’ ve extended another half-hour, and it might have upset the entrenched formula (though I haven’t seen the earlier films).

So all in all, I give it a solid 3 out of four stars.

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1 hour ago, Nick Alexander said:

 

The ending didn’t feel true. Sorry, it didn’t.

 

I totally agree with this, actually. I mentioned somewhere (I think Letterboxd), that the disconnect I felt was not necessarily between the characters' actions and those or potential real-life counterparts but between their actions and what we have seen them do elsewhere in the film. I enjoyed and admired the first forty minutes of the film but thought the last hour and a half were a mess, as though the outcome was based on where the story had to go (because it was pre-written) rather than where it would/should go if *these* characters were making the decisions. As a result, we get very volatile changes in the relationship that are at odds with the communication and coping abilities implied by actions elsewhere in the film. It's not that relationships never change, sometimes drastically, but that this film doesn't really lay out a plausible and believable arc of change. 

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FWIW, I still find myself humming "Shallow" every so often. Regarding the second and third act direction, I wrote the following in my review:

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Now, I’m a percussionist, a drummer–I had even planned on becoming a professional musician before my vocational calling shifted towards pastoral ministry. I pay careful attention to rhythm, the pacing and tempo of narrative shifts and swells. So please trust me when I say that the first act of A Star is Born has genuinely perfect tempo, hitting all the right emotional beats, culminating in Ally’s first on-stage performance with Jack. This moment is a marvelous scene, and one of the best I’ve seen this year. But the second and third acts are uneven and staccato, the pacing shifting suddenly after Ally and Jackson’s romance and musical partnership is established. It’s as if there are gaps in time and memory in the editing, like narrative blackouts. Where the first act takes place over the course of one enchanting evening, the remaining story skips and jumps through time like someone changing the radio station and starting a song partway through. It’s frustrating, even confusing at times, and it threatened to keep me emotionally disengaged. Yet I wonder if this is deliberate, if Cooper has edited the rhythm of the scenes around Ally and Jack’s relationship, especially Jackson’s spiral into addiction. When they’re apart or out of sync emotionally, the pacing is haphazard and distractingly off. But when they’re in harmony–both musically and relationally–well, it’s pure magic. As the pacing slows down to focus on Ally and Jackson together via long shots and close-ups, it’s richly affecting.

I also wonder about the film's exploration of artifice and image in the last act. The final performance of the film is, at-once, powerfully affecting and yet somehow inauthentic and strange. She is performing her grief, both for the audience within and outside the film. Now, I'm not saying that performing a song is an inherently inauthentic expression of grief, but I do think that ending is purposefully complex--maybe it doesn't feel true because Cooper & Gaga never intended it to feel wholly true. What I'm saying is that the off-putting pacing and the performances in that final act might be deliberately off-putting or disengaging, precisely as an exploration of stardom and celebrity itself. We are both attracted to and repulsed by it.

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Also, try to imagine a Clint Eastwood-directed Beyonce-and-Tom-Cruise version of this film.

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I fleshed out my thoughts into a full review.

And once I thought of that first sentence, I could not resist beginning that way.

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14 hours ago, Evan C said:

I fleshed out my thoughts into a full review.

And once I thought of that first sentence, I could not resist beginning that way.

The first sentence is great. Overall, it's a very negative positive review (or is it a positive negative review?).

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30 minutes ago, Joel Mayward said:

The first sentence is great. Overall, it's a very negative positive review (or is it a positive negative review?).

I definitely meant it to be the former. I feel there are so many reasons I should hate this movie, but there are enough good elements that I can't, so I wanted to capture that conflict.

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