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101. A Star is Born (#182) – This Just In

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and with special guest Stacy Grouden, This Just In is a subset of The 250 podcast, looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 182nd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: A Star is Born (2018)

At one point in A Star is Born, Bobby Maine outlines his brother’s approach to music for the benefit of Ally.

According to Bobby, Jackson believes that all music can be broken down to “twelve notes between an octave.” By Jackson Maine’s logic, Bobby explains all musical expression is “those same twelve notes, played over and over again. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those twelve notes.” It is a strange moment, one that comes very close to self-awareness from writer and director Bradley Cooper, suggesting something very close to a mission statement for his directorial debut.

Ain’t playin’.

A Star is Born is the fourth major American motion picture with that name and that premise. There are countless other stories built around the same basic concept, which has itself been translated into various settings and contexts across the globe. The story of A Star is Born is familiar. An older man discovers a talented young woman and elevates her to stardom, while his own grip on celebrity slips away between his fingers. It is an archetypal Hollywood story, and perhaps a defining American fairytale. All Cooper can do is tell that familiar story in his own way.

There are certainly moments when A Star is Born seems to take this idea to heart. In terms of basic trappings and mechanics, A Star is Born gestures towards modernity, understanding that it needs to update its core premise in the way that each of its three forerunners did. There are any number of details within A Star is Born that position the film within the modern cultural context. This is a twenty-first century take on a familiar story, and it looks distinct enough from the earlier three iterations.

Has a nice sing to it.

However, there’s a recurring anxiety within A Star is Born, a sense of trepidation. In terms of style and sensibility, Cooper’s adaptation hews closest to the country-and-western infused seventies remake with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, which is a canny choice; it is probably the least seen and the least iconic iteration of the story, making it ripe for reinvention. However, there is also a strong sense that A Star is Born is reluctant to cross the four decades that have passed since that particular iteration of the familiar story.

The result is a film that feels at odds with itself. A Star is Born is inherently a metafictional text, suggesting a rebirth of Lady Gaga from a pop star to a credible leading actor in a prestige piece. Gaga acquits herself well in the role, but A Star is Born feels uncertain and untrusting of her. Repeatedly, A Star is Born seems to refuse to let Gaga be Gaga, instead adhering to a very fixed and very nostalgic seventies ideal of “authenticity.” This is a film that ends with the assertion that a modern pop star can only find herself when using her voice to deliver an ageing rocker’s words.

Doesn’t quite hit all the right notes.

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Non-Review Review: Hulk

Ang Lee directing a superhero movie? He’s certainly a strange choice to handle the first big screen adaptation of Marvel’s iconic green monster to the big screen, but arguably a smart one. Hulk is at its best when it hints at the psychological melodrama playing out behind its lead character, but suffers greatly from the fact that it is apparently really uncertain about its source material or what it wants to be. It’s weird to see a movie so wonderfully risky in one sense, but so utterly bland in others. Hulk is an experiment, but sadly isn’t consistent enough to be a successful one.

"Hulk Splash!"

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Who Killed The Golden Compass Franchise?

It’s like a Hollywood blockbuster murder mystery brought to life. I can see it now: Bruce Willis as a cocky private detective investigating the dispatching of a controversial emerging star. A lot of people are mumbling in their drinks, but everyone’s afraid to say what they know. That is, until a surly-voiced stranger straightens up and says what’s on everyone’s mind. Cue Sam Elliot:

The Catholic Church happened to The Golden Compass, as far as I’m concerned. It did ‘incredible’ at the box office, taking $380million. Incredible. It took $85million in the States. The Catholic Church … lambasted them, and I think it scared New Line off.

Did the Catholic kill The Golden Compass, a potentially viable fantasy franchise in the mould of Harry Potter or The Lord of The Rings (or at least as far as fans would have you believe)? Let’s investigate.

An un-bear-able crime?

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