Victoria Jelinek

A Star is Born
November 3, 2018, 1:09 pm
Filed under: Film reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A Star is Born movie posterJackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a country music star that falls in love with wannabe singer Ally (Lady Gaga). With his help, her star ascends while his stardom, hindered by long time tinnitus, emotional trauma, and alcoholism, slowly falls.

I found myself haunted after watching this latest version of A Star is Born. I was pensive as a stillness settled over me when I left the cinema, and this film was the first thing I considered when I woke up the next morning. Bradley Cooper’s character is utterly compelling and terribly sad. Despite what his childhood may have been like, the story effectively conveys that his perspective and behavior are the product of mental illness. He can’t help feeling unhappy, insecure, or his being self-destructive because he doesn’t know how to get help, or, indeed, what, exactly, to get help for. He is charming, kind and talented, yet he is also isolated, reactive, and full of self-loathing even as his life contains so much bounty. And he implicitly realizes this type of ungratefulness, which exacerbates his self-hatred. The plot is still a love story, as the other adaptations of this film have been, however, this version stresses the theme of mental illness and its vulnerability more than the theme of ambition and compromise.

A Star is Born (2018) is unequivocally worth seeing. And, it’s evidence of Bradley Cooper’s directorial sensitivity and ‘acting chops’ – he’s not just a pretty boy as he goes hand held and gets up close and personal even when the subject isn’t easy or attractive. Lady Gaga, too, is believable – tender, tough, and charismatic – and absolutely holds her own in the acting arena.

American Hustle

American Hustle movie posterCirca 1978. Skillful con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) cut a deal with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to catch other swindlers in return for clemency. But Irving is having an affair with Sydney, and his wife (Jennifer Lawrence) is a loose cannon, creating a powder keg of a situation that could derail the whole sting.

Nominated for several key awards at the Oscars this year, namely the coveted Best Picture, this film has been given a lot of positive press. Writer/Director David O’Russell has delivered fine films, such as The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook (and the leads, here, were in those films, too) but this isn’t as good as it’s touted to be. Sure, the actors are charismatic and capable, the production design is entertaining, the soundtrack is nostalgic, and there are fun costumes, as well as a lot of time devoted to amusing hairstyles – Bale’s disco comb-over, Coopers tiny curlers, Lawrence’s sweep – but there’s little point or suspense to this film. The elaborate plot attempts to address corruption in America, but repeatedly gets lost self consciously in its own chicanery. And who are the bad guys? Con men, errant politicians, and Mafia bosses are more likeable and upright in this film than the FBI operatives out to take them down. While the friend I watched American Hustle with relegated it to one of the most boring movies he has ever watched, I think it’s worth watching, particularly if you’re into slick visuals, and it’s definitely worth renting on DVD.

July 15, 2011, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Published film reviews | Tags: , ,

Wannabe writer Eddie (Bradley Cooper) is out of money, heart broken, and has writer’s block until he discovers a top-secret drug with brain-enhancing qualities, which gives him a four-digit IQ. Robert De Niro plays a billionaire on the trail of Eddie’s secret and Abbie Cornish plays our hero’s skeptical girlfriend. Soon, Eddie finds himself haunted by blackouts and hunted by bad guys.

This is silly material, sure, and very high concept, but the actors – particularly Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro (both in form in their respective roles) have a lot of fun in this film, which does not take itself seriously. This is a smart, stylish and hugely entertaining movie that makes you wonder “what if?”.

Very Bad Trip 2 (Hangover 2)
July 15, 2011, 12:18 pm
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Like its predecessor, one of the guys is set to wed a non-mail order Thai bride, so the gang are reunited and set loose in Bangkok (last time Las Vegas) where they wake up in another hotel room, unable to remember what’s happened to them. This time their trail of mayhem involves monks, monkeys and a slew of ‘lady boys.’

The original Very Bad Trip (Hangover) was a cleverly structured dumb comedy about the day after a stag night, piecing together the specifics of a debauchery. This follow-up sticks so closely to its predecessor’s blueprint that it plays more like a remake, and unlike the first film, it’s not very funny. That said, if you’ve had a few beers, want to have a ‘lite’ evening at the cinema, and are interested in looking at the seedier side of Bangkok, then this is the film for you.