A Star is Born Again

Bradley Cooper’s taken on “A Star is Born”. I’m told this is the fourth time someone’s made this film.

It’s the best version of this film so far.

At least that’s what other people tell me. My wife said that, and she’s smart so I believe her. I haven’t actually seen any of the other versions, despite the star power on offer. Or maybe because of it. Back there we’ve got Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand (and whoever the other one is. Can’t be bothered to google it. It’ll be someone we’ve all never heard of so whatever).

I should have seen the previous-most-recent one from 1976 several times over. But, as I kid, I passed by it over and over again at the video store. As an adult, I’ve flipped by it on Netflix. But, I could never get passed the… uh, the…

starborn.jpg

Yeah.

Just Kris with his baby bum chest, and his thumb ring stuck in Babs’ hair. I just couldn’t bear picking up the box or clicking on the image.

I grew up in the eighties so all things seventies were a bit like taking too big a gulp of sea water. It’s probably going to be fine, but there’s this accompanying wave of nausea and you feel like it might be best if you went and ate some dairy.

Totally unfair, I concede that.

But as for this film— Bradley as Kris and Lady Gaga as Streisand— it’s a nice ride. Worth it especially if you’ve got promotional tickets. That’s not a slight. You still gotta give up two hours of your time, so it’s an investment.

And it’s worth it.

There’s little that will surprise you here, though. That’s despite Bradley Cooper’s assertion to a correspondent on the TV show I produce The Project (NZ) that he wanted to make musicians go “man, it’s just like that” From what I know of it, it really ain’t just like that.

A dozen years in radio coupled with many long, drunken conversations with people in the music world, this is the fairy tale.

But that’s the point. It’s supposed to be. Judy and Babs and Gaga and even the other one we don’t care about, this is their fairy tale. The thrill. The buzz. The bit that makes the tiny hairs on your arms go all wiggly when she belts it out for the first time.

What Bradley did say to my boy, the bit I do think he got right, was that the second part he wanted to get right: the additional and alcoholism. B’s portray of Aged, Drunk Rockabilly Singer was pretty great.

That was my grandfather, minus the rock star stuff.

When I was eight, my mother’s dad had so destroyed his body with booze my grandmother took him back— twenty-five years after kicking him out— so he wouldn’t die alone. He was always in the dark, cold living room of her tiny apartment in a hospital bed.

To eight year old eyes, my grandfather was in a crib. He died in that crib.

Alcohol is a struggle, too many of us know that. It’s not romantic. It’s not bad-ass. It’s Gross.

Upsetting.

Tragic.

Bradley plays it so well. He never asks for sympathy. He never really asks we even understand it. He asks for nothing and, impressively, he gets us to give him that— nothing.

He gets us to turn our backs on something we were supposed to love.

Dunno how he did it. But it’s pretty fucking impressive.