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The Plot Thickens

Photo: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

A Star is Born

Some stories never die. As usual, I made a trip to the cineplex over the weekend and saw A Star is Born. I’ve had “Shallow,” the film’s theme song, stuck in my head since Saturday morning. It’s a great song that will almost without-a-doubt take home Best Original Song at next year’s Academy Awards.

Just to clarify, A Star is Born has been around since 1937, and there are three other versions of the film. That’s gotta be a record from most direct remakes of something (unless you’re counting Shakespeare). I only point this out because some people I know are ranting and raving about the film and particularly Lady Gaga’s performance. They are not without valid reason to go crazy; Gaga has an almost electrifying screen presence, so she’ll be a major awards contender in 2019.

However, while the movie is endlessly watchable, it drifts in and out of boring, is annoyingly pseudo-musical, and changes the other versions’ iconic ending by making it longer, which lessens its impact.

2018’s A Star is Born is not a bad movie. While watching it, I thought to myself that it’s got a good shot at winning Best Picture, seeing as it’s the sort of Hollywood-centric story that the Oscars love, and it’s already made a killing at the box office.

Only the original ‘37 version has been nominated for Best Picture, and though it didn’t win, it did win Best Original Screenplay—and deservedly so. That film is clearly still influencing filmmakers around the globe today; plus it’s got some hilarious lines to boot. 

Yes, I’m biased. I haven’t seen the ‘76 Barbra Streisand version, and I’m head over heels in love with the ‘54 Judy Garland iteration. That one keeps everything that works about the original, adds an incredible Garland performance, and offers a grand three-hour musical extravaganza. I wish I could’ve been there to see these other versions when they were released and the impact they had on audiences then. Alas, this is what I’ve got, and I’ll take it.   

At least Lady Gaga’s version pays respects to the ones that came before. Audiences need to do their homework and give credit where credit is due.


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