Movie review: A Star Is Born (2018)

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were not the first actors attached to this project over the years.

A Star Is BornI saw A Star Is Born (2018) without a lot of preconceptions. I never saw the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. And I’d all but forgotten the existence of the 1954 iteration with Judy Garland and James Mason. Both were mentioned in the credits. According to the IMBD, the 1937 take with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, which I was totally unfamiliar with, is NOT credited.

The current film was really solid from the beginning when we first meet Ally (Lady Gaga). She is a shy performer who lives with her loving, though blowhard, father Lorenzo (Andrew Dice Clay).

By chance, she meets Jackson (Bradley Cooper), a superstar singer and guitar player. The movie, from the beginning until when Ally finally goes on the big stage, I love.

After that, A Star Is Born is pretty solid, though there are probably a couple scenes the director (Bradley Cooper) or one of the writers (including Cooper) might have trimmed. Still, not bad for a first-time director. Lady Gaga is excellent; expect an Oscar nod. Cooper is a very good singer in the country-rock genre.

They weren’t the first stars attached to this project over the years.

Clay, a comedian I didn’t like in the day, I thought was quite fine. And Sam Elliot is always great; here he plays Jack’s protective older brother Bobby.

But a technical glitch at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany diminished the experience. It wasn’t the quality of the filmmaking, it was the quality of the film. It stuttered – think of a compact disc that is stuck – at least six times during the previews.

It happened at least five times during the movie itself, usually not in critical points, although there was an important scene near the end which was negatively affected.

It stuttered so often during the closing credits that I, a huge credits fan, left after the 12th interruption. I know others had already complained, but we went to the concession stand to add our voices. We were told the theater thought it was only on the preview section, not the film itself.

Also, they didn’t want to disappoint viewers by canceling the showing. Guess what: We WERE disappointed that they DIDN’T cancel. I also went online to complain, and to the Landmark Theatre’s credit, they mailed me coupons good for two movie tickets and two small bags of popcorn.

MOVIE REVIEW: Brooklyn

Brooklyn was the first film The Wife and I saw at the Spectrum Theatre since it was taken over by Landmark Theaters.

brooklyn-movie-saoirse-ronan1The very first time I saw Saorise Ronan on screen in the wonderful The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), I realized I’d seen her before, as a much younger actress. It’s those eyes. As it turns out, she was in Atonement (2007).

In the movie Brooklyn, though, she is the protagonist Eilis Lacey, a young woman in her native Ireland, who has little prospects in her hometown. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Brooklyn”

Movie Review: Heart of A Dog

Heart of a Dog is a documentary by artist/musician Laurie Anderson about her very deep relationship with her canine.

heart of a dog.laurie andersonIt’s Tuesday, November 17, the last day that the Spectrum 8 Theatre will be under the current ownership. Come Friday, November 20, the cinema will reopen under the control of the chain, Landmark Theaters.

The current owners insist the new company will keep it just the same. Continue reading “Movie Review: Heart of A Dog”

MOVIE REVIEW: Ballin’ in the Graveyard

While the term “the graveyard” was meant to define a “do or die” level of play, that section of Washington Park indeed was a cemetery.

I took off from work early one day last month, and the Wife and I saw the documentary Ballin’ in the Graveyard at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany. Early on, the participants explained that some of them have played street basketball in various tough neighborhoods in New York City and around the country, yet no game is as intense as the ballin’ in Albany’s Washington Park, less than a dozen blocks from the theater, BTW. These are in-your-face players who do trash talking to gain advantage, and occasionally will make a bogus call to even up the score.

But the film is only partially about sport. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Ballin’ in the Graveyard”

Movie Review: Salt

Oh, look, there’s the building I used to work in! Did they manually change the highway signs or did they just correct them digitally?

I’ve been known to be a self-confessed art-house snob when it comes to movies. Interestingly, our local art house, the Spectrum Theatre, was showing Salt, the new Angelina Jolie
movie that was filmed, in part, in Albany, NY, rerouting traffic for a couple weeks last summer.

Let me state from the start that Salt isn’t the type of movie the wife and I tend to see. We’ve never viewed any of the Jason Bourne movies, for example. When you see a lot of a certain genre of movie (or listen to a certain genre of music), it develops one’s critical eye (or ear). Still, Salt is what we decided to see on Monday night date night.

I thought, after an intense flashback scene, the beginning of the movie was slow, giving a lot of exposition; I never felt that way again. Salt was an adreneline rush of action and tension from about 12 minutes in until the end. About 3/4 of the way through, my wife whispered, “I’m exhausted,” and I knew just what she meant.

This is one of those Cold War dramas that seemed farfetched until the recent Russian spy scandal in real life; the difference is that this group is far more competent, insulating themselves even in the halls of government.

I started reading the reviews Continue reading “Movie Review: Salt”