Knee-jerk review: "A Star Is Born"

1. Let the record reflect that we saw this film almost a month ago, so we are stretching far the definition of "knee jerk." But it's our blog and we make the rules.
2. What still sticks with us all these many weeks later? The handheld, documentary-style vibe of the cinematography and all of its "sloppy" lens flares and grain.  The languid, unrushed pace of the writing - the dialogue scenes feature long silences and meaningful looks.  The idealized, romanticized world of musicians - whether it's downtown whisky bars, big loud stage shows, or plush mansion hideaways, this is a movie that loves to show you how cool it is to be a successful singer-songwriter.
3. There's a reason this story has been told in four different movies - there's something very compelling about the simplicity of the plot: newbie singer rises to the top of the industry just as her mentor boyfriend musician slides into irrelevance.
4. No, we never saw the other three versions.
5. Plus, there's Sam Elliott at his most Sam Elliott-ness.  He also delivers one of film's more raw and emotional moments when his little brother blurts out an unexpected confession.
6. It's not always subtle, but give the filmmakers credit for trying to add metaphor - repeated water imagery is a big one - and subtext to the story.  It has bigger artistic aspirations than many movies.  
7. We've long been a big fan of Lady Gaga.  She likes to project an aura of aloof weirdness, but underneath the makeup and meat dresses she's a 100% legitimate musical powerhouse. This movie does nothing to shake that assessment.
8. Weird to see Andrew Dice Clay in such a quiet, likable role.
9. Spoiler alert: we did feel a little queasy with the way the movie kinda, sorta glamorizes suicide as some kind of noble, selfless act.
10. That said, the movie pulls no punches showing the horrors of alcoholism, especially in the Grammys scene.  You'll know it when you see it.
11. "I just wanted to take another look at you."

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