I watched this film the other night. The one with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. I hadn’t heard of Bradley Cooper and had to google him. Google is a neologism. A Star is Born has been around longer than something we feel about googled, it has been here forever, but I was pretty pleased with myself, because I remembered the Judy Garland version and the name of her co-star, James Mason and the Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson versions.
I don’t think James Mason was asked to do anything more than be suave, Kris Kristofferson should have been obliged not to sing, but Bradley Cooper, if he wasn’t dubbed, got away with it here.
We all know the story of boy meets girl. One is on the rise, the other on the fall. A see-saw movement in which one star fades, another glows brighter. In A Star is Born women get the lead role. Men are chicklets there for their supposed good looks rather than any innate talent. Role reversal for Hollywood, or any pecker-wood in general.
Women who take the lead role tend to be the divas of their age and when they take on the role of Esther Blodget or the more modern versions and it seems to be the story of their lives. Not exactly beautiful, considered by many to be ugly. Garland had those soulful eyes that came alive when she sung. Streisand had that big hooter that through her face into shadow and a voice that worked out the secret of lyrics and music and what it was to be gloriously alive. Lady Gaga can carry a tune and perhaps a bit more. Women singers, divas, are always more than the sum of their parts.
Lady Gaga and the scriptwriters make a joke of her supposed ugliness. Her character runs a finger from the tip of her forehead to her chin. She tells Bradley how when she auditioned or played open-mic gigs agents talked about her looks and not her voice.
Ironically, Bradley meets Lady Gaga singing in transvestite club in New York. He’s cruising in his limo, and bang, he needs a drink so badly his hands aren’t far from shaking from his wrists. All shook up.
Gaga makes him go gaga. You don’t often get to use lines like that. Gaga plays seductress, chanteuse, in spangled dress and little bird of Edith Piaff motif. This is when the film could have got interesting. If Bradley had fallen for another guy it wouldn’t be A Star is Born but something else entirely. Certainly not box-office.
He’s in the up, she’s in the down position. He’s gaga for her. She’s gaga for him.
Bradley is the great star that gives Gaga her break. His fans are going wild and for encore he feeds them Gaga. She wows them, as we know she would. She’s Gaga.
She’s on the up, he’s on the down. He starts back on the drink, goes to AA camp, and she buys him a dog. Life’s kinda perfect in its imperfections a bit like that finger from forehead to chin. Only the last flickering of the light of stardom takes a bit of getting used to for a man. When Gaga offers him a hand, her manager shoves it away, tells Bradley, your day is done. A man’s got to do, what a man’s got to do.
Gaga goes gaga. Alright, I know I need to stop doing that. Inconsolable, Gaga’s still got her music and her dog. Happy ending of sorts. At least I didn’t have to listen to Kris Kristofferson trying to sing. I do love divas, including Gaga. I’m currently in the down position, growing a beard and open to offers. If Kris Kristofferson can do it…