A Star is Born

The Movie

A Star is Born (2018)

The Director

Bradley Cooper

The Cast

Lady GagaBradley CooperSam ElliottAnthony Ramos

IMDB Synopsis

A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

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My Thoughts

UGH. This movie, I loved it so much. Don’t even get me started on the climactic scene – it nearly destroyed me.

Charting the rise of singer Ally’s (Gaga) success following a chance meeting with seasoned rock/country legend Jack (Cooper), the fourth version of A Star is Born is gorgeous with a heavenly soundtrack.

If you’re wondering how Gaga could possibly keep her end up in place of the Garlands and Streisands of this world, just fucking watch her. She’s mesmerising at the best of times but in this role she is next level. If Oscar doesn’t come knocking in the Spring, then there is no God. Or there is but he’s a man with no taste.

I think if you aren’t familiar with the story, you might still have an inkling of how this might play out but the ending is very sad and the heartbreak is palpable. It’s one of those story lines you wish you could change for the better, even as you watch it veer dramatically off course.

I don’t want to give anything else away but I will say this is one of my favourite movies of this year so far and I can’t stop thinking about some of the songs. They’re outrageously good.

Oh, and the surprise appearance of Shangela and Willam was fun. God, I want to watch it over and over again.

My Rating

4.5/5.

Fifty Shades Freed

Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

Directed by: James Foley
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan

IMDB Synopsis

Anastasia and Christian get married, but Jack Hyde continues to threaten their relationship.

*Spoilers*

I’m going to crack on with this review without ranting about the central relationship too much. Take it as read that I hate the control element (in and out of the red room) and I find it difficult to watch (but not enough to avoid the films altogether clearly). It’s not clever or cute, it’s just straight up abuse.

We follow on from the events of Fifty Shades Darker (2016) as Christian and Anastasia tie the knot after their whirlwind romance. The wedding is a lavish yet tasteful affair (obvs) and the couple enjoy a cheeky little Parisian honeymoon shortly thereafter.

Things piss me off ten minutes into their newlywed montage when Christian gets shitty because Ana takes off her bikini top ON THE BEACH. His concern that everybody will be staring at his wife’s tits greatly flatters her, considering there are hundreds of equally fit women in the vicinity but whatever.

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Even though Christian acts like a buffoon, this is not the reason their trip is cut short, oh no. Ana’s stalker is back and causing mischief back in Seattle.

Oh my!

Back on home turf things are far from smooth sailing for the Greys but there’s always time for a quick rut. While the couple deal with the mystery of their stalker buddy and what the fuck he wants, they also argue about having kids and Anastasia’s general wilfulness. Get it girl.

How though, seriously do you marry a man without knowing his stance on having children first, Ana? I mean, it seems like kind of an important thing. Just me?

The sex itself seems hotter than before but it’s still repetitive af. Like, there’s not really that much variety. In fact genuinely the sexiest scene in the movie is the one in which Ana finally gets to drive the car home – and she gets to out drive the person tailing them.

My main beef with the film is this, in no particular order:

  • Why is Christian always so mad at Ana? (Rhetorical question). They’ve spent at least 50% of their relationship in a fight. It’s exhausting to watch, imagine being in it.
  • When Ana almost gets kidnapped and her husband victim shames her.
  • The scene when Christian Grey’s housekeeper tells Ana it’s time she starts thinking about how she’s going to run the house. Isn’t that your job, bitch? Also, she has a full-time job, why aren’t you saying the same thing to Mister Grey?
  • Christian Grey being all jealous about other men looking at Ana and yet still hiring THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MAN to be her personal bodyguard?
  • While we’re on the subject of Smithers or whatever, is he the worst security detail of all time? “Meet me in the library” wasn’t even a particularly inspired red herring and yet…
  • Rita Ora. Bore off, love.

The story line is ridiculously contrived, half-arsed and plain stupid but I didn’t hate this movie as much as I thought I would. There’s a butt-plug scene that’s quite amusing and I’d be lying if I said I’m not a sucker for Anastasia’s luxury upgrade. Her wardrobe is TDF!

It’s all very predictable and convenient but Foley ties it up nicely with a skip down memory lane. I almost got emotional until I remembered I don’t really care and I hate Christian.

PS. If I got ‘punished’ every time I rolled my eyes in a day, I wouldn’t be able to walk straight.

My Rating

2/5.

Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread (2018)

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville

IMDB Synopsis

Set in 1950’s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.

*Mild Spoilers*

Ro mah ro-mah-mah, Gaga oh-la-la!

Wow. This is such a dreamy study in obsession, a nightmarish twirl through the original bad romance – I’m in love and sickened by it, in equal measure. A feeling very much shared with our protagonist, dressmaker and true artiste Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis).

Woodcock is a well-respected designer dressing London’s debutantes and well to do with the help of his extensive staff and his live-in right-hand woman, his sister Cyril (Manville). Lovers, it would seem, come and go with the help of a little shove from sis and so far Woodcock has remained devoutly unmarried. As has Cyril.

One day our boy meets German waitress Alma (Krieps) at a countryside hotel and he’s a smitten kitten. In her he can see something special, a grace and charisma perfect for his garments and also his life. She joins the house of Woodcock as his assistant and muse, as well as his lover.

Woodcock is a funny old fish though, a patchwork of unique idiosyncrasies and an extremely low tolerance for other people, noise or movement. He must have things just so and that’s just the way it is.

So begins a battle of wills between Alma and her beau. Where Woodcock is set in his ways, Alma is rebellious and antagonistic. Simply, she knows how to get under his skin and it’s a pleasure to watch. As Alma loses her grip on Woodcock she figures out a foolproof way to keep him in check and so begins the sinister deepening of their union.

Phantom Thread has a dreamy quality to it and while it’s set in the fifties, it doesn’t have any of that bobby girl cliché to it. It’s a beautiful slice of period life with sumptuous costuming and interiors. The music works with instead of against the piece and adds to that almost timeless quality.

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Apparently this is Day-Lewis’ last outing as an actor and if that’s true then it’s a pretty good one to go out on. The man is acting personified. He’s also incredibly handsome and elegant, a joy consume. It’s nice to be reminded just how great this guy is and makes me want to go back over his back catalog (starting with Last of the Mohichans).

Some of Woodcock’s rants are utterly wonderful, his dissatisfaction over the way Alma butters her toast at breakfast is a highlight, while his ‘anti-chic’ monologue is pure perfection. I laughed a lot and it’s the humour that keeps this movie *just* light enough to make the darkness bearable.

Chic? Oh, don’t you start using that filthy little word. Chic! Whoever invented that ought to be spanked in public. I don’t even know what that word means! What is that word? Fucking chic! They should be hung, drawn, and quartered. Fucking chic.

I love Manville’s Cyril who also gets some of the best lines and can convey emotion with the very slightest facial shift. In one scene she simply smiles across the table at Alma and it is everything. Krieps too is charming, particularly in shit-stirring mode.

All in all this is a heavy-weight that keeps you compelled and I loved it. It wasn’t what I expected and it’s better for that. The games the couple play shift the power constantly and it’s a satisfying peek into another way of maintaining a relationship, one you’d never want to be in yourself.

My Rating

4/5.