How the New ‘A Star Is Born’ Complicates an Old View of Womanhood

The relationship between Ally and Jackson echoes the original and other remakes, while modernizing their dynamic for current sensibilities.

Comments: 12

  1. Ga-ga, or Sheryl Crow, or Niki Manage should have been cast as the older star, raising one of their cute boy backup dancers to stardom via Autotune and flashy dance numbers. Men don't always have to hold the star power in a relationship.

  2. @vandalfan: Maybe J-Lo. Could have been a camp masterpiece.

  3. As for Bradley, whose several hats managed to make this film, not Gaga's career, private self and public character(s) can't coexist. His soul belongs to your template, not his perspective. An actor doesn't prepare by your analysis; he simply dies in all these intrigues.

  4. So Ally's love ISN'T enduring after all, huh? And the moral which expresses this "pushback" among women---time to move on, Ally--becomes a new template? Gaynor's choice rings more modern with the feminist contradiction--to nursing babies with their bodies as the run the Board by minding, as that "intrigue" which compels interpretation never seems to explain this or that director's focus (I haven't seen the movie). So, while the Streisand version is "deservedly maligned" for no particular reason, a vehicle update finds no reason for getting out of the car. This gratuitous tradition for trashing Barbra Streisand is only consistent her with her epiphany in Funny Girl, then as she translated Carol Channing into board-room casting, learned how Hollywood hates perfectionism behind the cameras. Unwilling to fix her nose, she fails to define any aesthetic purpose in your updated template. Ally gives up on this alcoholic passion for self-indulgence, at the expense of her self-denial, you understand. Far from sealing Lady Gaga's bargain with the devil, then, I think you've failed to recognize that George Cukor nailed this "template" down once and for all with "The Man Who Got Away." And the triumph doesn't belong to George; it belongs to Ira Gershwin, and Barbra probably knew that.

  5. The author doesn’t seem to quite understand what it’s like to live, live or grow up with an alcoholic. It is very complicated, not subject to modern views on gender, relationships, etc. It is far more subtle. Characterizing Garland’s character as not “angry” in the photo caption misses this. She is clearly hurt, struggling, trying to process her feelings vs. what’s “right” and what people suggest she should do. These tensions are part and parcel of the effects of alcoholism and addiction, regrettably. It is decidedly “unsimple” on the inside even as it appears the right actions seem obvious and easily implementable from outside perspectives-not unlike the inability for true addicts to not “pick up.”

  6. I thought it was a mistake to change the famous "I'm Mrs. Norma (Jackson) Maine" line to "I'm Ally Maine." Yes, more p.c., but it's not nearly as effective.
    Also thought that Cooper mishandled GaGa's final performance.
    Cutting to flashbacks of "happier times" rather than leaving the camera front and center on GaGa's face made the scene less impactful (and heartbreaking) than it should have been.

  7. Enough already.

    Why can’t Hollywood spend more money and talent to invest new stories by new writers Instead of rehashing well trodden films?

    Here is my suggestion to Hollywood chiefs. If you must make remake after remake, then do it with newcomers to give them a chance to show what they can do with classic material. Please spend the big money and the big resources on creating original and wonderful content instead.

    After all, you’ll need to expand the pool of remake sources in a few years.

  8. The sheer number of articles in the nyt about this movie is surprising. Enough already. It is an old story with new players. Does it really require this seemingly unending series of reviews??

  9. The sexual double standard is alive and well: "Grande was astutely confronting the continued belief that women must, and desire to, care for men, even when it costs them their own well-being." I

    But Cooper would have been criticized as a cad, if his character had astutely confronted the continued (the author means "outmoded") belief that men must, and desire to, care for and protect women, even when it costs them their lives.

    In the new feminism, women get choices, men are stuck with their same old same old.

  10. @VCR Cooper's character would not have been a "cad" if he had, say, entered rehab and asked Ally for a rain check on the relationship until he was emotionally healthier. Cooper the actor/director wanted the big dramatic sacrifice that presumably drew him to the well-worn story in the first place. The "new feminism" just asks, not that men have fewer options, but that women have the same options as men (some men seem to have a hard time with this).

  11. What fascinates artists and non-artists alike about this story-line is how the alcoholic and al-anon personalities usually grow up in alcoholic homes, and are therefore attracted to each other in an effort to heal childhood wounds, i.e., attempt to save each other. The inevitable conflict arises because, as children, most survivors never felt there was enough attention to go around, which often plays out in adult, romantic relationships, artistic endeavors, and hopes for stardom and success.
    The true-to-life pattern of alcoholic/addicts--usually male--attaining those dreams first stems from their substance-abuse to quell performance fears, while al-anon personalities so often survived their alcoholic homes by satiating the alcoholic's needs first, forsaking their own. It's an alcoholic paradigm and cycle that perpetuates the either/or narrative, that there isn't enough for both/all to flourish, much to the detriment of all involved.

  12. This latest version of an old Hollywood chestnut is intermittently entertaining and aided immeasurably by a an impressive performance from Lady GaGa. But I was struck by how similar this version hewed somewhat closely to the Streisand/Pierson version from '76. There are obvious differences between the two films but my reaction to both was less than enthusiastic. The latest screenplay maps out a more complex story in some ways, yet in the long run deja vu wins over and the second half of this new 'Star..' dragged interminably for me once Bradley Cooper's character descended into alcoholic abyss. As a director Cooper is able and his supporting cast really shines. But the screenplay is pedestrian. though often hidden by the fact that the actors give it their best shot. What I carried away from this movie was Lady GaGa's very naturalistic performance and several sequences that showed off her powerful vocal pipes. She even made some of the second-rate dialogue believable in all of her scenes : it's a heartfelt performance. By the time of the inevitable, tragic denouement, this viewer was left untouched ; no tears were shed. Surprising as this confirmed movie lover is a sucker for the four hanky movie. Frankly, from very early on, I thought Cooper's Jackson Maine was a crashing boor, and his downward trajectory as GaGa's Ally rises in the film's second half stalled the movie and muffled whatever dramatic power it had. It's a big, splashy production but not a great film.