A star was in fact born; this much is certain. What seemed certain for awhile was that this new version of A Star is Born was going to be an awards-season behemoth, likely to both annoy and enchant. It turned out to not be that, but it does have its annoyances and its charms. The problems mostly come in the second half, which is marred by a serious lack of specificity in charting the titular star’s career; I knew things were going to get dicey when the snooty British manager showed up. But damnit, at its best, this movie swept me up, and it has some of the best, most unexpectedly colorful cinematography of the year (I dunno if this movie confirms that Bradley Cooper is a great director, but it certainly confirms Matthew Libatique is a genius at what he does). Bradley Cooper can cry all he wants about not getting enough Oscar nominations for this, but he should rest easy knowing he has my support (and I guess Sean Penn’s too, although that probably doesn’t help).
Elsewhere, this week has two early Oliver Stone efforts; the Stone-scripted, Michael Cimino-directed Year of the Dragon and Talk Radio, Stone’s Eric Bogosian adaptation that he followed Platoon with. Talk Radio is tantalizingly close to being a masterpiece; just take out the attempt to open it up in the middle and you’re already there. Otherwise, there’s Criterion’s release of Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice (although the transfer is marred by the same piss-yellow color timing that’s plagued a lot of recent restorations), Kino releasing Mad Dog and Glory, featuring cinematography from the late Robby Muller and an early against-type Bill Murray performance, and Twilight Time finally giving Americans a Blu-Ray release of Frank Tashlin’s delightful Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. Or you can buy the new version of Robin Hood which everybody has already erased from their memories.
Backbeat (Shout Factory)
Bedazzled (Twilight Time)
Color Me Blood Red (Arrow)
Death in Venice (Criterion)
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (Film Movement)
Mad Dog and Glory (Kino)
Robin Hood (Lionsgate)
So Dark the Night (Arrow)
A Star Is Born (Warner)
Talk Radio (Twilight Time)
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Twilight Time)
Year of the Dragon (Warner Archive Collection)