A Star Is Born
A Middle Aged Movie Blog. Being the periodic journal of a film loving middle aged independent science fiction writing father of two and his ongoing adventures in cinema and home video
Boxing Day included Bradley Cooper’s assured directorial debut, A Star Is Born (2018) featuring a surprisingly excellent Lady Gaga on rising star duties. Bradley Cooper rumbles his way through a top-notch performance as a washed up, alcoholic musician, treading water and battling depression. His mimicry of Sam Elliot, who plays his older brother in the movie, is perfect. The songs are strong and convincingly handled and serve to ladle authenticity over the film, which would surely have faltered without them. An incredibly fresh interpretation for the modern world, which is not bad going given this is the fourth time the film has been re-interpreted.
Followed this with a screening of Jason Reitman’s Tully (2018), starring an on-form Charlize Theron. Theron plays harassed mum Marlo, who is struggling to cope with the responsibilities of motherhood. Her well-meaning husband Drew (Ron Livingston) is clueless and unintentionally unsupportive. However, her rich brother, seeing that she’s struggling, hires a night nanny to support with her maternal responsibilities. Tully, the night nanny, played with effervescent charm by Mackenzie Davis, proves a life saver for Marlo and the pair become friends as the narrative progresses.
A smart script from Juno (2007) and Jennifer’s Body (2009) scribe Diablo Cody, highlights the difficulties inherent in being a mum without ever resorting to cliché. Smart narrative decisions mean that there are surprises in store for the viewer that films of this type rarely ever resort to. Recommended.
Finished off His Dark Materials on the BBC, a handsomely mounted adaptation of the Philip Pullman novels that put the mediocre 2007 Hollywood adaptation, The Golden Compass, well and truly to bed.
Started back in on Season 2 of Twin Peaks. Plan to get through it before returning to work. This may prove difficult, what with Dr Who specials and BBC Dracula adaptations clogging the airwaves in the interim period.
Finally dragged my son to watch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) at an early screening to avoid the crowds. Enjoyed it well enough though it’s obvious from the opening crawl that Abrams could have done with a bigger word count to handle the exposition. The film plays it safe, pandering to viewers disgruntled by Rian Johnson’s divisive The Last Jedi in 2017. There’s a lot of fan service on show and depending which camp you fall into in the never-ending discourse re: whether The Last Jedi was any good or not, not enough of the freshness and narrative bravery displayed by its immediate predecessor.
Action set pieces are nicely handled, Leia’s character arc is compassionately judged, and the visuals are wonderfully rendered throughout. That said, a big reveal that involves the lineage of a key character has all the dramatic impact of an apologetic cough. One can’t help but feel that the film’s pedestrian, crowd pleasing antics will be harshly judged by future generations and that, eventually, once a bit of time has passed, the viewing public en-masse will come around to the idea that The Last Jedi really was the best of the bunch. Directed by JJ Abrams. Starring Carries Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac.
Went to see Spies In Disguise (2019) with the family on New Year’s Eve. I had my doubts about the movie going in but was pleasantly surprised to find I actually enjoyed it in spite of my reservations. Yes, it plays like The Incredibles (2004) on a reduced budget. Yes, most of the spy jokes it serves up have been churned out by better movies in the past. However, it features a Will Smith character turning into a pigeon. The jokes that this generates, are effective and plentiful and more than make up for some standard animation. Directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane. Starring Will Smith and Tom Holland.
Watched the Dr Who New Year special ‘Resolution’. Good fun and a pleasing starting block for the new season. Watched the new Dracula, an interesting spin on the Stoker novel from Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. Traditionalists might be a bit put off by the shows fanciful narrative turns and knowing dialogue. However, Claes Bang is brilliant as the bloodsucking count, ably supported by Dolly Wells, who puts in an excellent and altogether charming performance as Sister Agatha.
Watched 1999’s The Mummy with my son who is absolutely obsessed with classic adventure movies. Ditching the Gothic aesthetic favoured by Hammer Horror in days gone by in favour of an Indiana Jones styled adventure tinged with horror, The Mummy holds up pretty well twenty plus years on from its original release.
Brendan Fraser is likeable as a gun toting Yankee adventure dude. Rachel Weisz, meanwhile, in support, hams it up nicely as an accident prone intellectual. Arnold Vosloo, as the CG Mummy of the piece, does his bit, but the monster is a bit rubbish and less scary than it might have been.
Naturally, given the film’s success, The Mummy would spawn a number of sequels and spin offs, including The Mummy Returns in 2001 and The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008. There was also The Scorpion King (2002) with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in his first leading man role, which was a moderate success in multiplexes across the planet and was directed by genre favourite Chuck Russell, the man responsible for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), 1988’s excellent The Blob remake and The Mask (1994).