A Star Is Born (Film/Movie Review) – An Early Oscar Contender

A Star Is Born is a musical romantic drama directed, produced and co-wrote by Bradley Cooper. This film is the third remake of the original 1937 movie of the same name and it stars Anthony Ramos, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chapelle, Sam Elliot, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Gaga and Cooper play the lead roles of Ally and Jackson Maine respectively.

The story of A Star Is Born focuses on Jackson Maine, a popular, established but hard-drinking musician whose is on a downward spiral. He meets Ally, a young, undiscovered singer who he sees a lot of potential in. The two develop a romantic relationship as Jackson attempts to bring Ally into the spotlight and make her a star in the music industry.

My Expectation For A Star Is Born

Any film that receives universal acclaim coming out of a premiere at any film festival is going to grab my attention and raise my expectations. A Star Is Born was praised to a degree that I had not seen since La La Land.

With this in mind, I had to be careful with my hopes for this movie because of La La Land. Indeed, La La Land was a film which I thought was good but I was left slightly underwhelmed by it. This was because there was a difference between the critical reaction, which deemed it to be one of the best movies of the decade so far, and the actual quality of that film in my eyes.

Instead of going into A Star Is Born thinking that it was going to be a phenomenal movie, I believed that it would just be a good film. Nothing more, nothing less. I was interested to see how capable Bradley Cooper would be as a first-time director and for me to see Lady Gaga as an actress for the first time would be fascinating to experience.

Every review for A Star Is Born proclaimed that it was a guarantee for a Best Picture nomination at the 2019 Oscars. Whether I would come to this same conclusion was a difficult thing to predict given how, to some extent, I was burned by La La Land.

My Thoughts On A Star Is Born

My cinematic experience with A Star Is Born was a bit tainted because I unknowingly went into a screening for the Hard of Hearing which meant that there were subtitles. Consequently, it was harder to focus on the film when there were lines of dialogue coming up on the bottom of the screen, sometimes before the words had actually been spoken.

Still, that slight annoyance did not to do much to deter how much I liked the movie and the more I think about A Star Is Born, the more I like it. It is a very good film flowing with heart and soul thanks to brilliant performances and superb songs.

It is early days in this Oscar season and there are still plenty of movies to see in the coming months. However, I would be extremely surprised if Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga and Sam Harris do not end up getting nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively.

They are all exceptional in A Star Is Born and the emotional impact this film has, especially in the third act, is solely down to how great the relationships are. The chemistry between both Cooper/Gaga and Cooper/Harris are the foundation for the success of this movie.

Bradley Cooper deserves a lot of credit for this as it is not an easy thing to do, especially in a film that is your directorial debut. Because of this, he has a chance of getting an Oscar nomination for Best Director too.

The Music In A Star Is Born

Clearly, in a movie like A Star Is Born, the quality of the music is going to be incredibly important for the quality of the film and, as I previously stated, the songs in A Star Is Born are superb. Indeed, I would have no problem if ‘Maybe It’s Time’, ‘Shallow’, ‘Always Remember Us This Way’, ‘Is That Alright?’ and ‘I’ll Never Love Again’ made up all the nominations for Best Original Song at the 2019 Oscars.

That is not going to happen though. For me, ‘Shallow’ and ‘Always Remember Us This Way’ were the standout songs in A Star Is Born and every time that Ally sings in this movie, I defy anyone to not be enraptured and swept away in the story.

I also liked the commentary on the modern music industry in this film as we see an artist like Ally slowly become a product rather than a storyteller. It made for some interesting story beats and character moments.

My Final Thoughts On A Star Is Born

If I had to pick out faults in A Star Is Born, I would say that the pacing is a bit inconsistent and there was one important story moment for Ally and Jackson that came out of nowhere and it felt a bit rushed. This slightly sullied the quality of the story in this film but not to a degree where it severely lessened my overall admiration for it.

I am confident in saying that A Star Is Born is an early contender for a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Nonetheless, it is too soon to say that it will win and/or if it is my personal choice to win Best Picture because there are still plenty more films to come out in the coming months that could also be Oscar contenders.

All I will say is that I find it unlikely that someone watches A Star Is Born and does not at least think the film is decent because there is a lot to admire in it.

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Star Wars Resistance: Season 1 Premiere (Television/TV Review) – A Very Good Start

All of us who were fans of Star Wars Rebels were saddened to see the show end back in March of this year. Still, we knew that a brand-new animated Star Wars television show was coming out later in 2018 which did soften the blow of Rebels ending. Star Wars Resistance is this new animated TV series and I was really excited to see the premiere episode of this show, titled ‘The Recruit’.

Granted, it is pretty easy to get me excited for the majority of new Star Wars content coming out nowadays. In the case of Resistance, I was really grabbed by the trailers with its crisp animation style, quirky characters as well as the potential in its storytelling. Certainly, the show is set in a time period that is ripe for exploration.

In the Star Wars timeline, Resistance begins six months before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The protagonist of this show is Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono, a New Republic pilot who is recruited into The Resistance by Poe Dameron, voiced by Oscar Isaac, to spy on the rising threat of The First Order.

Ideally, I hoped that I would instantly connect to most of the characters in Star Wars Resistance and be entertained in this Season 1 premiere. The premiere of any television show will have pressure to draw in its viewers from the beginning and I was rooting for Resistance to get off to a really good start just like Star Wars Rebels did with ‘Spark of a Rebellion’ which was its Season 1 premiere.

My Thoughts On The Season 1 Premiere Of Star Wars Resistance

Thankfully, ‘The Recruit’, in my opinion, turned out to be a really good start to Star Wars Resistance. Nothing blew my mind in this premiere but it would be unfair to expect that from the pilot episode of any TV show. Saying that, I would contend that Resistance has a much better foundation than Rebels in one key aspect; its animation style and design.

I believe it is clear to see from ‘The Recruit’ that this aspect of Resistance is leaps and bounds better than what we saw in Rebels’ premiere episode. I loved how beautiful and lucid the animation looked and felt, particularly in the flying sequences as we saw at the beginning with a dog-fight between a First Order TIE Figther and New Republic X-wings as well as at the end with a race between Kaz and Torra Doza at the Colossus.

This leads me onto another aspect of Star Wars Resistance, established in ‘The Recruit’, that I liked a lot; the setting. The majority of ‘The Recruit’ was spent at the Colossus, a refuelling station on the ocean planet Castilon which is located at the edge of the known galaxy.

This location was fleshed out very well with its diverse range of inhabitants along with its vibrancy and it is great to have a base for our characters that is larger in scale than the Ghost in Rebels.

The Characters In Star Wars Resistance

Speaking of characters, I thought that they were all well-established when it came to their personalities and I already have clear favourites in the form of Yeager and Neeku. Yeager has a cool demeanour and seems to have an interesting past that I cannot wait to find out more about and Neeku provides humour that made him an endearing protagonist.

Still, the main protagonist of Star Wars Resistance is Kaz and, so far, I like him and I can already see that he is similar to Ezra in some ways. I also loved the small role of Poe Dameron, the cameos of Leia and Starkiller Base as well as the name-drops of the Battle of Scarif and Battle of Jakku in ‘The Recruit’.

It is great to see these tie-ins to the wider Star Wars universe and I am curious to see how the larger story and the growing conflict between The Resistance and The First Order plays into Resistance. I mean, how could I not be after the way ‘The Recruit’ ends with that look of Starkiller Base.

My Final Thoughts On The Season 1 Premiere Of Star Wars Resistance

So, overall, Star Wars Resistance is off to a very good start. As I stated earlier, nothing in ‘The Recruit’ blew me away. But, at the same time, nothing major let me down in this premiere episode. Going forward, I hope that the following episodes of Resistance will, at the very least, have the same level of quality seen in ‘The Recruit’.

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American Vandal Season 2 (Television/TV Review) – Equal In Quality To Season 1

I went into Season 1 of American Vandal not knowing what to expect and what I experienced was a very unique TV show. Certainly, it was a season of television whose mockumentary style was something I was not particularly familiar with. I really enjoyed Season 1 of American Vandal and I was curious to see where a second season would go.

In this second season, a new mystery centred around an antagonist called “The Turd Burglar” would be the task that Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) would have to take on in order to expose “The Turd Burglar”.

I hoped Season 2 of American Vandal would be as compelling and ridiculous as Season 1. Still, I was slightly worried that a drop-off in quality would happen with Season 2 compared to Season 1 of American Vandal.

My Thoughts On American Vandal Season 2

In the end, Season 2 of American Vandal does some things better than Season 1 but it also does other things worse. This all combines to create a second season of television that is, in the end, equal to the first. Season 2, like Season 1, did a very good job at keeping me entertained with its ridiculous, compelling narrative.

Literally, how could anyone not be slightly captivated in the absurdity of this show when stuff such as the “Poop piñata”, “Shit Launcher” and “Fruit Ninja” are key components of the narrative in this season of American Vandal, especially from a comedic perspective. Undoubtedly, the style of comedy from Season 1 carried over into Season 2 of American Vandal and the second season of this show is funny.

Yet, I would say that Season 1’s humour was more hard-hitting than Season 2 and the main reason why is because Kevin McClain (Travis Tope), the victim of Season 2, is not as amusing, compelling and/or sympathetic as Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), the victim of Season 1.

A lot of the best comedic moments in Season 1 came through Dylan and, sadly, the same level of quality was not achieved with Kevin in Season 2 of American Vandal. As a result, I would say that the quality of comedy in Season 1 of American Vandal is better than Season 2.

However, where Season 2 triumphs over Season 1 is, firstly, how it has a great antagonist in “The Turd Burglar” and, secondly, how well it dealt with important themes such as privilege, injustice, isolation and living in the digital age. This gave the second season of American Vandal more depth than the first.

My Final Thoughts On American Vandal Season 2

Moreover, I also believe that the plot in Season 2 was better thought out and layered than the first which you come to realise in a big way in the season finale, titled ‘The Dump’, which was phenomenal. Everything came together in the finale and it elevated Season 2 to a place where it is equal to Season 1 in its overall quality.

If you are a fan of the first season, then I think you will really like Season 2 once you get the chance to watch it on Netflix and I am personally very interested to see where a third season of American Vandal could go. Perhaps we could have a new story in college that deals with fraternities/sororities.

We will have to wait and see what transpires in this regard but American Vandal is such a great television series that it would be a waste if it did not continue and explore new territory in terms of themes and ridiculous premises.

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