Film · Longing · Movie Review · Movies · Uncategorized

A Star is Born – Review

MV5BMjE3MDQ0MTA3M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDMwNDY2NTM@._V1_Bradley Cooper has established himself as one of the best actors in Hollywood, versatile and adaptable, he’s made a name for himself in his serious dramatic roles, as well as comedy. Now Cooper is flexing a different muscle, as his directorial debut A Star is Born drops and it has garnered significant critical praise, with the talk of Academy Awards swirling around the film like a cyclone.

Something’s Missing

Cooper’s deft direction brings out the authenticity of the life of a star, one that has everything, yet still finds themselves feeling hollow without the means to fill the void. There is a moment, early in the movie where Cooper’s Jack is playing a song for just a few people as he waits for Gaga’s Ally to get ready. The lyrics to the first verse are,

Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
It takes a lot to change a man
Hell, it takes a lot to try
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die

It’s a clear admission from the character that what he’s doing in life is not working, but that the road of change, even trying to change is hard. It takes everything in us as humans to make that 180, especially when we find ourselves so addicted to and wrapped up in things that it becomes almost impossible for us to see ourselves without those vices.

The theme is further accentuated when Ally shares the lyrics of a song she’s been writing with Jack in a parking lot and they capture the essence of the problem perfectly.

Tell me something boy
Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?
Or do you need more
Ain’t it hard keepin’ it so hardcore?

And the later they sing the song together and the first first verse completes the theme,

Tell me somethin’ girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more
Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?

r0rtbf8blilknpm8m8xuAll the fame, money, sex, drugs, things, even people, cannot fill the hole that burns so brightly inside of us. We, like Jack are left trying everything under the sun and yet left wanting. Like Solomon in Ecclesiastes you can almost hear the characters in the movie saying, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity….What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”

What is fascinating is that the answer to this problem is actually found in the song that Jack sings in the bar as he waits for Ally, sadly, that verse is never sung except on the soundtrack. It goes,

Nobody speaks to God these days
Nobody speaks to God these days
I’d like to think he’s lookin’ down and laughin’ at our ways
Nobody speaks to God these days.

It’s there, the answer to the longing and searching. God. He waits for us to speak to him, to look to him for the fulfillment that can only come from him. Yet he doesn’t laugh at our ways, he cries. Jesus did,  “’O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.'” 

The movie paints the portrait of a life spent in the futility of longing and it is heartbreaking.

The Movie

Cooper’s debut as director is authentic and real. The film feels as raw as it is characters, which is exactly what is needed. The performances are stellar. Cooper and Gaga shine in their roles. Cooper has always found ways to disappear into his performance, but it is Gaga that truly transcends. Her persona of Lady Gaga is hard to forget, but her performance here makes you forget all of that and see only the character of Ally. Sam Elliott as Cooper’s brother is perfect casting.

Bradley Cooper has created a wonderful remake, showing that you can bring something fresh and timely to old material if one pours their heart and soul into it. The film is affecting, with resonant themes, incredible performances, great music and will leave you with a melancholy that’s hard to shake. A Star is Born is rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.

 

American Sniper · Film · Military · Movie Review · Movies · Uncategorized · War

America Sniper – Review

american-sniper-posterVeterans are notoriously quiet when it comes to their lives in war. My own grandfather never said anything about his time in the navy during WWII to me. Clint Eastwood had a difficult job when he took on transferring the life of Chris Kyle to the screen. One, you have a legend in the military. Two, its a man who even in his book, is not the most forthcoming with his emotions, even though we know he had much to overcome after his time in the war. Third, how do you accurately portray the PTSD of Kyle when like many military people he is less than loquacious about his experiences and the severity of their impact him.

Eastwood makes the decision that instead of trying to show us the impact on Kyle, he will let the audience experience his life alongside him. This way, as Bradley Cooper gives us the subtle hints at what the war is doing to him in the field and when he is home, we’ve lived his life. You know what is running through his mind when he is sitting in a chair in his living room with the television off, or as he drives white-knuckled on the freeway. It’s strangely effective. When the movie ends, it leaves you more transformed than you realized.

Cooper gives a moving performance, never over the top or distracting. He looks the part and you never believe he is not America’s deadliest sniper. Siena Miller does a good job of portraying Taya, the wife that is left at home, trying to keep the fires of home burning as Kyle deploys four times. The casting is perfect.

Many will say the movie is pro war and yet if you read the book American Sniper you will realize that Kyle is not pro war, he is pro-America and he’s there to protect his fellow soldiers. He’s a warrior, that’s how he sees himself. For him it’s God, Country, Family and he lived that out till his dying day. I think the movie lets the audience make up it’s own mind about war and it’s impact. Kyle does go through a lot to get healthy yet you won’t really see that in the movie. People will complain about this as well. Yet Eastwood is being true to his subject. Kyle didn’t really talk much about what happened and when he did, he downplayed everything, reminding us that others had it much worse.

American Sniper is an experience. Being married to a military person and having them be affected by the film and say it was good, carried a lot of weight. Veterans know best in this area where we civilians can only ask and listen when they will tell us their stories. This movie is a timely reminder that our soldiers have wounds they may never talk about. Iraq and the War on Terror might not be in the news much anymore, but these men and women still need our support, our love and patience.