A Star Is Born (2018)


A Star Is Born (2018). Didn’t fall in love with it as it seems so many others did. Really loved the first hour or so. The build-ups to the musical set-pieces were perfectly manipulative – such perfect pace and timing and stakes. Ally’s career seemed a bit too easy and magical, and the snapshots of whirlwind success kinda killed the second half for me. But it’s not just her story. Good stuff.

The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines. This was my second viewing (cf. the first), and I really really liked it. The whole thing hung together for me better this time. One thing I noticed the second time around that I appreciated: the movie opens with the sound of Gosling’s breathing prominent; the second main chapter opens with Cooper’s. I would watch a feature film made entirely of those tracking road shots.

American Sniper

American Sniper. Not as good as other Eastwood movies with similar thematic material. Broken heroes, the toll of duty and violence, and what it is to have a noble but misunderstood purpose, and so forth. Perhaps this and Selma share some common values? The fake babies are really distracting and completely baffling. Forewarning: there are parts of this movie that will be unbearable if you’re sensitive about violence against children. And if you aren’t… WTF? If I were choosing among 9/11 fallout movies, I’d rather watch Zero Dark Thirty again. Another movie with a great sandstorm climax is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

American Hustle

American Hustle. Disappointed with the ending, but that’s heist movies for ya. I should note that most of my disappointment was because most of the movie has such an enjoyable, playful ambiguity to it. You spend so much time on your toes, wondering what these folks are really up to, because there’s no real obvious villain or goal, and then it all wraps up too neatly for my taste. But Amy Adams is so good, the sets and stuff are a trip, and there’s some fun visual gags in there. I’d also recommend David O. Russell’s Three Kings, which has a lot of the same energy and restlessness.

The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines. It’s a bummer that the wind goes out of the sails when Gosling leaves the screen, but that’s still to his and the director’s credit for those parts of the movie. And Mendes was fantastic. What a talent. I just wish the third act hadn’t run out of gas. But, then again, I think that’s partly me being snob-weary-dreary-bonehead, “Oh, another fathers and sons tale” and not wanting to give in to it. It’s good, though. Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is pretty sharp, too.