Eppler: "A Star is Born" is a knockout

Eppler: "A Star is Born" is a knockout

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"A Star is Born" is a story that's been told over and over - four times now, actually. But somehow, Bradley Cooper as co-writer, director and star delivers a knockout - a combination of something fresh and decidedly old school.

Cooper stars as country rocker whose career may have peaked in part because of his drinking. But he finds renewed purpose in a young performer, an effectively de-glammed Lady Gaga.

Their chemistry pops off the screen. The love story through music at first charming, then powerful when they take the stage together with performances that are electrifying.

Expected problems arise when her career takes off, and he sinks deeper into his addiction. 

The leads are both tremendous, and there are some strong supporting performances, too, especially from the great Sam Elliott as Cooper's older brother - he just gutted me. Comedians Dave Chappelle and Andrew Dice Clay also turn in solid dramatic work.

I'll be honest: I have baggage this movie rifles through like an overzealous TSA agent. It wrecked me. But it's also objectively pretty fantastic, despite some portions in the latter third that lag and others that take short cuts. By then, I was already hooked, though. 

"A Star is Born" is the best movie about music and the people who make it since "Almost Famous" in 2000. Cooper clearly made a very personal movie, having his own drinking problems in the past. And it's funny in a meta way that Cooper made a movie star out of Lady Gaga in a movie about Cooper making Lady Gaga a star.  They'll both be deservedly Oscar nominated as will the fantastic music, and the movie may be the front-runner right now for Best Picture. 

EPPLER'S RATING: * * * * 1/2

RATING SCALE

* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful  - The worst, an insult to movies

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