A star is born (15)
Verdict: she really is
My own personal story with A Star Is Born is quite intimate. The 1954 version with Judy Garland was my deceased mother's favorite movie and the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand was the setting I chose for my first date, 14, at the ABC of Southport.
Previously there had been a double date in the photos with my friend Gary: The man who would be the king. With what I mean the movie, not Gary, although he was pretty full of himself.
But for A Star Is Born, I bravely flew alone, just me and a girl named Susan, as I think most of the girls were in 1976. For the record, Streisand and Kris Kristofferson had jumped in and out of the bag several times for when I even dared to try that clumsy thing of pretending stretch, arm around the shoulders. So I remember the movie very vividly and wherever it is now, no doubt Susan does too.
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in the new Warner Bros movie: A Star Is Born
The point is that, if you are a certain age, you probably also have some history with A Star Is Born.
So, first of all, it's a relief to report that Lady Gaga, in the title role, following the trail started by Garland (and actually before her, in Janet Gaynor's original non-musical 1937) is absolutely dazzling, wonderful. .
Bradley Cooper is also in a tremendous way, as the self-destructive star that is first tricked by the wit, then falls in love with it, then watches with pride, bewilderment and resentment as his career eclipses his.
Fredric March and James Mason played the role of movie stars who faded before Kristofferson revived him as a declining rock star.
Cooper, whose directorial debut is, also plays him as a rock star, which gives him the pleasantly symmetrical whim of him and Lady Gaga, each of them venturing into the other's territory, he singing and acting. Both achieve it triumphantly.
Cooper is Jackson Maine, whom we see for the first time on stage with his band, fed by pills and alcohol, following the movements of his act. The audience, observing through the ever present prism of their iPhones, appreciates more by custom than by conviction.
Meanwhile, we cut out Gaga, playing a disgruntled waitress we only know as Ally, breaking up with someone on the phone. It is a cheesy way of telling us that it is now available for love, and in fact this is a corny story, but it is a first class corn from start to finish.
After leaving the concert, Jackson gets his driver to take him to a bar, to any bar. It happens in one where, although it's a drag night, Ally has a position as a singer.
She releases a version of La Vie En Rose that Edith Piaf herself would have applauded, and Jackson is duly fascinated.
Soon they are exchanging life stories. "One hundred twenty-seven acres, Navajo and where to go," he says of his childhood in a remote pecan farm. Screenwriter Eric Roth does not care if the characters converse in song lyrics. Trapped, Jackson takes her in a private jet to one of her concerts, where she watches from the wings until, without warning, he stops her to sing with him. It's a scene as captivating as it is unlikely.
Naturally, his unlikely duo goes viral on YouTube, to the perplexed delight of his Italian-American, blue-collar father (Andrew Dice Clay) who, inexorably reminding me of Amy Winehouse's father, Mitch continues to tell everyone that he himself was a singer . , back in my day.
And if you have seen any previous incarnation of this story, especially the Streisand-Kristofferson version, you know the approximate trajectory of what happens next. With the help of the manager of a British oily (Rafi Gavron), Ally's career is triggered, his face shines on the giant billboards, while Jackson is immersed in the nose.
In the Grammys, she is chosen as the new sensation, while he is humiliating even for a tribute to Roy Orbison. Humiliation continues, at an almost nuclear level.
Cooper, as a director and actor, keeps all this pulsing real. There are many visual and blinding effects, but mainly effects, which are undoubtedly completely true to life. There are also parts that you do not believe in remotely. For example, no one, including Ally's manager, even remotely refers to his extravagant new revenue power, which is obviously absurd.
But none of that matters, because the story is very attractive, and there is a real effervescent chemistry between the two drivers. Jackson's character is well developed with some health problems (tinnitus) and a complicated relationship with his decent and worried older brother (Sam Elliott).
But Gaga is the one you can not take your eyes from.
She shares some of Streisand's qualities, looking just one minute, and bewitching the next. And there are echoes of Garland the show stopper there as well.
But this is not a copy-cat performance. This is a dazzlingly original silver screen debut. An acting star is born.
Johnny English attacks again (PG)
Verdict: I wish I did not
Johnny English Reborn was the last exit for the secret agent of Rowan Atkinson, in 2011, and for my part I would not have minded if he had been retired to Powers Towers or wherever he spoof the spies go to his days.
But no, here it is in Johnny English Strikes Again, a wet comedy comedy that not even the diehard Atkinson can rescue.
Rowan Atkinson stars in Johnny English Reborn. But it's labeled as a 'wet squib' of a comedy & # 39; by this critic
This time, an evil super villain is cybernetically attacking Britain, redirecting all planes from Europe to Luton and all trains to Bristol Temple Meads. English and the companion Bough (Ben Miller) are assigned to the case, taking them inevitably to the French Riviera, where they are with a fatal Russian woman played by Olga Kurylenko, in a funny repetition of his Bond girl in Quantum Of Solace.
Emma Thompson has fun as the gullible prime minister, on the eve of a slimy tech billionaire played by Jake Lacy (I think Theresa May makes the eyes of Elon Musk).
There are also some decent gags (I smiled at the health and safety briefing that English is required to perform when they hand over their weapons) and a couple of inspired pieces.
But a scene desperately worked in a restaurant, with our unfortunate agents who pretend to be French waiters, is more typical of the whole second-rate company.
Mercy for a mass murderer.
In addition to making the strange Bourne film, British director Paul Greengrass has developed an impressive career, writing and directing films based on real traumatic events.
These include United 93, around 9/11, and the television films Bloody Sunday and The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence.
Now, in a Netflix production that received a disappointingly limited theatrical release, he turned his expert attention to the gun and bomb slaughter by far-right fanatic Anders Behring Breivik in Norway on July 22, 2011. It's so grim and powerful as you would expect, and astutely account the history of that day and its consequences by focusing on a survivor.
So the carnage in which 77 people died, mostly young, although evoked with a heartbreaking realism, ended in the first half hour or so. After that, the film narrates the tribulations of the severely wounded teenager Viljar Hanssen (Jonas Strand Gavli), who must decide if he will testify in Breivik's trial. Greengrass addresses the difficulty of being a story set in Norway, but aimed at the English-speaking markets, using Norwegian actors who speak English. It works well, and aggravates the sense that the film is as much a portrait of a country as of a terrorist attack.
For example, after his crime, Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) is treated with an extraordinary civility, and receives medical treatment calmly after cutting a finger in a shattered fragment of a victim's skull. Some societies would have made him suffer, but Greengrass does not work the point.
He is not reluctant to politicize his films, but he allows them to speak eloquently for themselves.
- July 22 opens on Wednesdays.
Verdict: without teeth
Venom opened in UK theaters earlier this week with nothing like the kind of fuss that usually attends a new movie based on a Marvel Comics character.
This could be because it is not part of the Marvel film universe, but is actually the opening product of a complicated deal between Marvel and Sony. Alternatively, it could be because it's just not very good.
British actors Tom Hardy (pictured) and Riz Ahmed play American antagonists Eddie Brock and Carlton Drake
British actors Tom Hardy and Riz Ahmed play American antagonists Eddie Brock and Carlton Drake. The first is an investigative reporter in San Francisco with his own television program, at least until he is fired for confronting the latter, a brilliant but cowardly boffin who longs to achieve a physical symbiosis between humans and foreigners so that he can colonize the outside . space. An evil scientist? Until now, so trite.
But it is not the lack of originality that takes Venom's life away, but the feeling that it is basically a B-movie with the appearance of a blockbuster, lacking in wit, arrogance and pomp, and with strange effects. tarnished.
Hardy does his best as Brock, who takes a sticky alien parasite that makes him want to eat everything in sight, like a muscular Billy Bunter, and gives him an inner voice that must sound sinister, but reminds me uselessly of Sugar . Puffs Honey Monster.
The result of this is that he is possessed by Venom, a superhero with behavioral problems, and finds an arch-enemy named Riot. Unfortunately, the film, despite an excellent cast that also includes Michelle Williams as Brock's girlfriend, is anything but a revolt.
Blind spot (15)
Verdict: energetic and original.
Blindspotting, also located in Northern California, offers a kind of hip-hop anthem to Oakland and its large African-American population. It is safe to say that director Carolos López Estrada has a target audience in mind; more the good people of Oakland, California, than those of Oakington Bottom, Oxfordshire, for example.
It is a film that takes its social and political agenda in its sleeve; every white person in it is racist, idiotic or exalted, and sometimes all three at once. Of course, there have been infinitely more movies that reduce blacks to numbers, but that does not make the caricature less open.
This image published by Lionsgate shows Tisha Campbell-Martin in a scene from "Blindspotting".
This image released by Lionsgate shows Daveed Diggs, right, and Rafael Casal in a scene from "Blindspotting".
Still, there is an attractive originality and energy for Blindspotting, thanks mainly to the good results of their potential clients, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, who also wrote the script.
Diggs plays Collin, a young black man who, at the beginning of the film, is about to embark on a trial period of one year after serving a prison sentence. Casal is his best white friend, Miles, who rather resents the color of his own skin.
This image released by Lionsgate shows Daveed Diggs in a "Blindspotting" scene.
This image published by Lionsgate shows Rafael Casal, from left to right, Daveed Diggs and Jon Chaffin in a scene from "Blindspotting".
When Collin witnesses a white policeman shooting a black man in the back, it seems that the film will have only one story. Instead, it becomes a life account of the last days of Collin's trial period, and he deliberately wobbles in the tone. One minute is a blunt social drama, the next is to play to laugh.
There is even a dimension of suspense at the edge of the seat, with Collin often using rap to express himself. Diggs, who won a Tony Award for his performance in the hit musical Hamilton, does not surprise with great aplomb.