Movie review: A Star Is Born
This fourth iteration of the classic romance has Oscar glow all over it.
Hollywood loves a transformation story, and stars who undergo movie makeovers routinely win the golden statuettes - think Nicole Kidman in The Hours; Charlize Theron in Monster;Christian Bale in The Fighter; and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory Of Everything .
This year, the makeover move goes to Lady Gaga.
Her metamorphosis is simple - just a thorough face cleanse and wardrobe change.
Stripped of her outlandish make-up and flamboyant costumes, the pop star becomes a whole new person.
So what we see is her raw talent, and she fits the part of the down-to-earth Ally like a glove.
You can argue that the role of Ally, who goes from a struggling singer to celebrated Grammy-winning artist, is tailor-made for the Mother Monster.
After all, isn't she simply playing herself? But give Gaga credit for making Ally real - her final scene will bring on the tears.
Bradley Cooper deserves praise for bringing out the actress in her, a testament to his first-time directorial skill.
We see her insecurities and her passion, both for music and for Jackson.
Her powerhouse vocals are put to good use in the original songs she co-wrote for the film.
No acting is required from Cooper and the accompanying band when she takes the stage.
Like them, you will be in awe.
Cooper has said that A Star Is Born came to him at the right time. He was approached to star in it a while back with Clint Eastwood at the helm. He rejected it then, saying he was too young.
Here, his grizzled, jaded rocker is probably one of the better characters he has ever played. You empathise with him as he struggles with his addiction and you feel his jealousy when Ally's star is on the rise while his is spiralling down.
However, Cooper could have done with much more judicious editing. At over 135 minutes, the story feels dragged out.
Gaga won the Best Actress - Miniseries or Television Film Golden Globe in 2016 for American Horror Story, but I'm not convinced she's a bona fide actress or a shoo-in for an Oscar nod. I'll need to see her in another role where she's not playing herself.
One thing's for sure, though. Shallow, her duet with Cooper, will be her next hit single.
Rating : 3.5 Ticks
MOVIE: A Star Is Born
STARRING: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott
DIRECTOR: Bradley Cooper
THE SKINNY: Jackson Maine (Cooper) is an alcoholic singer whose star is fading.
While having a drink in town one night, he discovers aspiring singer-songwriter Ally (Gaga). He decides to groom her into a
star, and a tumultuous relationship ensues.
Movie reviews: Project Gutenberg, The Negotiation
PROJECT GUTENBERG (PG13)
Chow Yun Fat'son-screen charisma saves this from being another run-of-the-mill action flick.
Chow, who plays Painter, is hunted by the Hong Kong police for being the mastermind behind a counterfeit banknote organisation.
His enigmatic portrayal kept me glued, as you wonder what move he will pull next.
Lee Man (Aaron Kwok), his former associate, narrates the film by recounting his time spent with Painter.
This movie will delight fans of Hong Kong cinema - loads of gunfire and computer-generated explosions, heist scenes involving obscene amounts of money and the excellent chemistry between Chow and Kwok.
Director Felix Chong pulls off a few surprises. The movie is also unexpectedly poignant.
Project Gutenberg is perfect for those looking for something that packs visual punch with action sequences, and a plot that does not require much mulling over. - MAVIS WONG
Rating : 3 Ticks
THE NEGOTIATION (PG13)
Despite this crime thriller's predictable storyline, stellar performances by the leads will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Son Ye Jin plays Ha Chae Yoon, a crisis negotiator working for the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
After a terrifying robbery, her plan to leave the force is foiled when she gets called in for another mission and faces off against cold-blooded hostage taker Min Tae Gu (Hyun Bin), who has kidnapped her superior.
The plot is driven mostly by the suspense and action, until it becomes almost too easy to foretell what happens next.
Its attempt at romance is also rather awkward because it never progresses beyond the computer screens, but thankfully, Hyun and Son are immensely watchable.
Son does a fine job in her battle between obeying her superiors and her emotional connection to the case, keeping us on an emotional roller coaster.
And Hyun's transition from wry, charming villian - his first baddie role - to one filled with anger and hatred is impressive.
However, the plot leaves much to be desired. - ADELINE TAN
Rating : 3 Ticks
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