A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born ★★★★½

Me before watching a cherished classic Hollywood musical: "Ugh, well, time to buckle down and do this."
Me after watching a cherished classic Hollywood musical: "I'm an idiot for feeling the way I did before."

There are many things to praise about this movie, not the least of which is the bold Technicolor design and elegant direction. I previously hadn't realized that it was less a "backstage musical" and more a part of a continuum of self-critical stories of Hollywood as both dream and nightmare that includes Bad and the Beautiful, Day of the Locust, Mulholland Drive, and even tangentially Showgirls (thanks for pointing that out, Matt Lynch).

Maybe it's because I've been reading Grant Morrison Superman comics all week, but I couldn't help but think of "star" in the literal, astronomical sense: Celestial objects born in an elemental ignition that emit radiant light and energy but will slowly burn out or violently collapse in a supernova. In keeping with this analogy, the opening shot is spotlights appearing on the horizon, almost supernatural in appearance, illuminating the dim Los Angeles skyline. A cut to a close-up of a spotlight shows the lamp igniting in a fiery burst. Near the end of the movie, an echo of the opening shot shows the setting sun on the horizon over crashing waves. Tragic and beautiful.

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