If anything, A Star is Born proves the versatility of Hollywood actors. Christina Aguilera played a comparable role in Burlesque, with a voice that is just as insane as Gaga’s, but Lady Gaga’s take on Allie is something else. She is not the first to make the bridge between singing and acting, and she will probably not be the last, but it is nevertheless an impressive performance. Simultaneously, Bradley Cooper plays an alcoholic drug-addict, a part which must be familiar to him considering his past. Don’t think that he made it easy on himself though; not only was he directing for the very first time, but he also spent over a year taking vocal lessons and preparing for his role as Jackson Maine. The Hangover was almost a decade ago, and Cooper’s rebranded image is now complete; he has matured, scooping up three Oscar nominations on the path to the culmination that is A Star is Born.
We all know the story – a girl next door with an amazing voice who gets discovered by a famous popstar, and the rest is history. We all know Barbra Streisand played it years ago and she was amazing. We know that A Star is Born is a classic, maybe even a cliché. But all of that only adds to the momentum and success of the film. Say what you want, and I am sure my fellow CUB critics will, but the movie is entertaining, Bradley Cooper’s directing is top-of-the-notch and Lady Gaga’s voice is simply startling, as always.
But we should think about what it means to have two famous artists on the big screen again, in an expensive production which will undoubtedly dominate awards season 2018. How much of the LA spotlight is reserved for the few faces we already know, at all costs? I guess once you are effectively successful, it is easier to branch out. Both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga took the opportunity to do so, and they succeeded. But in doing so, did they take the opportunity away from other talented actors? Maybe not directly, but the larger job market paradox extends to the art world; as more people are highly qualified and highly talented, the platform for them to be discovered and successful shrinks. More and more people lose their jobs at major art institutions because big organizations are cutting costs as they struggle to make profit. This is due to many different reasons, not in the least the threat of tech start-ups and cheap mass-production of all forms of art. The technological revolution has hit the arts as much as any other professional field.
As such, the internet implies many struggles for the art world, but it can be used to its advantage too. Before the launch of the world wide web, it took months, maybe years for art to spread across the globe. As more and more people go independent in the film industry as well as the music business and theatre, we should be supporting them however we can, be it by following independent artists on Instagram or buying a piece in a hipster independent gallery in Shoreditch. Watching an alternative movie doesn’t have to be at the cost of blockbusters like A Star is Born – both have their attractions, their pros and cons. So appreciate the glamourous Hollywood letters perched on top of Mount Lee, but try not do so exclusively – support the small and independent and who knows, maybe one day they’ll be nominated for the next best soundtrack