You might have the longest IMDb resume I’ve ever seen. A couple of producing credits, 13 gigs as a composer, and (as of October 2018) a whopping 879 credits as a music contractor. That’s 879 separate films and TV series you’ve worked on - not counting individual episodes (where the numbers get out of control: 38 episodes of Nashville, 50 episodes of Empire, 152 episodes Once Upon a Time, etc.). With so many contracts flying across your desk and rights being cleared, I can’t imagine a movie like A Star is Born made much of an impression on you. On paper, it probably felt like just another music-themed project hoping to lock down a few new tunes and cash in on their breakout potential.
You wouldn’t be the only one who saw the film that way.
From its very inception, the idea that Bradley Cooper would be making his directorial debut remaking A Star is Born felt… thirsty. A classic Hollywood story taking its fourth run at the big screen, with the past three versions earning a combined 17 Oscar nominations, doesn’t exactly leave a lot of room for failure. Few films have ever given themselves such a high bar to clear - while at the same time, not actually occupying much space in the cultural conscience. In other words, it’s almost like Cooper was dusting off a tried-and-true treasure map to the Academy Awards that had been forgotten about for the past 40 years. Whether or not it leads him there as well is yet to be seen (hint: it will), but for my money that result won’t affect the film’s success.
A Star is Born took my breath away. It let me forget about what’s cool and current, and allowed me to fall in love with the most basic forms of storytelling (both in movies and music). It has its emotional compass always pointing to true North at a time when irony, cynicism and detachment seems to guide every other aspect of culture and politics. It’s both a relief and ride - like the old wooden rollercoasters that don’t do fancy loop-de-loops, but manage to be thrilling by the shear miracle that they don’t fly off the tracks during the ride.
In legal terms, right from the previews it promised to be an earnest and heartfelt love story that would probably end up breaking your heart, and it delivered. How many of the 879 projects you’ve worked on can honestly actually claim to have lived up to their own promises?
Of course, it helps that Lady Gaga is both an incredibly familiar presence, and yet feels like such a discovery throughout the film. Free from the bombast and spectacle for which she made her name, every frame feels like we’re seeing her - the real her - for the first time , and can genuinely believe that there’s something special about this performer that the world needs to see. It’s the kind of inspired casting decision that helps everything else fall into place. Kind of like picking the perfect song for the perfect moment (of which “Shallow” from this movie might be among the best - in all films).
So, if you ever climb out from behind that desk and are trying to decide which of the projects you’re associated with which might actually be worth seeing - one that truly knows how to marry music and emotion with the image, look no further.