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A Star Is Born (#110 of 4)

Watch the First Trailer for Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s A Star Is Born

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Watch the First Trailer for Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s A Star Is Born

Warner Bros. Pictures

Watch the First Trailer for Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s A Star Is Born

Today, Warner Bros. Pictures premiered the first official trailer for the new remake of A Star Is Born. The film, which marks both the writing and directorial debut of actor Bradley Cooper and the first leading role for pop singer Lady Gaga, is an update of a story that’s made its way to the big screen three times before: first in 1937, starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March; then in 1954, starring Judy Garland and James Mason; and most recently in 1976, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

Summer of ‘88: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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Summer of ‘88: <em>Who Framed Roger Rabbit</em>
Summer of ‘88: <em>Who Framed Roger Rabbit</em>

Is there some sort of a deep political hypothesis nibbling on a carrot and overseeing the action in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I mean, the film’s plot concerns a nefarious developer, Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd), who wants to dismantle Los Angeles’s electrified streetcar system and replace it with a freeway-centric suburban wasteland, and in so doing appropriate and pave over a charismatic minority neighborhood, Toontown. And could it be that the kind of meta-cinematic crossovers—from Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny going skydiving together to Donald and Daffy Duck on dueling pianos—that make this movie so entertaining and weird and such a product of the 1980s are also a utopian-type metaphor for the overcoming of the hostilities and rivalries and the competitiveness of the free market? Or am I going too far with this?

This much, at least, we know: Who Framed Roger Rabbit belongs to that category of slick and ironic and star-studded Hollywood film that takes as its subject Hollywood and moviemaking and life in Los Angeles, like A Star Is Born or Sunset Boulevard or Singin’ in the Rain, like Barton Fink or Boogie Nights or The Player. Which is to say, it’s self-conscious by default, and is always reminding you either blatantly or slightly less blatantly of other movies or shows or cartoons that you’ve seen. And yet, for me at least, the film manages to be its own thing, to be more than just a noirish, postmodern Super Friends/Justice League for anthropomorphic animal cartoon characters.

5 for the Day: James Mason

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5 for the Day: James Mason
5 for the Day: James Mason

In Sheridan Morley’s biography of James Mason, practically all of his co-stars described him as a quietly unhappy man, restless, ill at ease, indecisive, a skittish pacifist, and a classic loner. He could be driven to physical violence if provoked, and this aggressive streak was mined in the trashy Gainsborough costume films that first made him a star in Britain in the forties, where he played brutes who gave raven-haired Margaret Lockwood “a good thrashing.” To quote Shaw’s Henry Higgins, Mason had thick lips to kiss you with and thick boots to kick you with, and he could have relaxed into easy stardom in this mode, but he was ambitious for more meaningful work than he could find in the impoverished British cinema. He went to Hollywood in the late forties; always too opinionated for his own good, Mason never quite established himself as a star player, but he managed to make a large and varied impact on some of the finest films of his time. He generally brought a kind of heightened immediacy and intensity to his scenes, letting off flares of irritation, bitchery, anguish and menace that worked best in short-ish takes, so that unlike many actors of his country and generation he was not a man of the theater but totally a man of the cinema.