I’d almost be willing to bet money that Warner is planning a big deluxe boxed edition of “A Star is Born” for Christmas or perhaps the new year. Until then, fans of “A Star is Born” can double dip or opt for either edition that’s been released. While the original release is very good with some interesting extras, The “Encore Edition” is an okay release if you want the extended edition and a lot more material with what is an already great film. You can’t go wrong with “A Star is Born,” a wonderful remake that managed to be the best musical of 2018, bar none.
The original documentary “Fighting With My Family” was the stuff that underdog tales were made of, so when it was turned in to a feature film, it wasn’t too surprising. Stephen Merchant has a knack for creating very funny, human tales, and this adaptation does a good job of taking from the documentary and creating a very good adaptation of the story of Saraya, a young wrestling fanatic who would become Paige, one of the most influential female wrestlers and Superstars for the WWE.
As someone who grew up with a family that adored wrestling, I had a very good time learning about Paige and the down to Earth working classic family she grew up in. “Fighting With My Family” is the adaptation of the documentary that tells the tale of Paige and how she grew up working with her parents, both of whom built their own home grown wrestling federation. Paige, the most popular of her brood, eventually rose to become a WWE star, allowing for a great tale of the working class rising to fame. With some liberties taken Stephen Merchant’s “Fighting With My Family” is almost as good that also works as a tribute to the power of family.
Director/Star Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” will likely go down in history as one of the greatest remakes of all time. Cooper doesn’t try so much to remake a story that’s been already remade, but rethink it for a modern culture. In the end “A Star is Born” excels because it doesn’t lose sight of what it wants to convey as an epic romance, and a tale about identity, and stardom. It’s a beautiful and often soul shattering drama that Cooper directs with immense humility and is able to derive wonderful performances all around.
One of the best movies of 2018, “Anna and the Apocalypse” is a movie that’s destined to catch on with midnight audiences, as it begs for sing alongs from an enthusiastic audience. John McPhail’s zombie horror musical is a pastiche of the best from the genres it puts on the big screen, delivering what is one of the pleasing and creepiest zombie movies of the years. “Anna and the Apocalypse” manages to be both life affirming and a spectacularly vicious zombie movie at the same time, with some of the more entertaining musical numbers and sequences filmed in a long time.
In a way “Jailhouse Rock” also works as something of a pseudo-biography that would prophesize a lot of Presley’s endeavors. Whether or not intentional, “Jailhouse Rock” serves as a fascinating and often entertaining peek in to what the man would become, except with some slightly sweeter end results. Richard Thorpe’s “Jailhouse Rock” is a solid Elvis Presley vehicle that presents the definitive Presley on film. If you’ve never seen a single Elvis film, this is the great place to begin tracking his film career.
In a year where the inferior “Bohemian Rhapsody” promises to storm awards shows in 2019, “Heavy Trip” is a movie that’s far more deserving of audience attention. Like most of the best music oriented drama comedies, it’s an engaging, and very funny tale of a band with grand aspirations and have to literally fight to break out of their small home town in hopes of making it in the larger world they want to be a part of. “Heavy Trip” is centered on a group of aspiring death metal musicians from Finland, and you’d think a movie with a focus on that music genre would be more niche than anything, but Jukka Vidgren, and Juuso Laatio’s drama comedy is basically for everyone and anyone who has had a dream at one time or another.
You can almost look at “Hearts Beat Loud” as something of an urban “Once,” in where music is something of the soul behind a very human story of two lost individuals in a somewhat turbulent world. This time around we meet father and daughter Sam and Frank, both of whom never really healed from a horrendous loss that they experienced many years before the narrative starts. In one instance, Frank literally sits at the scene of his wife’s death, which is still a memorial standing in the middle of a busy street, and tries to figure out where to go next.