James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
J. Cole Clay // Film Critic
The year was 2018, and it brought two mega-hit musicals to the big screen. In a way, A STAR IS BORN and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY reinvented what musicals look like in the modern landscape.
One plays like a deeply emotional experience, and it lived in a world that chronicles two musicians’ love affair. Every detail Bradley Cooper brought to the screen comes from a passionate place. The film rings a bit false, but the cast acts the hell out of the material, and Cooper is certainly a director with a vision.
The other plays like a greatest-hits record, evoking the feeling that Queen’s music and Freddie Mercury’s stage presence made us feel for decades on end.
While each of them have their own faults (one very large, in that its director was fired from the film and is dealing with unforgivable allegations), there is an earnestness at play here with two instantly iconic performances and soundtracks that get stuck in your ear for days.
So, crank up the volume, get cozy and feel romantic, because these titles are now available on disc.
A STAR IS BORN (2018)
Rated R, 135 minutes.
Director: Bradley Cooper
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliot, Anthony Ramos, Rafi Gavron
Available Tuesday on Blu-ray, 4K and Digital through Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Coming out of the festival circuit, A STAR IS BORN had the commercial appeal. It was destined to become a hit from the word “go.” Not only did it have one of the most exhilarating trailers in recent memory, director Bradley Cooper promised a romance for the ages with his co-star Lady Gaga. Even though the film lulls in the second act – and Cooper’s take on Jackson Maine has been lampooned (“… just wanted to take another look at you”) – it comes from a place of passion. Although Cooper has emerged as a premiere director, there’s a bit of disappointment in the air, because the film never hits the emotional falsetto. (Read my theatrical review from TIFF here.)
Special Features: These features are incredible and, in a way, make the film as a whole better from the theatrical release. This is a Blu-ray packed with features and one of the best sound mixes that I’ve personally heard on 4K.
- The Road to Stardom (The making of A STAR IS BORN): This is an in depth – and incredibly intimate – look at the making of the film. The behind-the-scenes concert footage and Lady Gaga’s screentest make it instantly worth buying.
- Jam Sessions and Rarities: Come down to Bradley Cooper’s basement and see how the music was made.
- Musical Moments: If you have a favorite song, this is the chance you can watch the moments from the movie over, and over, and over. Just take a break from “Shallow,” if possible.
- Lady Gaga and Zane Lowe Discuss A STAR IS BORN: Zane Lowe is such a fantastic interviewer, and his one-on-one with Lady Gaga is worth a spin.
Rated PG-13, 135 minutes.
Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello
Available today on Blu-ray, 4K and Digital through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
This film has caught a lot of grief on the interwebs for being laughable and unwatchable. And while the film is wildly conventional in its structure, the music and casting makes the film pop, and on the contrary, is highly re-watchable. Rather than focusing on all the facts and perfect time lines, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY evokes a feeling that plays like a greatest-hits record. Sure, there is a bit of a cheese factor, but the feeling is there and the essence of Queen’s frontman Freddie Mercury is portrayed with grace by the oh-so-talented Rami Malek.
- The Complete Live Aid Movie Performance: The computer-generated retelling of the 1985 Live Aid concert is the climax of the film and it delivers the spectacle in bold, cinematic fashion. The creative team nailed capturing one of the greatest performances in rock history. The extended performance adds Queen’s hits “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “We Will Rock You” for a 22-minute cinematic experience.
- Rami Malek – Becoming Freddie: We all hear about actors preparing for a role, but this feature shows what that process is like from soup to nuts – from finding a movement coach for Malek’s stage performances, to wardrobe fittings, and even the pains of finding the right teeth for Mercury’s iconic mouth.
- Recreating Live Aid: Taking place at Wembley Stadium, this is a look at how the filmmakers brought this massive CGI undertaking to life in a believable and grand fashion. It’s seemingly impossible to make a few hundred extras and make a green screen look like a crowd of a hundred thousand people.