Thursday, December 13, 2018

"Foundations: A Journey" - A Film by Jonathan R. Lack

My short film, FOUNDATIONS, is now online. It's an experimental work I made as part of my PhD work this year, combining dialogue from The Book of Job with imagery captured in and around Iowa City, with an original score composed by my brother Thomas Lack. So if you're interested in seeing something I made, instead of me commenting on things other people made, this is for you! I thought it turned out pretty well and really enjoyed working on it. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #267 – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Impressions, Game Awards News, and Doctor Who Series 11 Finale Discussion


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

It’s another packed episode this week, as we give impressions on one of the year’s biggest game releases and dive into the depths of depression with the worst Doctor Who season ever. But before that, Sean and Jonathan go over all the news out of this week’s Game Awards event – including the most surprising DLC announcement in years – and give continuing thoughts on a variety of recent games, including Hitman 2 and the Persona 3 and Persona 5 dancing games, now available in English. Jonathan gives impressions of the amazing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch, and we then commiserate over the miserable experience that was the Doctor Who Series 11 finale. We talk about where the episode and the season went wrong, but also go deeper with the season’s treatment of diversity, arguing that a season that appeared progressive on the surface wound up being politically regressive in a number of ways, betraying the character of the Doctor and wasting an opportunity to meaningfully evolve the status quo. It’s one of the most in-depth discussions we’ve had about any topic in the history of the podcast, and we hope you’ll give it a listen. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:03:41
Stuff: 0:03:41 – 0:18:21
Avengers Trailer & Game Awards News: 0:18:21 – 1:01:36
Assorted Games (Hitman, Persona Dancing, and more): 1:01:36 – 1:31:10
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Impressions: 1:31:10 – 2:01:20
Doctor Who Discussion: 2:01:20 – 3:34:46 

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #267








The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #266 – Red Dead 2 Spoiler Discussion, Hitman 2, Dragon Ball, and more!


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link. 

On this week’s wide-ranging episode, we come back from Thanksgiving break to discuss two weeks’ worth of news, including the announcement that Neon Genesis Evangelion is headed to Netflix, while more Marvel shows like Daredevil most certainly are not, before giving continued impressions on a bunch of recent video games like Hitman 2. Jonathan talks about finally nearing the finish line in Dragon Ball Super, and finally discovering what insanely cool thing Goku did in Episode 116 that Sean lost his mind over this time last year. And for our main topic, we dive deep with the story of Red Dead Redemption 2, in full spoiler detail, now that we have both finished this very long, and very good, video game. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart:

Intro/Doctor Who Chat: 0:00:00 – 0:12:17
Picking our next rewatch project: 0:12:17 – 0:22:23
Dragon Ball Super Chat: 0:22:23 – 0:38:02
News: 0:38:02 – 1:10:36
Dragon Ball FighterZ and Pokemon Let’s Go: 1:10:36 – 1:30:33
Hitman 2: 1:30:33 – 1:55:20
Red Dead Redemption 2: 1:55:20 – 3:03:35 

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #266







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #265 – Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Spoiler Discussion


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

In this pre-recorded post-Thanksgiving episode, we finally sit down to talk about one of our favorite games of the year, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. After 100 hours apiece and many happy memories, we have both completed this epic JRPG experience, and have a lot to say about what is easily one of the genre’s greatest accomplishments. We’ve talked about the game without spoilers a few times before, but for this episode, we go into full spoiler detail about the game’s story, characters, and world. And if you’re not into Dragon Quest, we also review the wonderful Creed II and discuss Kotaku’s recent in-depth report about Blizzard, the development of Diablo IV, and the creation of Diablo Immortal. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:04:07
Creed II and Green Book Reviews: 0:04:07 – 0:23:22
Kotaku report on Blizzard and Diablo: 0:23:22 – 0:40:00
Dragon Quest XI Spoiler Discussion: 0:40:00 – 2:16:41 

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #265








The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #264 – Stan Lee, Fantastic Beasts, Pokemon Let’s Go, Hitman 2, and Doctor Who S11E07


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

In one of the single busiest episodes we’ve ever recorded, we pay tribute to the amazing life of Stan Lee, the face and voice of Marvel comics and one of the most dominant figures in modern pop culture, review Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, give first impressions of Hitman 2 and Pokemon Let’s Go, go over several pieces of news including Sony’s decision to skip E3 2019, and review the latest episode of Doctor Who, “Kerblam,” which may well be the worst – or, at the very least, most morally and thematically bankrupt – episode in the 55-year history of the series. It’s 4 jam-packed hours of content for your Thanksgiving week travels, time spent cooking, or if you just need to get away from your family and listen to us yell about British mass media. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:03:42
Stuff: 0:03:42 – 0:24:08
Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald: 0:24:08 – 0:56:42 
News: 0:56:42 – 1:38:00
Remembering Stan Lee: 1:38:00 – 2:23:30
Video Games Round-up (Mario Party, Pokemon, Hitman 2): 2:23:30 – 3:12:39
Doctor Who S11E07: 3:12:39 – 3:59:40 

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #264








The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman is a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #263 – Tetris Effect, Red Dead 2, and Doctor Who S11E06


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

It’s another grab-bag style week, as Sean and Jonathan give updates on their progress in Red Dead Redemption 2, Jonathan reviews the outstanding Tetris Effect for PS4, and we go over some recent weird news about Final Fantasy XV. Jonathan tells the story of his nearly-doomed trip to Illinois to see a concert, and Sean gives us a mini-lecture on the (surprisingly gay) delights of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. And finally, we at last have a good episode of Doctor Who to talk about this season, as Vinay Patel’s “Demons of the Punjab” proved to be the first 13thDoctor outing with a strong story and solid character work, with a fascinating historical and cultural perspective to boot. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:01:52
Stuff: 0:01:52 – 0:17:37
Tetris Effect: 0:17:37 – 0:30:10
Red Dead Redemption 2 Chat: 0:30:10 – 0:52:06 
News: 0:52:06 – 1:07:42
Doctor Who S11E06: 1:07:42 – 1:57:36 

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #263







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #262 – Final Smash Bros Direct, Red Dead 2, and Doctor Who S11E05


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link. 

This week brought us another disappointing episode of Doctor Who, a lot more time with Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption II, and the final Nintendo Direct for next month’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. We talk about all of this and more, going through all the announcements from Masahiro Sakurai in Nintendo’s event, continuing to be depressed about Chris Chibnall’s Doctor Who writing, and discussing how wildly different our experiences with the vast, weird world of Red Dead Redemption II have been (once again without spoilers, as neither of us has finished the story). Sean also reviews the first DLC for Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4, Jonathan reviews Luca Gudagnino’s Suspiria, and we encourage all our American listeners to go vote in tomorrow’s elections, because it is our civic duty, even if we’re hosting a silly niche podcast. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:09:18
Stuff: 0:09:18 – 0:29:02
News: 0:29:02 – 0:43:32
Final Smash Bros Direct: 0:43:32 – 1:18:17
Red Dead Redemption 2 Spoiler-Free Talk: 1:18:17 – 2:13:20
Doctor Who S11E05: 2:13:20 – 3:13:11 

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #262







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #261 – Red Dead Redemption 2 Impressions & Doctor Who S11E04


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

The biggest game of 2018 has arrived in Rockstar’s long-awaited Red Dead Redemption 2, and after a solid weekend of play, we give our initial, spoiler-free impressions of this massive, wildly ambitious sequel. It’s an amazing game so far, almost mind-bogglingly vast in scope yet surprisingly intimate in tone and story. We break down what we’ve seen so far, while also grappling with the latest news about Rockstar’s problematic culture of crunch during development. And after that, we review this week’s Doctor Who, “Arachnids in the UK,” the fourth disappointing episode in a row from the new creative team, and one that continues to leave us disappointed at how the show is squandering its excellent cast in stories lacking even baseline narrative or thematic competency. We also go over the shuttering of Filmstruck, the streaming service that has been the online home of The Criterion Collection, while Sean reviews Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House and Jonathan continues his adventures catching up on Dragon Ball Super. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:02:49
Stuff: 0:02:49 – 0:32:21
News: 0:32:21 – 0:41:13
Red Dead Redemption 2: 0:41:13 – 2:11:35
Doctor Who S11E04: 2:11:35 – 3:12:29 

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #261







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Weekly Stuff #260 – Red Dead Controversies, Dragon Ball Talk, and Doctor Who S11E03


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

It’s a calm before the storm kind of week, as we prepare for the biggest video game of the year next week in Red Dead Redemption 2, which is galloping into stores upon a trail of controversy after comments about Rockstar’s working conditions in an interview last week. We break down all that news, discuss Netflix’s move to start cancelling their Marvel shows, and do a good bit of Dragon Ball talk – including Jonathan ranking the Top 10 Characters he wants to see in the next round of DLC for Dragon Ball FighterZ – before diving into this week’s problematic Doctor Who, “Rosa.” It’s an episode that means well, but handles its heavy subject matter in some troublingly tone-deaf ways. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart:

Intro & Stuff: 0:00:00 – 0:20:15
Dragon Ball Chat: 0:20:15 – 0:41:54
Marvel Netflix News: 0:41:54 – 0:56:28
Red Dead Controversies: 0:56:28 – 1:17:20
Doctor Who S11E03: 1:17:20 – 2:34:33

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #260







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #259 – Doctor Who S11E02, Dragon Quest, First Man, and Microtransactions


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

Doctor Who continues its new season this week with “The Ghost Monument,” an episode that improves on the premiere, but also reveals some real limitations in Chris Chibnall’s writing style. We discuss the episode in depth, including the new opening credits, TARDIS design, and more. But before that, we also chat more about Dragon Quest XI, Jonathan reviews Damien Chazelle’s First Man and talks about finally getting to the good stuff in Dragon Ball Super, and we go over the last week’s worth of news, including PSN finally allowing users to change their name, Microsoft potentially purchasing developer Obsidian, and the latest kerfuffle surrounding microtransactions in video games. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart: 
Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:03:12
Dragon Quest XI: 0:03:12 – 0:15:34
First Man: 0:15:34 – 0:22:18
Dragon Ball Super: 0:22:18 – 0:34:45
News: 0:34:45 – 1:18:45
Doctor Who S11E02: 1:18:45 – 2:25:54

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #259







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #258 – Doctor Who Series 11 Premiere Review & Discussion!


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

Our favorite TV show is back, as Doctor Who returns for its 11thmodern season (37thoverall!), with a new Doctor in Jodie Whittaker, a new showrunner in Chris Chibnall, plus new companions, a new composer, and an entirely new look. The entire show has effectively regenerated, and the first episode, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” in a promising if imperfect start. We give it the usual in-depth treatment we always employ for Doctor Who, along with an update on our progress in Dragon Quest XI, first impressions of Forza Horizon 4, and a bevy of recent video game and film news, from continued developments out of the Telltale Games fiasco to new trailers for Dark Phoenix andDragon Ball Super: Broly. 

Enjoy!

Time Chart: 
Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:05:21
Stuff: 0:05:21 – 0:23:00
News: 0:23:00 – 1:15:22
Doctor Who – “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”: 1:15:22 – 2:43:34

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #258







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: "A Star is Born" - A Virtuoso Performance of a Venerable Classic


Note: I open this review by quoting one of the last lines of the film, and I end it with a discussion that could be construed as a spoiler, so if you want to go in completely cold, this review will be waiting for you when you get back. 

Late in Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born, Sam Elliot delivers a line that is at once both a beautiful denouement to the film’s major ideas, and a not-so-subtle defense of the film’s very existence. “Music is essentially twelve notes between any octave,” he says. “Twelve notes and the octave repeat. It’s the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer this world is how they see those twelve notes.” 

Cooper’s A Star Is Born is the fourth of its kind, a remake of a remake, of a film that dates back to the first decade cinema even had sound to call forth the music. These notes have been played before, and they will be played again, and whether or not you’ve seen one of the four film versions of this story, you’ve doubtlessly absorbed it as a piece of American culture, as an archetypal narrative played out again and again in films and musicals and television shows with and without this title. One star rises as another star falls, and when their trajectory meets in the middle, they briefly burn brightest. The notes aren’t new, but what Cooper and company have to offer the world in the way they see those notes is something special. The familiarity isn’t a bug, but a feature, because there’s something embedded in this narrative that has struck a chord with audiences for generations, and this film plays that chord with nothing short of a virtuoso performance. 

A Star Is Born is one of the great films of my lifetime. Hyperbole, perhaps, but words I feel completely comfortable typing, buoyed by the images flashing through my head, by the songs pounding their way through my heart, by the waves of full body sobs that radiated their way through the packed opening-night auditorium still echoing in my ears. Imagine the most soulless, crass commercial cash-grab version of this movie that you can – the kind of vanity project you might have imagined when you heard Warners was handing this remake off to one of their top stars as his first directorial effort – and then imagine its exact qualitative inverse, a film of such immense heart, empathy, and skillfulness that one can scarcely believe it got made in the 2018 studio system. That should put you somewhere in the range of what Cooper and company have pulled off here, though it’s no substitute for actually watching the film, in a theatre, on a giant screen, with a big crowd, all together on a communal journey of being won over by the sheer enormity of the film’s emotional depth. 


I will admit that I’m an easy mark for what Cooper is attempting here, for while I’m not a fan of movie musicals in general, I am an absolute sucker for films about music, where the characters are performers and the music is a diegetic part of their lives and journeys. The Commitments, Nashville, That Thing You Do, Inside Llewyn Davis, Once – films where music and its periphery are the air the characters live and breathe, the thing that fuels them, the force that animates them. The full synesthetic powers of cinema, still so frequently untapped despite the limitless tools at our disposal, can come so fully to life when one places a character within a world and has them sing or play an instrument, expressing their interiority through sound, combining two languages – music and cinema – that are truly universal. Music is a part of our world, a fact of our lives, a companion and an outlet that carries us through the days, tempering our emotions and bringing us closer to ourselves and to others. A film that can incorporate that truth into its being, not as a gimmick but as a core part of its essence, is destined for a particular kind of greatness – the kind that bypasses the head and pierces us right in our soul. 

A Star is Born is one of these films, a movie where music is such a core part of its being that to think of the film is not only to hear the songs playing again in one’s head, but to feel the way they first struck you evolving in your heart. Cooper’s casting of Lady Gaga, then, is one of the film’s many strokes of genius: One of the few talents prodigious enough to chart the character’s meteoric rise to fame without ever calling the film’s internal reality into question, and one of the fewer still surprising enough to astonish us as a person, not just a performer. Her work here is extraordinary, a three-dimensional portrait of a person hidden from themselves, blossoming into being from the simple power of being seen, and by an embrace of talent and creativity. Gaga pours so much of herself into the role, particularly in the film’s second half when the character’s public persona starts to look more and more like the chameleonic pop star, but the performance is so complete one is never removed from the reality of the piece. Particularly when she sings, Gaga is constantly shaping her character, breathing life into this creation with the usual tools available to all great actors, and to those reserved for someone with one of the fullest, most dynamic voices on the planet. It would feel disingenuous to call anything Lady Gaga does a true surprise at this point, so many times has she astonished us with a deeper well of talent than we’d seen before, but her work here is indeed a revelation.

So to, and indeed to an even more astonishing degree, is Bradley Cooper, both behind but especially in front of the camera. I’ve always thought Cooper was a good actor, a naturally charming personality who in certain moments – Silver Linings Playbook, Guardians of the Galaxy – gestured towards something more than an above-average movie star. I would never have expected this. Cooper’s performance here is towering, a fully embodied portrait of a man in pieces, assembling and disassembling before our very eyes. He takes this ‘tortured artistic male genius’ role, one that should be rote beyond salvation at this point, and imbues it with such bottomless pathos that what one sees on screen feels inexorably human. The film’s portrayal of alcoholism and addiction is raw and messy and genuine to a shocking degree, and the way Cooper so deftly traces both the lows and, crucially, highs of this man’s life is palpably, painfully real. The good he embodies in one moment – the charm, the talent, the open-hearted need to share his life and world with those he loves – and the ugliness he descends to in another – jealousy, vindictiveness, a drunken disembodied stupor – are not two men in the same body, but one man on a perpetually uneven path, as such people are when we encounter them in the real world. It’s the complexity itself that hurts, the inability to reconcile the good and the bad of this person we love, the impossibility of truly accessing their mind or heart and healing whatever has been broken. That is the character Cooper conjures here. It hardly feels like a character at all. 


I mentioned earlier the simple power of being seen that sparks the evolution of Gaga’s character, but it goes both ways for the two figures entwined at the heart of this story. Initial advertising for A Star is Born raised more than a few eyebrows for the seemingly stock, surface-level exchanges between Cooper and Gaga depicted in the trailer – him telling her she’s beautiful, her mouth agape in shock – that felt like a relic of another time, a different remake. The film itself is anything but, its depiction of this relationship built and developed not on surfaces, but on empathy. Cooper and Gaga’s first impromptu date, a stupendous sequence, is not about the man telling the woman she is beautiful, or removing her makeup to see some true visage hidden by society, but about two people actually looking at each other, seeing each other, and being seen in turn. Seen as a singer, a songwriter, an expressive soul, a person with a voice the world is less than whole without; seen as an individual, a personality, a thoughtful man the world has calcified in a veil of fame. They look at each other, they see these things, and in having those things seen, they come in closer contact with their own humanity – which, of course, is what human relationships are all about. 

As the eyes of the film itself, cinematographer Matthew Libatique delivers his greatest work since Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Next to Emmanuel Lubezki, no working cinematographer displays greater mastery of the mobile frame than Libatique, and like in Black Swan, his work here is at its most transcendent when his camera follows the characters on stage, inhabiting their world of performance with a startling degree of immediacy and intimacy. His camera is sensual, embodied, expertly composed but in perpetual flux, not unlike the characters he captures. A POV shot early on, of Gaga’s character looking through a curtain at Cooper performing, quite literally took my breath away. 

A Star Is Born concludes on a particularly wrenching emotional crescendo, and if you have seen any other version or picked up the basics from the cultural ether, you will know why. It will still not prepare you for what Cooper has prepared here. This film got me misty-eyed early and often, but I thought I was holding it together pretty well at the end, compared to some of the sobs around me. Then Cooper makes a cut. That goddamn cut. You’ll know it when you see it. It is the film’s masterstroke. In thirty years, when this film is rightfully viewed as a classic, being taught by old people like me, it will be one of those cuts we show to illustrate the simple power of editing, cinema’s first and greatest special effectIt will demolish you. It will be talked about forever. A star has indeed been born – do yourself a favor and see it now, with others, in the crowd, where it will burn brightest. 

Follow author Jonathan Lack on Twitter @JonathanLack