Does A Star Is Born Live Up to the Hype?

Remakes are typically underwhelming cash-grabs that exist because a studio willed it into existence, but the opposite is true for Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born. This is Cooper’s directorial debut, and he comes out the gate with a very promising start. The film centers around Cooper as a slightly aged country star who finds himself falling in love with a girl (Lady Gaga) he meets in a bar who has an angelic voice.

Given that this is the fourth remake of this exact same plot, A Star is Born is far better than it has any right to be. It does basically the same thing as the other versions of this story have done, but updates it for a modern time. The film includes elements of pop music that were definitely not there when the first A Star is Born was made back in 1937. All of the new aspects which Cooper brings to the story, such as the excellent soundtrack and the modern feel, greatly improve the film. In fact, Cooper directs this movie with more style and flair than could ever be asked of a first-time director.

Yes, this film has been done before in many different ways, but the one aspect that elevates A Star is Born above other films that deal with similar topics is the electrifying performances. Cooper and Gaga put all of themselves on screen for this film, and there are many times where I forgot who I was watching. Cooper has a surprisingly authentic singing voice, which really helped his character become far more convincing than if he had either dubbed his singing over or gotten somebody else to do it.

Gaga is also an incredibly talented singer, but unfortunately her voice sometimes took me out of the film because every time she sang it just reminded me that I was watching Lady Gaga and not the character of Ally. This is a very minor flaw that probably couldn’t be helped, but it still bothered me.

The standout acting-wise for me was easily Sam Elliott as Cooper’s brother, who is fed up with Cooper’s drinking habits and general laziness. His character is easily the most interesting in the film, and Elliott sells every look and line he gives with acting expertise. There is one scene in particular where Cooper and Elliott are talking in a car near the end of the film that is masterfully acted, but in such a subtle way that many will not even notice it. All this scene needs is a shot of Elliott pulling out of the driveway and it hits harder than any other scene in the entire two hour and fifteen minute runtime.

Unfortunately, this film was nowhere near perfect for me, even though it entranced many others. It starts off great, with a first act that really lets the audience know the personality of the two central characters while showing the audience the magic of their chemistry. However, the more that Gaga’s character get famous and popularized, the more the film starts to lose its touch. By the time the film reached its end, I had genuinely lost interest in the relationship, and ended up not caring as much as I should have about the ending.

The ending (no spoilers, don’t worry) was very tastefully put together and contains the best of both Gaga’s and Cooper’s performances. This would have been great if I hadn’t seen it coming since the first thirty minutes. I have not seen the other versions of this film, so I do not know if they end the same, but I knew in the back of my mind that it would end a certain way, and it did.

Whenever I can predict the ending to ANY movie, that film automatically loses some of its authenticity to me.

The movie is very well crafted and tastefully done throughout, but it never hit me near as hard as it should have. A Star is Born is still worth watching for the performances alone as well as some other pros, but it is nowhere near as masterful as some critics say that it is.

by joel alexander–student life editor

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Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is Back

The newest incarnation of the famous Tom Clancy character, Jack Ryan, has finally been released on Amazon Prime, with John Krasinski tackling the role this time around. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is the fifth film version of the book series, but it is the first screenplay that is not based directly off of Clancy’s work. This definitely shows in the plot, for the show goes headfirst into some issues that are exclusively relevant to the 21st Century.

Jack Ryan is a CIA analyst and former marine that finds financial records that point to a major player in the Middle Eastern terrorism game: someone who could be the next Bin-Laden. Ryan and his partner James Greer (Wendell Pierce) have to track down this terrorist before he seriously threatens the security of the United States.

This show tries way too hard to be different than its predecessors, and it succeeds in some ways. One of the best parts about Season 1 is how grounded the plot is. It never ascends into Fast and Furious levels of ridiculous, and every single event or action scene feels like something that could occur in modern-day society. The show also utilizes its two leads, Krasinski (A Quiet Place, The Office) and Pierce (The Wire), in an incredibly efficient way. Krasinski has a mostly comedic background, but here shows that he has the chops to anchor down a drama efficiently enough.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is just generally fun to watch. The show has plenty of problems that I will soon detail, but it does a good job of competently entertaining the audience, and even making it suspenseful near the end. Another plot element that I appreciated was how humane the villains of the story were. A backstory is given to Suleiman (Ali Suliman) that makes the audience empathise his situation despite the fact that he may be attempting to murder hundreds of people.

This leads to some of my serious problems with this show. The villain is given serious hints of a real story and personality, but it is never expanded enough to give it true depth. Near the end, when the stakes get higher, the writers could have made this conflict a true moral dilemma, but they instead retreat back to stereotype and keep it at a typical hero/villain relationship.

Also, while on the topic of writing, the dialogue is often poorly written. There are serious gaps of logic in some of the main character’s decisions, but somehow there are never any repercussions for them. Jack Ryan also makes some serious leaps of faith throughout the season, and he is almost always right. For once, I would have liked to see him make an assumption and be wrong, so that the show could explore the consequences of making a mistake in this line of work.

Most of the storylines in the show are adequate enough, with the exception of two: The romance storyline and a side plot involving a drone pilot. In every show like this, there has to be two attractive white protagonists of the same age who end up getting together. Some shows can pull this off, but Jack Ryan makes it feel incredibly forced. There is no reason for this romantic relationship, and it often just degrades the pacing of the show.  The storyline involving the drone pilot isn’t awful, I just have absolutely no idea why it is included in the show.

The last major complaint I have is the ending. I won’t spoil it for those who want to watch it, but it is VERY sudden. Throughout the season all of these intersecting relationships are built up, and they are all simply ended in one or two scenes in the final episode. This show definitely could have benefitted from a more fleshed out ending, and maybe even a couple more episodes.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan simply exists. The show is not terrible, nor is it particularly good, which is the case with most of these Jack Ryan adaptations. The first season is entertaining enough, but it never quite justifies its existence, especially since it is the fifth remake of the same character.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is streaming now on Amazon Prime.  

by joel alexander–student life editor

Sierra Burgess is a Loser Loses Applause from Audience

 

Sierra Burgess is a Loser marks Netflix’s second teen comedy in the span of a month. For some reason, they are going overboard on the high school films recently, and they’ve quite honestly been more miss than hit. However, after viewing the competent and entertaining To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I hoped that this one would be quite the same, if not better.

Boy, was I wrong.

The plot centers around Sierra Burgess (Shannon Purser a.k.a. Barb from Stranger Things), an unpopular and overweight teenage girl who winds up texting and falling for a boy (Noah Centineo) who thinks she is a much more beautiful girl than she appears to be. For those uneducated in the culture, this is called “catfishing,” and is a very mean and deceptive way of using the Internet. The film, somehow, expects the audience to cheer for Burgess even though she is taking advantage of someone like this.

With all of this aside, Sierra Burgess is a Loser is essentially the typical high school movie. The movie stars an antisocial character and her only friend who end up getting thrust into the popular crowd, and by the end of the movie, the main character starts dating the boy of her dreams. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s literally every single high school movie ever made. Every teen comedy in the last decade has had a plot similar to this, if not exactly the same.

Some films, however, decide to twist things up with a unique plot, good acting or some other aspect special to the movie. This film does no such thing. Even though the plot attempts to be different with the “catfishing” premise, the main character and the relationships are so poorly executed that it is very difficult to care.

All of the interesting and well-acted characters are the supporting ones; such as Veronica (Kristine Froseth), who has a very intriguing relationship with her mother (Chrissy Metz, who is wasted here) and siblings that is not explored at all. Jamey, the boy who is being catfished, is also a good character, but is again essentially ignored by the writers. The only funny moments in this so-called “comedy” are delivered by RJ Cyler, who plays the token black best friend, but he is in the film very little and is reduced to stereotype.

Sierra Burgess is a Loser is built on the foundation that the audience will feel sorry for Burgess and her situation. However, she has easily the best life out of anybody in the film. She has a best friend, which is something that not everybody has; she has two parents that care for her; she is incredibly smart, and she is applying for colleges like Stanford. The movie expects us to feel sorry for her when there are other characters in the movie who have abusive parents, deaf siblings, and bad grades.

Another main message that the film gives is that it does not matter how a person looks, but it only matters how they are inside. This is a fabulous message, but the film has no foundation for this message, for the main character is a terrible person. It is hard to see the beauty on the inside of the main character when she is blaming everybody else for her own problems. Plus, near the end of the film, Burgess destroyed what likability there was by committing a despicable act which I will not disclose.

In the end, Sierra Burgess is a Loser is just an overlong build-up until the main characters start dating. By the end of the first ten minutes you can tell they are going to get together, but it takes an hour and 45 minutes to get there. If that sounds like something you’d want to watch then go ahead, it’s streaming on Netflix now, but if that sounds even remotely boring to you, then stay away from this film like the plague and watch Black Panther instead.

by joel alexander–student life editor

Reduce Carbon Footprint by Joining the Eco Club

What would you expect to find when dissecting a shark? A half eaten fish perhaps? A less pleasant surprise awaited Faith Jones and Savannah Snider, two Sophomores (at the time, now both Juniors) in Mr. Murphy’s biology class, dissecting their first ever shark. Whilst examining the contents of their fishy friend’s stomach, they discovered that their particular shark’s last meal was a plastic straw.

Human beings have evolved from a once primitive state and have developed the ability to shape their environment, creating new materials at a molecular level. With this new-found power comes great responsibility. Plastic straws may be very practical when sipping on a Mcdonald’s shake, however their usefulness quickly dissipates, even as their lifespan continues for many decades in the ocean.

Jones, Snider, and their friends Brighton Craig and Hannah Cook (also Juniors) decided to make a difference in their environment. They have chosen to take an active part in maintaining the health and viability of their physical environment and “we invite you to do the same!” (Snider)

“I joined the Ecology club, because it’s fun, and I felt that we can make a real difference in the community.” says Hannah Cook.

The Ecology club meets every Tuesday during A+ in room 700. Some of the projects they are organizing this upcoming school year include cleaning highways and organizing classroom marker recycling. If you cannot make it to the meetings, you can try helping the environment from home. There are quite a few, very simple things you can do that make a huge difference in their environment. You could reduce your carbon footprint by carpooling with friends to school. You could help reduce plastic waste and help our shark friends improve their diet by investing in a couple reusable straws. Lastly, even recycling absolutely everything you can goes a long way!

Your physical environment has a direct impact on your well-being. Join a club that makes a difference!

by celeste pollack–news editor

Establishment of New School Safety Officers Assures Student Safety

In the year 1994, the School Resource Officer (SRO) deputies in school program was established. Then, in 2017, a program for new School Security Officers (SSO) was recently established in a state law. Each of the three high schools in Fauquier County has already been assigned their own SSO. These SSO’s consist of MDS Settle at Fauquier High School, Corporal Tindle at Kettle Run High School, and Deputy Meyer at Liberty High School. There has been a new SRO assigned to each high school including Sal Torelli at Fauquier High School, Franz Mahler at Kettle Run High School, and Jeffrey Crane at Liberty High School. Officers must have served as an officer within the past ten years, and must undergo additional training. The officers must have also left their previous place of work in good standing. These new officers have been sworn in by the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office. The duties of the officers include social media monitoring, drill assistance, and of course daily building checks.

“When a parent sends their child to school, they want to know two things for certain: Is my child safe, and is my child learning,” Superintendent David Jeck said. “By adding these positions, we’ve come a long way in better addressing the first question. Clearly, our schools will be much safer places with the addition of these officers.”

This is exactly what the county is aiming to achieve by making sure the schools are secured, and the students are protected.    

by abbie mills–staff reporter

Who’s Texting You?

Imagine you’re having a fun time with your friends, but suddenly you get a text from someone you don’t know. The text says that someone has complimented you, or you’re beautiful, not telling you who is saying these things. The message just simply has a compliment and a random link. You click on the link and it brings you to a strange site.

Recently, in Fauquier County, multiple teenagers have been receiving very strange texts. These texts are sent by random numbers, and the message has a link attached that sends them to a very strange site. The link sends you to either the app store, a pornographic or adult site, or even just a blank page that cannot be reached. We have yet to find out what the mysterious texts are, and who exactly they are coming from. One group of Fauquier High School students, that asked there names remain anonymous, told the sheriff about these text. The school sheriff said “do not answer the text, and that they will send them to investigation.” I also asked Fauquier High School’s Vice Principal Mrs. Tapscott and she said “This is the first time I am hearing about this, but it sounds like it could be dangerous, and I would advise that you stay away from these texts.” Both the sheriff and Mrs. Tapscott advise that students should stay away from these texts. Meaning that receivers of these strange messages shouldn’t click on the link and do not  respond because we don’t know exactly who they are coming from, if it is just a scam, or maybe even something criminal. The safest thing is to just ignore it until we find out what it is.

by tyler young–staff reporter

Banned Books Restrict Students’ Freedom to Read

Last month, the Fauquier High School Library had an exhibit on banned books, encouraging people to read freely. This was to show that everyone has the freedom to read what they want unchallenged. On the exhibit there were multiple “Banned or Unsuitable” books from the American Library Association’s Banned & Challenged book list. The books had paper bags with laminated cards saying what someone might find wrong or offensive with them. Most of the books were about subjects that, to some, are offensive or bad in their ideals, like a book that is pro-socialism or contains racism and violence. The stand was at the entrance and had books going around it, allowing you to walk around, lifting up the bags and check out the books, making your own judgements about them.

The stand exists and stands in the open to prove that you can read what you want, formulate your own opinions, and not just listen to what other people tell you. Free reading is important because it allows us to learn about the good and bad of the world while changing our views about it at the same time. The other, and some might say the more important, goal is that books allow you to learn while contemplating and making your own opinions about issues. In some cases, this is as important as an unbiased press as it promotes change and stops the suppression or molding of a person’s ideas, like controlling the press. This is why we have the the First Amendment and why it is so important, if someone were to control what people believed or said, they would have all the power in the world. Some of the greatest threats to democracy have started like this, like Stalin’s purges of people unloyal or disagreeing with him. This is why the evil dystopias portrayed in books and movies, like 1984, are so terrifying, because it is all too real, and in some cases has actually happened, like the brutal dictatorship of North Korea. They are our living, breathing, modern-day warning about censorship and the strangling of knowledge, and it’s very hard to miss the message. The final thing the stand shows is that reading is still relevant; in this day of smartphones, reading is still as important as it was 100 years ago.

by nicholas tselides–staff reporter

Fauquier High School's student newspaper. By the students, for the students.