7:30 PM, 16th November, 2018
An established male star sees something in an unknown young singer who barely has a career – something no one else sees in her. The two fall in love, he builds her confidence, and she starts scaling the heights, just as he starts tumbling down into the obscurity she rose from.
This is a film which has been remade three times – just as I’ve described it, unadorned. Although it’s the story of someone rising from obscurity, Hollywood has never dared cast anyone in the lead role who wasn’t a household name at the time: in 1937, Janet Gaynor; in 1954, Judy Garland; in 1976, Barbra Streisand (in what’s generally considered the weakest version).
This time it’s Lady Gaga, who is better than all her predecessors in the early scenes, when she must convincingly play not-yet-famous. And another thing that sets this version apart: for perhaps the first time, the man’s story is emphasised as much as the woman’s (the male lead, Bradley Cooper, is also the director) – but I should stress, not at its expense.
9:56 PM, 16th November, 2018
Enter into the life of Morrissey, wordsmith and famed frontman of ‘80s indie rockers The Smiths. Or enter, at least, into the life of Steven Patrick Morrissey before he became famous and mononymous.
The young Moz, played by Jack Lowden (Dunkirk), is in his formative early twenties, a brooding office clerk living in the dreary suburbs of industrial Manchester. Music is probably the only way out for the poet Steven Patrick, but how does he get there? Some of the women that support him have a better idea than the sneering Steven himself.
It’s a genre that is now quite familiar – the musical biopic – and this film travels over similar terrain to Control, the 2007 movie on the life of Ian Curtis of Joy Division, in the times of Thatcherite Britain. England is Mine is definitely one for the fans of both The Smiths and the outspoken, and often polarising, Morrissey.
However, the film is unauthorised, so we don’t get any music from The Smiths. But it is nevertheless still a tantalising waiting for Johnny Marr and the other band members to eventually coalesce.