The Changing of the Guard / 4 Train

Packed like sardines in an old tin can we push and squeeze and excuse me.
There are no ‘sorry’s here in the no man’s land that is the middle of the cart.
Hands cling to rails and heads are burrowed in books and phones
While homeless people tell sad stories that would break your heart
If you didn’t hear the same story two homeless people ago.
Oftentimes the same story is told with little differences,
Like instead of a sick son it is a girl or wife,
But people don’t care for any of these hindrances
Because we all have places to go and people to see
In this Amazon jungle of a city.

We hurtle along between 59th and 86th at breakneck speeds,
Planting our feet in position to sway with the machine
As the conductor announces a delay at Grand Concourse.
A collective groan rises up, everybody taking part
In this collective self-pity parade of head shakes,
Low mutters and sighs of frustration.
Eventually, finally, behind schedule as usual
the 4 train pulls into another station
That is full to the brim of students, teachers, laborers, preachers
And other professions that won’t fit on the train.

My calves begin to cramp as we wobble towards Burnside Avenue,
Still no sign of a seat or even a space to lean against a door
While veteran riders apply makeup and read books while the place rattles around them.
Train etiquette is still observed as space is made for the elderly, poor
And pregnant passengers as the sea parts for such weary travelers.
The carriage almost empties at Mosholu Parkway,
Leaving me the carriage to myself as we glide into Woodlawn, the last stop on this train.
I swap out with tired people at the opposite end of the working day,
An extremely exhausted changing of the guard as haggard looks are exchanged as
They begin their day and I am almost finished mine.

A Star Is Born: Review

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A bit late to the party here but I finally got to check out Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, a retelling of A Star is Born. This is the fourth version of the 1937 original film, with Judy Garland playing the star in 1954 and Barbra Streisand playing the same character in 1976. Lady GaGa and Bradley Cooper play the two main characters. Gaga is Ally, a waitress and sometimes performer named Allie, who is discovered by alcoholic and worn out country music star Jackson Maine, played by Cooper. The cheek of him putting himself in his own film. Brazen out!
The film follows the romance that immediately blossoms between the two and the burgeoning career of Allie as she eventually begins to outshine her lover and partner. She lands record deals and primetime entertainment television show appearances while he is being replaced in Roy Orbison tribute bands. Cooper’s Jackson slides deeper into depression and begins to lose his battle with addiction. Following a successful stint in rehab after almost ruining Allie’s career in a drink and drug fuelled Emmy Awards Night (as per), he realises he is holding her back. In a gut punching ending he sets her free and Allie delivers us his final gift: a love song he wrote for her in the event that he would ever leave. We finish with a close-up on her face as she looks deadpan into the camera and although she has made money and won awards throughout the feature, finally a star is born.

Personally, I think that I let too many people tell me this movie was brilliant before I saw it. It was good. It was really good. I love a good rom-com and I love a good musical. As much as they tear me apart Lisa I love an emotional ending. This movie had every one of those in spades and I really enjoyed the movie. However, I had read so many good reviews and heard tell of the wonders of the movie that I just had too high of an expectation. The Imdb rating is also 8.3 which should make it one of the best films of all time. Voting systems can be skewed but I would put the rating in the mid 7s.
The film starts out slow despite the presence of some boozy rock n’ roll and riveting French tones. After Allie joins Jack on tour the film becomes more lively but as a result of this it almost becomes too jumpy. Granted, I am being a bit too critical here because at 136 minutes, the film is long enough but still, it could have been fleshed out more. We jump from the lovers being happy and joyous to being at each other’s throats the next. Perhaps that’s a perfect reflection of the rock and roll/popstar lifestyle coupled with addiction and I’m just a doorman on the nightshift who’s more Indie pop/rock and IPAs. C’est la Vie.

I truly did think this film was fantastic. The soundtrack is brilliant and there are some standout tracks climbing the charts right now. The best part of the film was definitely the chemistry between Cooper and GaGa. Lady’s acting wasn’t on par with someone with the calibre of Cooper throughout the whole film but there was a rawness about her performance that struck a chord (pun intended). It also helps that she has an amaxing voice and is already a global superstar. The scene where she is dragged on stage to sing her original song with Cooper that he arranged for her is nothing short of spine-tingling. Her unsuredness and half-embarrassment at singing her song is adorable and makes you root for the character from there until the end of the film. So go for the tunes, go for the emotions. Go if you want to see Lady Gaga’s nipple around halfway  through the movie. Go for the love of it all!