If you have seen A Star Is Born and accepted it as your lord and savior, you are Born-ed. If you chose to see the new rerelease — titled A Star Is Born Encore, and in theaters for one week only — then you have been Re-Born-ed. Or Encore Born-ed. (I can’t decide. Bradley Cooper: Please weigh in.) Because A Star Is Born has earned our undying love and devotion, I went to the earliest possible showing of A Star Is Born Encore — in a Dolby theater, as Cooper surely would’ve wanted — to take copious notes on absolutely everything different about the Encore cut from the original cut. Here is my official report:
Jackson Maine’s opening performance of “Black Eyes”
The first shot of the theatrical Star Is Born cut opens with Jackson Maine shaking out some pills into his palm and taking a swig of a gin on the rocks. We get about a minute of this performance — just enough for Maine to repeat the lyrics “by the wayside” — until it cuts to him getting into the Greg Grunberg-driven SUV and whisked away to the drag bar Bleu Bleu. In Encore, we get enough of “Black Eyes” to hear the piano cue, to get more shots of the audience losing their minds over this song, and a fresh closeup of Jackson Maine shredding on the guitar.
The parking lot a capella “Shallow”
In the parking lot, as Greg Grunberg (his character has a name, but first of all I can’t remember it, and second of all, that name could never be as good as Greg Grunberg!) munches on Cheetos, Jackson and Ally talk about his dad and brother and life in Arizona. Eventually, Ally sings a few lines from her “Shallow” verse. In the Encore cut, she sings the “Sha-ha-la-la-la-lala-low!” part of the song. In response, Jackson still looks at her beaming, same as always.
“Digging My Grave”
As every Born-ed person knows, the first tease of “Digging My Grave” comes in Bobby Maine’s introduction. After Jackson meets with his (and Bradley Cooper’s real-life) ear doctor, Dr. Slattery, the movie cuts to Jackson standing on an outdoor stage to singing the first two lines of “Digging My Grave.” Bobby interrupts his soundcheck to chastise him for not following Dr. Slattery’s instructions. Now. I’m coming to you as a woman: The Encore cut features slightly different vocals for this “Digging My Grave” snippet than the original cut. In the original, Maine sings “put me the GRRROUUUUUUUUNDT!” (He sings it in the same way on the soundtrack’s cut of this song. It is very sexy and memorable.) In the Encore, he does not say “ground” in the same way. He sings it normally. If I’m incorrect, I invite Bradley Cooper to correct me.
We don’t get a full “Digging My Grave” scene, but we do get a half-minute of Ally and Jackson onstage singing it together. After Jackson Maine gets a booty shot of steroids, he and Ally (wearing a printed Western-style shirt) take the stage. He and Ally sing the part that begins, “Every little lie you tell, can’t keep it hid …” Then it cuts: the song is finished, the crowd is cheering, Ally gets turned around trying to exit the stage — she’s a new performer! — and Jackson cutely spins her in the right direction. “We’ve got one more to do,” he says. “And then ten more.” It’s very sweet and I wish this had been in the original cut.
Finally, the shot from the poster is revealed! Jackson and Ally sit alone on a massive, empty stage and write a song called “Clover.”
“Midnight Special” cover
The only thing I know better than A Star Is Born itself is the Star Is Born press tour talking points: Bradley Cooper heard Lady Gaga sing “La Vie En Rose” at a charity event at Sean Parker’s house. He went over to Gaga’s house and they talked about being Italian (real Italian, not Green Book-Italian), and she made pasta. She printed the lyrics to “Midnight Special,” and they sang it on her piano — blah blah blah. (I love it all.)
So it’s nice, then, that Encore gives us a little taste of this. On their tour bus, Ally and Jackson climb out of one of those little tour bus beds. Then it cuts to Ally, Jackson, and Jackson’s band drinking beers and singing “Midnight Special.” The movie then cuts to the the dum-dum-dum of “Alibi,” and the quick montage of Ally and Jackson traveling to more music festivals and doing more gigs, which intros the “Always Remember Us This Way” performance.
The! Zipline! Scene!
For months I have begged Bradley Cooper for the zipline scene, and finally Cooper has answered my prayer. (Bradley Cooper: Please tell me why Ramon was listening to “Yonkers” by Tyler, The Creator after the “Shallow” scene. I promise that’s my last question.) This was teased in the trailer, and I wanted what was promised.
So here it goes: After Ally and her choreographer rehearse, we get a little montage of Jackson and Ally at home. The first shot in this montage is Ally riding across their lawn on a zipline, and landing in Jackson’s arms. He picks her up she lets go of the zipline, saying, “You’re a natural.” And then — please, stay with me here, because this is very important — she HITS HIM IN THE HEAD. WITH THE ZIPLINE HANDLE. Incredible. Then we get into what we saw in the original version: the two of them in the bathtub, where Ally lovingly applies an electrical tape eyebrow; the two of them in bed; Ally bringing home Charlie; Jackson saying Charlie has Ally’s eyelashes.
For the extremely deranged and observant — me — you will also notice that in the Encore cut, just before Jackson asks Ally if she’ll come with him to Memphis for the pharmaceutical conference show, Ally sits on their couch eating Chinese food. Charlie tries to take a bite, but she smiles and tells him he’s already eaten. It’s very cute and honestly it works as a better transition into Jackson’s line thanking Ally for “giving [him] a home.” I’m not, like, a director or anything. I’m just saying.
More Dave Chappelle Lines
After Jackson shows up passed out in the front lawn of Noodles (Dave Chappelle), Jack and Noodles sit on the deck and talk about life. The Encore features a few more lines from Noodles. “Ten years from now, what’s gonna happen?” Noodles asks. “You’ll be paying half price at the movies by then. It’s landing, bro: Are you gonna land it, or are you gonna crash it?” The rest of the scene continues with scene as it was in the initial cut, where Noodles makes that “port” metaphor. Noodles also asks about Bobby, and then tells Jack he can sleep it off in his daughter’s room, bro.
“Is That Alright?”
Arguably A Star Is Born’s greatest song — “Is That Alright?” — is not featured in the theatrical version. That is not alright with me. But Bradley Cooper’s Encore has made amends. After Ally and Jackson marry, we get a few more seconds of them enjoying their extremely Memphis (and very bluesy) wedding reception. Ally, sitting at the band’s piano, takes the mic, and delivers the soundtrack’s dialogue track, “Vows.” “When we gave our vows at the altar, I just didn’t get to say everything I wanted to say,” she says. “So I wrote it down, and I brought it here. I hope it’s okay if I love you forever, Jack.” Then she sings “Is That Alright?” It is very beautiful, and yes I did cry. Jackson Maine cried, too. The post-wedding montage continues as it does in the original cut (Ally throws her bouquet, she and Jackson rub wedding cake in one another’s faces) and then we cut to the Ally billboard outside of the Chateau Marmont (which I made a pilgrimage to last month).
“Too Far Gone”
This is the song Ally and Jackson sing in his recording session: Jackson pours gin into red Solo cups, Ally has tangerine hair, and they kiss at the mic, singing, “I don’t want to feel another thing.” (For the record, I think on the soundtrack track, this line was changed to “Set me free.” Again: I invite Cooper to correct me because I would like to know!)
Then: Ally hanging out with the band in the background, as Jackson sits in the piano in another part of the studio. He’s sitting at a piano with headphones on, playing the first keys of what will become “I’ll Never Love Again.” The sound cuts in and out, suggesting his tinnitus is worsening. Ally is wearing a sequined pink jumpsuit. This sequence is corny and I am happy it was cut.
After Jackson slams the bathroom door in Scene 98, we get a glimpse of Ally and Rez looking over potential tour costumes. “We’re planning my world tour!” Ally squeals. The next scene is Jackson at the mic of the smallest venue he’s played thus far. (In the theatrical cut, this bit is longer: he takes off his hat, says, “Good evening,” and starts to play “Maybe It’s Time.”)
Jackson Maine and Marlon Williams Rehearsing at the Grammys
The Encore cut gives more context to Jackson’s Grammys gig. It’s still unclear why the Grammys are presenting a Roy Orbison tribute, but there’s a bit more excitement around Jackson and Bobby being reunited and Jackson’s expectation that he’ll sing in the tribute, which makes it even more disappointing when Bobby figures out that Jackson will be playing bass in the background. There are several more minutes of Jackson chatting with Marlon Williams, including an exchange where Jack asks where Marlon is from. Marlon says New Zealand, and Jackson says he took a trip there once to bungee jump with an ex who was from London. “Is that a euphemism?” Marlon asks about the bungee jumping. Jackson looks at him, puzzled. “I don’t even know what that word means.” Several times during this conversation, Jackson asks Marlon to repeat himself, making it clear that his hearing is getting worse.
Also, the definition of a euphemism is: “a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.”
Jackson and Ally in His Post-Grammys Pee Shower
This is a quickie: There’s an added long take of Jackson and Ally — both in their nice Grammys clothes — in the shower. Ally holds Jackson in her arms, and the camera zooms out and leaves them in the bathroom, almost like it’s giving them their privacy.
Ally Meeting Jackson’s Rehab Counselor
When Ally visits Jackson in rehab, Jackson convinces his therapist Carl (Ron Rifkin) to sing a little for her. It’s very sweet.
Encore’s end credits are still the same, but something I only noticed seeing it again: the final song to play over the credits is a recording of “Always Remember Us This Way” that exists absolutely nowhere else — not in the movie or on the soundtrack. It subs in the line “Dreams of you and me are in the dirt” instead of “Every time we say good-bye / Baby, it hurts.”
This is me, your self-appointed Star Is Born correspondent, signing off. I still don’t know why Halsey was the Grammys presenter. I still don’t know the “Yonkers” thing. We still don’t have the shot of Ally ripping off her white blouse. But my watch has ended. Bury me in one of Sam Elliott’s neck wrinkles.