Tag Archives: Bradley Cooper

American Pie

Licorice Pizza

by Hope Madden

Each new Paul Thomas Anderson film defies expectations. Few fans of the lunatic frenzy of Boogie Nights or Punch Drunk Love would have expected the somber period dramas of The Master or There Will Be Blood. And I don’t know that anybody saw Phantom Thread coming.

Why not follow that meticulously crafted, deliberately paced tale of love and poison with a coming-of-age comedy? Well, Anderson’s latest, Licorice Pizza, is just that, and it’s a slice of Hollywood life awash in squeamish adolescent truth, politics, and waterbeds.

Anderson returns again to the 1970s, an era where few are as at home. In his 1997 breakout Boogie Nights, he used the porn industry to showcase the changing politics of the end of the decade while exploring alienation, family, and merkins. He journeyed back to the decade in 2015 with his underappreciated private dick flick Inherent Vice, again looking at individuals on the fringes and the choices that put them there.

While Licorice Pizza is far sunnier than those, it again examines choices and consequences against a vividly articulated 1970s LA.

Anderson’s film manages to be simultaneously familiar and entirely authentic. What does it feel like? If Robert Altman had attempted a coming of age flick, maybe? Or if Linklater made a screwball romantic comedy? Among Licorice Pizza’s many triumphs, the film nails its time period, not only in visual detail but in cinematic tone.

It is loose, forgiving, and along for the ride as 15-year-old entrepreneur Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) woos life, Hollywood and, in particular, Alana Kane (Alana Haim), his much older paramour.

Both stars charm and disarm. Cooper’s sweet-natured confidence masks an adolescent tenderness that, when it shows itself, is almost crushing in its honesty. And Haim’s funny, awkward naivete mirrors the film’s own giddy feel.

Danger edges but never fully punctures the sunshine of youth that brightens every scene of the movie. But that darkness is there, looming like the creepy guy staring at your office window, or the cops who arrest you mistakenly, or the volatile Hollywood producer who may or may not smash your window (or your head) in with a crowbar. (Thank you, Bradley Cooper, by the way, for that brief but unforgettable performance.)

Cooper is not the only Hollywood big wig gracing a few minutes of screen time. Sean Penn drops in as a well-known action star and has not been this entertaining since Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Don’t ask him about Kuala Lumpur!

The massive ensemble, evocative soundtrack and party atmosphere conjure Boogie Nights, the comfortable family dysfunction recalls Punch Drunk Love, the lumbering walk and surprising charm from the lead is reminiscent of PTA alum and dearly missed Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cooper’s dad.

It’s nostalgic. It’s uproarious, dangerous, just-this-side-of-innocent fun. It’s a near-masterpiece.

It’s a Paul Thomas Anderson movie.

Pride Before the Fall

Nightmare Alley

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

Step right up, folks, and witness a master of the macabre! See Guillermo Del Toro twist the familiar tale of ambition run amuck! Gasp at the lurid, gorgeous, vulgar world of Nightmare Alley!

Bradley Cooper stars as Stan, good lookin’ kid on the skids taken in by Clem (Willem Dafoe, creepy as ever) to carny for a traveling show. Stan picks up some tricks from mentalist Zeena (Toni Collette) and her partner Pete (David Strathairn), then lures pretty Molly (Rooney Mara) to the big city to set up their own mind-reading racket.

Things are going swell, too, until Stan gets mixed up with psychiatrist Lillith (Cate Blanchett) whose patient list includes some high rollers with large bank accounts ripe for the picking.

That’s already one hell of an ensemble, but wait there’s more! Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen and Tim Blake Nelson all add immeasurably to the sketchy world Stan orbits.

What Del Toro brings to the tale, besides a breathtaking cast and an elegantly gruesome aesthetic, is his gift for humanizing the unseemly. Edmund Goulding’s 1947 adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s novel (a solid slice of noir with Tyrone Power in the lead) dulled the edges of any seediness. Even Tod Browning’s Freaks – maligned as it was – found the unsettling carny life mainly wholesome.

Cinematographer Dan Lausten and composer Nathan Johnson create a delicious playground for Del Toro’s carnival to call home, one where even the most likable members of the family turn a blind eye to something genuinely sickening and cruel happening in their midst. The filmmaker plumbs that underlying horror, complicating Stan’s arc and allowing the film’s climax to leave a more lasting mark.

As usual, Del Toro wears his feelings proudly on his sleeve, with unmistakable but organic foreshadowing that ups the ante on the stakes involved. Anchored by another sterling performance from Cooper, Stan’s journey rises to biblical proportions. An actor whose gifts are often deceptively subtle, Cooper makes sure Stan’s pride always arrives with a layer of charming sympathy, even as it blinds him to the pitfalls ahead.

And Blanchett – shocker – is gloriously vampy. She swims elegantly through the sea of noir-ish light and framing that Del Toro bathes her in, as Lillith casts a spell that renders Stan’s helplessness a fait accompli.

Nearly every aspect of the screenplay (co-written by Del Toro and Kim Morgan) creates a richer level of storytelling than the ’47 original. The dialog is more sharply insightful, the finale more dangerously tense and the characters – especially Mara’s stronger-willed Molly – more fully developed. All contribute greatly toward the film rebounding from a slightly sluggish first act to render the two and a half hour running time unconcerning.

For Del Toro fans, the most surprising aspect of Nightmare Alley might be the lack of hopeful wonder that has driven most of his films. As the title suggests, this is a trip to the dark corners of the soul, where hope is in damn short supply.

So as much as this looks like a Del Toro film, it feels like a flex just from taking his vision to the sordid part of town. But what a vision it turns out to be – one of the year’s best and one of his best.

Don’t believe me? See it with your own eyes, step right up!

Say Something

A Star is Born

by George Wolf

A few weeks ago, for homework, I revisited the 3 previous versions of A Star Is Born. A friend later asked me which one was best.

I have a different answer now.

Director/co-writer/co-star Bradley Cooper brings a new depth of storytelling to the warhorse, with a greater commitment to character and the blazing star power of Lady Gaga.

Cooper is Jackson Maine, a booze-swilling, pill-popping rock star who wanders into a random bar post-gig and catches Ally (Gaga) belting out “La Vie en Rose.” Jack’s entranced, and begins coaxing Ally to sing her own songs instead of covers. Everyone’s got a talent, he tells her, the real gift is having something to say.

Each previous film version represented its era well, but with the rock music setting and several recognizable homages, it’s clear Cooper has a fondness for the Streisand/Kristofferson take from ’76. His new vision carries a raw authenticity that eclipses them all.

The battered star’s instant infatuation with the young talent has never felt more understandable, the undeniable chemistry between Cooper and Gaga fueling the feeling that in Ally, Jack sees a better version of himself.

Cooper, with a lower-range speaking voice and the musical talent from nearly 2 years of tutelage, is every bit the weathered rocker, on a misplaced search for redemption. Watch him when Jack is not the focus of a scene to see a character become complete.

But then, another outstanding acting performance from Bradley Cooper is not a surprise. His remarkably instinctual directing debut here, though, must now place him among the premier talents in film.

Nearly every scene, from stadium rock concert to intimate conversation, is framed for maximum impact. His camera can be stylish but not showy, with seamless scene transitions fueling a forward momentum that will not let the film drag.

The melodramatic story has been stripped of pretense and buoyed by more layers of humanity, and not just between the two leads. Jack’s brother (Sam Elliot), his boyhood friend (Dave Chappelle) and Ally’s father (Andrew Dice Clay) emerge as important characters despite limited screen time.

And then there’s Gaga.

The voice is, well, it’s a force of nature, and the songs (some co-written with Cooper) are memorable. But if a star already shining can be born, welcome Gaga the movie star. She is electric, taking Ally from wide-eyed stage fright to SNL headliner with both tenderness and ferocity, giving this character the strength and nuance she has never had before.

This film has talent everywhere, but it also has stirring things to say about love and sacrifice, about art and commerce, ambition and fame.

I’ll say this: A Star is Born is among the very best of the year.

 





Awesome Mixtape: Side 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

Three years ago, James Gunn and Marvel became superfriends, making use of inspired casting, crisp writing and some classic 70s jams to make Guardians of the Galaxy the most fun to be had at the movies in 2014.

But is that second mixtape ever quite as awesome as the first? Rarely, and that’s the Catch-22 of the original film’s surprising blast of space zaniness. While we never saw that one coming, this new one arrives with weighty expectations.

No, Volume 2 can’t match the ruffian charm of the first, and there are some stretches of not-much-happening-here. But Gunn’s sequel shares a lot of heart, swashbuckling visuals and more than a few solid belly laughs.

But please, stop trying to make Howard the Duck happen.

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, rugged everyman dufus) and his band of misfits-for-hire run into some troubles here and there across the galaxy. Yondu (Michael Rooker – hooray!) and his crew of Ravagers are still on their tail, and some pompous gold people from Sovereign (so they’re “Sovereign citizens” – well played) want Rocket dead.

But all might be well when Quill finally meets his father, Ego (who else but Kurt Russell?) and learns the surprising news of his lineage.

What – a comic book movie inspired by daddy issues? Stop it!

It may be a logical character arc for Quill, but when one too many tragic backstories build at the expense of fun, the running time starts feeling a bit bloated. Good thing Gunn has a fine instinct for when enough is about to become too much, pivoting from the dramatics with dazzling derring-do or exactly the right gag.

He also knows we’re already invested in these characters, and doesn’t mind spending some of the capital he earned last time out.

Bradley Cooper again offers ripe sarcasm as the voice of Rocket, but Dave Bautista is the breakout comedy anchor of GOTGV2. As the hulking Drax, Bautista’s booming guffaws or deadpan one-liners are a consistent treat. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora seems the odd Guardian out, too often given little more to do than deny Quill’s claim that they’ve got a “Sam and Diane unspoken thing” goin’ on.

And then there’s Groot (Vin Diesel).

As a baby.

Baby Groot.

For the win.

There are more great classic hits to re-discover (or, for you kids, get to know), including a fantastic piece of action set against the backdrop of…wait for it…Jay and the Americans’ “Come a Little Bit Closer.” Stingers? Oh, yes, during and after the credits, so just plan on staying around til the staff sweeps you out with the candy wrappers.

Does Guardians 2 seem like a rehash? Sure, at times, and there’s never any doubt whoever’s shooting at our heroes is bound to have horrible aim. But when a rehash serves up this much wit, eye candy and escapist fun, you know what they say….

“I am Groot.”

Verdict-3-5-Stars





Fright Club: Before They Were Stars

We spend a lot of time examining skeletons in the closets of major celebrities – the god-awful horror movies where they got their start. But today, we celebrate that handful of aspiring actors who get their start in really decent horror movies – some you’ve probably seen, some you may not have. Before these guys were stars, they lucked into a good one, so check them out!

5. My Little Eye (2002)

This quasi-found footage style gem is hardly flawless, but it creeps around dark ideas and delivers some nasty moments. Five youngsters volunteer to live Real World-style for a year, being filmed for an online channel contest. If they all stay for the full year, they win a million dollars. If anyone leaves, they all lose the cash.

Co-written by James Watkins, who appears again on this countdown, the story remains claustrophobic until the introduction of one handsome, lost hiker (Bradley Cooper) who’s not what he seems.

This is just Cooper’s second feature, releasing shortly after Wet Hot American Summer, and his onscreen presence breathes life to an intentionally drab atmosphere. His character is a catalyst for horrors aplenty, but his performance offers a glimpse of good things to come.

4. A Nightmare on Elm St. (1984)

Johnny Depp made his film debut in Wes Craven’s groundbreaking nightmare. Craven said in interviews that he almost didn’t cast the future heartthrob, thinking he was too pasty and weird for the role, but his daughter’s swooning convinced him.

Depp plays Glen, boyfriend to bossy Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), epicenter of Freddy Krueger’s revenge from beyond. Though his performance doesn’t necessarily predict an Oscar-nominated future, he delivers his lines more thoughtfully than most of the cast. Plus, what a death scene!

3. A Perfect Getaway (2009)

This is another underseen flick, boasting some solid performances that make the most of decent, twisty writing in a identity reversal horror story. In his second feature, Chris Hemsworth is half of one of the three couples traveling through Hawaii that get mixed up in a mystery surrounding serial killers. The ever-versatile Steve Zahn plays beautifully against type, while Timothy Olyphant offers another hard-edged but fun performance.

For the film to work, you need to always be guessing as to who may or may not be the killer. Hemsworth’s performance is one you revisit, is-he-or-isn’t-he style. He’s menacing from his first appearance, but shows some of the versatility that would help him climb quickly out of supporting roles.

2. Eden Lake (2008)

Again with James Watkins! He writes and directs this brutal and brilliant culture clash, but his real talent may be in casting. Michael Fassbender proves here what everyone knows by now – he is a brilliant, limitless actor. His Steve takes girlfriend Jenny (Kelly Reilly – also excellent) to an old quarry about to be revitalized as an upscale community – to the distaste of the low scale community currently roaming its beaches.

Fassbender plumbs his character’s depths. By turns smug and cowardly, superior and kind hearted, Steve is a real human being – the kind rarely seen in a horror film. And while Reilly’s strength is another uniqueness that makes the film stand out, the introduction to Jack O’Connell’s evicerating talent as alpha thug is no doubt what makes Eden Lake so painfully memorable.

1. American psycho (2000)

The star-studdedness just keeps growing! Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Chloe Sevigny, Justin Theroux, Reese Witherspoon! But, of course, the main reason to remember the film is the lunatic genius of Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, soulless Wall Street psychopath.

He’s helped, of course, by director Mary Harron’s faultless direction – effortlessly balancing the blackest of comedy with inspired bloodletting. So many scenes are iconic by this point, all of them involving Bale as the beautiful shell of a human being, filled mostly with vacuous musical taste and a lust for blood.

Listen to the whole conversation over on FRIGHT CLUB!





Fast Times in Blue Hawaii

Aloha

by Hope Madden

Aloha slips quietly into theaters this weekend. How is it that a Cameron Crowe film starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, and Bill Murray could fly under the radar with no critic screenings and barely a blip of an ad campaign?

Not a good sign.

No, on that cast alone this movie should have worldwide buzz. It should be the movie grown-ups see this weekend instead of San Andreas. Instead it’s an unwieldy, herky-jerky romantic comedy that leaves the romance and comedy behind in favor of goofy mush.

And what a waste of a cast! Hell, the sheer talent wattage nearly salvages the effort. Cooper is reliably compelling as military contractor Brian Gilcrest, a piece of seriously damaged goods with a chance to get back in with the big boys on this trip to Hawaii. McAdams shines as his former flame, and Murray is great as the charming, eccentric, billionaire villain.

Stone, however, drew the short straw with a wholly unrealistic character who’s equal parts Navy hutzpah and dreamy eyed innocent. Her hyperactive Captain Allison Ng, the Naval airman assigned to keep tabs on Gilcrest while he’s in town, rarely breaks beyond caricature and when she does it feels all the more inauthentic because of the broadly drawn comical foil we first meet.

Crowe’s writing is as likeable as ever, leaving cynicism behind and populating his islands with odd but lovable characters. He’s just not making any choices. Is this a romance? Because there’s a love triangle happening here that actually keeps your attention, under-developed as it is. Or is that cast aside in favor of one man’s dramatic attempt at redemption? Because that doesn’t work, either, as Crowe introduces a dark, political storyline that he tidies up with almost laughable convenience.

Crowe’s best work ranks among the better films you’ll ever see, but his last worthwhile film was 2000’s Almost Famous. Since then, his unchecked sense of wonder in the face of a cynical society has overtaken every film, none more so than Aloha.

Although, let’s be honest, it’s better than San Andreas.

Verdict-2-0-Stars





Skeletons in the Closet: Oscar Edition

There’s nothing more fun come Oscar season than to dig around celebrity closets to find the long lost horror output of the year’s nominees. Of course we all remember Michael Keaton’s unfortunate late-career genre work in White Noise, while Reese Witherspoon starred years ago in the glorious American Psycho. You may not know that the always magnificent Eddie Redmayne starred as a conflicted friar in the low budget effort Black Death. But we don’t mean to pick recent scabs, and our point is not to applaud excellent early careers in horror. So instead, we thought it would be more fun to look at four gems of a different color. Oscar nominees Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Patricia Arquette and Bradley Cooper star in this month’s Skeletons in the Closet: Oscar Edition.

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
Photographer Leon (Bradley Cooper) comes to believe he is snapping evidence of a serial killer – a meticulously groomed butcher who emerges from the subway in the wee hours every morning carrying a suspicious bag. Written by Clive Barker (Hellraiser), the film is meant to implicate the viewer. It opens on all out slaughter, followed quickly by an image of Cooper, the lens of his camera pointed directly at you, the viewer. Why are we watching? Why is he watching? What does he find so fascinating about the festering underbelly of the city that he chooses to watch no matter how ugly. Why do we keep watching this film, even after Ted Raimi’s eyeball bursts out at us? It’s a bloody, foul mess, this one, but somehow not terribly tense and rarely if ever scary. Cooper overacts, and while the premise shows promise, the conclusion doesn’t satisfy.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Patricia Arquette – a working actress with her first Oscar nomination, which only means that the Academy turned a blind eye to her awesome turn as Alabama Worley – got her start in 1987’s third Nightmare on Elm Street installment: Dream Warriors. Of course, Johnny Depp got his start in Wes Craven’s original nightmare, but by the franchise’s third episode both budget and inspiration were running short. Arquette plays a patient in a sleep clinic. Screechy Nancy (the epically untalented Heather Langenkamp – sole survivor of the original) is now an adult and a psychiatrist working with patients to take control in their dreams and kill Freddy. Arquette plays Kristin, lead dream warrior. Aside from being known as Arquette’s feature film debut, this is also the episode where we learn that Freddy is the bastard son of hundred maniacs. Sets are pretty ludicrous, we don’t get nearly enough Freddy, but Langenkamp’s wondrously wooden performance makes everyone else look talented by comparison.

The Dentist (1996)

Oh, we’ve celebrated the ridiculous glory of The Dentist previously, but given Mark Ruffalo’s Oscar nom, it deserves just another quick mention. The film follows a psychotic dentist (Corbin Bernsen) who goes off the deep end after his wife gets dirty with the pool boy. Director Brian Yuzna’s film misses every opportunity to capitalize on the discomfort of the dentist’s chair, and the film’s puffy hair and pastel sweaters suggests that it’s ten years older than it is. The sole reason to sit through this is the small, supporting turn from Ruffalo as the boyfriend/agent of one of the not-so-good doctor’s patients. God bless him, even in a film this bad, Ruffalo can act.

Grizzly II: The Concert (1987)

Here’s the crowning jewel for nearly any Skeletons in the Closet feature. It features not just a current nominee, but one past winner and ever-the-winner Charlie Sheen. It’s hard to come by and even harder to watch. The sequel to William Girdler’s 1796 forest-astrophe Grizzly was filmed in 1983 and never completed, but sort of, kind of released anyway in 1987. Every death scene ends just before the death itself, because the bear side of the struggle was never shot. So, we get a lot of bear’s eye view of the victim, but never a look at the bear side of the sequence. It’s surreal, almost.

Sandwiched somewhere between the non-death sequences is a never ending faux-eighties synth pop concert. The concert footage is interminably long, nonsensical enough to cause an aneurism, and awful enough to make you grateful for the aneurism. You will lose your will to live. So, why bother? Because this invisible grizzly puppet kills Charlie Sheen, Oscar nominee Laura Dern, and George Clooney. (Dern and Clooney are making out at the time, which actually probably happened).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG0dfhbyXBQ

Check out our Fright Club podcast on the subject of Skeletons in the Closet and join us the 4th Saturday of every months for Fright Club live at the Drexel Theater in Bexley, OH.





No Absolutes

American Sniper

by George Wolf

Clint Eastwood has the reputation of a low maintenance, “let’s not overthink this” type of director. Sometimes that’s much too apparent, with films lacking in structure, passion and detail.

American Sniper is not one of those films.

This one is tense, heartfelt, wise and weighty, driven by a revelatory lead performance and crafted by a director deeply invested in doing justice to his subject.

It’s based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL credited with being “the deadliest sniper in American history.” The very nature of the story is rife with opportunities for manipulation, be them jingoistic or judgmental, but credit Eastwood and screenwriter Jason Hall with sidestepping them all.

They grab you by the throat with a breathless opening, then expertly work alternating periods of deafening brutality and quiet stillness. In fact, the silence in American Sniper could be easily be regarded as part of the original score, as it is utilized just as effectively as any stirring music.

As Kyle, Bradley Cooper is astonishing and a well-deserved Oscar nominee. Anyone who still thinks he’s just a pretty boy needs to put down People magazine and pay attention to the career Cooper’s been putting together. He’s turned in one stellar, varied performance after another the last few years, and here he commands the screen like never before.

More than just adding weight or adopting Kyle’s Texas drawl, Cooper completely embodies Kyle from the inside out. We see his early determination to fight America’s enemies just as sincerely as we feel the paradox of a man ravaged by the battlefield who can’t feel at home anywhere else. Eastwood smartly gives Cooper many tight close ups and the actor doesn’t flinch, letting his face speak volumes on duty and conflict.

Are there sad ironies in the fact that many who were driven to military service by the events of 9/11 were sent to Iraq? Of course, but this is not the film to explore them, or appease those who will be satisfied only if Kyle is painted as a merciless monster or, conversely, an untouchable hero.  By avoiding these absolutes, American Sniper becomes a gripping look at the other side of The Hurt Locker. It’s an intensely personal story that manages to feel like part of America’s very fabric without selling its soul to do so.

 

Verdict-4-0-Stars

 





Triple Feature For Your Queue

Usually Tuesday is the day we recommend a new DVD release, and pair that with a backlist title you might also enjoy. But since there are three excellent films being released today, we decided to just stick with new releases and highly recommend each of the following.

MudMatthew McConaughey continues to impress in writer/director Jeff Nichols’s follow up to the brilliant Take Shelter. McConaughey plays a romantic fugitive befriended by two young boys. It’s a lyrical, bittersweet coming of age tale and an astonishing piece of storytelling.

The Place Beyond the PinesDerek Cianfrance’s multigenerational story of fathers, sons, and unintended consequences a cast whose performances are even better than their looks. Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes are all terrific in this twisty crime thriller.

To the WonderTerrence Malick returns to the screen with a cinematic poem to relationships, faith, isolation and love. Abstract, challenging, lyrical and gorgeous, Malick’s latest is a rumination on spiritual fulfillment.





Fewer Tigers, More Zach

by George Wolf

 

Yes, Virginia, there is a hangover in The Hangover Part III, and it’s a funny one, but the madcap adventure-filled road that leads to it is a bit uneven.

Following a bona fide classic like The Hangover was always a tough assignment. The crazy freshness that film brought to the what-happened-last-night-formula just can’t be cloned, and the attempt to do just that in part 2 came off as a disappointing inside joke. The third installment gets some of the original mojo back by giving the Wolfpack a new reason get their Vegas on.

That reason is one Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), whose trail of enemies includes Mr. Marshall (John Goodman), a vengeful crime boss that eagle-eared moviegoers might remember from a quick mention in part one.

Seems Marshall wants the millions that Chow stole from him, so he kidnaps the Wolfpack, threatening to kill (who else?) Doug (Justin Bartha) unless Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) can bring their old pal in to face the music.

Director Todd Phillips returns, co- writing the script with his part 2 collaborator Craig Mazin. Together, they craft a tamer, quieter romp, replacing bathroom tigers and hooker weddings with healthy doses of Galifianakis and Jeong.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those guys don’t need much help to be funny, and Phillips may have realized they were his best chance at newly found laughs. The reason  part 3’s “morning after” scene works so well is because it runs during the credits, sending the trilogy off with a quick reminder of the fun we had discovering the first film. Another entire episode of retracing the Wolfpack’s steps, though, would be pointless, so instead we get a little heist adventure with a side of zany.

There are slow spots, to be sure, but there are laughs as well, maybe just enough to erase that bad hangover from part 2.

 

 

Verdict-2-5-Stars