Moonstruck

 

Moonstruck

Written by John Patrick Shanley

Directed by Norman Jewison

1987

 

Cast:

Cher

Nicholas Cage

Olympia Dukakis

Vincent Gardenia

Danny Aiello

John Mahoney

 

Production:

Theatrical: MGM & Star Partners

Video: MGM Home Entertainment

 

Video:

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: 44.04 GB

Feature Size: 37.73 GB

Avg. Video Bit Rate: 37.49 Mbps

Runtime: 102 minutes

Chapters: 20

Region: All

 

Audio:

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

French Dolby Digital 2.0

Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0

English Dolby Digital 2.0

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, French & Spanish

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Cher, Director Norman Jewison, and Writer John Patrick Shanley

• “Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family” (25:30)

• “Pastas to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food” Featurettes (30:07)

• “Music of Moonstruck” (6:24)

 

Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray Case: BD x 1

Release Date: February 15, 2011



Introduction:

In time for this year’s Oscar presentations at the end of this month, Fox is issuing three past Oscar nominated films: Rain Man is the most recent; it won for Best Picture of 1988.  It also gave Dustin Hoffman his second Oscar (the first was for Kramer Vs. Kramer in 1979), and awards for Best Director (Barry Levinson) and Writing (Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow).  Moonstruck (1987) won for Best Actress (Cher) and Supporting Actress (Olympia Dukakis) and for Best Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley).  The oldest of the three, Last Tango in Paris was nominated for Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Director (Bernardo Bertolucci).  Curiously, Brando won for The Godfather the year previous even though both movies came out the same calendar year Last Tango didn’t qualify until 1973.


     

 

The Score Card

 

The Movie : 7

Norman Jewison has a generally keen eye for cultures and neighborhoods - to wit: The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming (1966), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Fiddler on the Roof (1971), dare I say: Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), F.I.S.T (1978), and, in 1987 the “pizza pie amore” Moonstruck that starred Cher (who had already proved her acting chops in Mike Nichols’ Silkwood four years earlier, for which she earned her first Oscar nomination) and Nicholas Cage, who had previously made his mark in Valley Girl, The Cotton Club, Peggy Sue Got Married and Raising Arizona.  Even though more experienced than Cher as a film actor, the ageless entertainer was 18 years Cage’s senior, a fact that Jewison and cinematographer David Watkin (Out of Africa, Yentl, Chariots of Fire) manage to obliterate convincingly - or at least, to the point of irrelevance.


     


Cher plays Loretta Castorini, who had the “bad luck” of having her husband killed off by a bus eight years previously after only two years into their marriage.  Loretta is maddeningly superstitious and readily finds reasons to put off re-marrying, or falling in love for that matter, but eventually settles for Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), a mama’s boy who must fly back to Palermo to wait for his mother to die so he can marry Loretta.  But before Johnny leaves he has Loretta promise she will invite his younger brother, Ronny (Cage) to the wedding.  The brothers haven’t spoken to each other for five years because of “bad blood,” which turns out to mean that Ronny blames Johnny for his having lost his hand in a bread slicer.  And if you can buy Cage’s selling of that story you’re hooked for the rest of the movie.


     


Cher does, and more.  The two fall instantly in love - each finding that their excuses for not letting love into their lives (Loretta is marrying Johnny out of sheer inertia) are meaningless in the face of the power of the moon and Puccini’s La Boheme, strains of which play throughout the movie, underscoring the mood in ingenious ways.  On a critical note, I was less convinced by what I felt was a competing, rather than a partnering effort by popular tunes (Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” and Vikki Carr’s “It Must Be Him”) to do the same.


     


Moonstruck has a strong supporting cast in Vincent Gardenia and Olympia Dukakis as Loretta’s parents and Danny Aiello as Ronny’s (much) older brother.  Mama and papa each have their own life outside the home that makes for some interesting tensions.  Again, I wasn’t entirely convinced by how their stories fit in with Loretta’s and Ronny’s, though the final scene goes some way to tie things together.

 

Image : 9/9

Of Fox’s three new Blu-ray’s mentioned in my Introduction Moonstruck has the most compelling image.  It is clean as the proverbial whistle, sharp, nicely saturated with deep blacks, proper flesh tones, color and contrast.  There are no transfer issue of concern.


     

 

Audio & Music : 7/9

Smart use of music from La Boheme is in some contrast with the obvious use of lunar pop tunes “That’s Amore” and “It Must Be Him” On the other hand, Vikky Carr’s song that Cosmo is addicted to makes a sort of textual sense even if the genders are backwards.  Dialogue is not as clear as I would have liked, but effects, though limited for the most part to subtle atmospherics and crowd noises at the restaurant and around the Met at Lincoln Center, are properly judged.  I noted that there was a reasonably successful attempt to proportion the singing of the opera to the scene (heard form the audience, or as part of the soundtrack, or off a record).


     

 

Extras : 6

All of these bonus features were included on the 2006 Deluxe Edition DVD, including the commentary, their place on the Blu-ray remains questionable.  All matters related to production are relegated to the commentary and the 25-minute “Moonstruck: At the Heart of An Italian Family” documentary.  The “Pasta to Pastries” featurette is kind of an oddball since its relationship to the movie is as a second cousin twice removed.  All the same it’s a fun piece.  Composer Dick Hyman speaks with screenwriter Shanley and director Jewison about how “La Boheme” is used in the movie.  As you might guess, I found this an important bonus.


     

 

Recommendation : 8

While Moonstruck succeeds as a winsome romantic comedy, its various delightful and philosophical parts, well written though they are, don’t seem to add up to congruent whole.  Each scene seduces and entertains but don’t feel to me that they belong to the same story.  That said, the movie is thoroughly entertaining.  Cher is a knockout, Cage is wonderfully hangdog, and both are transformed by love and the opera.  Fox’s transfer onto Blu-ray is superb.  Recommended.


     

 

 

Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

March 2, 2011


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