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A widowed Brooklyn book-keeper is torn between her fiancé and his brother.
For more about Moonstruck and the Moonstruck Blu-ray release, see Moonstruck Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on July 26, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, Julie Bovasso
Director: Norman Jewison
» See full cast & crew
Moonstruck Blu-ray Review
"Snap Out of It!"
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, July 26, 2011
Moonstruck set the standard by which all subsequent tales of ethnic family life (other than mob stories) must be measured. Its successful blend of romance, drama, comedy and operatic fable has never been fully equaled, not that others haven't tried. (Raymond De Felitta's City Island was a worthy, if not fully realized, successor.) John Patrick Shanley's Oscar-winning script was unlike anything anyone had ever seen (and Shanley's subsequent attempts to replicate Moonstruck's odd mixture of passion and whimsy in The January Man and Joe Versus the Volcano foundered so badly that he largely abandoned Hollywood). Norman Jewison's Oscar-nominated direction looked so effortless that it's only when you step back and consider all the missteps Jewison avoided that you realize what a miracle he pulled off. Moonstruck won well-deserved acting Oscars for Olympia Dukakis and Cher. In those days, the diva and gay icon was a genuine actress with serious credits including Silkwood, Mask, The Witches of Eastwick and Suspect. In Moonstruck, Cher disappears into the part of Loretta Castorini, the no-nonsense Brooklyn bookkeeper who believes that love has passed her by, until one day it knocks her flat.
In an early scene, a man, Johnny Cammerari (Danny Aiello), proposes marriage to a woman, Loretta Castorini, at a popular Brooklyn restaurant called The Grand Ticino. (The restaurant was a real location in Manhattan where business doubled for several years after Moonstruck was released.) After some initial drama -- because in Moonstruck there is always drama -- Loretta accepts. Then Johnny leaves for Sicily to say farewell to his dying mother. Right away you have three of the four key elements in Moonstruck: Food. Death. Family. The fourth element has already been supplied during the title sequence, which features sets for Puccini's opera La Bohème being delivered and unloaded to the Metropolitan Opera. The fourth element is music -- grand music expressing primal emotions, bypassing rational thought. When the film was first previewed, the title sequence was accompanied by an opera score, and the results were disastrous. The audience shifted uncomfortably in their seats, thinking they'd been lured to an art film. Now Moonstruck begins with Dean Martin singing "That's Amore!", which strikes just the right note of enjoyment. For all the yelling and arguing that will occur in the next 100 minutes, the audience knows they're about to have fun. Loretta the future bride is the only member of her generation remaining in the Castorini household, a huge residence in Brooklyn that she shares with her parents and grandfather. She was married briefly to a husband who was killed in a bus accident, leading Loretta to conclude she has "no luck". Now she does the accounting for local businesses, including the market owned by her mother's brother, Uncle Raymond Capomaggi (Louis Guss), and his wife, Rita (Julie Bovasso, a Brooklyn native who taught accents to the entire cast and remained in demand as a dialect coach for the rest of her life). Loretta closed down her heart when her husband died, but she's been keeping company with Johnny even though she doesn't love him. Marriage at this point is a practical arrangement. Her mother, Rose (Olympia Dukakis), approves. "When you love 'em, they drive you crazy, 'cause they know they can", she tells Loretta, thinking of her own husband, Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia). A successful plumber who wears a suit and tie all day because he has employees doing the labor, Cosmo feels the weight of advancing years and has grown distant from his devoted wife. She suspects he's cheating. The senior Castorini generation is Cosmo's elderly father, known only as "Pops" or "Old Man" (Feodor Chaliapin Jr.). His interactions with family members consist more of gestures than words, and he prefers the company of his beloved pack of dogs, to which he chatters in a mixture of Italian and pidgin English. Pops walks his dogs night and day, sometimes meeting friends, sometimes howling at the moon with his canine companions. The film's plot is set in motion by a task that Johnny Cammarreri gives his new fiancée before departing for Sicily. Loretta has to see Johnny's brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage), a baker, and invite him to the wedding. The brothers haven't spoken for years due to "bad blood" caused by . . . well, it's hard to explain. ("I ain't no freakin' monument to justice!" shouts Ronny.) Loretta tries to fulfill Johnny's task, but it takes only a few hours in the company of the intense and passionate Ronny when the unthinkable happens -- the two of them fall madly in love. (Shanley's original title for the film was "The Bride and the Wolf".)
Moonstruck Blu-ray, Video Quality
Viewers expecting a crisp, eye-popping image will be disappointed, and fans of Moonstruck will be grateful. The film has always had a soft, dreamy, "old world" look that cinematographer David Watkin (Out of Africa) carefully created. Any attempt to sharpen it for contemporary sensibilities would be a travesty. Fortunately, no such attempt has been made. Despite its softness, the image is finely detailed, revealing elements that have not been obvious on prior video versions. In one scene, for example, you can make out a gold-encased tooth in Loretta Castorini's mouth, though whether this belongs to the character or the actress is impossible to say. The worn decor of the Castorini household and the dungeon-like surroundings of Ronny's bakery are visible in a way they haven't been since the film played in theaters. The frequent presence of visible grain attests to the fact that fine detail has not been removed by the pernicious application of filtering. Black levels are sufficiently strong to give accurate renditions of the tuxedos worn by many of the men attending the opera. In many night scenes, the blacks aren't truly black, but this has less to do with "crushing" than with the fact that nights in a major city are never fully dark. The color scheme of Moonstruck tends toward the warm end of the spectrum, but most hues are muted, so that the occasional flash of vivid color stands out in contrast (e.g., the dress that Cosmo Castorini's mistress wears to the opera, which he reluctantly compliments as being "very . . . bright", or the interior of the liquor store where the proprietess accuses her husband of being "a wolf!"). The source material appears to be in good shape. Overall, while this is not a Blu-ray that will wow recent HD converts looking for crystalline ecstasy, those who appreciate accurate film transfers should be well satisfied.
Moonstruck Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Although the soundtrack is labeled 5.1, it might as well have remained in its original stereo, because there is little rear channel activity. Presented in DTS lossless, the sound is spread evenly across the front soundstage with occasional left and right panning effects. Where the track excels is in its reproduction of tiny details, such as the chirping of Ronny's parakeet during the crucial first conversations between Ronny and Loretta, and the crucial -- no, essential -- musical track that is as much a character in Moonstruck as any human. Whether it's Dean Martin's rendition of "That's Amore!" or key moments from La Bohème (for which the film sparked a national enthusiasm) or Dick Hyman's score knitted together from themes representing each main character, the soundtrack delivers the music with appropriate presence. The characters in Moonstruck may not open their mouths and sing (except for Uncle Raymond), but the emotions on display are the big ones that music is best suited to express.
Moonstruck Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The features have been ported over from the 2006 "deluxe edition" DVD. The only omitted feature is the set of recipe cards included inside the DVD case, which would not have fit within the smaller Blu-ray packaging. The Blu-ray adds a trailer, which was not part of the DVD's features. Fox has utilized the same crippled design that is now familiar from all of its MGM discs: no main menu; BD-Java that delays loading times without being utilized for any advanced features; no bookmarking. It's almost as if the people designing these discs at Fox want to be sure that purchasers of MGM catalogue titles experience all the worst aspects of Blu-ray.
Moonstruck Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Moonstruck derives from a mind set for which the greatest special effect is an actor giving an interesting performance and a director's main job is to cast the right actors and orchestrate a seamless ensemble. Few have done this as well, and no one has ever done it better, than Norman Jewison in Moonstruck. The film remains as fresh today as when it was released, even now when much of the neighborhood it depicts has been knocked down and turned into condos. We can still enter its vibrant world to share great meals (and more) with the Castorinis, Cappomaggis and Cammareris. No matter how many times someone says, "I don't want to talk about it!", they're always there, still talking.
Moonstruck: Other Editions
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Moonstruck Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Last Tango in Paris, Moonstruck, Rain Man Blu-ray Detailed - February 9, 2011
MGM Home Entertainment has revealed the release details for a trio of catalog releases that it will release on February 15: Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972), Moonstruck (Norman Jewison, 1987) and Rain Man (Barry Levinson, 1988). The latter two will ...
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