With the upcoming release of Burlesque, Cher's first starring role in 11 years, MGM is releasing a box set featuring six of Cher's films on DVD.
Directed by: William Friedkin Cast: Sonny Bono, Cher, George Sanders Running Time: 1 hr 30 min Rating: NR Due Out: November 2, 2010
PLOT: Sonny and Cher are asked to make a movie! The rest of the film loosely follows the couple as they imagine various scenarios for their movie.
WHO'S IT FOR? Do you like Sonny and Cher? Especially Sonny? Because he's the real star of this venture.
The film follows the variety show format used on Sonny and Cher's show, though it doesn't really work for a movie. They want to recreate the fun of Help! but as people, they're just not that engaging. Or more accurately, Sonny isn't. But that isn't the only problem, the music just doesn't work and Sonny sings way more than he should. William Friedkin directed this, five years later he would win the Oscar for The French Connection. That doesn't make sense of things, it's just another piece of weirdness surrounding this movie. The clothes and design are pretty fun though. And I have to admit, I get a kick out of the weird monkey scenes. The whole "Jungle" section of the film actually works best, it's a little more playful and natural, which is strange to say about a segment where Sonny wears a leopard print diaper the whole time. Luckily, Sonny would have the good sense not to star in their next joint venture.
MOVIE SCORE: 3/10
Directed by: Alessio de Paola Cast: Cher, Barbara London, Stephen Whittaker Running Time: 1 hr 20 min Rating: R Due Out: November 2, 2010
PLOT: A free spirit (Cher) wanders around, meeting people and having new experiences.
WHO'S IT FOR? Cher superfans and completists.
Sonny Bono wrote and produced Cher's first solo film and it's an odd project. Cher plays an angry flower child, roaming around the Southwest in an effort to have new experiences. These include a lot of hitchhiking and yelling at people. She's meant to seem like an outsider but she behaves like a child having a tantrum. Also her internal monologue is external, which gives her the air of a homeless lady wandering around, which she kind of is. Apparently, that made you cool in the sixties, not stinky and weird. The weirdest part is that the character puts herself in a series of potentially dangerous situations, but seems to get out of all of them unscathed. It's a little unsettling. I'm going to go ahead and blame Sonny for this mess. I've come to dislike him over these past two films. Cher wouldn't go back into movies again until the 1980's.
MOVIE SCORE: 4/10
Directed by: Mike Nichols Cast: Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Cher Running Time: 2 hr 10 min Rating: R Due Out: November 2, 2010
PLOT: Karen Silkwood (Streep) works for a nuclear power plant that may be cutting corners to produce plutonium. Silkwood becomes involved in the union and later with a nuclear watchdog group before dying under mysterious circumstances.
WHO'S IT FOR? Anybody who's suspicious of large corporations. So that should be a pretty large audience.
Cher plays Dolly Pelliker, Silkwood's lesbian roommate. It's a pretty impressive performance, she nails the Oklahoma accent. She also manages to act toe to toe with Streep. I didn't know the story of Karen Silkwood before the film, though I had heard the term "Silkwood Shower" and now I understand just how unpleasant that must be. The story's a little slow, but the acting is really great. Besides the two actresses, Russell gives a strong performance as Silkwood's boyfriend who doesn't agree with her politics.
Of the films in this box set, this is the first that's not only good, but establishes Cher as a talented actress. Before she was just messing around in bad projects, but in this film, she really steps up to give a good performance in a good film. Still, at the end I was a little confused. Did the company kill her? The film makes a good case, but of course, nothing was every proven. Still, if you get killed minutes before meeting a New York Times reporter to blow the whistle on your company, it does look a little suspicious.
MOVIE SCORE: 7/10
Directed by: Norman Jewison Cast: Cher, Nicholas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello Running Time: 1 hr 40 min Rating: PG Due Out: November 2, 2010
PLOT: A Brooklyn widow (Cher) gets engaged to a man before getting involved with his brother.
WHO'S IT FOR? Everyone. One of the best romantic comedies ever made.
I hadn't seen Moonstruck in years, I remember watching it on TV as a kid. Not only has it aged well, but now that I'm an adult I see just how funny it is. Nicholas Cage absolutely breaks my heart with his performance, he's both romantic and hilarious as the passionate maimed baker who falls in love with his brother's fiance. After a string of dramas, Cher's both funny and perfectly natural as Loretta, a woman with both romantic and family problems. Cher won the Oscar for her performance, as did Dukakis as her mother.
The whole movie's great, but the final half is especially entertaining. It's full of mix-ups and near misses and everyone finds love. I wish every romantic comedy tried to be this smart, funny, and charming.
MOVIE SCORE: 9/10
Commentary featuring Cher, Director Norman Jewison and Writer John Patrick Shanley
Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family
Pastas to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food
Music of Moonstruck
Directed by: Richard Benjamin Cast: Cher, Winona Ryder, Bob Hoskins, Christina Ricci Running Time: 1 hr 50 min Rating: PG-13 Due Out: November 2, 2010
PLOT: Mrs. Flax (Cher) moves her kids to a small Massachusetts town in the '60s where they make an unconventional, but loving, family.
WHO'S IT FOR? Anyone who likes enjoyable dramas.
I remember seeing this movie years ago, but I was too young to really appreciate it. Mermaids is told from the point of view of Charlotte, a teenager who longs for a more conventional life and rebels against her bohemian mother by wanting to be Catholic (they're Jewish). After they move, she finds herself torn between wanting to be a nun and wanting to run away with her hot, young landlord. The family is unconventional, but loving. Ricci's adorable as Kate, a born swimmer who may be the oddest one of the bunch.
The movie is much better than I remember, especially ' acting. The whole cast does a great job. It's a really sweet film. My big criticism is that the "Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)" music video, sung by Cher and featuring the whole cast isn't on the DVD.
MOVIE SCORE: 7/10
Tea With Mussolini
Directed by: Franco Zeffirelli Cast: Cher, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright Running Time: 1 hr 55 min Rating: PG Due Out: November 2, 2010
PLOT: Foreign women living in Florence, Italy in the years leading up to WWII try to survive and maintain their proper English lifestyle.
WHO'S IT FOR? Fans of period dramas. It's set during the war but there's very little action.
Zeffirelli best known for his very well done Romeo and Juliet and somewhat less well done Hamlet staring Mel Gibson. This semi-autobiographical film follows a group of English ladies living abroad in Florence for the culture, though they also seem to live somewhat apart from the locals. Life changes when Mussolini takes power, though Lady Hester (Smith) has tea with him and believes that the political changes won't affect her lifestyle. When Italy and England go to war though, their fates are sealed.
The film has a kind of odd tone, it's very lighthearted despite the fact that the women are in danger. I was torn between admiring the ladies' spirit and being annoyed by their cultural insensitivity. Despite choosing to live in Italy, only one of them speaks the language. And they're disrespectful to anyone put in a position over them. The movie was alright, but not great. The plot seemed to wander a bit at times and I had a hard time determining who was the main character.
MOVIE SCORE: 6/10