DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Moonstruck Deluxe Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Cameron Yee, Apr 4, 2006.

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  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    XenForo Template  Moonstruck Deluxe Edition Release Date: April 18, 2006 Studio: MGM Studios Year: 1987 Rating: PG for adult situations and adult language Running Time: 1h42m Video: 1.85:1 anamorphic (Special Features: 1.78:1 anamorphic) Audio: English DD5.1, French DD2.0, Spanish DD2.0 (Special Features English DD2.0) Subtitles: English, French, Spanish (Special Features: None) TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Special Features: None) Menus: Brief intro and menu transition animations Packaging/Materials: Single disc keepcase with cardstock slipcover; three collectible recipe cards with meals from one of the special feature segments MSRP: $19.94
    The Feature: 4/5 "Snap out of it!" demands Loretta (Cher) of Ronny (Nicolas Cage), a sharp rebuke to his sudden declaration of love. Several hours earlier, overcome by passion, she had asked him to more-or-less snap into it, so why the apparent change (or loss) of heart? Well, for one she's engaged to his brother, Johnny (Danny Aiello), and for another she actually feels something for Ronny and in her experience that kind of thing leads to bad luck. Seven years earlier the man she loved died in a freak bus accident, taken before they could start a family, and ever since she's seen herself as jinxed. With her impending second marriage, she's determined that things be different, even though she fails to see marrying a man out of practicality as its own kind of bad luck. Her mom (Olympia Dukakis) doesn't mind though, stating with a weary look to Loretta's father (Vincent Gardenia), "The ones you love only make you crazy 'cause they know they can." Ronny himself seems to have more than enough crazy to spare. When we first see him he's stoking fires in the basement ovens of a local bakery, drawing easy comparisons to any number of myths about tortured souls. But as it turns out, he mostly suffers from an acute case of the melodramatics. Five years ago Brother Johnny distracted him at the bread slicer, costing him his hand and his shallow fiancee. And if he seems a little irrational about the whole thing, that's just the way he is, as fiery as the ovens he stokes all day; as passionate as his brother is plain. He meets Loretta when she tries to persuade him to come to the wedding, Johnny's request of her while he's off in Sicily visiting his sick mother. Ronny and Loretta are of course the ones meant to be together, not out of practicality but out of the passion that strikes them shortly after they meet. But before we reach that inevitable conclusion we'll have a beauty salon makeover, Puccini's "La Bohême" and a tense breakfast with the whole cast around the kitchen table. Along the way we also get interesting glimpses at the relationships surrounding the protagonists. Loretta's father is cheating on Rose with a woman who seems to make him feel young and powerful, while her aunt and uncle are still faithful and in love after decades together. Meanwhile a regular patron (John Mahoney) at the family's favorite restaurant keeps getting drinks thrown in his face by his much younger dates. And Rose has her own philandering opportunity, though ultimately she just wants to know why men feel compelled to do it. As a result, love and marriage look less and less like matters of practicality or things easily snapped out of. The strength of the "Moonstruck" script is matched by the quality of the cast, with the most endearing member being Olympia Dukakis as the longsuffering wife. Cage displays the go-for-broke acting we've come to expect from him, though in 1987 it seems he had yet to knock his vocal pitch down an octave. And Cher effectively portrays a no-nonsense woman, reticent about falling in love again. The peripheral players, like Loretta's grandfather and aunt and uncle, only have a handful of scenes but round out the sometimes-quirky, Italian American flavor. The musical soundtrack is a pleasant and appropriate mix of original pieces by composer Dick Hyman and themes from and influenced by "La Bohême." Particularly effective is the use of Dean Martin's performance of "That's Amore" over the opening credits. Special features on the disc reveal a part of Puccini's opera was used in an early cut and turned off the test audience. Martin was clearly the better choice, capturing the tone and Italian American elements of the film perfectly. "Moonstruck," which won Academy Awards for Original Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley), Supporting Actress (Olympis Dukakis) and Lead Actress (Cher) in 1987, is a perfect example of romantic comedy done right, balancing occasionally quirky humor with sentiment, but never becoming ridiculous or saccharine. Though some might mistakenly dismiss it as a "chick flick," the film should appeal to both men and women and is especially recommended for hopeless romantics and old married couples of all ages. Video Quality: 3/5 Dirt and dust specks can be spotted throughout the film and compression noise is visible at times, which may be a distraction for some viewers. Colors are consistent with the subdued quality of older films, though still natural looking. The picture is occassionally soft (close-ups are often noticeably sharper), with no sign of edge enhancement. Black levels are decent but sometimes can stand more shadow detail. Audio Quality: 3/5 The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is predominantly center channel focused, with surrounds engaging with more dramatic moments and stronger musical cues. This can be a little jarring given their infrequency of use. Dialogue is overall clear and intelligible. Low frequency effects (LFE) are non-existent. Special Features: 3/5Collectible Italian recipe cards for meals shown in the Grotta Azzurra Restaurant special feature • Commentary with Cher, director Norman Jewison and writer John Patrick Shanley: Participants were recorded separately and parts were edited together to correlate with events on the screen. The information is interesting and plentiful, containing a nice mix of anecdotes, thoughts on the script and background into the making of the film. This is the same commentary from the previous release. • Moonstruck: At the Heart of An Italian Family (25m28s): Members of the cast and crew provide history of the film, covering the genesis of the script, casting process, Academy Award anecdotes, and candid interviews with different Italian American couples. The majority of the cast and crew interviews are new, with the notable exceptions of Nicolas Cage's and Cher's coming from promotional material from 1987. After listening to the commentary track I can't help seeing this documentary as a bit superfluous as it contains many of the same stories and topics. • Pasta to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food
    • Intro (1m40s): Host Mark DeCarlo introduces the program, which then goes to a submenu for an interactive tour of Little Italy. Having DeCarlo as host was a headscratcher, since he has no connection to "Moonstruck," but after a little digging I learned he's the host of the Travel Channel's foodie show "Taste of America."
    • Grotta Azzurra Restaurant (18m47s): Executive Chef Elvin Molina cooks a typical Italian meal of Spedini ala Romanna, Bucatini Amatriciana, and Lamb ala Elvin (his personal recipe). The three recipes are printed on collectible cards included with the release. This is the best part of the section, though DeCarlo tries a little too hard to be funny.
    • Ferrara Pastries (2m28s): DeCarlo stops by Ferrara's to sample cannoli.
    • Gelato Stand (1m02s): DeCarlo samples some gelato from a street vendor.
    • Italian Food Center (2m31s): DeCarlo visits an Italian market and samples some items from its deli.
    • Pimonte Ravioli Co. (2m07s): DeCarlo visits a major pasta supplier for Little Italy restaurants; however cameras were denied access to the apparently top secret ravioli making area.
    • Florio's Restaurant (1m24s): DeCarlo takes a brief look in the restaurant's kitchen.
    Music of Moonstruck (6m24s): Interviews with composer Dick Hyman, screenwriter John Patrick Shanley and director Norman Jewison about the parallels and allusions to Puccini's "La Bohême" and operatic themes used in the score. A nice featurette on a sometimes overlooked filmmaking component. Recap and Final Thoughts The Feature: 4/5 Video Quality: 3/5 Audio Quality: 3/5 Special Features: 3/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3/5 Owners of the previous release will want to upgrade for the anamorphic format and original aspect ratio. The new extras are mildly entertaining, but not likely to be viewed more than once, especially since the best parts (the recipes) are provided in printed form. This is certainly the better of the two releases, but could stand some improvement in picture quality and a less manipulated audio mix.
    Equipment: Toshiba 42" CRT RPTV fed a 1080i signal from a Bravo D1 DVD player. For comparison purposes, some scenes may be viewed on an InFocus Screenplay 4805 fed a 480i signal from a Toshiba 4900 DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR575x 5.1 AVR running JBL S26s, JBL S-Center, and SVS 20-39 PCi subwoofer with BFD equalization.
     
  2. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Wonderful review, Cam! Welcome to the crew.

    "I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride!" [​IMG]
     
  3. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Thanks Aaron, I had plenty of time to obsess over it (as he looks out window to see if more screeners are coming). And thanks for letting me swipe your formatting style [​IMG].
     
  4. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Wish the video quality was significantly better though. Maybe they're saving it for the eventual hidef version? [​IMG]

    Also, nice first review. [​IMG]
     
  5. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Thanks Tim. I think if it ever makes it to HD it will need to get cleaned up beforehand - ran through the processors at Lowry Digital or get a full blown restoration.
     
  6. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    No prob, Cam. Hope you don't mind if I swipe *your* idea of colorizing the section headings. (And just to make myself feel clean -- screw you, Ted Turner! [​IMG] )
     

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