Moonstruck 1987 ***

080612Moonstruck

A somewhat quirkier film than its reputation suggests, Norman Jewison’s 1987 vehicle for Cher is a classy slice of romance. She plays Loretta, a NYC book-keeper who is unlucky in love until she meets pizza-maker Ronny (Nicolas Cage). Unfortunately she’s already engaged to be married to Ronny’s brother Johnny (Danny Aiello), and she risks the disapproval of both her own and Ronny’s families. But true love, plus lashings of La Boheme on the soundtrack, eventually bring Loretta and Ronny together in style; Jewison gets uniformly strong performances from a diverse cast, and John Patrick Shanley’s script as plenty of authentic detail of NYC life, notably Loretta’s father endlessly listening to Vicky Carr’s It Must Be Him on record.

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Rollerball 1975 ****

Unknown

Rollerball was intended as a chiding rebuke to violence is sport, but ends up being a celebration of brutality, and that’s no bad thing in Norman Jewison’s 1975 sci-fi thriller. James Caan is an ideal Jonathan E, a competitor in the sport of Rollerball, a mixture of motorcycling, basketball, wrestling, street-hockey and sudden death that’s used to appease the masses in a dystopian future. Adapted from the late William E Harrison’s novella, Rollerball is pretty astute away from the game, with a futuristic vision of rich, selfish class who destroy their environment for fun, incinerating trees and rather careless with literature. For a film that is purporting to criticize violence, the games scenes are undeniably thrilling, making the woodland scuffles of The Hunger Games look somewhat tame in comparison. And Caan rises to the challenge of making Jonathan E worth rooting for, an everyman who fights on as life gets tougher with each passing game.