Hi, I'm Katie Weaver, a writer for the New York Times magazine, and I recently wrote a piece about a 1987 movie that people are really loving in 2020.
For that piece, I got to talk to a very special California lady I like to call Cher.
Do you believe in of. Some said, I don't actually like to call her share. It feels way too familiar like Santa Claus, Nick, but she is Cher and that is why she calls herself. So that's what I called her. She called me babe.
At one point at least, I can't remember a time when I didn't have at least some awareness of who share was.
If you've never heard of share your line. And this movie Moonstruck, as good as it is, really should have been kind of a line on her very impressive resume. It came out three years ago. It's not an anniversary. It's a little dated in many ways, but for some reason, people are making a beeline for it.
What the hell happened to you? I really don't know where to start. Moonstruck is a movie about a woman named Loretta Castellini, played by Cher against everything is different.
Who lives that home in Brooklyn with her parents? The movie follows a couple very eventful days in her otherwise extremely ordinary life.
You've got a love bite on your neck. She's coming back this morning. What's the matter with you? Your life's going down the toilet. Cover up, that damn thing. Come on, put some makeup on right now. OK, fine. Hurry up.
And I think everyone experiencing the deprivations of 20/20 can find something to cling to or be drawn to in this movie. If you haven't been able to see your family for a long time, you get these really warm, comforting scenes of Loretta at home with her parents and her grandfather and seeing her aunt and uncle.
If you are trapped at home with your family, you get to see Loretta, leave her family behind for a glamorous night on the town.
If you miss shopping, Loretta buys new shoes. They're red. They sparkle. If you like me, miss free bread at restaurants, there are delicious scenes of the characters going to a little neighborhood Italian restaurant where they see other couples having arguments there and getting proposed to their which is all I want from a restaurant experience, free bread and a little bit of drama.
I'll say no.
So at first glance, people might be wondering why a share a movie from 1987 seems to be having a sudden resurgence in the midst of a pandemic.
But I think if and when you watch Moonstruck again, which you really should treat yourself to doing, they say there's nothing new under the sun.
It will all make sense because there is just so much comforting normalcy there. But under the moon, that's another story you've got to rest your head on. Cher, Nicolas Cage in a Norman Jouissance film about a. So here's my piece. Share Everlasting read by Kirstyn Potter. 3M is using science and innovation to help the world respond to covid-19 and taking action to support communities in the fight. Since the outbreak, 3M has responded with cash and product donations, including surgical masks, hand sanitizer and respirators through local and global aid partners.
In addition, 3M is on track to produce two billion respirators globally by the end of 2020. Learn how else 3M is helping the world respond to covid-19. Go to 3M dot com slash covid. 3M Science Applied to life. Movies, ordinarily, vehicles to transport us out of our quotidian existence became in 2020 the means to escape from our new science fiction reality.
It might be the first time ever that the entertainment industry can justify the public broadcast of what is essentially a glitzy employees of the year ceremony, the Academy Awards.
Since the spring film stars have directly affected public health, their fine work gave people a reason to stay inside for collectively billions of hours, staring at the TV to properly embrace their cinematic achievements. However, the academy should acknowledge the unmooring from time that has become a fact of life this year. They should honor not only recent releases but all the movies that sustained us. If they did, Cher would surely be a favorite to win her second Oscar for her performance in 1987, Moonstruck.
A stay at home orders began creeping inward from the coasts in March. People were drawn with tidal force to moonstruck. Search data from Google Trends indicate interest in the film remained unusually robust throughout 2020 compared with the waxing and waning search cycles of previous years. In April, New York magazine's entertainment website Vulture Anointed Moonstruck, the Morbid Spagetti rom com we all need right now. The movie trended on Twitter on a fluke Wednesday in June. By the time summer hit, the Criterion Collection was working to release a digitally restored edition of Moonstruck.
In time for the holidays.
The impromptu collective return to Moonstruck felt a bit like the moments of happenstance the movie portrays. So enchantingly without relying on the explicitly supernatural, it conveys a feeling of magic like sparks cast into winter darkness by a staticky blanket.
Here is what happens over the course of the four day period depicted in the film, a 37 year old widowed Brooklyn bookkeeper, Loretta Castellini, played by Cher, accepts a proposal of marriage from her unexceptional boyfriend, sees him off on a plane to Italy to visit.
His dying mother is surprised to learn he has a brother, inadvertently causes that brother to threaten suicide in the bakery where he lost his hand, makes a steak, falls in love with the brother, receives a makeover, goes to the opera for the first time, discovers that her father is having an affair, kicks the can, calls off her engagement and accepts a new proposal of marriage.
All normal New York stuff for anyone who has ever lived there. Even those who have not are liable to be overcome with nostalgia for a version of the city they might have known.
The film constructs scenes of normalcy with a fetishists care, the semi-permeable privacy of a table for two in a crowded restaurant, the afternoon devouring nature of insignificant errands, the frequent entrances and exits of extended relations braided into and among one another's days.
All are drawn with fastidious accuracy while the plot unfolds at a pleasingly bustling clip. That itself is another concept that evaporated as the coronavirus transmogrified time into a slow stretching taffy.
The most realistic aspect of all is, improbably, Cher, who slips into the role of Lorretta with such quiet efficiency that certain moments a scene in which she buys 11 dollars, 99 cents worth of champagne, for instance, play almost like documentary footage to appreciate the scale of the central miracle of this film, the Lorretta cast t of Cher.
A person must, if possible, talk to share who is even more like herself than you imagine. One afternoon in November, amid abundant pillows, the colors of sand at every angle of the sun, she sat long and regal. In her home in Malibu, her center parted black hair, water falling over each shoulder in exactly the way Cher's hair does.
She had agreed to zoom about her performance in Moonstruck for an amount of time under two hours. You know what, guys? She said, magnanimously, implying a group of people, I don't know, two hours worth of the movie. She was warm and funny. And despite being indoors, neither removed nor acknowledged, stupendous mirrored aviator shades that obscured roughly one quarter of her face.
She explained how she was cajoled by the kids on Twitter into personally rescuing one particular elephant from a crumbling Pakistani zoo, an undertaking she described as very complicated and very expensive.
While being visibly thrilled to help accomplish it, she said things like, It's a stupid story. Self-deprecating laugh, shrug.
Bob Geldof and I were in Qatar by the time she made Moonstruck at age 40. Cher, who earned with her partner Sonny Bono, her first number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 at age 19, had been famous for half her life. She had scored a dozen top ten hits. She had starred in three permutations of her own popular television variety show. She had come back after going and then come back again, but not for the last time.
She had had a successful Las Vegas residency.
She had starred in multiple critically acclaimed films and been vetted at Cannes. She had only one name and everyone knew whom you meant when you said it.
Her portrayal of a plain Jane working class woman who lives with her parents should have been about as distracting as Rodeo Drive standing in for the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. But this is what you see when you watch Moonstruck, a woman who bears a passing resemblance to share but is clearly not her. Lorretta Castellini is not a wallflower.
Exactly more like a dandelion, no muss, no fuss, no inclinations or aspirations to reinvent herself as another glass of bloom, neither choosy about the bee that pollinates her, nor desperate to be pollinated, at least until she meets Nicolas Cage's character.
Not showy but not timid either. Share the performer in this metaphor would be something like a dancing lady orchid. You see a woman who talks with her hands in a way entirely different from Cher, who also talks with her hands. Loretta's hands grab her words by the lapel, are centimetres away from strangling them.
Chairs, hands run through her words like water.
You see a New Yorker the way New Yorkers are in real life, polite until threatened or delayed, unflappable in the face of screaming strangers.
Brisk, sentimental, assumed to be Italian. Loretta actually is Italian, Cher is not. The chasm between Loretta and Cher was the point for her, Dowdy was not a state of being Cher experienced outside major film productions where costumes and hair and makeup artists were hired for the unnatural task of dressing Cher down.
In an interview published in 1987 in the Los Angeles Times, chair from the set of Moonstruck explained that she preferred playing the head down, gray haired prematch over Loretta to the carefree, raven dressed, prancing version immortalized on the film's poster. The freedom is not interesting to me because that's something I know usually, she said.
Moonstruck is special, Cher said. Decades later, over Zoome. It's when everything is right and I can look back. I'm actually looking outside right now, she clarified, her head angled toward an unseen window. But I can look back and remember so many moments of it, and it was because we were always together and we really got along, really, really got along. We just loved each other.
I remember being in the old house where we all were, she said, recollecting the federal style brownstone on Cranberry Street in Brooklyn Heights that served as the Castellini family residence. While most of the pictures interior scenes were filmed in Toronto, a handful were shot on location.
In New York, it was loaded with not horrible old smells, but it was it was old. It just had that feeling of being old.
Like in another time, like in the 1930s turn of the century, shares contemplative expression and ramrods sedentary posture gave her the aura of a Byzantine icon as she searched for her words. She was like someone determined to do justice to a dream. You know, sometimes old house smell is just yucky. Get me out of here. This was an old house smell that you thought I could have been brought up in this house and been very happy. Although Cher has not seen the film in years, she spoke of Moonstruck as fondly as any fan, her effusive and encyclopedic assessments embraced everyone from Cage.
There was no one for this film but Nicki to not a despot Covic, whose delivery of a handful of lines is imprinted in Cher's memory. I love the little girl that played Chrissy. She was really good. She didn't know if Feodor chill up in Junior, who played her grandfather smoked a cigar, but she remembered that he did.
She recalled the crispy, cold feeling smell of the winter air when Loretta kicked the can down the street and the good warm bread smell of the bakery where Ronnie Temeraire lost his hand. When people on Twitter send share questions or even just observations about the film, she often writes back in the lively, idiosyncratic style that has earned her a cult following among younger generations who missed the offline decades of share. This is how we learned that during the scene when Loretta and Ronnie attended La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera House, there was no opera.
But Norman Jouissance, the director, described it magnificently and music.
Slaid also that Cher's boyfriend at the time, a bagel maker from Queens named Robert Cavaletti, whom she met at a Manhattan club on her fortieth birthday, was off camera watching eye emoji. Nikkie, that would be Cage. At the house on Cranberry Street, Cher said the cast never felt like we were acting. She described the group passing time in and out of the way den before shooting. We would be studying our lines, but we'd be talking and whatever, and she began to laugh.
Then we would get up from where we were and go and sit down and do the same thing just with the lines, the emotional notes of moonstruck or operatic, but the specificity of characters, their quirks that come across not as quirky but as evidence of their longer and deeper lives beyond the confines of the movie satisfies a pandemic driven craving for the company of strangers.
The film screenwriter John Patrick Shanley is due much credit here.
Loretta's fiancee is attached to his pinkie ring to a degree that is nettlesome the more so because it is not unrealistic.
The gestures Cher makes when Loretta speaks look uncannily like one someone is really making in real life. I asked her whose gestures they were.
Robert had certain hand gestures and so did Julie, so I just picked them up, Chair said. Julie was Boasso, the native Brooklynite who played Loretta's Aunt Rita, KPMG and also served as cast dialogue coach. Robert was Kamalesh, her boyfriend. Like Robert was trying to teach me how to say Theodore, Cher said. But when he would say Thierer, he'd say she made a short poem up outward motion with her hand, as if presenting the word Theodore.
Before the film was released to the public, the cast did something that for the time being, most people can do only in dreams, congregated at a theater in New York City to watch it.
And we love it. We just love it, Cher said, or more like sang. And we're just all so happy. And we don't think it's going to make very much money. But we are proud. We're very proud of it. Very, very proud. Very proud. MGM, she recalled with colorful language, was less enamored, the studio feared the movie had no obvious audience. And I thought some more Technicolor language here, but I'm proud of it anyway.
I don't care if no one goes to see it, so they just shelve it. And then a movie comes out for Christmas, but it just isn't good. And they well share revised. I don't know if it's good or not, but it fell out of the theaters right away and the only thing they had was Moonstruck.
The film that may or may not have been good was the other romantic comedy MGM, released on December 16th, 1987, Overboard, starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Moonstruck opened in two small theaters in Manhattan and swiftly found its people. Before long, Cher said it was spreading across multiplex screens like a forest fire.
It's unabashed earnestness may have acted as an accelerant when Lorretta, a native New Yorker, pops her head into Ronnie's apartment to ask, Where's the Met?
There was no trace of flirty rom coms, sheepishness in her voice, only bona fide New York crabbiness and having to go there.
Moonstruck is a film that never winks at its audience. It seizes them in a firm embrace, kisses them on both cheeks and forces them to sit down and eat something. As a result, people hold back tightly to it. Whether they first encountered it in the theater as a VA chess tape on Hulu or on DVD coming across it is like finding a dollar on the sidewalk. Look at the performances, Cher said the performances are great, there's not a weak performance in that, although she said behind her shades.
I never think I'm doing a good job. When pressed, even Cher was forced to admit that her performance in a scene when Loretta informs her father of her impending marriage plans was quite nice. She liked the distracted way she played with the foil of a champagne bottle. The New York City Lorretta inhabits resembles in coronavirus times something fantastical, a sprawling network of family and strangers to hug and kiss and yell at.
It's a comforting place to visit however you can. Returning there in her memory, share recounted an incident from early in the film's run when her New York overlapped with Loretta's, she and her boyfriend had taken a guest to see the movie in a crowded theater.
You know, when I put my foot out of the car, Cher asked, she was referring to a shot in which the camera pans up from her delicate ankle to reveal Lorretta stepping out of a taxicab at Lincoln Center. This man in front of me. He went, oh, God, she's got a long, skinny foot. And I went chair clutched her face luminous, even after being broken down into a string of ones and zeros and reconstituted as pixels in a zoom meeting.
Oh, my God, I do. How mean of him to say that when I'm sitting right behind him, even though he doesn't know it? She still has the jeweled red heels that cradled the long skinny foot so bewitchingly on screen, the same pair she wore to kick a can in Brooklyn Heights on the Crispi cold smelling day, they are one of the few mementos she took from the set.
I didn't realize at that time you were supposed to keep things, she said. I would have kept more. This was recorded by autumn. Autumn is an app you can download to listen to lots of audio stories from publishers such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and The Atlantic.
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