Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean 1982 An adaptation of Ed Graczyk’s play as directed on Broadway by Robert Altman. Directed by Robert Altman. The 1975 reunion of an all female James Dean Fan Club at a Woolworth’s five-and-dime in a small Texas town. (The store is 62 miles away from Marfa, where Dean filmed Giant in 1955.) Flashbacks take the ladies back 20 years and up to the present with the appearance of one who’s had a sex change and a car stolen by another’s son who bears their idol’s name.
Altman uses his freewheeling film technique so everything depends on the company’s conviction. A little film evoking other times, places, sensibilities. With Cher, Sandy Dennis, Karen Black, Sudie Bond, Marta Heflin, Kathy Bates. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Mask 1985 Based on the life and early death of Roy L. “Rocky” Dennis who had craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, an extremely rare disorder known commonly as lionitis due to the disfiguring enlargements. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. California 1978. Rocky Dennis (Eric Stoltz) is accepted by those who know and love him – his druggy mother Florence/ ”Rusty” (Cher), her boyfriend, Gar (Sam Elliott), members of the biker gang (the Turks), to which the couple belong, and his grandparents, Evelyn and Abe Steinberg (Estelle Getty and Richard Dysart).
Rusty fights for Rocky to have as normal a life as possible despite a prognosis of almost imminent death. The disease doesn’t affect his sharp mind. He manages to get past peers’ awkwardness with humor and intelligence to do well in school. Working at a camp for the blind, the boy falls in love with a pretty blonde who has no idea what he looks like and is drawn to him in kind. The end is inevitable; the journey moving and original. Rent on Netflix.
Moonstruck 1987 Directed by Norman Jewison. Terrific film. Fresh; well produced on all fronts. Thirty-seven-year-old Loretta Castorini (Cher) an Italian-American widow, lives with her extended, underfoot family in a large Brooklyn Heights house: her father Cosmo (Vincent Gardina), mother Rose (Olympia Dukakis), and paternal grandfather (Feodor Chaliapin, Jr.). Loretta has been dating Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello) for years. At last he agrees to go see his mother in Italy without whose blessing he feels he can’t marry. Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny to the wedding.
Loretta and Ronny (Nicholas Cage – marvelous) clash with the kind of movie passion that can only end up in bed. Wracked with guilt yet inexorably drawn, she transforms herself. The two are bound. Meanwhile, under a full moon, Rose meets a nice single man (in passing), and Loretta discovers her father’s affair with Mona (Anita Gillette). Then Johnny returns. Untangling is raucous, warm, and fun. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Witches of Eastwick 1987 Based on the John Updike novel. Directed by George Miller. Lavishly produced and great fun. Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer are independent, single women BFFs in a picturesque Rhode Island town. All have lost their husbands. One night, at a weekly get together, they play at being witches and accidentally summon Daryl Van Horne = the devil (Jack Nicholson having the time of his life).
Daryl buys an old mansion in the now wary town, seduces and impregnates each woman in turn, and invites them to move in, away from prying eyes. Eventually the trio gloriously rebel. Also with a terrific Veronica Cartwright and Richard Jenkins. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Mermaids 1990 Based on the novel by Patty Dann. Directed by Richard Benjamin. A Dramady with quirky characters set in the early 1960s. Each time flamboyant Rachel Flax (Cher) ends a relationship, she packs up embarrassed daughters Kate (Christina Ricci) and Charlotte (Winona Ryder) and moves. We find them in Massachusetts. Obsessed with Catholicism, particularly sin, teenage Charlotte becomes involved with Joe Poretti (Michael Schoeffling), the 26-year-old caretaker of a next door convent. She’s so naive she visits an obstetrician after they kiss.
Meanwhile Rachel starts seeing sweet, local shoe store owner Lou Landsky (Bob Hoskins), who wants to marry her, but is not divorced. Relationships are volatile. Charlotte runs away, jealousy is misplaced, Joe and Charlotte have sex, Kate nearly drowns, reputations change, roles adjust, Rachel becomes a bit more maternal. Well written, well acted. Rent on Netflix.
Burlesque 2010 Directed by Steve Antin. Campy and clichéd, but musical numbers are worth the price of admission. Small town girl, Alice Marilyn “Ali” Rose (Christina Aguilera) moves to Los Angeles, fails every audition, and wanders into an upscale burlesque club where she’s captivated by onstage numbers. She does anything she can to stay around hoping Tess Scali (Cher), who owns the club with ex-husband Vince (Peter Gallagher), will audition her as a performer. Costumer Sean (Stanley Tucci) gives her good advice, bartender Jack (Cam Gigantet) falls for her. When a showgirl can’t perform, Ali finally gets her chance blowing them all away.
Tess decides to build a new show around Ali. Lead performer and drunk Nikki (Kristin Bell) tries to sabotage her, Vince tries to bed her – oh, and he’s attempting to sell the club out from under Tess. Everything works out of course, but really, you hafta see this place. It would pack them in. Cher accepted the supporting role because she wanted to sing in a film and thought this might be her last opportunity. Also with Alan Cumming, Eric Dane, Julianne Hough, and Diana Agron. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Silkwood, alas, can’t be found in steaming format.
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