Cher: The Film Collection
Cher: The Film Collection contains Cher’s MGM-released movies. There is no doubt this box set was released in time to capitalize on her new movie Burlesque. The features in this box set are pretty light. Plainly said Cher: The Film Collection works best as a highlight of her film career, since the special features are pretty spare.
The DVD set contains six films and is packaged in two keepsake cases. The first film is Good Times (1967), which is Sonny & Cher’s only movie together. The movie chronicles Sonny and Cher (playing themselves) attempting to make their first movie together and going through a variety of genres to get there. The movie itself is not very good; pretty much all of the jokes and skits fall flat. Interestingly enough, this was the first movie directed by William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist), who would shortly go on to direct much better pictures. The next movie is Chastity (1969), which was written and produced by Sonny and stars Cher as an early twenty-something runaway. Again the movie is not very good but it does show off a bit of Cher’s dramatic talent, and that she can carry a movie, if given better material.
Next up are Silkwood (1983) and Moonstruck (1987), which are easily the two best films in the set. Silkwood stars Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, and of course, Cher. It tells the real-life tale of Karen Silkwood, a whistle-blower at a corrupt nuclear plutonium facility in Oklahoma, who died in a car crash under mysterious circumstances. Streep stars in the title role while Cher plays her lesbian housemate named Dolly. It was Cher’s first Academy Award nomination. Four years later she would win an Oscar for Best Actress as a romantically repressed Italian-American accountant in Moonstruck. Moonstruck is both funny and charming, and also features a strong supporting cast. Mermaids (1990) is about an eccentric family, in which Cher plays the mother, and is harmless enough. Tea with Mussolini (1999) proves rather trying, in spite of its inclusion of several notable English actresses.
Cher: The Film Collection is pretty light in terms of special features. Each disc has a trailer for the film, with the exception of Good Times. Moonstruck is the only film in the set to contain any additional content. The audio commentary features director Norman Jewison, screenwriter John Patrick Shanley, and Cher. All three were recorded separately. Jewison is animated and informative about the themes, his approach to the film and the various symbols. Shanley is a bit more dry, but still informative and interesting; naturally he mostly focuses on the characters and their dialogue. Cher mentions a few things about her process and what she does to get into her character. There are three other video features on the disc, the first is Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family which goes into depth about the making of the film. Much of the information is covered in the audio commentary but there is some interesting rehearsal footage edited between the talking head parts. Pastas to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food gives a tour of various Italian restaurants found around Little Italy, and Music of Moonstruck again covers information already mentioned in the audio commentary.
The image and sound are standard. There were no noticeable compression artifacts found on any of the discs but there was some aliasing during the special features for Moonstruck. Both Chastity and Tea with Mussolini feature widescreen and full screen on either side of the discs. Audio-wise, the first three films are all in mono with English French and Spanish subtitles. Moonstruck is again the most featured disc, with English 5.1 dolby digital, French Dolby Surround, and Spanish Mono. Mermaids is in English stereo, French Stereo, Spanish Mono and has French and Spanish subtitles. Tea with Mussolini has English 5.1 dolby digital and French Stereo, with English and French subtitles.
While it may lack one or two of her essential films (notably Mask and The Witches of Eastwick, neither of which were produced by MGM), Cher: The Film Collection works in the broader sense to acquaint the novice with Cher’s movies, even if lacks sufficient content that would otherwise provide more insight into her career.
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