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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Moonstruck (1987)

First, a confession. I own Moonstruck without ever having seen in before this viewing. I bought it on blind faith because John Patrick Shanley (the screenwriter) can do no wrong in my book and people told me I'd love it. I've pretended to have watched it because I was embarrassed that I never had. It's a Shanley! It's Cher!! People stare at the moon a whole lot! That's like 90% of my life right there. I'm so glad I finally watched it.


Shanley wrote and directed my favorite movie, Joe Versus the Volcano, and his achingly romantic/deeply quirky wheelhouse is where I live my life. I thought throughout Moonstruck, "I wish JPS would write my life's dialogue" but truly, I'm not that far off. I love how off beat his dialogue is. It's awkward and odd and so human (but better). I wish Shanley would have directed Moonstruck though. The director seemed to not have total faith in the magical realism of JPS's writing and tried too hard to ground the setting. Clearly I love Joe Versus the Volcano, but I wanted Moonstruck's action to be pushed a little further over the top like in Joe. A small nitpick - I thoroughly enjoyed this film.


I can't remember the last time I went into a movie cold. Literally all I knew was 1)the screen writer 2)CHER 3) Nic Cage 4)Moooon 5)Something about falling in love with the fiancé's brother. I guess that's plenty but the real swoon-worthiness of this movie is the world of it. Loretta and Ronny mean so little without her parents, her aunt & uncle, the sad girl in love with Ronny, the couple running the liquor store! All those layers. Oh! And John Mahoney's lovely and too short arc. With all of Nic Cage's heightened speeches about love, the earthy charm of John Mahoney was so welcome and playing opposite Olympia Dukakis (who owns every frame she's in) - heaven!


There was also so much more opera than I was expecting. A very pleasant surprise. And using Puccini made all the sense to me. Puccini writes my favorite scores but the librettos are some of my least favorites. Just toooo much. I'm struggling to articulate why, but that dichotomy rings true in the story Moonstruck is telling about love. It's dreamy and easy to get swept up in but it's not perfect and it can get ugly and... I don't know. This is why I'm not a writer. But I felt that connection in my soul.


I'm having big Cher feelings after this. I'm always amazed that a woman who is known (and too often maligned) for her muchness can play so straight and plain. I thought she was lovely in her conservative outfits and graying hair. I thought she was stunning (in a surprisingly relatable way) after her "makeover." I found myself wishing my hair was enormous again. A thought I haven't had... ever before.


(I need those earrings and that lip color.)


Acrylic and pyrography on balsa.




Takeaways:

-Hearing the cadence of "A bride without a head. A wolf without a foot." made me think of heraldry for some reason. That those images would grace Loretta and Ronny's family crest. It turned out a little more tarot card-y which I am not mad about.

-I tried a bunch of different media to stain the wood and learned a lot! It wasn't exactly what I was going for but learning is always the goal.

-I had the thought to do this in another linocut but talked myself out of it when I considered writing "Ti Amo" because I didn't want to do it backwards haha. I think this piece is going on my "to try again" list and I'll do it in lino.

-Not knowing this movie, I had no idea what I'd do for it. I had the heraldry thought (I've always been fascinated by heraldic imagery) but dismissed it as too weird. I couldn't come up with anything else and when I said "fuck it" and gave in to the heraldry, it went so quickly. People may not understand it but it came from some place inside of me and the work is so easy when I give in to those impulses. And I'm writing it here to reinforce it in my brain.

-I listened to one of my favorite podcasts' (Why Are Dads?) episode covering Moonstruck while I did the woodburning and that was a lovely experience. I like the idea of Loretta being a Taurus (like me).



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