' ' Cinema Romantico: Ray of Light

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Ray of Light

With “Willow” (1988), George Lucas, who both conceived the story and produced, a la “Return of the Jedi”, copied his own “Star Wars” moves by concocting a pastiche of various movie and literature references, mimicking both the story of Moses from Bible and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and filtering it through a sort of sword and sorcerer-ish “Lord of the Rings” adventure. The one thing it did not have much of, however, was romance.

There was a love story, yes, between the swordsman extraordinaire Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) and Sorsha (Joanne Whalley), who switches sides from evil to good, despite being the evil queen’s daughter, after some opposites attract business. This is a PG movie, though, mostly for kids and so even if Lucas could not help but cram in a few film critic potshots – villainous General, ahem, Kael and a two-headed monster named, cough, cough Eborsisk – that went over this ten year old’s head, he tamped down any sense of steam between Madmartigan and Sorsha. And that’s a shame. Because after reading the “Willow” chapter in Kilmer’s memoir “I’ll Be Your Huckleberry” (see: yesterday’s post), I did what anyone reading this memoir in 2020 would do – I googled “KILMER WHALLEY WILLOW.” I found this image.

In the last few years I have, at the behest of My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife, been watching the Bravo reality cooking competition “Top Chef” even though my gastronomic knowledge is on par with Jack in “Sideways” listening to Miles espouse the finer points of rosé – “When do we drink it?” But even if the sincere and oft-insightful devotion to real culinary craft occasionally runs aground on the inherent aggravating conventions of the reality TV format, I enjoy the show, primarily due to the entertaining critical theater of co-hosts Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio. The moments when in a single bite of food Tom’s expression lays bare its great failure crack me up, man. And Tom has something of a “Top Chef” spinoff called “What Would Tom Do?”

There Tom takes the same dish that a chef contestant failed to pull off and reimagines it as his own. And though I generally believe a good movie reviewing rule of thumb is not to imagine how you would make the movie but merely appraise the movie as-is, well, this is not a movie review. Besides, “Willow” is, like, 30 years old. It was 12th at the box office in 1988. “Willow” made hay. “Willow” is going to be fine. And while I understand I’m taking my life into my own hands by asking What Would Nick Do? about a movie that made harsh film critic jokes…did you see that photo up above? WHAT WERE THEY DOING? What would Nick do? Nick would scrap all that For the Kids junk. Nick would ditch Willow entirely, rename it Madmartigan & Sorsha, upgrade from PG to NC-17, and go full Harlequin Romance. It might have finished 117th at the box office instead of 12th, but the cult of “Madmartigan & Sorsha” would still be a talking about it a whole lot more, it and its ravishing aesthetic, more than anyone presently is talking about actual “Willow.”


Unknown said...

I'd also take a Harlequin Romance version of Heat, focused on Chris and Charlene's tortured love.

Nick Prigge said...

Bring me my green light!