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Gary Barlettano

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SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Gary Barlettano » Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:47 pm

OK, guys, it's Friday and here's a bit from the San Francisco Chronicle which may amuse:

Top Ten Wine Movies
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Howie Hart » Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:09 pm

Lots of Claude Rains and Ingrid Bergman. :)
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Mark Lipton » Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:11 pm

Gary Barlettano wrote:OK, guys, it's Friday and here's a bit from the San Francisco Chronicle which may amuse:

Top Ten Wine Movies


Pffft. A pretty fluffy list, but what to expect from the Comical? "Sideways" a wine movie? Sheesh! Only if one counts the irony of Miles dissing Merlot and Cab Franc while treasuring a Cheval Blanc. And where's "Babette's Feast"? At least wine there had a starring role, unlike its character acter status in a lot of their choices.

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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Hoke » Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:35 pm

Well, when you got W. Blake Gray as movie critic, wine critic and the guy who picks the list....whaddya expect, Gary.

Good call on Babette's Feast too. I had the same response when I read the list. I like Casablanca...a lot...but I never thought of it as a wine movie. Maybe a bar movie, but never a wine movie.
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Manuel Camblor » Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:40 pm

"Mondovino" (2004): This plodding, anti-American wine documentary excited French audiences and angered some interview subjects who felt misled. If you're not a total wine geek, it's long and boring.


A very interesting, seemingly perversely Bush-inspired take on Mondovino. Being antiglobalization is being "anti-American"?

The movie may be many things, yes, but I think it deserves a much more incisive analysis than that, particularly because, good or bad, it is 100% a "Wine Movie". This dismissal, and the whole "anti-American" thing makes the Chronicle writer look like an imbecile.
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Peter May » Fri Jun 23, 2006 4:13 pm

Mark Lipton wrote: "Sideways" a wine movie? Sheesh! Only if one counts the irony of Miles dissing Merlot and Cab Franc while treasuring a Cheval Blanc.


Set in picturesque winelands about someone chasing the wine of his dreams, and with a spellbinding monologue about wine (by Maya) and you don't count it a wine movie?

Yet you didn't object to the inclusion of the Muppet movie on the list ....
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Manuel Camblor » Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:17 pm

Peter May wrote:
Set in picturesque winelands about someone chasing the wine of his dreams, and with a spellbinding monologue about wine (by Maya) and you don't count it a wine movie?


Well, it's set someplace in California, where I don't think they actually make real wine these days. And this Maya business... I asusme you're talking about Virginia Madsen... She was talking about wine??? I couldn't tell. I was to fixated on her. She, like fine real wine, has aged gorgeously.

Of course, I was upset that this person didn't mention one of Antonio Banderas' many little awful films that couldn't, Never Talk to Strangers. I believe that, in it, he seduces Rebecca de Mornay with a bottle of La Tâche... Or something. WOuld have made more sense than The Muppet Movie...
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Randy Buckner » Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:38 pm

Set in picturesque winelands about someone chasing the wine of his dreams, and with a spellbinding monologue about wine (by Maya) and you don't count it a wine movie?


It's number one on my list -- loved it -- both times I watched it.
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Hoke » Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:54 pm

one of Antonio Banderas' many little awful films that couldn't,


Yup. Few move stars have made as many bad films as the dashing Antonio B. :)
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:04 pm

Manuel Camblor wrote:This dismissal, and the whole "anti-American" thing makes the Chronicle writer look like an imbecile.


"Makes him look?" Do you think the Chronicle writer needed any help doing what obviously came naturally?
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Mark Lipton » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:45 pm

Peter May wrote:
Mark Lipton wrote: Set in picturesque winelands about someone chasing the wine of his dreams, and with a spellbinding monologue about wine (by Maya) and you don't count it a wine movie?


There are some wonderful monologues about politics in "Casablanca," yet I consider it no more a political film than I do a wine film. Actually, aside from Mondovino and "this Earth is Mine", I don't think that there's a movie on that list that I do consider a wine film (granted, Sideways comes closer than most). To me, "Sideways" is a movie about two middle-aged losers on a road trip through wine country. Wine is basically a backdrop to the story. YMMV of course.

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Gary Barlettano

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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Gary Barlettano » Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:11 pm

Mark Lipton wrote: To me, "Sideways" is a movie about two middle-aged losers on a road trip through wine country. Wine is basically a backdrop to the story. YMMV of course.


I kind of viewed Sideways as belonging cinematically to the genre of the Erziehungsroman or the Bildungsroman. The theme is basically the development of the two very disparate main characters who go on a trip together not unlike the novels about wandering apprentices etc. One central motif is wine. Indeed all of the main characters are seen in the reflection of the wine glass. How do these four relate to wine? What do we learn about them through their relationship to wine? Does this wine-soaked roadtrip initiate changes or learning in the characters? I agree that Sideways is not a movie about wine per se, but I'd like to suggest that wine is much more than a backdrop.

OK, now that was much too serious for a Friday afternoon ...
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Manuel Camblor » Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:32 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Manuel Camblor wrote:This dismissal, and the whole "anti-American" thing makes the Chronicle writer look like an imbecile.


"Makes him look?" Do you think the Chronicle writer needed any help doing what obviously came naturally?


Well, in a very uncharacteristic move on my part, I decided to give the author of the article the benefit of the doubt. Was feeling magnanimous today...
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Dave Erickson » Fri Jun 23, 2006 10:36 pm

I would just like to take this opportunity to say that I found "Sideways" a nasty little movie about nasty little people, and am mystified that anyone would sit still to watch two jerks being jerks for two hours and four minutes.

Regarding the "no merlot" tantrum and the Cheval Blanc episode: The insufferably correct will recall that the Cheval cepage is more than half Cabernet Franc.

The Chronicle writer's confusion of "globalization" with "Americanization" is common, and in any event quite possibly accurate. The Mondavis come across as grasping creeps, James Suckling is so compromised he doesn't even realize how corrupt he really is, and Robert Parker all but dresses himself in the Red, White, & Blue (Anybody count how many times in the movie he begins a sentence with "As an American..."?)

So no wonder American audiences consider "Mondovino" an attack on American influence in the wine industry. They're right, it is an attack. And a fully justified one, in my opinion. But then I'm clearly a crank, so who cares? :mrgreen:
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Hoke » Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:33 pm

Dave:

Everyone sees things a little differently ('at's why we react in differing ways to the same wine), so I'll just say that I think you're being a bit harsh on the movie. If you've seen other things the director has done, and understood his particular viewpoint on human nature, I think you might be more forgiving (or, maybe not :) )

After I saw Sideways I rented the About Schmidt dvd. I found they were much the same film. Basically he took some sad sacks, some stunted, pitiable guys (Schmidt in one and the two bozos in the other) who were almost overwhelmed with personal failure, and he showed them going through the journey they had to go through to become more functional human beings.

Everybody in Sideways was crippled, Dave. Everybody. Even Maya (earth mother; savior goddess). But if you juxtapose the two couples, you'll see that with one couple they continued to make (both of them, mind you, not just Jack) bad choices destined to keep them from doing better. You might have liked the female more than Jack...but is she in any way an admirable character when you look at her objectively? How many smart decisions has she made...versus how many shortsighted, spur of the moment, immediate pleasure only and hang the consequences decision (like, say, jumping into bed with Jack and "falling in love" within a few minutes)?

Miles is certainly no more admirable than Jack (if not perhaps a bit more intelligent; or at least intelligent enough to be depressed about what a poor sad schmuck he is). But by the end of the film, he has, at least in part, made an effort to become a better (and hopefully happier) person. He's taken an action to improve himself, primarily by reaching out and embracing another person with positive intent, not just for self gratification or ego.

As with any story, it's not how the people start, it's how they end up when the journey is over. Jack is, if anything, sadder than at the beginning. But Miles has at least established the hope of being a better person.

The director's problem, I think, is that he was too good at the part where he made the characters despicable. Then he had too much to overcome to make us feel positive about the guys.
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Manuel Camblor » Sat Jun 24, 2006 12:49 am

Damn, Hoke, all this and nothing to say about Mondovino? :twisted:

I have to time that blasted film. I'm wondering how much screentime the Mondavis, Parker, Suckling and (because Dave forgot) the Staglin people get onscreen as putative representatives of America vis-à-vis what Michel Rolland, the Mouton people, the whole Italian bunch or Arnaldo Etchart get as representatives of the globalizing, homogenizing evils of the wine world get. Leave it to the Americans to think it's all about them...
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Dave Erickson » Sat Jun 24, 2006 10:51 am

Manuel Camblor wrote:Damn, Hoke, all this and nothing to say about Mondovino? :twisted:

I have to time that blasted film. I'm wondering how much screentime the Mondavis, Parker, Suckling and (because Dave forgot) the Staglin people get onscreen as putative representatives of America vis-à-vis what Michel Rolland, the Mouton people, the whole Italian bunch or Arnaldo Etchart get as representatives of the globalizing, homogenizing evils of the wine world get. Leave it to the Americans to think it's all about them...


Oh, yes, the Staglins and their tee-shirts. What a pair. Etchart is definitely gruesome, the Italians are right out of a bad soap opera...ah, don't get me started again. And you are completely correct: There's enough bad behaviour in this film to cover several continents (almost forgot the Peron fans...).

Hoke: I take your point, and I appreciate your going to such lengths to make it. I still doubt the value of expending all that energy just to offer the hope that Miles might be a better person, but then I'm an American and unused to the idea of moral improvement in a minor key.

:wink:
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Robin Garr » Sat Jun 24, 2006 11:05 am

Dave Erickson wrote:There's enough bad behaviour in this film to cover several continents (almost forgot the Peron fans...).


Jumping a little belatedly into this excellent topic, I've got to chime in with a vote against the "anti-American" interpretation. It seems to me that if any one individual stands tall as <i>the</i> most savagely abused throughout, it's the very French Michel Rolland. As for Parker, I thought he got off rather gently. If I were one of the "human shields," I think I'd be mostly irritated that he was treated as such a relatively minor character of no real importance in the greater scheme of things. Suckling, of course, parodied himself so deliciously that Nossiter didn't need to.

I still doubt the value of expending all that energy just to offer the hope that Miles might be a better person


After watching <i>Sideways</i>, I was curious enough about Payne to watch several of his other films: <I>About Schmidt, Citizen Ruth</i> and <i>Election</i>. It seems to me, as Hoke said of <I>About Schmidt</i>, that all of Payne's films share a common form: He focuses on very flawed and usually unpleasant individuals, involves you in their lives and somehow makes you begin to care about what happens to them, even though you may not really <i>like</i> them. From a creative perspective, I've got to admire that.
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by Manuel Camblor » Sat Jun 24, 2006 12:33 pm

I thought the Staglins were absolutely hilarious. All that was needed to make their portion of Mondovino into one of those VH1 "Reality Shows" was the insertion of Paris Hilton.

Rolland was a tyical comic-book villain.

Okay, okay... So I'm starting to think that maybe Mondovino was not a "wine movie" at all, but rather a sublime black comedy. I think I like that reading better... :)
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by TimMc » Sat Jun 24, 2006 10:58 pm

"Casa Blanca"...?


It is my all time favorite movie, but to be honest, there seems to be more focus on hard liquor than on wine in this movie.

After Bogie drinks way too much of the hard stuff he utters the now famous line: "Play it Sam....if she can take it, I can take it. PLAY IT!"



Not a wine movie, IMHO.
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Re: SF Chronicle: Top 10 Wine Movies

by TimMc » Sat Jun 24, 2006 11:51 pm

Then again...I suppose some will say it is. :wink:

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