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Peter May

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Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Peter May » Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:38 pm

I have just had to give up on Mondovino. It made me feel sick -- I've had to go out for a walk in the fresh air to try and clear my head and my feelings of nausea.

The constant moving of the camera, the repeated zooms, the pointing it at anything that moved made this film physically impossible for me to watch any more.

Whatever message Nossiter is trying to get over is lost to me because of the sheer amateurism, no not amateurism - badness - of the film making.

Apart from the jiggling camera, it is in bad need of pruning. Too many pointless shots and too many dogs. And what on earth was that first sequence picking coconuts in Brazil about?


(Can't blame amateurism - Shane Carruth shot his first movie 'Primer', telling its fantasically complicated story in 78 minutes, made a professional looking movie and he only shot a total of 80 minutes film.)
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Robin Garr » Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:50 pm

I find it intriguing, Peter, to see how differently people respond to Mondovino. Your response is certainly not unusual, and I respect it, but it's interesting that other viewers (including me, in general), weren't put off by Nossiter's "hand-held" technique. I did find that the dog theme wore thin for me, but I didn't object to the filming technique and took it as tongue-in-cheek intentional rather than amateurish.

To me, the underlying theme - the whole globalization/internationalization/rich-vs-poor theme was interesting and relevant to wine geeks. Of course it was polemic, but it made you think - and heck, I enjoyed Fahrenheit 9/11, too.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Paul B. » Tue Mar 28, 2006 1:00 pm

Indeed, it is very interesting to read different people's reactions to a given thing - be it movies, or even wine!

When it comes to Mondovino, we're on polar opposites. I found the amateurish filming to be a deliberate technique - almost as if to convey the opposite feeling to the "clipped, tight, corporate" paradigm that is the unstated prerequisite to acceptance. Frankly I welcomed the dog scenes too - it was like viewing the world through the eyes of a wandering bon-vivant; all that was left to do was to whistle a happy tune and have another glass of Malvasia.

I also think that the main contribution of the movie was to awaken an awareness of the creeping standardization of production and taste in the wine world - by showing the beauty of wine farming at its most down-to-earth (pun intended).

As soon as I saw the film, I knew I had to get my own DVD.
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I agree with Peter

by wrcstl » Tue Mar 28, 2006 1:18 pm

I too felt somewhat motion sick while watching Mondovino. I did on the other hand find some of the stuff rather interesting, particularly the comments from the older generation about how to make wine and that the younger generation was selling out. I did not think it put Parker in that bad a light and the only really offensive person was the consultant. Way too many dogs and not the movie it was hyped to be.
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Peter May

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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Peter May » Tue Mar 28, 2006 1:20 pm

Robin Garr wrote: Your response is certainly not unusual, and I respect it, but it's interesting that other viewers (including me, in general), weren't put off by Nossiter's "hand-held" technique. .


More than put off, Robin. I had to give up as I thought I was going to be sick. I still feel queasy.

I get the same feelings when looking at my son playing computer games where they are generating scenery at the edge as the character moves,.

It was more than hand held, he whipped the camera around, even at passing cars, planes etc.

It was like being on a fairground ride.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Peter May » Tue Mar 28, 2006 1:22 pm

Paul B. wrote: I found the amateurish filming to be a deliberate technique - almost as if to convey the opposite feeling to the "clipped, tight, corporate" paradigm that is the unstated prerequisite to acceptance. .


In that case, shouldn't he have filmed it professionally when he was talking to the guys who were making wine the old way?
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Paul B. » Tue Mar 28, 2006 2:00 pm

Peter May wrote:In that case, shouldn't he have filmed it professionally when he was talking to the guys who were making wine the old way?


I guess he could have, but the fact that he didn't is just fine by me.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Mar 28, 2006 4:21 pm

I liked the film, although there were a number of aspects of it that I liked less (the discussion of the politics of the Italian producers, for example).

But I think he raised two very important issues that haven't been talked about nearly enough, the effect of the modern consulting enologist on wine styles and the power of the specialist wine press. I am delighted that the movie has stirred up so much comment about these topics.

I thought the 'motif' of dogs was very funny.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Sue Courtney » Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:59 pm

Peter May wrote:I have just had to give up on Mondovino. It made me feel sick -- I've had to go out for a walk in the fresh air to try and clear my head and my feelings of nausea.

The constant moving of the camera, the repeated zooms, the pointing it at anything that moved made this film physically impossible for me to watch any more.

Whatever message Nossiter is trying to get over is lost to me because of the sheer amateurism, no not amateurism - badness - of the film making.

Apart from the jiggling camera, it is in bad need of pruning. Too many pointless shots and too many dogs. And what on earth was that first sequence picking coconuts in Brazil about?

On the big screen, I found the parts of the film rather nausaeating but I couldn't shut my eyes and listen to the interviews, as I had to read the subtitles. My favourite characters were Hubert and Alix de Montille.
Someone said it was better to watch on the small screen, the jerking, shaking, not so evident.
There's seems to be a cult developing about wine dogs. Someone has published a book called 'Wine Dogs - The Dogs of Australasian Wineries", now in its second volume as they find more dogs, and Kevin Judd, as photographer, is currently working on NZ dogs.
Cheers,
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by David Lole » Tue Mar 28, 2006 8:48 pm

I haven't seen Mondovino but one of my wine mates also said it was a "dog" of a movie. Now I understand the context of his reference! :roll: :wink:
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Peter Ruhrberg » Wed Mar 29, 2006 9:26 am

I recently watched in on DVD. Still felt slightly dizzy from it, and would have welcomed a more steady hand at the camera. Nossiter has a technique of getting the interviewees to make silly statments, which he then lovingly displays to his audience. Nothing I can get too exceited about (positively or negatively). I think he only managed to get to a more profound level of truthfulness on a small number of moments, such as when H. de Montille's daughter confessed she's fed up with the firm she's working for (while "Moscow" was not watching carfully enough). Or the disgust in the expression of the Italian retailer pointing at the price of Ornellaia. Or the pictures of the Argentianian wine grower's home - no words needed. Or the "life style" talk from the Staglins and Sucklings. It was the latter aspect, that I found more important than any Parker / Rolland bashing. The fact that wine has become a life style product with a global audience, which needs appropriate communication and marketing, so that the successful wines become recognisable brands which sell for prices completely unrelated to their cost of production (not to speak of the source of their production - terroir...). We are all in this game to some extent as participants of wine boards - let's be honest.

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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Florida Jim » Wed Mar 29, 2006 9:37 am

I loved it!
Of course, the story line is just one person's opinion and, when taken in context, its interesting but just that.
But the way the film was shot, the imagery, the allegory; all of it - I thought it exceptional.
Maybe I'm just dizzy to begin with.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Manuel Camblor » Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:00 am

While I agree that the camera-shake and the shoddy editing of the film can be extremely annoying, I have to say that, with repeated viewings, Mondovino gets better. Of course, some Dramamine washed down with any number of wines with Neal Rosenthal back labels helps matters along.

My main gripe with Nossiter is the repetitiveness of the film. You watch two hours of it and feel that, because he's so careful to state, restate and re-re-re-re-restate the positions of each subject, he never really gets past a scratching of the surface.

Perhaps, also, knowing there's a heap of other footage which could have been more useful and that, instead, he chose that "joy in repetition" kinda gets on my nerves.

I guess I'll have to wait for the 13-part PBS series on DVD, upload it to my film editing software, and make my own "cut".

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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Manuel Camblor » Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:04 am

Peter May wrote:
Robin Garr wrote: Your response is certainly not unusual, and I respect it, but it's interesting that other viewers (including me, in general), weren't put off by Nossiter's "hand-held" technique. .


More than put off, Robin. I had to give up as I thought I was going to be sick. I still feel queasy.

I get the same feelings when looking at my son playing computer games where they are generating scenery at the edge as the character moves,.

It was more than hand held, he whipped the camera around, even at passing cars, planes etc.

It was like being on a fairground ride.


FWIW, in the "Special Features" of the DVD Nossiter offers up one of the episodes of the supposedly forthcoming 13-part Mondovino series. I found that one episode delivered pretty much everything that the 2-hour film did, but it was one less hour of camera-shake to put up with.

Another thing I have to say: Nossiter managed to make Michel Rolland into a very endearing sort of character. Bit of a comic-book-villain-in-the-making.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Peter May » Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:11 am

Manuel Camblor wrote: FWIW, in the "Special Features" of the DVD Nossiter offers up one of the episodes of the supposedly forthcoming 13-part Mondovino series .


No special features on my DVD - just the trailer (and some trailers for some other movies)

Manuel Camblor wrote:
Another thing I have to say: Nossiter managed to make Michel Rolland into a very endearing sort of character. Bit of a comic-book-villain-in-the-making.


Agree. But film put the view that Michel makes wines that Parker likes and Parker points are what sell wine.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Paul B. » Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:36 am

Well I just watched the whole thing again last night with some friends and a bottle of '05 Willow Springs Baco Noir (which all my non-wine friends liked immensely - this was the wine that showed somewhat rough and acidic a couple of weeks ago, but this second bottle was very different).

Mondovino grows on me every time I watch it. The lyrical Hubert de Montille; the passionately assertive Aimé Guibert; the dignified Sicilian gentleman whose name I must remember next time, and the equally dignified native South American fellow who had those Torrontes grapes growing atop the homemade pergola and served that somewhat cloudy homemade wine to the film crew - all these real people make the film a treasure to watch, and remind me of what I love about wine.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Manuel Camblor » Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:41 am

Peter May wrote:
Manuel Camblor wrote:

Agree. But film put the view that Michel makes wines that Parker likes and Parker points are what sell wine.


Uh-huh. And your point is? (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun).

No, really, what's wrong with that thesis?
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Peter May » Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:49 am

I think the nausea problem is because of having to look at the subtitles.

The subtitles stay fixed in one place on the screen while behind the whole thing is lurching, wheeling and revolving.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Manuel Camblor » Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:58 am

Peter May wrote:I think the nausea problem is because of having to look at the subtitles.

The subtitles stay fixed in one place on the screen while behind the whole thing is lurching, wheeling and revolving.


Dramamine, Peter. And '85 De Montille... Well decanted. The village-level wine will do.

M.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Peter May » Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:26 pm

Manuel Camblor wrote:
Peter May wrote:
Manuel Camblor wrote:

Agree. But film put the view that Michel makes wines that Parker likes and Parker points are what sell wine.


Uh-huh. And your point is? (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun).

No, really, what's wrong with that thesis?


I don't have a point. I was saying that that was Nossiters point.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Peter May » Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:33 pm

Paul B. wrote: and the equally dignified native South American fellow who had those Torrontes grapes growing atop the homemade pergola and served that somewhat cloudy homemade wine to the film crew - all these real people make the film a treasure to watch, and remind me of what I love about wine.


But that man couldn't sell his wine, and got just cents for his grapes. He made $60 a month, not enough to live on. Thats not romantic, that's desperate. There's plenty of people on this board who will happily pay $60 for one bottle of wine.

Don't you think he'd love Rolland to come along and tell him how to make wine that people wanted to buy?

(actually, if he sees Mondovino he'd learn that whatever the problem Rolland can solve it with the one word -- "micro-oxygenate". :)

(yes - I went back and watched the remaining 30 mins of the dog film. "what your dogs name" -- jeez.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Jenise » Wed Mar 29, 2006 1:29 pm

Peter Ruhrberg wrote:Or the disgust in the expression of the Italian retailer pointing at the price of Ornellaia. Or the pictures of the Argentianian wine grower's home - no words needed. Or the "life style" talk from the Staglins and Sucklings. It was the latter aspect, that I found more important than any Parker / Rolland bashing.


Peter, I'm with you, that's what I also found the most interesting and memorable. Didn't care for the style of filmmaking in particular, but I did enjoy the way Nossiter got certain people to put their egos on parade. The Staglins, James Suckling, the ambitious and duplicitous Mondavis, the huffing and puffing Rolland.
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Re: Mondovino - unwatchable dog of a film

by Mark Lipton » Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:57 pm

Manuel Camblor wrote:FWIW, in the "Special Features" of the DVD Nossiter offers up one of the episodes of the supposedly forthcoming 13-part Mondovino series. I found that one episode delivered pretty much everything that the 2-hour film did, but it was one less hour of camera-shake to put up with.


I agree, LL. The scene of Michel Lafarge and his family dining with the field workers was far more important to Nossiter's thesis -- especially when mentally juxtaposed against his chats with CA field hands -- than all of the hypocrisy of Aimé Guibert on full display. I didn't have any problem with the camera work, but then again I've never been very susceptible to motion sickness.

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