Reviews

Sideways vs. Merlot

Miles: [while tasting wine at Frass Canyon] It tastes like the back of a f***ing L.A. school bus. Now they probably didn’t de-stem, hoping for some semblance of concentration, crushed it up with leaves and mice, and then wound up with this rancid tar and turpentine bullshit. F***in’ Raid.
Jack: “Tastes pretty good to me.”- Alexander Payne, Sideways

SidewaysvsMerlot

(SPOILERS and MOVIE STILLS WITH MORE F-BOMBS)

(My note to Will and our readers): As we come to a long break with this blog (we might have one more before I take a very needed rest). I just wanted to say how wonderful it’s been having this hobby with Will. We don’t get a whole lot of time together, so I’ve really cherished our wine swilling and movie watching. I really hope we can keep it up at least bimonthly. Thank you Will and thank you CS5711 for your readership.

(My) Movie Thoughts: I love Sideways. It’s one of those movies that I can watch over and over again. It’s extremely nostalgic for me and whenever I watch it I pine for the Central Coast and the time I spent there. I even miss Solvang and all of its gross kitschy glory. If you haven’t seen Sideways I implore you to stop reading our review, go watch it and THEN re-visit this review. The synopsis is as follows: Two middle-aged college friends take a road trip to wine country to celebrate one of them getting married. Miles is an alcoholic, struggling writer and middle school teacher with a penchant for wine and very little else. Still raw from his divorce and extremely dissatisfied with life in general, Miles writes in his free time and longs to be a published writer. His friend, Jack is a washed up actor, man-child and sex addict, who is finally settling down. Miles sees this trip as a way to get relief from his life, and revisit some of his favorite vineyards–Jack has other plans. Jack wants to get laid before tying the knot. Miles has an ongoing flirtation with Maya, who waitresses at his favorite hole in the wall restaurant, but is so use to being miserable and is such a snob (believes that her job is inferior) that he doesn’t pursue it. Jack picks up a tasting room associate, Stephanie and begins an affair with her. Miles finally begins to pursue Maya, and in spite of himself really likes her. However, Jack complicates the arrangement by lying about why the two are celebrating, saying that Miles’ book has been published. Jack also drops another bomb and tells Miles and that his ex-wife has remarried and will be attending the wedding. Miles goes ballistic and runs off into a nearby vineyard chugging a wine bottle. Maya who clearly likes Miles (for whatever reason) agrees to go out on a double date with Jack and Stephanie. Miles is completely unhinged at this point and utters the famous line that wrecked Merlot sales. They’re having a great time at dinner but because Miles is so self-destructive hSidewaysvsMerlot2e drunk dials his ex-wife. Later on when Maya and Miles are alone they have a wonderful conversation about wine. Maya is studying horticulture and is also a wine enthusiast. Miles is taken aback by her strong palette and informed opinions on winemaking. One of the most poignant scenes in the film is when Miles tells Maya why he loves wine, Pinot Noir in particular. He says it’s demanding and difficult to cultivate and needs constant care and attention. It’s a picky grape that doesn’t grow everywhere. Pinot is a metaphor for Miles and wine is a way for him to gloat and put distance between himself and others. Maya is the complete opposite. She talks about how wine was an empowering part of her discovering her talent and passion. Her interest in wine helped her realize the truth about her ex-husband, who was a fake, and was into wine for the wrong reasons. In this touching moment, it’s clear that Maya is open and ready to connect and Miles is frightened and unable to. While still very drunk, Miles makes a very awkward pass at Maya. He kisses her and Maya withdraws. Miles gives her a draft of his novel and they both drive away. Miles thinks he’s blown it with her and mopes around the central coast as Jack plays house with Stephanie. Because Jack he lacks a strong identity and is a grown-up Peter Pan, he begins to have doubts about marriage and believes that Stephanie might be the woman for him. They hang out in a group again and Miles and Maya sleep together. Things fall apart when Miles accidentally tells Maya that they need to leave for a reception and she finds out that Jack is getting married. An angry, sobbing Stephanie beats up Jack, breaking his nose in the process. More craziness ensues as Jack sleeps with a married waitress and loses his wedding rings in the process and Miles’ book is rejected and he makes a big drunken scene at Frass Canyon (this is without a doubt my absolute favorite scene). It ends as happily as it can. Maya forgives Miles and gives him hope to continue writing and Jack gets married. As atrocious as Miles and Jack are you find yourself unable to turn away. 5 Stars

(My) Comparison and Preference: Stars As much as I wanted to love this Merlot (I actually like many Merlots), I just couldn’t. It tasted like the Coppola Cab we had and that seems to be my point of reference when I am not into something. It was very acidic and peppery in a bad way. Unlike the characters of Sideways who I realize are deplorable, but their faults humanize them and gain my compassion on some level –I felt extremely lackluster towards the wine. I won’t say it tastes like anything on Frass Canyons level (see quote) but it’s just not for me. My winner is without a doubt Sideways.

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: This week’s wine adventure sent me to the grocery store in search of a fine Central Coast Merlot. In Sideways, our heroes can be seen traversing the Santa Barbara, Solvang, San Luis Obispo areas of California. Santa Barbara and SLO while not famous producers of Merlot, are very well known for their lovely Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Not too far away though are Monterey and Paso Robles (the home of this week’s selection!). My goal was to select a Merlot from the region in the film to better understand Miles’ (Paul Giamatti) hatred for the varietal. If you are unfamiliar with the film Sideways just understand that (be it urban legend or not) Merlot sales were so negatively impacted in 2005-2006 by one line of dialogue that TO THIS DAY I cannot even hint at Merlot wine without someone quoting Paul Giamatti. This is an issue on par with the Sonny and Cher jokes in reference to Charbono. In fact, what I’ve been forced to do now is offer a special taste for some guests of a particularly beautiful 2013 Sonoma County Merlot with the catch of pouring it for them blind. Meaning I do NOT let them know it is Merlot. I just pour and tell them how it’s vinified, where it’s from etc. I do this for 2 reasons: I don’t want to hear the same joke over and over again and also because somewhere deep within me I truly believe media has the power to sway the way we think and feel. Because of this I worry that the one time you watched Sideways it tricked you into hating Merlot. Honestly, 9 times out of 10 people say, “hey that was great! What was that?” That was a Merlot my good sir or madam, “Oh but I hate Merlot!” I know you do. I know. But maybe, just maybe not as much as you thought you did. After all there are around 600,000 acres of Merlot growing worldwide making up many of the blends you drink everyday (Bordeaux blends and Super Tuscans to boot) and growing in all sorts of different climates. It’s so accessible! Ever heard of Chateau Petrus? Merlot. Ever heard of France? …That was a dumb question. I’m sure you’ve heard of France. The French love Merlot, it’s the most commonly planted varietal in their country. Gosh, Merlot is awesome! Ready for me to put my foot in my mouth? I am a Merlot fan. This one though? We are not on good terms.

On the nose: Vinegar (it’s not a spoiled bottle, almost positive), chocolate, blackberries, kind of a dijon mustard thing. It’s not great because it’s probably young and Paso might not be an ideal location for this varietal. Not a lot happening.

SidewaysvsMerlot1
Robert Hall Merlot

Taste: Yeah it’s way too young. It’s like having liquid cotton balls in your mouth. Super astringent, it’s thick and heavy and has bright fruit but no oak flavors to speak of. This the wine Twilight Zone. So weird.

I spent under $15 on a bottle of wine you could probably enjoy years from now if stored well. I was not expecting that. Nice surprise but not nice enough. 1/5  stars

(W’s) Comparison and Preference: We all have our own personal preferences. We all don’t like the same music, same brand of sock or even the same shitty snack foods. But it’s understanding that fact that makes it so important. Thinking critically instead of being blindly convinced of something is what sets us apart from animals. It sets us apart from the people who voted Trump into office. Miles’ hatred of something he didn’t even understand is funny…if you don’t understand. Otherwise it’s a sad outburst over a wine that has magical potential. What I’m saying is Miles shows great hatred for not just a wine, but the grape itself. A massively important and famous Bordeaux varietal. One so important in fact that it helped create the 1961 Cheval Blanc (one of the most sought after wines in recent history) he drinks out of a styrofoam cup in a pseudo In-N-Out at the end. He makes such a big damn deal over this 1961 Cheval Blanc but doesn’t even really respect it from my perspective. So where he failed I will attempt to cathart…cathartasize? I will attempt to capitalize on my catharsis: Though I will not be drinking any F****** Paso Robles Merlot again any time soon, there are MANY other regions that produce brilliant Merlot. This didn’t make me not want to drink Merlot, it just made me want to drink Paso Robles Syrah or Zinfandel. You can’t just say no, you have to understand and change and develop and roll with the shitty wine punches. Sideways happens to be a movie about Miles, a man so self concerned and self absorbed that even his friend’s bachelor party is about himself. A person he doesn’t even really understand to begin with. Ask him what his book is about and he can’t even explain it. Because of this movie, Merlot is now just as misunderstood. Whether or not you don’t like it because a movie told you so or because you drank the same bottle I did, well, that is the conversation we should be having! Go out, drink wine, discuss but don’t put your blinders on after one bad experience. I beg of you!

This week I have to say, Sideways is my winner!

The weekly winner is Sideways!

Cheers!

Citations:
Robert Hall 2014 Merlot (Paso Robles)
Sideways, Dir. Alexander Payne, Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2004. Film.

The Hunger vs. Charbono

“You said forever. Never ending. Do you remember?”- Tony Scott, The Hunger

The Hungervs.Charbono

(SPOILERS)

(My) Wine Thoughts: There’s a varnish-y smell to this stuff but it’s not off putting at all. It isn’t too acidic for me while it definitely tastes lemon tart. I am actually surprised that I like it, because Will categorized it as a medium acidic wine. Honestly, it’s very strong and overpowering but I really enjoyed drinking it. I didn’t feel ill the next day and I’d definitely drink this again. Although Charbono is only grown in a few places and isn’t a popular varietal in the U.S., those who grow it and make it are passionate about it, extremely passionate. 4 Stars

The Hunger

(My) Movie Thoughts:  We received a request for cult films and decided to give you what you wanted. Obscure, check! Transgressive, check! Loyal niche following, check! This movie has it all. As completely strange and ridiculous this movie is I can’t help but love it. I love the traditional goth nightclub opening scene with Bauhaus and prior to my viewing was fangirling over Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. Stylistically, I can’t get over how cutting edge and cool it looks almost 30 years later. I am still blown away by Tony Scott’s direction, the cinematography and editing is absolutely phenomenal. It’s not for everyone and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with mainstream tastes or with a conservative lean. It’s essentially about an ancient Egyptian bisexual vampire named Miriam, who due to her immortality has to grapple with intense loneliness and exist in the world with humans as her sole companions. Miriam carefully selects her human companions and then turns them into vampires..or so we are made to think. However, Miriam isn’t quite honest with her partners before she turns them. She tells them that they’ll never age or die. She promises them eternal life.  This is not the case and after about 200 years or so, they began to age and decay at a rapid rate –but they’ll never die. Awful right? Compelled by what I assume is a combo of guilt, possessiveness, sympathy and affection she keeps her shriveled former lovers in coffins in her attic. Miriam although not the greatest or most moral character, does express sadness and shows sympathy for her human ex-companions. I mean yes, she’s selfish and manipulative, but she does care for her companions for a good 200 years. As soon as her newest lover John mummifies, she begins to look for a new companion. She finds her match in Dr. Sarah Roberts, a gerontologist hellbent on finding out what causes rapid aging. Without hesitation (or much of a mourning period) Miriam begins to pursue her. Miriam is able to hypnotize and permeate Sarah’s thoughts, luring her to her home. The two consummate their relationship and Miriam turns Sarah into a partial vampire. The ending is a little confusing, but what I gather happens is that feverish Sarah drains her boyfriends blood when he tries to save her and then uses Miriam’s knife pendant to attempt suicide. Miriam then carries Sarah to her mausoleum of past partners, where they all ambush her and she falls off her staircase, withers away and they all fall to dust. The last scene is Sarah with her companions looking over a balcony and Miriam’s creepy voice shouting out to her name from a coffin. So truth be told, either you’re going to hate The Hunger or it’s going to be a favorite on your shelf, right next to your copy of Cat People and The Man Who Fell to Earth.
4 Stars

(My) Comparison: Both pack a punch, both are non-mainstream favorites and have cult followings. Both are overpowering and are expressed in beautiful yet erratic ways. From Catherine Deneuve who is head to toe in Yves Saint Laurent through the entire film (half the time covered in blood), to the silky smooth mouthwatering tartness of Charbono, I can understand why people are seduced by both.

(My) My Weekly Winner: It’s a tie for me. Call me a cultist and hand me that purple kCharbonoool aid!

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: Outside of the frowned upon helpfulness of Wikipedia, the most informative and in depth reading about Charbono can be found in the following PDF:  http://pacificstarwinery.com/pdf/press/wine_news_0704.pdf. It was written 13 years ago and offers the most worthwhile information I could get my hands on. And I don’t say that lightly. Charbono is something that I pour for my guests almost every day. I am constantly googling it and searching for more history. Winefolly.com offers a small amount of information and if you’re well versed in Malbec from Argentina you probably know as much everyone else. Without knowing it, that is. What I mean is Charbono goes by another name down south. It’s called Bonarda and it finds regular use in Malbec and other blended red wines. You’ve probably consumed one of the most unknown wines in the world and…well…not known it! I literally talk about it almost every day and I know VERY little about it myself. What I’ve learned about Charbono over the course of the past 2 ½ years is minimal in comparison to that awesome article that I highly recommend reading. I am aware of 4 producers in the Sonoma/Napa area who farm the less than 100 acres of Charbono growing on the North American continent today: Turley, Mutt Lynch, Russian River Vineyards and Inizi. Why aren’t there more? Well it’s a pretty sad story. Charbono made it’s way from the Savoie Region (Sardinian/Italian at that time, now French) to California in the early 1800 by Italian immigrants. With great popularity, Charbono was produced by Inglenook (A formerly mighty brand now recognized by large format bottles of White Zinfandel) from the late 1800’s all the way through Prohibition, legally mind you, up until the 1990’s when they were bought out by Francis Ford Coppola. How did they get away with making wine during Prohibition? By making Sacramental wine for the Catholics of course! The horror story I hear at my job is Coppola didn’t want to make the weird unpopular Charbono so he replanted it and replaced it with something that people know, Cab, Zin, Merlot etc. When he did that he effectively removed almost all of the Charbono from North America. To this day there are only a few weirdos who answer in the affirmative when asked if they are familiar with Charbono. The saddest thing of all? Endless Sonny Bono and Cher jokes. Please, on behalf of the world of wine, shut up.

On the nose: Cinnamon , wood, overripe blueberry and cherry and if I’m being honest there is this subtle nail polish remover thing happening. It smells intense. When you take a sip: robust tannins (the aging potential here is high), lively electric acidity on the side of your tongue, it’s a velvety blanket of plumb and rich tobacco for your mouth as well. Light cedar, toasted marshmallow. Oh boy, it is decadent and yummy. Unlike anything you’re familiar with. 5 stars

(W’s) Movie Thoughts:  In my mind this movie has always been ‘our movie’. Whenever I think of media crossovers I have with my lady friend, The Hunger is always first. It’s a rare thing for us to like the same movies, songs, TV shows. I suffered through Mad Men, all 200 seasons and I’m still not sure why. So when I was introduced to this film about 3 years ago I was instantly smitten. Mostly because we finally agreed on a movie. Also because it remains a weird, culty, undiscovered, underappreciated and kickass 80’s vampire movie starring David Bowie for Christ’s sake! It’s Tony Scott’s (brother of Ridley Scott) and director of such films as Top Gun (1986) Days of Thunder (1990), Enemy of the State (1998), Man on Fire (2004) and Domino (2005)) first feature length film and I bet you’ve never heard of it. That’s what I thought! It is dripping with 1980’s fashion, music, film technique and all around style. In short: Centuries old human turned vampire John (Bowie) is suddenly and rapidly aging. His immortal vampire lover Miriam never told him that immortal life for him meant 300 years of fun and an eternity of liver spots and immobility. As John becomes yesterday’s news, Miriam seeks a new love to entertain her for a few centuries. Enter Sarah (Susan Sarandon). After a few giant plot holes that must have stemmed from awkward studio demanded script rewrites, Sarah kills (or something) Miriam and becomes a Vampire herself (somehow) and reigns presumably as the new vampire queen for the next 300-3,000 years. This explains why I never see Tim Robbins during the day! Basically, if you like Stranger Things, The Goonies or any popular 1980’s thriller you will love The Hunger. ProTip: do not watch this movie with your parents while home for Christmas the way I did. The beautifully filmed lesbian sex scene set to devastatingly gorgeous classical music make for a very awkward 5 minute silences. Otherwise, watch this film right now. You’re welcome. 4 stars     

(W’s) Comparison: Forgotten, lost and underappreciated. Both ending in sad stories: Charbono’s near extinction and Tony Scott’s obvious brilliance for capturing life and putting it to film cut short by his 2012 suicide. A cult wine and a cult movie never paired better. Cult here of course not meaning anything negative, it just means there aren’t enough of us appreciating it yet!

(W’s) Weekly Winner: Charbono! While Tony Scott’s vampire vision will always be accessible in one format or another, Charbono might not be. Get it while you can.  

The weekly winner is Charbono!

Υγεια!

Citations:

2014 Russian River Vineyards Charbono Guido Venturi Vineyard

The Hunger Dir. Tony Scott, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1984. Film.

Dr. No vs. Sparkling Wine

“Dr No: That’s a Dom Perignon ’55, it would be a pity to break it.
James Bond: I prefer the ’53 myself.”- Terrence Young, Dr. No

drno_vs_sparklingwine

(SPOILERS)

(My) Wine Thoughts: Blanc de Noir’s taste is comparable to something you would buy at Korbel. It’s a balanced mix of dry and sweet. However, there’s something about it that makes me think but that it would be better as part of a cocktail. The bubbles are a little harsh. While it’s a fun refresher, I think it’s better enjoyed once in awhile and in a mimosa. 3 Stars

(My) Movie Thoughts: Dr. No was the first bond movie I was introduced to and the only Bond movie I owned in my childhood. I remember being a little girl watching the James Bond marathons on t.v. with my father around Thanksgiving time. This is how we bonded. Silently watching James Bond beat up whatever member of S.P.E.C.T.R.E was featured in that film. Another reason Dr. No held a special place in my heart was because I didn’t own many movies growing up. My parents didn’t see the value in owning them when you could just rent movies. So, I’m the first to admit that there is a fair bit of sentimentality for me as far as the series goes. As an adult, cinematically speaking, it is still iconic. It’s action packed and riveting. Considering the era it was made in and the budget it was made with, it still stands the test of time in many ways. The character of James Bond comes alive through Sean Connery who oozes retro charm. In fact, to this day I refuse to acknowledge any other actor who has taken on this role. However, it is not without its faults. Re-watching it with my current socio-political outlook, I was floored by some of it’s racist depictions. There is quite a bit of yellow face in Dr. No. Although this not surprising for the time period, it’s still disturbing and cringeworthy. Examples of yellow face can be seen with the villains Dr. No and Miss Taro, who are white actors in Chinese clothing, wearing eyeliner and darker foundation to appear Chinese. Other depictions are slightly less overt but nonetheless still horrible. Quarrel, Bond’s temporary sidekick, is the epitome of a Sambo stereotype- dimwitted, fun loving and lazy. He is childlike in comparison to confident and assured Bond, who in one scene has to assure him that there are no such things as dragons. The sexism I was less floored by. It’s still gross to watch, but as a feminist who grew up watching Bond films I already expected it and mentally prepared for it during my rewatch. However I felt unease when Bond corners Miss Taro and coerces her into sleeping with him knowing full well she expected him to die on his way to her and had to keep him busy until other henchmen showed up. This scene was extremely unnerving. I think Zina Hutton, writing for The Mary Sue, an online feminist article, summarized most of my feelings about Dr. No here: https://www.themarysue.com/bond-girl-dr-no/. However I can’t stomach some of her naivety regarding the characterization of Quarrell and her comment about not hiring actors of color based on nepotism. These statements are tone deaf. Production companies are still not hiring people of color and it has nothing to do with nepotism and everything to do with racism. 3 StarsDr No. vs. Sparkling Wine

(My) Comparison: Context appears to be the most important comparison I can draw between the film and wine of this week. Just like there’s an appropriate time and place for  sparkling wine there’s specific context in which to interact with retro Bond films. Popping a bottle of sparkling wine during a funeral is disrespectful and inappropriate, but in a mimosa or during a birthday or celebration it becomes another thing entirely. Absolving retro Bond films of their racism and sexism would be wrong. However ignoring it is just as bad. It should not exist in a bubble. Instead it should serve to educate and open up dialogue surrounding race and sex. Sadly, we cannot go back and change these jarring, ugly and inaccurate depictions of poc’s instead we must learn from them and use them as a reminders of what we need to change as a society.

(My) My Weekly Winner: All in all would I recommend Dr. No? Probably not. Despite my connection to it, I realize that by today’s standards it wouldn’t be right to tout this film without recognizing and discussing its many flaws. I’m going to say the sparkling wine wins!

Dr No. vs. Sparkling Wine (1)

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: Champagne! So called because it originates from, well, Champagne! Much like the way Scotch is only Scotch if it’s from Scotland, Champagne is really only considered Champagne if it’s from Champagne (OMG we are going to need a ‘Champagne’ counter on this blog entry). The drink of revelers worldwide. At least after people like Toulouse-Lautrec were hired to market it as such. We are all guilty of popping a cork or two at new years and spraying half the bottle on our friends who regret being at our stupid party to begin with. You’re saying to yourself, ‘I thought this was a wine and movie blog!.’ You’re right! It is. When it comes to sparkling wine we are looking for the same positive (or negative, I guess) traits that the wines we all know and love have, except this time with addition of fun bubbles! After all, before sparkling wine becomes sparkling it starts out as regular old wine to begin with. We want a balance between the fruit, acid, secondary flavors and the bubbles. If, for example, the acid is too sharp or the barrel flavors are too prominent (if it was aged in wood that is) we would consider this an unbalanced wine and therefore less than desireable…but with the addition of bubbles! Make sense? Great! On the nose: Limes and lemons, strawberries. All around the wine has very quiet subtle notes upon sticking your nose into the glass. The more I dig into it though the more it smell like summer to me. Fresh. Light. Easy breezy covergirl-esque. It makes me want to swim in the river on a hot day or a crisp summer night. When I take a sip: Whoa bubbles! If you’re familiar with Belgian beer then we should hangout some time…but seriously this has the same mouth feel. Very lively carbonation, same feel as a saison. The bubbles are crisp and explosive. The are much smaller than the bubbles in a can of Coke, it’s more like drinking a nitrogenated beer or a softer farmhouse style beer. As for flavors…not a whole lot happening here…apple juice…uhh…apples…really frothy apples? Feels like I have a middle school science project in my mouth. Like an apple baking soda volcano. Sparkling wine is probably best left to the Champagners…Champagnians? The French.  2  Stars

(W’s) Movie Thoughts: Let me begin by saying please don’t think less of me for what I say herein. Champagne from the source is a true, real and organic experience. It’s the original sparkling wine, or at the very least the widely accepted traditional sparkling wine. And steeped in tradition it is. Bond movies, over the course of the last 3,000 years, have stayed pretty much the same. They are steeped in their own (boring?) tradition as well, the same opening, the same shadowy villains, the same loveless relationships with apparently very murderable women who all seem to suffer the same sad fate. Daniel Craig was a welcomed revitalization but how different was he? His serious nature and off the bat action packed sequences were kind of facsimiles of previous entries. Boring, goofy mildly explosive entries in an aging franchise. Goldeneye was immediately explosive and fun, Dr. No has the most serious Bond I have ever seen. These are all well and good. But they aren’t Champagne! Lost in the mix however, underneath piles of wannabes is one man. One true bond. One true Champagne. In the same way that sparkling wine from anywhere but Champagne isn’t considered Champagne, if it isn’t Roger Moore, it isn’t Bond. Moore is my bottle of choice. He’s my first. And you never forget your first.

But I digress.

The movie is not without its many, many flaws. Flaws showcasing a time since passed but a mindset still, well very set in place. Archaic archetypes for female characters, painfully simple minded characters only ever portrayed by people of color. The hard pill to swallow here is how much this has permeated our pop culture. Like a tainted torch of bigotry passed down from decade to decade showing up in places (often parodied but sometimes sincere) like Austin Powers, Archer, The Incredibles, anything and everything Quentin Tarantino. Dr. No has left it’s mark for better or worse. All in all it is easy to see the influence here. But it’s so aggressively dated and cringey it’s hard to appreciate. Watching Dr. No is like sitting down with your elderly great uncle, listening to him tell stories of how awesome he used to be but also how white folks are the preeminent race and how eugenics gets a bad rap.  1 Stars  

(W’s) Comparison: Across the board not enough Roger Moore. Both are fairly one note. Old school spy movie v.s. a California take on an unbeatable original? They both have obvious problems and better options abound!

(W’s) Weekly Winner: Gloria Ferrer for making me nostalgic for 6th grade science!

The weekly winner is sparkling wine!

Şerefe!

 

Citations:

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, California

Dr. No. Dir. Terence Young, United Artists, 1962. Film.

Jules and Jim vs. Red Blend

“And Jules? He loves us both. He won’t be surprised and so he’ll suffer less. We’ll love and respect him.“-François Truffaut, Jules and Jim

(SPOILERS)

(My) Wine Thoughts: My first thoughts were, wow great marketing they could have created a sleezy wine label and instead made a very cute one. My second thought was, “uh oh, it smells like the Coppola Cab I hated.” Boy was I wrong. This tasted great like ripe cherry. It was so smooth, soft and approachable. I didn’t grimace from the acid and it wasn’t saccharine sweet.  4 Stars

(My) Movie Thoughts: When I first saw Jules and Jim I was awestruck by how it was both a time capsule and a time machine. There are moments where you find yourself surprised at its progressiveness and then some truly painful 1960s moments. I had just gotten into French New Wave cinema and had seen a few of Truffaut’s other films. None of his other movies have sit with me the way that Jules and Jim did. It wasn’t just that the film dealt with taboo topics such as mental illness, gender stereotypes, adultery and polyamory but, that it very sweetly depicted a devoted platonic love between two men, which you rarely see in film. The story begins in early 20th century Paris, Jules and Jim meet in their early twenties, bond instantly and spend most of their time together. Jules is Austrian, gentle, talkative and a dreamer and Jim is French, introverted, more brash and grounded. Both have short lived affairs with women but their friendship remains the deepest bond they have. The two friends are then introduced to Catherine and their lives are changed forever. Catherine is beautiful, intelligent, fearless and completely unstable (most likely bipolar and borderline). Both men are enchanted by her but, Jules calls dibs and Jim backs off. The three of them create a bond and embark on many local adventures-i.e. The pair play an audience to Catherine’s hijinks as she races them across a bridge in drag and jumps into the Seine to prove a point. What’s so progressive of this interaction is that Catherine’s character is unconforming to gender stereotypes. She’s loud, argumentative, bawdy and has racked up more partners than both men combined. Both men are terrified and mesmerized by her otherness. Will pointed out that Catherine is the o.g. Manic Pixie Dream Girl. While I don’t completely disagree, I think she has more depth and agency than that archetype usually brings. Jules marries Catherine and Jim begins seeing Gilberte (who is needy, boring and a female stereotype). The war breaks out and the men find themselves on opposite sides. There’s this extremely touching moment in the movie where one of the men says that his worst fear during wartime is that he’ll accidentally kill the other. Both survive and reconnect years later. Jules lives with Catherine and their daughter Sabine in the country. Jim visits Jules and Catherine, expecting marital bliss but sees that Jules is miserable. While Jules is still hopelessly in love with Catherine, he can’t handle her instability, temper and the string of lovers that she parades in front of him. He tells Jim that she has left for long periods of time and has threatened to take his daughter away. Somehow, Jim also finds that despite her behavior, he still has feelings for Catherine (he’s bored of stability with Gilberte).The two flirt within earshot of Jules. Noticing their chemistry, Jules tells Jim that he should become her lover. He admits that while their marriage is a joke, he would do anything to keep her from leaving. Jim and Catherine begin an affair. It is passionate and they fall deeply in love, try to have kids and plan on getting married. Jim begins to see how not cute mental illness really is. This continues until they both cheat on one another and Catherine pulls a gun on him. Jim tells Jules he can’t do it anyone and resolves to marry Gilberte. At this point their friendship in tatters, but they still love one another. Jim runs into Jules and Catherine in the city, some years later and they plan to catch up. Catherine isolates Jim in her car under the false pretense of needing to talk to him and tells Jim to “watch them”. Catherine murders Jim and simultaneously commits suicide by driving her car off a nearby bridge. Jules watches as they sink into the water. The last scene is Jules taking care of funerary arrangements. How can you not feel devastated? So many feels. 4.5 Stars

(My) Comparison: Three components create the red blend wine. Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (hence the overly literal name). This blend of is harmonious and smooth . In Jules and Jim, Catherine, Jules and Jim come together in their lives and form a loving union that begins as friendship and evolves into platonic and romantic love. But unlike the plot of Jules and Jim, the red blend stayed harmonious and pleasant to the last drop (I know I probably shouldn’t drink as I’m still not 100% recovered, but I couldn’t help it and it was a small glass). Please humor me while I rationalize my guilt.

(My) My Weekly Winner: It was very close for me but ultimately my pick of the week is Jules and Jim. As delicious as the wine is, I felt nourished by the depth of human experience and character development in Jules and Jim. Can’t beat that!

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Two Bordeaux varietals living in harmony, a classic marriage, an ideal pairing, sharing a room with what was once considered to be a true original American grape. Zinfandel has it’s origins in Croatia. Introduced to America in the mid 1800’s, it’s a grape that grabs your tongue by the collar and punches it in the face with spicy alcohol and deep jammy fruit flavors. No wonder it was considered to be the American grape, it finds a spot it likes and fights you for it saying, ‘hey, this is my territory now.’ In this case when the three grapes are put together…I really don’t have too many complaints! On the nose: blackberries, cream soda, burnt brown sugar. I think I’ve said this before but it smells JUST like Pepsi. And I love Pepsi.  

I would like to mention one thing, I happen to have the hilariously privileged job of tasting and pouring wine for a living. I am 100% not used to how intensely sweet these wines have been. Higher volume production wines seem to be produced for a very specific palate. And, gosh I hate to play the part of the wine snob, I don’t think it’s my palate. On the palate: softer acidity, full body, very rich charleston chew thing going on, very decadent, the Cabernet Sauvignon shows through pretty strong with the herbal, pepper flavors but the dominant trait is that jammy sweet Zinfandel. It’s almost like a chocolate krispy kreme doughnut. The Merlot is definitely present with its tobacco and vanilla traits but, much like Jim, it is dominated and controlled, even overpowered by the invasive Zinfandel.

This wine is buying me all the nice things like expensive chocolates and caviar. It really wants to get in my pants. This is the poster wine for one night stands. It just tastes so sexy and all of it’s wrongs are so right. I feel ashamed having consumed it, but I’m not disappointed.  4/5 Stars

JulesetJim(W’s) Movie Thoughts: It’s 2017. We expect to be blind sided by plot twists and The Departed (2006) style endings, don’t we? It was unexpected when Leo died in Titanic (1997), Rogue One (2016) has a jaw dropping ending and The Red Wedding in Game of Thrones (2011) is perhaps the single most devastating moment of 21st century television. It’s a common practice to ‘one up’ last years cliffhanger ending, or out to try and do the latest ‘OMG’ moment. However if we rewind to France in the 1960’s we encounter cinema that showcases drama in a far more organic and realistic nature. Case in point: Jules and Jim. The film is a perfect example of The French New Wave. An informal movement in cinema which is classified by low budget, less technical, disjointed, realistic and simple narratives. Basically taking cinema lemons and making cinematic lemonade. In short: two instantly bonded friends connect at the hip and survive one night stands, war and casual disagreements only to end up in a friendship that you and I would be lucky to have. In all honesty my partner summarized the film better than the IMDB page so I trust you have a general understanding of the movie thus far. The relationship between the two male leads, as my partner put it, in its honesty and straightforwardness, is a rare thing to see. Barely 5 minutes in and I was enamored at how real their platonic love was. Enter: Catherine. She is the bull of their china shop. I haven’t found myself invested in characters like this is years. And to have it all unfold in such a senseless way was equally awful and really impressive. Can you say masochism? After the credits rolled all I could think about, even through the next day, was how incredibly and impressively tragic the ending was. This was a viewing experience I have not had in a long time. Enjoying classic cinema and being devastated at the same time? All the while a little drunk as well? 5/5 Stars  

(W’s) Comparison: Equally surprising in every way. It’s nice to revisit my film school roots and be pleasantly surprised by how the third film of Truffaut’s prolific career comes across as a masterclass in making something larger than life out of something very low budget. It holds up very well and delivers its final, and in my opinion very unexpected, ‘OMG’ moment in gut wrenching way. I was also very pleased to be able to enjoy a bottle of wine with my other half. It is quite rare that we agree on wine. This is certainly a bottle we will revisit. And not just because of it’s affordability. All around, nice examples of what living on a budget can do for you.

(W’s) Weekly Winner: Jules and Jim. Not the movie, but the friends. Although the movie was a close second.

The weekly winner is Jules and Jim!

Salud!

Citations:
Folie A Deux Menage A Trois Rouge 2015, California
Jules et Jim. Dir. François Truffaut. Cinédis, Gala & Janus Films, 1962. Film.

Avatar vs. Cabernet Sauvignon

“Neytiri calls me skxawng. It means “moron.“-James Cameron, Avatar

(SPOILER CITY)

(My) Wine Thoughts: Mmmm so much acid. I don’t know if I just don’t like Cabs or if I don’t like this one. I feel like this needs to be paired with some really fatty food to cut the acid and Vivino.com agrees with me and suggests lamb or beef. This is the kind of wine that would give me

Francis Ford Coppola King Kong Cabernet Sauvignon

a stomach ache. Thankfully I’ve experienced this enough to recognize and desist. Note: I’m not even drinking it, I’m still recovering from pneumonia so this was a taste and spit for me. 1 Stars

(My) Movie Thoughts: So I’m going to just start this out and say that this is another Will choice. Will is a big fan of Avatar….In fact, Will owns the director’s cut, the extended cut etc. I remember when this came out and there was so much hype. The special effects, James Cameron, blah, blah, blah. I think I made a point of not seeing it because I hate mindless sci-fi action movies, it was 2009 and I was at university and going through my French New-Wave film phase. Watching it, I could definitely appreciate the technology and “artistry” that went into it. I can also appreciate the whole eco-love/respect aspect of it and that the main character is disabled (yay for disabled characters seen as powerful), but its faults are many. It has the problematic white male savior thing going on that I can’t stand. I think what makes that even worse for me is that Jake is just so dang dull and I can’t care or relate to dull characters. Another thing, as far as plot goes this is a blatant Pocahontas/Ferngully rip-off. Will can talk about the weird hair-genitalia thing… I won’t get into that.  I’ll summarize the plot and those of you that have seen FernGully can relate to my frustration on how similar the two are…In a futuristic dystopia, mediocre (personality of a paper plate), white dude Zak –um I mean Jake, is a paraplegic, all American ex-marine who takes over his recently deceased twin brother’s job for an evil corporation. Said corporation is hellbent on mining a precious metal from another planet at any cost. The planet is home to the Na’vi people who have a healthy relationship with nature and are the opposite of the evil corp. I.e. not soulless capitalist pigs. Jake “goes native” falls in love with a Na’vi woman Crysta- I mean Neytiri, who teaches him that the Na’vi people are in fact doing things the correct way and the corporation is evil (duh Jake). Jake tells Neytiri that he’s a jerk who is playing the Na’vi people, is temporarily exiled and the Na’vi people attempt to fight the corporation. They lose because of their “primitive” weapons and lack of military knowledge (ughhhh this is not always the case, native people DO actually overthrow colonialists see the demise of Captain James Cook ). The Na’vi people (with Jake as their leader ::eye roll::) fight the corporation and win (surprise, surprise). Jake ends up happily ever after in his avatar body with Neytiri at his side. How is this not Ferngully? Seriously… How did James Cameron not get sued for ripping off a much better film/idea? Could it be that the same production company that put out one put out the other? That 20th Century Fox would cannibalize itself for profit makes me so sad. 2 Stars

(My) Comparison: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that both were not my taste, both didn’t wow me and both require something else to make them enjoyable. I needed a rack of lamb to enjoy the cab and a lobotomy to enjoy Avatar.

(My) My Weekly Winner: I’m going to default to Avatar because I couldn’t handle how acidic the wine was, but really go watch FernGully instead of Avatar. I don’t care if you don’t like animated movies. It has so much more heart and soul than Avatar and you can’t deny it. Not to mention Robin William’s voices the lovable Batty and Tim Curry is the voice of the epic villain, Hexus. C’mon watch it! You know you want to!

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: First red wine of the blog! Woohoo! Funny how long it took us to get to a red wine on a wine blog. Even Funnier that it took us so long to drink a red wine that just happens to be the most commonly planted and popular wine on the planet! According to winefolly.com there are about 720,000 acres planted worldwide! Oddly enough this week’s choice seems to be fairly varietal atypical. Meaning it doesn’t have many of the Cabernet Sauvignon hallmarks: black pepper, green peppercorn, bell pepper, cedar and chocolate. Hmm, very suspicious. Are we even drinking a Cab at all I wonder?… It’s almost as if it’s disguising itself as something it’s not. Almost as if it’s trying to gain my trust and trick me into joining it in a subversive campaign against my own government! Only to have it turncoat and subsequently fall in love with me and my silly native ways.

*Will takes a sniff* Wow this wine smells like vanilla. Honestly, I know this is going to sound weird to our readers who aren’t from the midwest originally but this wine honestly smells like a midwest thanksgiving dinner. Vanilla extract, cranberry sauce from a can, canned black olives and…I cannot express this enough but it STINKS like canned black olives. Whoa. There are some light pie spices and a very specific whiff of Dr. Pepper. This wine would probably be lovely on a cold November night in Wisconsin.

*Will takes a sip* Being a Cabernet Sauvignon I really expected a higher tannin structure, or a rougher mouth feel. It’s very viscous, chewy almost, kind of gooey. In terms of flavor? Vanilla Dr. Pepper, poured over plumbs and a cinnabon, blended on the highest setting. I really don’t know how I feel about consuming this.  2 stars

(W’s) Movie Thoughts: The deepest of satisfactions sometimes stem from the deepest of betrayals. I won’t say that I lured my partner into 178 minutes of my guiltiest of pleasures but I also wouldn’t say that I didn’t lie to her when I told her we weren’t watching the Extended Collectors Edition of James Cameron’s Avatar (2009). There exist 3 versions of this film. All of them spanning no less than almost 3 hours. And all of them, in order, measure as: Perfect,

Avatar in all it’s glory.

Perfecter, Perfectest. In short: Lt. John Dunbar befriends the local natives and falls in love with a local woman named, Stands With a Fist (Mary Mcdonnell). Upon discovering their mutual plight, he rescinds his support and his role in the United States military and…Oh wait that’s the plot to Dances With Wolves (1990). In short: In 17th century Virginia, John Smith falls in love with Pocahontas an Algonquin princess, much to the chagrin of his colonialist overlords…ahh shit that’s the plot to Pocahontas (1995). In short: A prince, down on his luck, falls in love with a beautiful nomadic woman who he totally bangs in the desert. Then he leads her people to victory against the bad guys and some giant worms…DAMNIT that’s the plot of Dune (1984). In short: Jake Sully, after years of incarceration on the seat of a wheel chair, gains the ability to walk again and finds freedom in an alien world. All thanks to what must be a fat, overspent military budget. Jake agrees to fill the shoes of his dead twin brother on a military project that blasts his consciousness into the body of a betty crocker easy bake blue alien clone. Jake then follows the cliche path of 30 years worth of writing and falls for the local tail…No joke here. The aliens on Pandora (the alien planet) literally have sex with their pony tails. They also use said pony tails to create a neural link with any animal unlucky enough to be within a Willow Smith hair whipping distance. 

Though this film has about 178 minutes of problems, innovation isn’t one of them. This is the most successful film of all time. In terms of worldwide gross that is. The film used so many new techniques it’s no wonder Avatar took home the Oscars for Cinematography, Visual Effects and Art Direction. Unfortunately it wasn’t a total clean sweep that year for James Cameron because the Oscar for Most Animal Sex went to Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). Better luck next time with Avatar 2, 3, 4 and 5 (scheduled for release in 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2023 respectively…no I am not joking and yes I am already waiting in line). 3.9 stars

(W’s) Comparison: Can you say, “oversaturation”?
From the explosive ridiculousness that is James Cameron’s Avatar (all 178 minutes of it) to this weird atypical Cabernet Sauvignon that tastes like vanilla extract, this whole experience has been very overwhelming. With crops in nearly every growing region on the planet Cabernet Sauvignon is truly the king of grapes (a close second with about 600,000 acres planted worldwide is the very unpopular Merlot). And Grossing two billion seven hundred eighty seven million nine hundred sixty five thousand eighty seven dollars, Avatar is truly the king of movies…However when you share a top 5 list with Jurassic World (2015), a movie in which Chris Pratt teaches Velociraptors to dance, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously?

(W’s) Weekly Winner: Cabernet Sauvignon. While wine may be temporary, the pro attrition, colonialist, industrialized military complex machine seems to be forever. And that’s a problem.

But you love Avatar, you might say. I do. You’re right. But I also love justice, freedom of choice and freedom of speech. Tune in next week when we watch Batman Begins and drink Vodka!

The weekly winner is neither!

Gan Bei!

Citations:

Francis Ford Coppola King Kong Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, California
Avatar. Dir. James Cameron. 20th Century Fox, 2009. Film.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest. 20th Century Fox, 1992. Film.
Fantastic Mr Fox. Dir. Wes Anderson.20th Century Fox, 2009. Film.
Dances With Wolves. Dir. Kevin Costner. Orion Pictures, 1990. Film.
Pocahontas. Dir. Mike Gabriel. Erica Goldberg, Disney, 1995. Film
Dune. Dir. David Lynch. Universal Studios, 1981. Film.

Michael vs. Pinot Grigio

A gigolo with wings?“-Nora Ephron, Michael

(Spoilers, spoilers everywhere)

Murphy- Goode Pinot Grigio

(My) Wine Thoughts: Ugh, this is so dry and bitter. If you for some reason enjoy dry and bitter flavors, you’ll love this one. To me, it tastes like bland pineapple and lemon or Cook’s Champagne. 2 Stars

(My) Movie Thoughts: I’m going to say something that might be unpopular, anything that begins with a Randy Newman song is an automatic “nope” in my opinion (Toy Story is the ONLY exception). As I begin my review of this movie, I actually feel kind of bad dragging it because I know it’s a favorite of Will’s mom. But, the show must go on and hopefully she can forgive me as I rip into one of her faves… Plot-wise, from what I’ve gathered, this movie is about a petulant, slutty angel (Travolta) who looks like a big, dumb chicken and comes down to earth to get his rocks off with Earth women and “save” one of the main characters by teaching him to love, or something (I still don’t understand how he accomplished the latter). This convoluted plot barely held my attention, in fact I think I think I disassociated as to not actively engage. Why did I hate this movie so much you ask? Well, it was boring and stupid. I gather that it was supposed to be heartwarming, sentimental, maybe a bit philosophically profound, but it was neither of these things, it wasn’t even remotely clever. Not to mention the acting was terrible. It seemed like the actors were trying to play their characters in a wholesome way, but instead it translated to all of the characters appearing to a few fries short of a Happy Meal. As I watched this movie, I kept thinking about other horrible or mediocre 90s films I’d rather be watching. Remember Powder? I’d much rather give that a watch that than this turd of a movie. What truly baffles me, is that it brought in 95 million the year it came out. The only thing I can imagine is that anyone who came of age during the 70s and loved Travolta, must have been the active proponents of this movie…  1 Star (I’d give it zero stars if I could)

(My)Comparison: Both are terrible in my eyes, but I respect the wine. At least the wine has some kind of depth and character. Minus Will’s mom (who is lovely and unlike this grotesque characterization I’m about mouth off about), I think if I were to envision the persona of someone who would like both, it would be someone’s WASP’y, racist, grandmother. She’d have angel regalia all over her house, be hyper-religious, make horrible comments about immigrants and emphatically state that it was a “safer world” in the 1930s “without all of these brown people”. She would hate seasoned food and joy. This movie-varietal combo would give her some type of safe release (he’s an angel after all!) as her views on sex would fringe on Victorian and she hasn’t had sex since Truman was in office.

(My)My Weekly Winner: Honestly this one goes to the wine — even though I hated it.

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: Before I say anything I want to say this, I used to make fun of Pinot Grigio. I used to say it only tasted like heavy acidic water. And while I will continue to make fun of it, I would like to make it clear that the wine itself (translated: grey cluster) is actually a little more dynamic than I assumed. But, like, not much.

3,000 lifetimes ago I was but a simple low level employee working at a city owned liquor store. And lo, did I sell the shit out of Pinot Grigio. Ye did the gates of the store burst forth often, birthing older women into our aisles. Older women (generally speaking) who most likely sought refuge from their weird William Hurt like partners and their constant negging. Refuge in the form of the almighty Grigio! It was always there for them when they were in need. And I was the gatekeeper…The wine itself however is far less epic than anything I could have expected…Smelling of plastic bananas, hay and did I mention plastic? This wine reminds me of playing with new toys as a little kid. Fresh plastic toys out of their fresh plastic packaging. Fairly toxic. Seemingly edible. I was always tempted to put them in my mouth. On the palate this wine tastes like under ripe apples, pretty yummy kiwi, lemon ice cream and the kind of vomit inducing medicine you needed after trying to eat your toys. ⅖ stars

Michael…

(W’s) Movie Thoughts: In Short: Tabloid magazine writers want to save their reputation by bringing a real live angel (played so SO strangely by Travolta) back to the office in Chicago. Along the way they learn to truly live is to be human and to be human is to feel humility…or to forgive…or…or…Jesus I have NO idea what this movie is trying to say. Angels are sexy. John Travolta got to dance a little bit, a mediocre amount of hilarity ensued. To be perfectly honest with you, my partner segwayed into this so well I can’t thank her enough. The last time I witnessed this atrocity with mine own eyes was maybe 20 years ago. At this point in my life it’s very rare for me to have last experienced something “20 years ago”. Which I think says a lot about the re-watchability of this…thing. It really only needs to be seen once, if that. I last watched it with my mom and a most likely half-interested Dad. That being said, this movie is dripping with nostalgia for me. Randy Newman opens the film which calls me back to Toy Story (1995), Bob Hoskins plays what I can only assume was meant to be a villain (his character is so unneeded) but he of course will ALWAYS be Smee from Hook (1991). And weirdly enough John Travolta has this (for better or for worse) direct link to my formative years. I must have seen Grease (1978) 37 times as a little kid not to mention Look Who’s Talking (1989). The best way for me to phrase it is this, John Travolta was as accessible as oxygen growing up. Sadly but honestly, I remember this film fondly. But that, I think, is growing up. Memories of times gone by. Things we enjoyed then but if experienced now are just too different and strike far different chords. Like picking up new plastic toys only instead of the thrill of a brand new action figure, you end up with a headache from the toxic smell. ⅕ stars

(W’s) Comparison: Crushingly disappointing. Irresponsibly bad. My venn diagram for this weeks movie and this weeks wine is just one large all inclusive, unhappy circle. Both reminiscent of past experiences and both are experiences about which I wish to not reminisce. Sorry, Mom. Sorry, Dad. Love you guys.

(W’s) Weekly Winner: John Travolta, for tricking me all these years.

The weekly winner is Pinot Grigio!

L’chaim!

Citations:

Murphy Goode 2014 Pinot Grigio, California

Michael. Dir. Nora Ephron. New Line Cinema, 1996. Film.

Steel Magnolias vs. White Zinfandel

“When it comes to suffering she’s right up there with Elizabeth Taylor”-Robert Harling, Steel Magnolias

SteelMagnoliasvWhiteZin

(All of the spoilers)

(My) Wine Thoughts: Ahh boxed wine or rather wine of the sweet, boxed, cheap persuasion. Inexpensive, sweet and thoroughly mocked. But why? I’m gonna go right out and say it… I really liked this bottle. It’s easy to drink and has zero acid. I think like with most sweet drinks, I have my limits but who’s really going to hate on a drink that tastes good? To me, it tastes like an artificial strawberry popsicle think Otterpop, but no gross after taste. All in all, 4 Stars

(My) Movie Thoughts: I enjoy Steel Magnolias because it’s touching and about female friendships and bonding. Dolly Parton’s role in this definitely adds to it. Will will testify to the fact that I absolutely love Dolly Parton and seeing her play Trudy, the hairstylist whose husband neglects her, just makes her more lovable to me. I also appreciate that this film is women centered and passes the Bechdel test. It’s really about a group of multigenerational women and their enduring friendship in the deep South. Within the extreme sappiness and admittedly heavy handed plot, there’s some really great acting by Sally Fields, Shirley McLane and Olympia Dukakis. My favorite character other than Trudy has to be Shirley McLane’s Ouiser. Everyone loves to hate this character, but the more I age the more I see that Ouiser just keeps it real. She equips the film with some of the best one liners I think I’ve ever heard. 4 Stars 

Check out that 80s hair.

(My)Comparison: I’m a little ashamed to admit that I love both this White Zin. and Steel Magnolias. In exploring my shame, I have to think about why we peg these two pretty delightful or at the very least, banal things as “lame” and unworthy. True, both are so sugary they’ll give you a stomach ache… if you make both a regular habit. But both get a bad rep for no good reason. Both are things people make fun of for being simplistic, overly sweet and sentimental. Maybe I am a stereotype in that I enjoy Steel Magnolias when I’m pms’ing or fun-employed and need a good cry. But what’s wrong with that? Maybe we need to accept both of these for what they are, Steel Magnolias is a woman-centered drama and White Zin. is the non-wine drinkers wine. White Zin. will never be Pinot and Steel Magnolias will never be an action film. We should stop putting both down for not fitting into refined or “tough” roles. Let them be sweet and easy to be around. If you’re not into sweet wine or movies,  I  completely understand but if you’re not into them because they’re not “manly enough” then maybe you need to rethink what you’re trying to prove.. Also you have clearly not watched Steel Magnolias closely as Ouiser can probably outdrink me or any other male in my life and then knock your lights out. In my opinion, anyone who knocks Steel Magnolias or White Zin because they are viewed as stereotypically girly or feminine really needs to take their toxic masculinity and shove it.

(My)My Weekly Winner: This is a tie for me. I think White Zin needs Steel Magnolia’s and vice versa. Much like Ouiser needs Clairee to keep her from punching everyone in the face for being “too damn stupid”. Or I need Will to validate my anger but, keep me from yelling about the patriarchy to strangers.

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: I was once interviewed for a job by a gentleman who was wearing a shirt that read, “Friends don’t let friends drink White Zinfandel.” Like, culturally and socially I kind of understand what he was doing wearing that shirt. He was hiding!

Beringer White Zinfandel

He was living in denial and hiding his love for this cotton candy, bready booze scented treat. Right away after drinking the wine two things happened, I am immediately in love and immediately cheek blushingly inebriated. I am also a little terrified. This is a new discovery about myself. It tastes like kool-aid and melted jolly ranchers packed into a strawberry cannon! But how can this be? I’ve only ever made fun of people who drink White Zinfandel. “It’s what old ladies drink!” “It’s gonna rot your teeth!” “It’s not even real ‘Wine’!” I understand his shirt now. He too was living in fear. But I will be strong! I will live my truth: I like White Zinfandel. 3.5/5 stars

(W’s) Movie Thoughts: In short: Life in a tight southern community over the years seen through the eyes of a diabetic rebel (Julia Roberts), her worried mother (Sally Field) and her mother’s friends, a newcomer with the gift of hair dressing (Daryl Hannah), Dolly Parton and Dolly Parton’s breasts. Also seen in this film are the dumb husbands of the aforementioned women. This movie really caught me off guard. It begins sticky sweet with a wedding scene that rivals The Deer Hunter (1978) and Heaven’s Gate (1980). At least in the “Most pink wedding” category. It did not take long however for the horror of the characters lives to settle in our stomach and make us sick. Julia Roberts has Diabetes. She suffers a low blood sugar diabetic attack/seizure and we learn that it could possibly be the death of her if she ever bears children. Luckily Julia Roberts is a young up and coming actress and they’d never kill her off! Her character is too plucky to die!

Later she gives birth to a little boy, ends up needing a kidney transplant which her body subsequently rejects and she dies. All because she’ll be gosh darned if she listens to anything her mother says to her. Or anything Dr. Johnson and his stupid degrees have to say! But don’t worry, 13 minutes later after they bury her Sally Fields learns that the best cure for grief is laughter. Maybe a little bit of that southern sweet tea as well…as long as you splash a little White Zinfandel in there too. 2.5/5 stars

(W’s) Comparison: Both are incredibly sweet. Both certainly have their place. And both reminded me of my mom. On a serious note, Sally Field’s performance in this film hit so close to home that trying to find something to gripe about for comedies sake feels ALMOST impossible. She loved her daughter, cared so so deeply for her and wanted her daughter win and succeed and be smart and make good choices. But she was not overbearing. Sure she was protective but her daughter was a very fragile diabetic. All she wanted was for her kid to be happy and safe. Mom sometimes knows best. Please hug your Mom, and let your friends drink White Zinfandel.

(W’s) Weekly Winner: White Zinfandel

The weekly winner is White Zinfandel!

Slainte!

Citations:
Beringer Main and Vine, California
Robert Harling, Steel Magnolias. New York: Dramatists Play Service, Inc. 1988.Print.
Steel Magnolias. Dir. Herbert Ross. Tri-Star Pictures, 1989. Film.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula vs. Tokaji

“The count himself came forward and took off the cover of a dish, and I fell to at once on an excellent roast chicken. This, with some cheese and a salad and a bottle of old tokay, of which I had two glasses, was my supper.”  – Bram Stoker, Dracula

DraculavTokaji.png

WARNING: Lots and lots of spoilers....

(My) Wine Thoughts: This week Will went rogue and broke one of our rules (bad Will). Without my knowledge he dropped some considerable coin on our weekly wine pick. “In the book, Dracula gives Jonathan Tokaji which would be perfect for this week’s pairing” Who am I to say no to this level of nerding out? I applaud my partner’s wine/story connection — although it should be noted that there was no drinking of Tokaji in the film. That being said.. I’m so happy with his choice… after the last wine, this was a breath of sweet air! The tokaji was soft, balanced and tasted like sweet, golden raisins (I told you I wasn’t a wine person) with a hint of …varnish. The varnish took me down memory lane when I use to have to glaze my oil paintings after they had dried. It reminds me of one of my favorite styles of dessert wines, Vin Santo. We paired it with vanilla ice cream which I was not into… Will had this really great coconut-based dairy-free ice cream which worked perfectly with the Tokaji. Yes to coconut ice cream, no to the stuff that made my stomach hurt. All in all, 4 Stars.

(My) Movie Thoughts:  Even though I use to own the VHS (har har), it has been at least 15+ years since I had seen this. I had forgotten how completely ridiculous certain scenes from this movie are. I know it’s technically a horror movie but I could not stop laughing. Another thing I was very aware of is the film’s connection to Sonoma Wine Country. From Tom Waits’ cameo (Sebastopol native) to Coppola’s direction (Coppola Winery in Healdsburg). I have to imagine they crossed paths in wine country long before this movie was made. Other observations are that Gary Oldman was much better and less cheesy than I remembered him being and Winona Ryder isn’t completely awful in this either. I must admit that beast scene with Lucy (lets keep it at that) completely overridden any other memories of the film….Also Keanu Reeves totally gets an A for effort in attempting a “totally” British accent. All in all, I really enjoyed watching this movie as an adult. I recommend giving it a rewatch if you need a good laugh. If you’re a fan of this movie and live in Sonoma County, I also recommend visiting Francis Ford Coppola’s Winery and checking out Lucy’s wedding dress on display. 3 Stars.

(My)Comparison: You know, I really can’t be clever with this one because, this one is all Will… and no one puts Will in a corner or a coffin…..  

(My)My Weekly Winner: This was almost a tie for me but the wine is well , just so much….better.

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: I regret nothing. First and foremost it should be noted that this wine, in the style I was looking for, is unavailable below…lets say $25-$30. I know I broke our rules but it’s not everyday you get to drink the wine of kings and vampires. This Hungarian dessert wine was considered ambrosia of the gods by royal families throughout Europe for years until World War I effectively ended its production. In general, Tokaji wines sugar levels are measured in units called, Puttonyos. Puttonyos are baskets full of deliciously rotten, dried grapes that are added to wine barrels. The lowest existing level of sugar for Tokaji wines is 3 Puttonyos or 60 grams of sugar per liter. For this weeks selection we drank a bottle of Tokaji at 5 Puttonyos or 120 g/l! When I stuck my nose into my glass I smelled: Warm golden honey, orange rinds, soft vanilla and this super funky barnyard thing (very common in wine made with rotten/moldy grapes). Upon biting the neck of this wine and drinking I tasted: honey, pear juice. It was flavorful but also had so much weight to it, like a big heavy spoonful of highly concentrated fruit juice. It’s incredibly rich.

For those of you who can’t enjoy dairy treats, like myself, do yourself a favor and pair this with coconut milk, vanilla pseudo ice cream. Life. Changing. The wine is a 5/5!

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

(W’s) Movie Thoughts: In short, Romanian warrior (Gary Oldman) who fervently fought off armies of Turkish muslims loses his one and only love/bride to be after she believes him to be dead. Devastated by this loss he renounces Christianity, drinks some statue’s blood and becomes, essentially, the devil. But a devil who you kind of root for…because everyone else in this turd of a movie must have wandered on to se by accident and Francis Ford Coppola just ran with it. Then, what I can only assume was an awesome 400 years of bachelorhood and blood sucking go by (where’s THAT movie?) and Dracula decides to move to London to live a quiet English life only to be stopped by vampire hunters and Keanu Reeves (Jonathan Harker) on again off again British(?) accent. Later he falls in love with the reincarnation (this is never explicitly said but neither is any other exposition) of his dead bride, Winona Ryder, and she’s totally into him too. And it’s kind of wonderful and romantic in this love lost and found again kind of way. Unfortunately a really lecherous Anthony Hopkins (Van Helsing) and friends chase Dracula out of town and wound him to the point of submission. Then Winona Ryder chops his head off. You know, out of love. Credits roll. ⅖ Stars.

(W’s) Comparison: Jonathan Harker is greeted with a plate of roast chicken, potatoes and a pour of Tokaji when he first arrives at Dracula’s home (castle). Tokaji of course being a wine from Dracula’s neighboring country, Hungary. It’s this simple gesture of hospitality that makes Dracula a lot more than just a monster. He’s a sophisticated creature of the night. Tokaji wines were renowned by everybody from Pope Pius IV to Frederick the Great to Voltaire and Beethoven. Hell even Bram Stoker drank Tokaji … Wait a minute … Tokaji is made from desiccated grapes, grapes that have had their very essence sucked out from them by a mold, a rot…A parasite. But that rot is far more than just a rot. It’s a desirable rot, a sophisticated rot that makes a sophisticated wine. The kind of wine that would bite you on the neck, try to steal your bride to be and maybe leave you a little hungover in the morning, but it would at least have the decency to give you Roast Chicken and potatoes first. Oh my God, Bram Stoker was a drunken genius. He turned moldy grape dessert wine into an immortal horror icon.

(W’s) Weekly Winner: The wine wins hands down. The movie is so messy and confused. But the wine is so damn perfect. I also would like to mention one more thing, the holy grail of Tokaji wines is something called Tokajin Eszencia. This is wine made from ONLY the rotten grapes which when collected are stored in a way that they slowly release what little sugar filled liquid they have left in them. This insanely small amount of liquid is fermented for sometimes half a decade or more, reaching alcohol levels of under 5% abv. It is said that this wine, this blood of the Tokaji region, can be aged forever. An immortal wine. Wink wink nudge nudge.

The weekly winner is Disznókő Tokaji

Cin cin!

 

Citations:

Disznókő, Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2007, Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. United Kingdom: Archibald Constable and Company, 1897. Print.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Columbia Pictures Corporation, 1992. Film.

Bridget Jones’s Diary vs. Chardonnay

“Dear diary, I’ve failed again, I’ve poured an enormous glass of Chardonnay and I’m going to put my head in the oven.” -Bridget Jones’s Diary

BridgetJonesvChard

Fetzer Chardonnay
Fetzer Chardonnay

(My) Wine Thoughts: I cannot get the phrase “Cougar juice” out of my head. I keep picturing older women in Florida who are very tan, have big hair and are into younger men being thrilled with this stuff (not that there’s anything negative with any of those descriptors) but it’s just who I envision and its def. not me. This tastes like artificial pineapple candy (to me) with a very strong acid. Burns my mouth, isnt tart but the aftertaste packs a punch. Like getting sunscreen in your mouth. Admittedly, I felt buzzed from this one sugary glass but I chalk that up to not being much of a drinker, and genetics. Overall, this wine was as sad as the moment when B.J. cries into her wine singing “All by Myself” in her robe alone. I’m not into this particular “expression” it but I like buttery “non-authentic” Chardonnays so this isn’t my taste. 2 stars.

(My) Movie Thoughts: I grew up with this movie and read the book, but rewatching it I couldn’t help but think that B.J. is so naive and kinda codependent (for being in her 30s). I’m glad she had limits for crappy, abusive behavior (don’t get me started on Fifty Shades of Grey) but c’mon your boss hitting on you and being generally aggressive is probably not a great basis for a stable relationship. At the same time, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth even with their poofy 90s hair still hold up….like fine wine. What I find funny is how I completely missed Mark Darcy’s (Colin Firth) total lack of social graces as a teenager. I fangirled like crazy. Much like Pride and Prejudice’s (what B.J.D is based on) Lord Darcy, he spends half of his screen time insulting the protagonist and her family, is pretty dull, makes awkward stoic eye contact and is kind of an elitist. Then, halfway through the movie he professes his love for her in this mess of a dialogue (although to be fair P&P’s Lord Darcy was actually much worse to Elizabeth Bennett). My being blind to his flaws is as ridiculous as being oblivious to Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock i.e. rude and completely lacking social skills… Dear boyfriend pointed out my cognitive dissonance and teased me using his Robot Darcy voice. “Darcy attracted – Darcy insult- Darcy deep stare”. Oh well! At least I’m no longer attracted to characters who berate their love interests and send them mixed messages. 3 Stars.

(My)Comparison: Maybe my palate is actually more complex than I originally thought. I probably would have loved this wine 7 years ago, but I have more developed opinions and a much more sensitive stomach. I feel similarly about Bridget Jones’s Diary. I think I’ve grown past it. While I do think it’s sweet and feel nostalgically drawn towards it, I can’t relate to its naivety and campiness the way I could during my youth.

Fun Wine Fact: Apparently this movie destroyed Chardonnay sales in the 90s. A sad, single, “spinster” (probably one of the most anti-feminist tropes ever) wasn’t a sexy enough poster child for Chardonnay, apparently.

(My)My Weekly Winner: For me the winner is still the film. My inner teenager is attracted to automaton Mark Darcy. Ignoring all of the bright red flags and bringing on the dissonance. Oh stoic, socially inept, dapper Darcy be still my misguided heart. 

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: The task of selecting a specific bottle of chardonnay for this particular film was mine this week. As I was driving to Oliver’s and listening to some classic 90s grunge I had an epiphany: What if we removed bias from the equation, presented a sales associate with a price range and varietal and let them suggest a bottle? What if? The answer to this question is six dollars and ninety-nine cents worth of California chardonnay. Which means I was left with enough cash to buy my lady a Charleston Chew and return to the apartment as a champion.

Truth be told I was fairly sick when we watched and drank this week’s selection. Because of that I limited myself to a small splash of wine (because I have a guilt complex and didn’t want to disappoint my doctor). Upon sticking my schnoz into that little goblet I smelled: warm caramel, peach cobbler, apple juice and Band-Aid. The latter two offering a nice nostalgic reminder of my sugary, elbow scraped childhood.

Putting the wine into my mouth I tasted: Really expensive decadent apple juice and a Motts/Minute Maid level of sugar, marshmallow, roasty toasty brioche and, like, this very specific summer sausage/salami thing. Like a weird sandwich I would drunkenly make at 3 am.

(W’s) Movie Thoughts: In short, boozy spinster feels sorry for herself and chooses to change her life as part of her New Year’s Resolution. Along the way she is equally encouraged and discouraged in this task thanks to her small group of hilariously english friends and the savant like, but well intended, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and the sweet sweet (albeit loveless) loving of Daniel Cleaver played by the original McDreamy, Hugh Grant. And honestly, against my better judgement, the more Chardonnay I drank the more I fell in love with Daniel Cleaver. Even though my partner has made me suffer though the film before…I mean even though I’ve enjoyed previous viewings with my partner, I found myself entranced by this romancer. This cassanova of the 90s and early 2000s! However as my stomach turned with Band-Aid juice I realized the error of my ways and sided with Bridget. And I realized the movie is a love letter to those of us who struggle with the superficial, who find love in the wrong places and always at the wrong time, in the case of Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy anyway. Finally I felt rewarded when Mark Darcy beats Cleaver, not with his wits as a top barrister but with his fists as a socially awkward child would do. I felt as though this love story has hope and a potential happy ending in the subsequent sequels which I will hopefully never have to see. Truly, I felt a sense of peace knowing that Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy found love and that they would finally come together, like a weird sandwich I would drunkenly make at 3 am. 2 ½ stars

Bridget Jones's Diary
Bridget Jones’s Diary

(W’s) Comparison: A 21st century take on a classic piece of literature that, perhaps, would have shined if left in someone else’s hands. And the chardonnay? A 21st century take on a classic Burgundy varietal that, perhaps, you will regret drinking as much as I did. But then again who can say no to a bargain? $6.99? That’s like getting the chance to cast the same unenthusiastic actor from Pride and Prejudice (1995) in the same role in the revamped remake…oh that’s what they did…

(W’s) My Weekly Winner: It’s a toss up for me. I got to drink wine, I got to see a Hugh Grant movie. That’s a win-win. I know, I know, I can hear you saying, “but, how can you be so apathetic?!” Ok fair enough, my winner Bridget Jones Diary. There exists no other film in which the dashing yet dignified Hugh Grant gets his beautiful blue eyes smacked around by Rain Man, uh I mean Colin Firth.

The weekly winner is Bridget Jones’s Diary!

A votre santé!

 

Citations:

Fetzer Chardonnay, Sundial 2015, California

Fielding, Helen. Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel. New York: Viking, 1998. Print.

Bridget Jones’s Diary. Dir.Sharon Maguire. Miramax, Universal Pictures, 2001. Film.

Introduction

For the remainder of my Intro to Social Media class, “Will” and I will be pairing varietals and their movie counterparts for a dynamic duo review. Before we begin I’d like to give several disclaimers and self-imposed blog rules! 
 
1. We are not endorsed by any movie streaming/ renting site, any film production companies, nor are we endorsed by any vineyards/wine brands. But we are millennials and we absolutely love movies, wine and movie streaming sites (holy trinity AM I RIGHT?) and we will be using movie streaming platforms for this endeavor. We’ll totally review your wine if you happen to send it to us and if we can figure out a good movie pairing…
 
2. First and foremost, this is a parody review site. Any negative reviews are tongue and cheek and should be taken with a grain of salt. We also don’t claim to be professionals in anything other than our own tastes. I have personally enjoyed drinking boxed wine*and although “Will” is in the industry, he wants to add the following: “The goal of this blog is, in general, to simplify wine and films and play matchmaker for them. But taste is very personal and we all experience flavor very differently. In that vein, none of us love the same things for the same reasons and not all of us love the same movies, musicians or even wines for that matter. Every varietal is like its own a genre and every winemaker is a director. They all handle the craft differently and express creativity in their own way. It’s impossible to generalize varietals (and films) in any one way. It’s like comparing Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) to Lynch’s Eraser Head (1977). Or California Cabernet Sauvignon to Bordeaux.” Pure poetry.
 
3. Because of this, we have chosen to respect our wallets and choose inexpensive to moderately priced and commonly found bottles of wine for our reviews (Unless Will decides to splurge…ahem).
 
4. We will remain relatively anonymous i.e. pseudonyms (I’ll stop using parenthesis though because it makes it sound like I have an imaginary boyfriend), no pictures of our faces, home etc. because this is a public blog and neither one of us needs another restraining order.
 
5. We will use a 5 star system – because we’re not more creative than that.
 
(P.S. Children under 21 better leave and visit some other more age appropriate sites because this is not for them.)

Without further ado we bring you our reviews! Zum wohl!