Sour Grapes

How much is that bottle of wine? Where did you get it? Check the label, carefully. And the foil. And the glass. And also the contents…

Fascinating account of a wine savant gone rogue. It’s juicy, but something doesn’t smell right…

Somm: Into the Bottle

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more interesting film about wine. There’s about 2000 years of vinicultural history packed into these 90 minutes. If you don’t know much about wine, and want to know what all the fuss is about, this is your film. If you are already knowledgable, you’ll enjoy it all the more. Pour yourself a glass, and watch it.


Heartwrenching. Such extremes, everything – first and foremost her talent – exaggerated so far beyond the rest of us. But also of course the dark side – the binges, the drugs, the drinking. It’s not a unique story – others have burned too bright and too fast, and much has been made of the fact that she joined the 27 club when she died. But this doesn’t lessen the tragedy, and the real sense of loss that watching this engenders. All these songs that will never be finished…

  1. Blake Fielder-Civil was a motherfucker. I blame him, drug addict fuck that he was, for dragging Amy down with him. I hope he’s still in jail.
  2. Her father was kind of a dick too.
    I wish I could have seen her just once in concert. Although maybe not the one in Belgrade…


Life Itself

Years ago I came to trust Roger Ebert’s movie reviews: We almost always seemed to agree. But of course his film knowledge was more expansive than mine will ever be, and his writing  just a bit better than my meager descriptions and reactions.

My habit of reading his reviews informed a deeper understanding of so many films that I watched over the past 30 or so years. And so, even today, I check to see what the staff there have to say about the present film:

“Life itself, that loaded two-word phrase, is what Roger really wrote about when he wrote about movies,” writes Matt Zoller Seitz. “The movie is about cinema history and critical history, writing and reading, drinking and sobriety, religion and doubt, love and sex and marriage and parenthood and labor relations and so many other factors that combined to create Roger Ebert.”

What a life.

A Most Wanted Man

The moral: Don’t trust Americans.

But inevitably, the reason we’ll remember this film is that it was Philipp Seymour Hoffman’s last…


Thanks for Sharing

Here once again we have an intriguing cast in a mediocre movie. I liked the scenes with the fresh faces more than those with the stars – Pink was pretty good! And most especially I disliked the scenes of the principle characters Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow together. Their kissing was cringe-worthy – I had to cover my eyes…

This, coupled with the predictability of the whole thing made this a bit of a disappointment. I’d really only recommend it for the interesting view it offered into addiction and its management.

A Year in Burgundy

That red burgundy that you enjoyed so much – how was it made? What was the weather like that year? What vines produced its grapes? Who harvested those grapes? How did it go from vineyard to bottle? And how many bottles were produced, for which markets?

These questions are addressed, but there are many more interesting details, such as the meals shared during vendage, the personal philosophies of the winemakers, their families and their motivations, their fears and hopes and joys. Even for those who know a good deal about the wines of Burgundy, an enjoyable little doc.


Mildly entertaining, if you don’t mind your historical crime drama about bootlegging presented in near-comic book fashion. Most particularly, the special deputy character played by Guy Pearce, is presented as a kind of overly-styled, borderline-insane buffoon. Although he is on the side of the law, he is clearly the bad guy.

The bad guys, on the other hand – the 3 bootlegging brothers – are shown in a romantic light, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but all of them apparently indestructible. Poor Jessica Chastain is the least fleshed out of all, and we are given no insight into what drives her to be where she is, doing what she’s doing.

The best part of the movie? Tom Hardy, who really does have a singular kind of intensity and screen presence. Otherwise, a pretty flat and uninspired film.

The Great Happiness Space

Who exactly is happy? This documentary showcased some of the things I most disliked during my time living in Tokyo. Silliness from adults, including drunkenness and screaming in shrill voices from girls, and guys with stupid, dyed hair who think far too much of themselves. And the girls pay to be with these guys? Oh, hookers. That makes some kind of sense. A pathetic tail-swallowing spiral of wasted time, money, lives…

August: Osage County

I felt, after watching this, that I’d just gone 12 rounds in a boxing match. This thing just pummels you… Some astounding acting, marred only by the fact that most of it is done by Meryl Streep, and all the while you are aware that you are watching Meryl Streep do it again… But in fairness, there isn’t a bad performance in the bunch, and what a bunch it is.

The other reason to watch this is that it will make you feel better about your own family. (If not, I don’t know what to say to you… )