Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wine & DVD - Testarossa Pinot Noir Gary's Vineyard and "August Rush"

I wanted to make sure I posted this the night we watched the movie and not the night after because I wanted to make sure I remembered everything clearly.

First off, the wine: Testarossa Pinot Noir Gary's Vineyard 2006 - this was the only good thing about the wine & DVD (more on the DVD in a minute). From the Santa Lucia Highlands of California, this lovely Pinot was everything I'd expect from Testarossa. Hubby and I joined their wine club and so far they have consistently sent us wonderful wines. This Pinot Noir was no exception. Smoky, dense cherries, lingering finish. You know, everything you'd want in a California Pinot. It definitely made watching the movie easier.

"August Rush" - lord have mercy, where do I begin? Boy (musician in band) meets girl (concert cellist) at a party, they spend one night together, girl (with overbearing father) leaves boy to persue her music career, boy and girl lament over parting, girl is pregnant, girl gets in accident at the last trimester of her pregnancy, overbearing father tells girl baby is dead, baby boy child not actually dead and grows up in orphanage hearing music in everything, child runs away at 11 years old, child goes to Julliard and conducts symphony that he wrote, girl and boy attend concert and reunite, child realizes parents are in audience, everything is okay.

This was schmaltz, pure schmaltz. Plain and simple. And I fell for it hook, line and sinker. There are movies I've cried at, plenty of them. I cried at this one, but there's a big difference. This movie made me feel used. I felt guilty for crying. Nothing was believable. Lots and lots of factual errors, and it's like the producers didn't even care. It's like they were just going for the tearjerker. They banked on the major percentage of the audience doesn't pay attention to detail.

If you can watch a movie and can blank out facts and reason, then by all means watch this DVD. Otherwise, don't waste your time. You'll hate yourself afterwards if you do.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wine & DVD - Shirvington Shiraz and "The Producers"

Last night we shared a bottle of Shirvington Shiraz 2005 from McLaren Vale in Australia. This is one fantastic bottle of wine! The nose was wonderful, filled with vanilla, berries and a hint of spice. The palate was a burst of flavor, everything you'd expect from an Aussie Shiraz. It started out with an explosion of berries, and finished with a beautiful round of vanilla. Smooth, silky and sensational!

"The Producers" - this was the new version (adapted from the Broadway musical) released in 2005 starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reprising the roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, originally played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. I think Nathan Lane did a pretty good job as Max, but (in my humble opinion) Matthew Broderick just didn't quite cut it as Leo. His portrayal seemed too...forced. Gene Wilder was naturally goofy and the role was perfect for him. I think this was a role better suited for someone like Rob Schneider. Matthew Broderick is a fine comedic actor, but he's not goofy. And the role really did call for someone of that ilk.

The original was not a musical, but the newer version was. I didn't feel the storyline called for it being a musical, the original was much better. One of my favorite characters from the original movie (LSD played by Dick Shawn) was not in the newer version, and I think he was a critical member of the cast.

The plot of the movie: Leo Bloom, an accountant, discovers an error in Max Bialystock's books from the production of his last play, which flopped. It turns out he raised more money than it cost to produce the play. Leo offhandedly states that you could theoretically make more money from a flop than from a hit, if you were corrupt enough to do that, of course. Max jumps on the idea and enlists Leo as his co-producer/co-conspirator and it goes from there. You'll have to watch it yourself to find out what happens ;-)

I will say that you absolutely HAVE to watch the gag reel on the bonus section of the DVD. I think I laughed harder at the outtakes than I did during the entire movie!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DVD - "Fido"

We didn't have any wine last night (I know...WHAT???), but we did watch a movie called "Fido" starring Billy Connolly and Carrie-Anne Moss. I'd never even heard of this movie before, and found it when searching Netflix for Billy Connolly performances. You HAVE to check out his stand-up routines, they're hysterical!

"Fido" is set in the 1950's small-town America after the Zombie Wars. (A blast of radiation brought dead people back to life and could only be killed permanently if the brain was damaged.) Enter Zomcon, a company that keeps zombies under control via a special collar. Zombies can now be a productive part of the community and can hold jobs such as milkman, paperboy, etc. Hubby says it's "Night of the Living Dead" meets "Leave it to Beaver".

Timmy Robinson is a shy boy with no friends who gets bullied at school. His mother brings home a zombie for a servant (because every family on the block has one!) and Timmy befriends him, naming him Fido. Hilarity ensues. I laughed my butt off pretty much throughout the movie and highly recommend it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wine & DVD - Bleasdale Shiraz and "Donnie Darko"

Bleasdale Shiraz Reserve 2003 - from Langhorne Creek in Australia. This shiraz has aromas of dark fruits, spices and a little bit of tar/asphalt. The palate is rich with dark fruits (plums, blackberries, raspberries) and a hint of vanilla. Quite a lengthy finish. Full-bodied and packs a nice punch.

"Donnie Darko" - wow, talk about surreal! Released in 2001 and set in the late 80's, stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the title character. Lots of well-known names in this movie: Drew Barrymore (who was also one of the executive producers), Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wylie, Mary McDonnell, Katherine Ross.

Donnie is a disturbed high school student, prone to sleepwalking, who has visions of a creepy rabbit (this is no Harvey, folks). The rabbit, named Frank, tells him to do all sorts of destructive acts and he complies. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a very convincing psycho. His facial expressions alone gave me chills.

The visual effects were great, the soundtrack made me realize just how old I am (*sigh*), and the acting was good. I can definitely recommend this movie. But if you tend to have nightmares, watch this movie earlier in the day so you have time to shake off the freaky imagery. It's 11:15PM now and I just finished watching it. I think I'm in for a fun night :-/

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wine & DVD - Sarah's Vineyard Merlot and "Bedazzled"

Sarah's Vineyard Merlot Des Grandes Hommes 2003 - from the Santa Clara Valley of California. We picked up this absolutely terrific bargain of a wine when we visited some friends last September. Beautiful raspberries and vanilla aromas that follow through on the palate. Rich, smooth and luscious. Regularly $25.00 per bottle, it was on special for a mere $10.00 per bottle! Of course there is no more to be had at the vineyard, but we still have a few more bottles squirreled away :-D

"Bedazzled" - this was not the newer version with Brendan Frasier and Elizabeth Hurley. This was the 1967 version set in England with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. There were some similarities with the two, but the older version was, expectedly, very dated. Dudley Moore played Stanley Moon, a shy cook at a Wimpy's burger restaurant. He lusted after Margaret Spencer, who pretty much didn't know he existed. Enter Peter Cook as George Spiggot, aka the Devil. Stanley sold his soul to George for even wishes, which George promptly sabotages. If you've seen the new Bedazzled, then you can probably figure out how the older one ended.

All in all, I preferred the newer version. Elizabeth Hurley as the Devil was just brilliant casting. Don't get me wrong. Peter Cook was good, but he just couldn't pull of "despicable" like Liz!

I forgot to mention...we watched this movie on out new Roku Netflix player and it was pretty cool. I have over 100 movies queued up, so there will be no shortage of movies to review :-D

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wine & DVD - Testarossa Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow and "The Shape of Things"

Testarossa Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2006 - from the Santa Lucia Highlands of California, this wonderful red was made from some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in North America. Beautiful brick red in color with dark cherry aromas. Crisp and vibrant palate loaded with dark fruits and a bit of spice. Lovely!

"The Shape of Things" - released in 2003 and starring Paul Rudd and Rachel Weisz. Paul plays Adam, who is a shy and introverted security guard at a museum. Rachel plays Evelyn, an art student who Adam meets at the museum when Evelyn steps over the roped off area in front of a statue that she was about to deface. They begin dating and Adam starts to change, much to the chagrin of his friends.

The acting, in my humble opinion, is only so-so, but the story is excellent. This psychological drama is heart-wrenching, funny, sad and, most of all, unbelievably messed up. Hubby figured out almost from the beginning what Evelyn was up to, but I try not to look that far in advance. I follow the movie and just watch as things unfold. I was blown away at how she...

Nah, you'll just have to watch it for yourselves.

Wine & DVD - Marquis Philips Sarah's Blend & "Charulata"

Marquis Philips Sarah's Blend 2006 - a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot clocking in at 15% alcohol (no wonder I was a bit loopy!). Rich, full of delicious dark fruit. Even at that level of alcohol, it was still smooth and very succulent. Great QPR. We got it on sale for $11.99 per bottle and bought a case.

"Charulata" - (in black & white) released in 1964 and set in 1870's India, it's about a young wife (Charu) whose husband is too concerned with his newspaper to give her any consideration. Her loneliness is evident and he asks his brother (in-law?) to keep her company. Can you say "love triangle"?

I have several problems, not with the movie itself, but with the production:
The DVD looked like it was copied from a poor quality videotape
The contrast was super-high making watching the film difficult, especially with subtitles
The subtitles seemed to be a poor translation of what the characters were saying. At times the subtitles lingered far too long, at other times they moved too quickly.
The sound quality was pretty bad (pops, static, etc)
As the movie progressed, the picture got darker and darker, making it difficult to distinguish who was speaking.

So it's impossible to give a good review of the film itself since we were so distracted by the poor quality.

But...we DID see a terrific Bollywood film the previous night - "Saawariya", another love triangle theme. Released in 2007, this was the first Bollywood film to be produced and released by a Hollywood production company (Columbia TriStar), and the first Indian/Bollywood film to be released on BluRay disc.

The scenes were lavish - gorgeous cinematography, rich colors. Based on Dostoevsky's "White Nights", it was a story about Ranbir Raj who meets the lovely Sakina who is waiting for the return of Imaan. The acting was wonderful, the singing and dancing were great, the! This film was a visual feast. I enjoyed it so much I'd like to purchase the BluRay disc so I can watch it again (and again).

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Featured Product at Wine Diva Designs

Starting this month, I will be featuring one of my products at Wine Diva Designs. This month it's "The Usual Suspects" Tote Bag, marked 20% off for the month of June!

Check it out!