Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bottle Shock

I have a crush on Bradley Whitford. His role on West Wing almost made me believe in the goodness of politicians. I went with my friend, Dan, to see Boeing-Boeing. A bit long, but I loved it. During intermission I was reading the Playbill and saw in Bradley's bio that he has a role in the new film Bottle Shock. Never heard of it. Then walking around my neighborhood a few days ago, I saw a poster for the movie. Must be a sign - I need to see this movie. Whoever said that good old fashion promotion doesn't work?

My friend, Monika, agreed to go with me and I'm stilling smiling from the good feeling I got watching that film, even if Bradley's part is all of 5 minutes long. I can't believe that I almost missed this film - the promotion seems very light. And that's a shame for a movie that is so delightful; as an indie film, I suppose money for promotion is scant at best. I've heard people refer to it as this summer's Sideways. Forget that - it's 10 times better than Sideways. As Monika said, "it's all the fun with none of the cynicism." And it's based on a wonderful, heart-warming, true story. Plus that cutie, Freddy Rodriguez (Ugly Betty), is in it, too, along with a perfectly cast Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman.

I've been fortunate enough to have visited Northern California a number of times, mostly for vacation. I nearly moved there right after college but I didn't get the job I was interviewing for there and couldn't afford to move there without one. I have a particular fondness for that area of the country, and if it weren't for the 3000 that separates it from everyone and everything that I know and love in this world, I'd be there in a heartbeat. But those 3000 miles are significant, and I gave my heart to NYC so Northern California will remain one of those places I adore from afar and occasionally have a fling with while on vacation. 

What I love about Bottle Shock is that it dispels Napa and Sonoma as these snobby, upper-crust places, and tells the story of their humble roots and the people who grew up cultivating that land and building an industry from scratch, despite the presumably superior competition of the French winemakers. But, you know what they say about those that assume...

In a sort of cheeky, sappy moment in the film, there were a few quotes I've been thinking about all day. Bill Pullman is walking the vineyards with his intern and says that the best fertilizer for vines are their owner's footsteps and that it's best to starve the vines, make them struggle, because that is the way they'll produce the best grapes. Just before that scene, Freddy Rodriguez discusses his philosophy about wine-making - that it is best done not by the rich who buy up land to grow a hobby, but by those who have spent a lifetime feeling the soil under their nails. 

While the movie is about wine-making, these lessons are certainly applicable for all of us. At its core, the movie is about sacrifice and commitment. Can we surrender the certain, predictable choices to stay true to who we are, what we believe, and what we love? There is a passion among wine-makers that is difficult not to share when we hear them speak about their art, their calling, and their love and affection for the land. Their dedication is admirable and their ability to enjoy and savor good wine and a good, honest life left me longing for the left coast. Maybe someday....   

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