Friday, August 23, 2013

MUD Movie Review and Wine Pairing

What is MUDMUD is what churns up from the bottom of a hard-flowing river. MUD sticks to the bottom of your boots. It lay, deep down, packed full of dirt and silt and is the remains of a devastating flood, full of waste, debris.  MUD, directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Mathew McConaughey, is a tragic tale set in the deep south that is based on the life and character of a human being who came from nothing - from dirt, or, mud - the very place he was born.

Nichol's ability to show us the deep turmoil in MUD that can fester in human relationships and the dynamics of their evolution in this film is uncanny, unique, clever.  The story goes from past to present, present to past, the history, the future, the new - the old.  He ties MUD together so well in these relationships with his sordid tone it almost felt like a fable or a tragedy, the likes of Shakespeare.

As the film delivers a depth of sadness to its' audience, Nichols is able to portray to us that in all dark, there is light.  One just knows, from the very beginning, this story is going to be a tough one to swallow.  But, in it, relationships are fostered between McConaughey and two young boys that do provide a glimmer of light.  It is through this relationship with these two new friends he seeks to find redemption from past atrocities he has committed.  The bad guy learns something new about himself and the world and he, somewhat, evolves.  All the while, the mud they are stuck in, thickens.

Set in poverty, this struggle of the human condition is laden with human error in bad decisions, all, festering in the dirty world of poverty along the brown and churning Mississippi River.  There is lies, there is deceit, trickery, heartbreak, and there is murder.

But, what does shine in this film are the two little boys who aid this conman in his quest to find his lifelong love who, once, saved his life.  What they, first, begin to do to help him in his dilemma to be with his long lost love evolves into something quite different by the end of film.   They teach him about love, himself, and the bigger picture of life.  We are taken from dark to light and all the while the audience swims in the mud.

Somehow, though, we learn to love our bad guy by the end of the film.  Hell, it's Mathew Mconaughey....chicks dig him.  As this superstar gone bad isn't quite as tough to swallow as Ryan Gosling heading south in, A Place Beyond The Pines, it does end, somewhat tragically. 

For our pain and sorrows, i recommend a profound libation - something deep, heavy, and powerful.  For this, i suggest sipping DOW'S 20 Year Old Tawny Port.  With a light aroma of caramel and a hint of vanilla swirling in deep cherry fruit, this dessert wine is a perfect pairing.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Conjuring Movie Review and Wine Pairing

The Conjuring, directed by James Wan, has hit the big screens and if you haven't had the opportunity to get out and see it, I highly suggest you do.  This, of course, if you like the crap scared out of you.  It has been some time since I have spent $9 on something that really pleased me in this horrific fashion.  A lot of jumping, gasping, and fidgeting around in the audience between moments of silence and suspense.  If you are a horror buff - I.E....The Shining, Silence of the Lambs, The Exorcist, John Carpenter's, The Thing (My four favorites) will be moved to have both hands locked on to each arm of your theater chair.

As there is a great history that lays a foundation for this demonic tale, the time of the movie is set in the late 60's, early 70's.  It is, really, cool to watch an entire production not try and capture a time or age but, actually, present it in a way that is so well-done and convincing that you are there, caught in the period.  The characters and the choice of actors who play them is committed in splendid fashion and accuracy.  Some of them silly, some of them serious.  All of them about to face unimaginable horror.

Two of these characters, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.  In tandem, they work with the Catholic church performing exorcisms and eradicating lost spirits from possessed people or homes.  Most of their investigations lead to the discovery of old pipes in the attic that, when pressurized, bump against wood and make a haunting noise.  That is not the case in this farmhouse.

On the grounds of this farm, unspeakable tragedy has dug itself in, deeply, from a time long ago.  Through what looks to be a very sweet deal with the bank, this young, hard-working couple has found what they see as their paradise of the future, a beautiful, old farmhouse on a pond in the secluded countryside.  Here, they can raise their five girls and their sweet collie and live out the their dreams.  When the audience hears the first clap of two will know that what is coming is far from good.

If I have a criticism, I will say that some of this has been done before - gimmicks and scenarios used in other horror films of past.  However, James Wan ties these tricks of the trade in to his plot so very fluidly that there is no time to sit and make criticism because something else is just about to scare the crap out the audience, again, at every turn.  With this, I say, "ok, James - go ahead and use them again because you have allowed me to find joy, once more, in horror film."

For a wine pairing I will present something powerful and deep - a wine that means business and is built to make an impression on the memory.  My suggestion is the 2007 Two Hands Shiraz from the Barossa Valley, down under.  This wine is deep and dark with serious expression of black and ripe fruit.  Two hands to help you grip your chair in the glass of Two Hands Shiraz when you return home to calm your nerves.  Flat-out, a really well-done ghost story of high-horror caliber.