Monday, July 15, 2013

Pacific Rim Film Review And Wine Pairing

Pacific Rim, worked into magic by director, Guillermo Del Torro, is a fantastic piece of science fiction set in the deeper future.  A crack has opened - a portal in the ocean's floor - that serves as a wormhole where giant, alien-engineered creatures (Kaiju) are sent through to destroy humankind.

For any kid or any adult that is feeling that she/he is, still a kid, this movie is a blast.  A full-blown rush of warfare between our own, human capacity to adjust to that age-old battle of (man) vs. nature as we are pitted against an alien force from another world.  This film is fun, scary, and hits on all notes of excitability.

I heard critics of the scenery conveying that it looked phony.  I read critics complaining that the acting was terrible.  None of this is, at all, accurate.  This joy ride was spot-on.  The scenery was amazing....the actors were perfect.....and Guillermo Del Torro adds just enough film-magic and raw horror to put this film in a class of its' own.

How can a movie, you may ask, be so much fun with all this bad criticism?  Del Torro has taken the original, Japanese genre of giant monsters in monster movies and lifted them to the next level - a modern, up to date, current pinnacle that kicks (excuse my French) Godzilla-ass all over the screen. 

Sure, this has been done so many times before.  But, I found myself eating popcorn much faster than I normally do.  Crunching and munching, I had a mess of a sweatshirt by the end of the film - for, as this has been done before, there has been plenty of time since the last Godzilla for us to see some more.  It brought me straight back to my childhood, sitting too close to the television, immersed in an episode of Ultraman and loving it.

The monsters that our heroes face were very original.  Of course, there was the awful, deep footstep sound - much reminiscent of Jurassic Park when the T Rex is approaching and the room vibrates and the items in the room wiggle a little more as each massive, approaching footprint is planted into the pliable earth.  There is bloodshed, there is violence....and it gets scary.

However, both conceptually and visually, it is the Jaegers(our massive human-run robots built to fight the beasts) that are even more impressive.  Think giant Terminators driven by nuclear reactors that know Kung Fu.  They fly, they have blasting lasers, raging fire weapons, switchblade swords.....they come to the rescue and brawl, hard with these evil beasts.  What a blast!

There is one wine and one wine, only, that I can pair with this film.  Very appropriately, I recommend the Zinzilla Zinfandel from Mendocino County.  On the label, a huge caricature of Godzilla to represent this wonderful genre of monster movies.  On the palate, the best zinfandel on the market that is under $10!  Deep and full of dark, berry fruit and spice notes with a touch of forest floor and perfect acidity, this wine stands up to plenty of 'em that are priced much higher!  Enjoy-

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lone Ranger Movie Review and Wine Pairing

The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Gore Verbinski, was released into theaters this past weekend.  Although it has taken some harsh criticism, in my eyes it was some good, summer fun that hit on some very high, entertaining notes as a perfect break from, yet more, record-breaking heat across the country.  The Lone Ranger is action-packed and thrilling but, more importantly, told the story of how this land was, truly, conquered - by slaughtering the natives that once graced these grounds.  In this, it is exciting, funny, and thrilling but, beats to the dark drum that Disney can play so very well in the messages it conveys about the reality of humankind.

So, what is my problem with review platforms like, Rotten Tomatoes giving The Lone Ranger bad marks?  Well, they suck.  It's a collaboration of a whole bunch of critics - some of which have no business writing as they have no imagination or personality, whatsoever, and seem too young to even know of the Lone Ranger.  The Lone Ranger was a good, wild ride.  The cinematography was done in most excellent fashion and the cuts and stunts(many of which Johnny Depp did, himself) were brilliant.

Sure, there was some cheesy stuff - they, definitely hammed-it-up but, it's The Lone Ranger, afterall.
Tonto, played by Johnny Depp, makes certain to provide some of the deep cheese that helps this childhood icon to be, exactly, what he is.  He is the very person who makes him wear the mask while, all the while, he makes fun of him for his ego, his character, and the very outfit he wears.  He is a true, American legend and why shouldn't we make a little fun of ourselves.  Think of some of what some of us grew up on - Ultraman, Flash Gordon, Six Million Dollar Man, - we just have to laugh at ourselves, this country, and culture.

With scenery shot in such places as the great, John Wayne's, Monument Valley and Arches National Park, The Lone Ranger draws upon the Spaghetti Western providing its' audience with a thick plot, rich in treachery, heroism, betrayal, and outright brutality.  Yes, this is Disney, folks.  It is heartwarming and endearing but, as it always has for generations, presents itself under the veracity of realism.  It is, somehow, for kids and, yet, somehow not.

For this film, I am going to recommend a wine pairing of a varietal that followed, much, the same path to California as that of the Spaghetti Western- Zinfandel.  Zinfandel is a varietal that, first, came from Croatia to Italy where it became, Primitivo.  It is one of the first varietals brought over by the Italian settlers and planted, here, in our great state. 

One of my favorites and crafted by a good buddy of mine, Doug Hackett - who, truly, lives with an independant spirit - a lone ranger - is Dogwood Cellars.  Receiving double gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, this zinfandel is stellar, by all accounts.  Rich in character and plot like a Spaghetti Western, this dark and sensual wine provides all the allure of an old west brothel with the depth in character of one of our favorite American icons, The Lone Ranger.   Thinking of warriors who earn and deserve a purple heart, enjoy Dogwood Cellars Zinfandel, remembering, as Disney wants us to, who really put up the best fight when their world was taken away - the true spirit of independence - Native Americans.