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Film In Review

In This Issue



Daily Column

                                                                        Come join the editor Jennifer Barnick as she searches for the Champagne Life....

click for daily column

Sparkling Wine

Interview with flight attendant Peggy O'Brien-Gould by Dr. Timothy Smith

Feature Italy's Surprising Sparklers: A Guide to Italian Sparkling Wine by Sandy Mitchell

Sparkling Wine Review John Euclid reviews Spanish Cavas

Arts & Sciences Flying High: Is Alcohol More Potent at Altitude? by Dr. Timothy Smith

Industry News ...a brief survey of sparkling wine news

First Person

HelloGoodbye Ian E. Detlefsen says hello and George Mentis says goodbye.

Passion ForumDarlene Foster writes about LSU women's hoops

Under the Goldlight—True Tales of Drinking Champagne Felisha Foster revisits New Years 2003

Life Before Ten J. Blake Gordon tackles the nightmare

Art & Literature

The Marcia Reed Virtual Gallery Paintings by Lorraine Smith

Drinker's Poetry Fredrik Bergström and Robert Slattery

Fiction The Garden Keepers by David Sirois

Film in ReviewAnna Luciano opines on a current release; Suzie Sims-Fletcher evaluates a current DVD rental, and John Euclid digs deep in the closet to review a classic movie

Other Goodies

Founder's Page Greeting from Dr. Timothy Smith

Letters to the Editor click for full list

Photo Gallery Click for Pics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Release

by Anna Luciano

 

          I walked into War of the Worlds with low expectations, but avid curiosity.  With all the Cruise craziness in the media lately, I was definitely curious to see what he'd done this time – and was kind of looking forward to hating it.  I am not going to spoil the movie by revealing any of the plot "twists," or by recounting, point for point, how the book and movie differ. What I will say is that this adaptation does a pretty good job of updating the story, and connecting it to today’s audience. And it is very entertaining. Imagine my surprise.  

         The movie opens with Morgan Freeman reading the opening lines of the book, almost word for word, "No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own….With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of their empire over this world. Yet, across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes ... and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us."  With that, we are launched into the story of a dysfunctional family in a world that is falling apart.  Tom Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, a New Jersey blue-collar worker that has little, if any, interest in acting like a father to his precocious 10-year-old daughter (Dakota Fanning) and rebellious teenage son (Justin Chatwin).  When his ex-wife (Miranda Otto) drops them off for the weekend, he is less than thrilled - not a surprise to the kids, who have clearly given up on him. 

         Enter the aliens.  A lightning storm carries them to earth, and deposits them deep within the ground, where they can access the mechanical "tripods" they had buried millions of years ago.  The aliens, ensconced in these tripods, rise from the earth, and begin to lay waste to humankind. Everyone that crosses their path is either vaporized or used as food, and cities around the world are demolished. It is in through this chaos that Ferrier must travel with his children, on a quest to find their mother, and safety, in Boston.

         While the entire cast is decent, there isn’t enough character development to become attached. Instead of developing characters, Spielberg tries to do two things – show us how far parents will go for their children, and that this kind of horror isn’t so far from reality.

         As far as the first point goes, this film wasn’t particularly impressive. The simple fact is that there are hundreds, even thousands, of films that do a better job of showing parent-child love, and the personal and familial growth that comes out of tragedy. With more defined characters, this could have been better, but it would still seem out of place. This entire story line – not found in the book – could have been easily left out, without detriment to the movie.

         Regarding the second point – War of the Worlds does a phenomenal job of making something that should seem unreal feel completely plausible. While heavy-handed at times, by tying the alien attack to 9/11 and the war on terrorism, Spielberg undeniably draws in the audience. Watching the film, you can’t help but wonder, “Could the world as we know it really end?” As people lose themselves into panic, we see the stupidity of people in large numbers… and reflect on how we would act in their place.

         The film’s visuals are extraordinary, from the opening and closing scenes that show our world to the spectacular special effects. Sure, War of the Worlds has its flaws – it’s almost impossible to believe that we could have been sitting on top of these tripods for a million years without finding them, and we are treated to a ridiculously far-fetched happy ending – but overall, this is a solid science fiction/action film, perfect for watching on a hot summer day.

 

New DVD Release

by Suzie Sims-Fletcher

 

Prozac Nation

Directed by

Erik skjoldbjerg

(filmed 2000, released to DVD 7/5/2005)

         “That’s how depression hits – gradually, then suddenly.”

         Grab a glass, a comfy pillow, and your favorite anti-depressant; this never released to the big screen based on the HUGE 1995 book is bound to put you to sleep.

         A promising cast (Christina Ricci, Jessica Lange, and American Pie’s Jason Biggs) and interesting subject matter (mental breakdown from the pressures of life!) never really make you CARE about, well, anything.. Although the manic mom (Lange) has moments of brilliant believable hysteria (and if you have kids, you know what I mean) – we just don’t …care.

         Based on a true story, it follows Wurtzel (Ricci) from her acceptance to Harvard (with some nudity to make a point that doesn’t quite make it) through multiple depressive acts (with some childhood flashback showing a uniformed school girl for, uh… spice) through her (and her mother’s) downward spiral until – low and behold!with the help of PROZAC and her shrink (a blank faced Anne Heshe – does she have another look?) we are presented with the fact that the whole of America is depressed and either needs or takes drugs - at which point I said: pass me a ‘script.

         Seriously (and this movie does take itself seriously), I enjoyed the visual green leafery of the Harvard campus, and I related a little too well at times to the IDEA of what was going on, even if I didn’t feel it. I had problems with the costuming at times (people weren’t really wearing Doc Martens in ’85, were they? but more importantly, I saw no George Michael ripped jeans, or lace Maddona gloves or TEASED Lauper hair or Dynasty shoulder pads or…well you get the idea).

         PROS: You can watch it in your air-conditioned house wearing nothing but underwear on a hot hot summer day, pay light attention to the moving pictures and vaguely remember college.

        CONS: You might be reminded too much of your college days and cancel that great trip to your class reunion.

          I give it 5 CHAMPAGNE bottles – as long as you are drinking them!

 

Closet Classic

by John Euclid

 


 The New Age

         Peter Weller of “Robocop” fame and the inimitable Judy Davis star along with Adam West and John Diehl in “The New Age” directed by Michael Tolkin. The film was released in 1994 and runs for 106 minutes. This film takes place in Los Angeles and features the struggles and torments of a highly successful couple hitting the rocks. The well-to-do couple find their financial situation quickly reversed after Peter Weller’s character, in a moment of hubris, quits his job, and almost simultaneously his wife, played by Judy Davis loses her design firm. The couple, in one of my favorite moments of the film, decide the best course of action is to have a party. Subsequently, they try to build a business together running an expensive clothing boutique. All the while seeking spiritual enlightenment in various new age groups. I love this movie because it has some great dialogue with phrases that I still use today…such as “live with the question”…which was their guru’s response for most (if not all) of the couple’s questions. The dynamic between the husband and wife was continuously strained by their financial woes and their divergent spiritual quests (having extra-marital affairs was also not helping matters). Yet, they still manage a certain intensity and sincerity that moves this movie beyond simple satire. I love to watch this movie because it is visually beautiful, funny, bitter, and insightful. The view of the new age movement and its entanglement with the very wealthy, but lost was engrossing. This was one of the rare movies that after I saw it I immediately re-wound the movie and saw it again. I heartily recommend this movie—particularly to show in a group because this movie kicks up a lot of dust—great moral debates always ensue when I play this movie for friends.

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

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