Friday, October 2, 2020

Blood Of The Vines - Michael Chapman Week

Pairing wine with movies!  See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies and many more at Trailers From Hell.  This week we mourn the loss of cinematographer Michael Chapman, who passed away recently at his Los Angeles home.

If you like the way 1976's Taxi Driver or 1980's Raging Bull looks on the big screen - or on the handheld device you are likely using during the pandemic - you may want to credit Michael Chapman as much as Martin Scorsese for that appearance.  Chapman gave a singular look and feel to those films through his cinematography.  

In Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle's cab becomes an urban spaceship, creeping through the hell of the Big Apple's dark, mean streets.  With its ultra-violence, vigilantism and child prostitution, this was not a good "date night" movie.  In Raging Bull, the stark black-and-white images leap from the screen as if we are thumbing through Life magazine in the 1940s.  Bull was the antidote to what Scorsese felt was the career poison of New York, New York.

I don’t imagine Bickle being a wine drinker, unless Betsy was having one.  He would probably order wine only by color, anyway - red or white.  You talkin' to me, barkeep?  Let's pair the booze with his haircut.  The Mohawk Spirits Distillery of upstate New York makes liqueurs that run the alcohol up to 30%.  That could be enough to warm someone up to a first-date porn film.

For Raging Bull, try Bigardo's Experimental Red Wine.  It not only hails from Spain's Toro region, it has the hand gesture for bull horns on its label.

Chapman also worked with Scorsese on the last hurrah for The Band.  The filming of the 1976 Thanksgiving concert called The Last Waltz was a technical achievement for its day.  The star-studded concert was captured by nine cameras running simultaneously.  Just babysitting them was enough of a job - not to mention making sure they all had film in them.  

There is no wine for The Band in the massive lineup offered by Wines That Rock, but you’ll be in good company for a once-in-a-lifetime rock experience.  Try the Grateful Dead wine, even though Robbie Robertson and his crew were not known as jammers.  

The 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers also had Chapman in the cinematographer's chair.  A remake of the 1956 horror classic, the movie centers on replicants who look like actual people but are without any human emotion.  Think Republican senators, if you need a reference point.  

The San Francisco setting means we can look to Bluxome Street Winery - an urban winery in SOMA which serves up a bit of local history in addition to its Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.


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