Trailers From Hell. This week, pour up wine pairings for three movies concerning the lives of fine artistes who had it rough.
Isadora is the 1968 biopic of dancer Isadora Duncan. She gained worldwide fame as a dancer, someone who created beauty yet suffered unimaginable pain during her life and died tragically at only 50 years old.
We all know what happens to free-spirited artists who seem to have things going along too nicely. That's right, torture. This film covers Duncan's too-short life in all the detail that fits in nearly three hours. Over the years the running time has been trimmed - even the director's cut is 24 minutes shorter - and the current feature spans just over two hours. So you miss a few highlights, save your tears for the right times. And do not cut any of Vanessa Redgrave's lines!
Duncan lost her two children when the car they were in drove into the Seine river. An automobile figures prominently in her own death, too. She took a ride in someone’s Bugatti convertible in Nice. Her long scarf - flapping in the breeze behind her - got tangled in the car's wheel and strangled her. I must admit, that is a bit more tortured than I want my own demise to play out.
The Wine Collective, out of Baltimore, has a rosé named after Isadora Duncan. Isadora is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Manseng and Merlot grapes that were grown in Virginia. Having had good experiences with Virginia wines, I can venture that sipping this one will be no torture.
1973's Payday features Rip Torn as a country music singer who is living life just a little too large. You can actually stop right there - you had me at Rip Torn. He has a certain amount of fame which he keeps in his Cadillac, right next to the Wild Turkey he uses to bribe deejays. He also uses the Caddy as a rolling motel room in which he beds women, usually to no great pleasure for either party. Touring, too many angry women, a knife fight gone wrong - this guy's torture is all self-inflicted. The car plays a role in his own inevitable end, by the way, even though he is not wearing a scarf at the time.
Here's a site which pairs wine with candy bars. Really. They recommend a Ruby Port with the candy bar called Payday, so let's do that, if your local deejay has run out of Wild Turkey.
The Music Lovers hails from 1970. That was a great year for a lot of things - pop music, TV, bell-bottom pants - but it was not a good year for Ken Russell's movie about Tchaikovsky. This film was so abused by the critics you'd have thought they were all relatives of the composer. "Tedious," "grotesque," “perverse” and "wretched excesses" were just a few of the epithets hurled at Russell's film, and those were from the critics who liked it.
Tchaikovsky's torture started at an early age, when he watched his mother die a violent and painful death. His marriage to a bizarre woman - described variously as a "crazed half-wit" and a nymphomaniac - didn't last long. That could have been because Tchaikovsy preferred men, but the topic apparently never came up between him and his bride-to-be. Oops! Eventually he drinks poisoned water and dies of cholera, the same illness that plagued his mother. The film sees it as a suicide, and who could blame him?
For a complicated guy like Tchaikovsky, who made some pretty complicated music - how about a nice, complicated Pinot Noir? Melville's Estate Pinot comes from the Sta. Rita Hills part of Santa Barbara County. It is a rich, complex and elegant Pinot which will pair perfectly with Tchaikovsky's music - and hopefully with Russell's vision of it.
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