Friday, August 26, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - On The Altar Of Altman

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 pour up some wine pairings for a few films directed by the late, great Robert Altman. He was a groundbreaker, a trailblazer, an innovator - and hopefully our pairings will be at least half as inspired as his movies.

California Split, from 1974, has been called the greatest movie ever about gambling, and that may be, despite some lofty competition like Ocean's 11, Molly's Game and Atlantic City. Las Vegas and the Jersey shore I get, but isn't everyday life a gamble in Los Angeles - even when you're not at a card house or a Native American casino?

Split is set in Reno, where many people go to gamble after they've seen Lake Tahoe. The movie captures the grimy essence of the gambling world and Altman's famous overlapping dialogue perfectly recreates the feel of walking a casino floor. Except, after the movie you still have most of your money.

If you're a fan of the card tables, you might try a wine from JAQK Cellars - the letters stand for jack, ace, queen and king. If you don't find those cards, you may not be playing with a full deck. Their main wine seems to be the High Roller Cabernet Sauvignon. Suuure it is. 

1971's McCabe and Mrs. Miller was the followup picture to M*A*S*H. For a smooth transition from California Split, we can make note that McCabe is a gambler who rolls into town and starts a whorehouse, and the original title of the film was The Presbyterian Church Wager. That notion was dropped after the Presbyterian church took offense.

Critics refer to McCabe as a "revisionist western" and Altman himself called it an "anti western." It’s set in a Washington mining town in the early part of the 20th century, which tends to give a nod towards a more modern time than the horse'n'buckboard era. 

The gambler hooks up with a lady hustler, and together they find that there is a fortune to be made in selling sex. However, when a fortune is made, someone always wants a slice of the pie. 

Here's a Nevada dessert wine made right down the street from a brothel. Too on-the-nose for you? I didn't think so. Check with Pahrump Valley Winery for this Port-style sipper.

Short Cuts hit the big screen in 1993 and won praise from many critics, while disappointing others. The bad reviews called it shallow and sexist, while the fans listed it as one of the best of the year. The movie raked in a number of awards, and it might have bagged more if '93 hadn't also been the year of Schindler's List. 

The script assembles a collection of Raymond Carver stories into a glimpse of life in Los Angeles during a time when the Mediterranean fruit fly was the worry that distracted us from the fear of earthquakes. Shallow? Us? Stop whining and help me get ready for my next audition.

For a movie which is basically an ode to L.A., how about a wine from the heart of L.A.? San Antonio Winery is the largest and oldest wine producer in the City of Angels, although the grapes are grown elsewhere these days.

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