Friday, June 28, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Donald Sutherland 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 look at a few films from a great actor who shuffled off this mortal coil last week. 

Donald Sutherland has passed away, a loss for the movie industry that is immeasurable. He was a big part of my formative years, with his roles in Kelly's Heroes, M*A*S*H and, of course, Animal House. I suppose I was already pretty well formed by 1978, but Animal House had a big effect on me anyway. In fact, many of my best friends just after college were fat, drunk and stupid. 

Alex in Wonderland is a 1970 movie about making movies. Specifically, the story follows a director, Sutherland, who finds himself stumped about how to follow up his first film, a big, boffo, box office smash. Director Paul Mazursky may have drawn from his own life. He chose this film as a follow up to Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice

I love movies about making movies, and if you’re reading this, you probably do, too. Films like The Player, State and Main, Day for Night, Swimming With Sharks, Blake Edwards' S.O.B., Boogie Nights - heh heh, just had to throw that one in there to see if you're paying attention. Alex in Wonderland fits right in on that list.

Sutherland's Sgt. Oddball character from Kelly's Heroes took a break while waiting on some tank repair. "I'm drinking wine, eating cheese and catching some rays." Good idea. Let's use a nice white wine for this purpose. You can get one for about $20, but since this is a special occasion, let’s spring for Pascal Jolivet, a $40 bottle in most places. Get a nice goat cheese and a chaise lounge in the sun to go with it. 

In the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Sutherland plays his lead role, as Variety puts it, "all warm and menschy good vibes." That's what makes the ending so hard to take. We don't want to see the nice guy become a replicant who looks like a normal person, but has no human emotion. We have Republican senators for that.

A lot of people say that this is their favorite Donald Sutherland movie, that he helps lift it from being just another tepid remake. As his son said, his dad was "never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly.

While searching for a wine suitable for a pod, I came across pea pod wine, presumably a British delicacy. They say the pea flavor goes away during fermentation and leaves a wine that is much like a Sauternes. I'll bet it does. And, since we do not want calves brains in red wine, and we do not have any secrets from the Department of Health, why don’t we just have the red wine? Bellingham, from South Africa, has a Pod Red Blend which is mostly Pinotage. If that doesn’t make you yearn for the pea flavor that was vinified out of pea pod wine, check the price: 1,860 rands. I had to use Google, but a rand is worth about a nickel, which still leaves us with a hundred dollar wine. For a Pinotage? That's a hard pass. Calimaia's Vino Nobile is mostly Sangiovese and sells for about $25 a pod, er bottle. Can we move on now?

From 1973, Don't Look Now features Sutherland and Julie Christie grieving over the drowning of their daughter. The film is edited so that it's hard to tell what's from the past, what's in the future and what's happening right now. If you get confused, there's always the steamy sex scene to allow you to hit the reset button.

Long ago, I lived in an apartment next door to a guy I had yet to meet. He had just moved in, and one evening I heard him watching television. I could tell that he was watching a videotape (this was back in the VHS days) and that he kept watching the same segment over and over. I could tell because of the cheesy music. I began to wonder what he was watching, especially since the music in the scene was so very cheesy. Then it dawned on me. He's watching porn, and he's found a favorite passage. If you want to revisit the sex scene in Don't Look Back a few times, I won't think any less of you. Just know that it could be awkward when you meet your next-door neighbor. 

If you're making a cocktail for this one, make it a Death in Venice. We're here for the wine, so let's open up a Veneto Amarone by Masi. This Valpolicella classico runs about $80 and will pair well with the red theme that runs through Don't Look Now

Whether you go with my pairings or choose to *gasp* decide for yourself what you'd like to drink, please raise a glass to an actor who wore his emotions on his incredible face. From intense pain to giddy happiness to lost confusion to buzzy inebriation. Donald Sutherland made all those roles his own. And nothing changes that, not even death. 

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