Sunday, February 15, 2009

DVDebuts: Nick & Norah and Bottle Shock

New films, shorts and festivals have been keeping TrustMovies busy of late and unable to keep you apprised of what's worth a watch on DVD. Here's a quick look at two very nice recent additions:

When I mentioned to The Gay Recluse how delightful an entertainment is NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST, he told me that he'd heard it was one of the GLAAD Media Awards Nominees and that this surprised him as he had not heard it was a gay-related movie. Well, it is and isn't, and that is how its wonder and joy, particularly for gays, arrives. Nick and Norah, played by the lovely team of Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, are straight but the other members of Cera's band are gay -- a fact that is simply accepted as no big deal by most of the movie's characters. Shocking, this -- and perhaps responsible for why the movie, as good as it is, and as OK a box-office draw as it was, did not set the world on fire. But it's what we need more of: movies in which gays are just there and part of the whole pleasant mix of the world that opens up in front of the viewer. That the boys in Cera's band are also funny, sweet, bright and -- when necessary -- strong is great, too. Peter Sollet's first full-length film since Raising Victor Vargas is a welcome addition to the anyone's list of wonderful NYC movies. (It's been a long while since I watched a film this filled with specific Big Apple locations.) I just hope we won't have to wait six more years for Sollet's next outing. And speaking of sex scenes, has anyone else handled the female orgasm in such a sweet, engaging visual manner?

Another film that ought to have been more widely seen, appreciated and enjoyed is Randall Miller's BOTTLE SHOCK, detailing the now famous blind wine tasting in France that pretty much put California wines on the map. There's no need to take the movie as gospel to enjoy its many pleasures. These start with a fine cast: Alan Rickman at his usual best, Bill Pullman and Freddy Rodríguez in an interesting role that manages to both praise and pull the rug from under California's Hispanics. (I'm not sure that this is what Miller intended, but it's what happens -- which seems rather true and typical of everything that has gone on in that state over many decades.) The screenplay is interesting, full of history and wine braided through with characters and events that are such fun that the learning process is painless. And the occasional coincidence -- the meeting of the Rickman and Pullman characters, for instance -- is acceptable because it's handled with sophistication and flair. The look of the movie is terrific, too (cinematography by Mike Ozier). Some critics were way too harsh on this one, which should have found a wide and thankful audience from the usual independent pot. DVD ought to remedy this, so visit your local retailer or queue up.

Above: the delicious Alan Rickman, about to imbibe.

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