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Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ Category

If you know me, you know I do not drink alcohol, at all.  So with that being said, you may have been confused if you happened to see me last night sitting at The City Winery on Varick street, for about 5 hours.  I was there with my girlfriend and some other friends to catch the NY premiere screening of the film “Blood Into Wine”.

The film, a documentary about the Arizona vineyard owned and run by Eric Glomski and Maynard James Keenan, had sold out in a flash once tickets went on sale.  Now I,  like a lot of the attendees, swooped up those tickets fast.  Not only to see the film, but also due to the promise of a special guest Q and A following the screening, which everyone expected to include, Maynard James Keenan, himself.

And yes, he was there...

But this is not a post about a Q and A with the man, the myth, the legend, etc. This is a film review, of one hell of a fantastic documentary.   In an echo of the introductory speech given before the film, by the now east coast distributor of the wines made at the Arizona Stronghold; It does not matter if you are interested in seeing and being a part of anything Maynard touches, it doesn’t matter if you are the world’s greatest wine enthusiast, it doesn’t matter if all you love is a summer blockbuster that is all about the explosions and special effects, and it doesn’t matter if you really don’t care about anything; this film will move you.
Very quickly, for those who don’t know, Maynard is the lead singer for the band Tool as well as the mind and creator of his ever evolving solo, vaudeville-esque side project, Puscifer.  Around 2003 he bought up land in Jerome, AZ and started his own winery with the help of experienced wine maker Eric Glomski.
The film chronicles the hardships and rewards of the entire wine making process from planting to bottling and in the case of these two men, how to market a wine from Arizona, to a country with the mindset that wine not made in Napa, Italy or France, for example, is not a quality product.
But when everything is over, this film is really about passion.  It didn’t have to be about wine, though some things a laymen or even a connoisseur, may learn about the history and or myths about wine is fascinating, it could have been about anything.   This is a film about two men who are doing something they truly love, that drives them, that makes them want to explore their worlds further.   It is something everyone should feel in their lives and even if you have not taken that journey yet, watching Eric and Maynard at what is one’s craft and one’s growing craft, will move you; will inspire you.
It should also be noted that if you think you are walking into a straight forward documentary, you are wrong.  This film three-quarters of a learning experience and one-quarter ingenious laugh fest.  I dare anyone to see this movie and tell me they did not crack up at least three times (more if you have a sense of humor).
Do yourself a favor, If there is a screening of this movie near you, go.  If there isn’t and you are not up to booking your own screening, go to the film’s website: http://www.bloodintowine.com/ where you can pre-order a copy for yourself, to be released on September 7th. You will not be sorry.
I would like to finish this short review by apologizing to Eric and Maynard for the collective group of drunken maniacs who did attend the screening along with me, my girlfriend, my friends and the handful of civil audience members who were there and thank them for the tremendous job they did, in handling the questions and the screaming freaks, kudos.

Thank you gentlemen

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  If you know me, you know of my love for, “The Mars Volta” and most, if not all of the work of the group’s songwriter, guitarist and conductor; Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. 

  His first film to see the light of day to anyone other than his friends, and third to be filmed, “The Sentimental Engine Slayer” had its U.S. debut this past week in NY, as an entry in The Tribeca Film Festival.

  Following the exploits of  Barlam, played by Rodriguez-Lopez himself, “The Sentinmental Engine Slayer” is the story of a young man, who is just trying to better his life.  In doing so though, he can’t help but just ruin things even more, for himself and his family.

  The film is told in a pieced apart, non-linear style that frankly would confuse mainstream audiences, however, the film never really gets as far out of hand as one might expect.  It is a valiant first effort, or third effort I guess, for Rodriguez-Lopez who shows tremendous promise in the category of being a film maker.  The film looks polished enough that if i told you it came out of a small independent film house, you wouldn’t think twice.  In reality, shot at the end of 2007, the film was made by Rodriguez-Lopez with the aid of his friends and family and nothing else.  Shot, only so he can learn about the process and experience it, the cast and credits roll looks similar to what would appear as someone’s, summer BBQ guest list. 

  Through-out the film I can pin-point two specific scenes, both featuring Rodriguez-Lopez’s, Barlam, with the character of Oscar, played by Nomar Rizo, that are absolutely fantastic and show off the true film making talent that rests inside Omar.  Beyond the fact of how well these small personal scenes were put together, along with the film as a whole, they illustrate what I found to be the biggest surprise watching this film.  Omar Rodriguez-Lopez also has acting chops.

  I am not getting ready to hand him a best actor award or anything, but I was really impressed by the job he did.  Maybe it is more because, as a fan of all his work, I know the type of over-energized and nervous personality Omar exerts on a day-to-day basis.  It is sort of the same feeling I get from Woody Harrelson.  Knowing how much of a space cadet Harrelson is in real life, even his goofy character of Woody, on “Cheers” is a triumph.  Even if you don’t know the typical Omar mannerisms compared to those of his character Barlam, he still turned in a solid performance that was noteworthy.

  As I stated earlier, “The Sentimental Engine Slayer” is not a film for everyone.  If you are looking for something different from the typical churned out Hollywood fare/you are a fan of Omar’s work, then I would suggest seeing it if you have the chance.  If something more family themed was your idea, you missed out, the fourth installment of Shrek was only showing during the opening night of the festival.

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