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2016

Title: Director [Year]
"The New World" Terrence Malick [2005]
"Valley of the Dolls" Mark Robson [1967]
"Sour Grapes" Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell [2016]
"Sour Grapes" Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell [2016]

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Liner Notes.

© 2016 WNM and the respective authors. "All Rights Reserved."


"The New World" [Terrence Malick] 2005

"The New World [2005] is a historical drama that depicts the founding in 1607 and next few years of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. Written and directed by Terrence Malick, its stars Colin Farrel as Captain John Smith, Q‘orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas and Christian Bale as John Rolfe.

"Malick is known for his lyric use of cinematography. Here he concentrates on the natural beauty of the land and water to such an extent extent that the narrative is neglected. This is indeed a beautiful film to watch, but it is frustrating if you want to know what was happening. In much of the early portion of the film it is difficult to hear dialog, what there is of it, which isn‘t much.

"The actual history is brutal. Nearly 80% of the settlers died in the first year, primarily due to starvation. Resupplied with new settlers and goods, during the winter of 1609-1610 only 60 of the 214 settlers survived and there is evidence that cannibalism occurred. Very little of this is seen in the film, which initially concentrates on the romance between John Smith and Pocahontas and later her marriage to John Rolfe. The film could well have been titled Pocahontas.

"It is amazing that Kilcher was only 14 years old for this film. Within the limits given her, she only learns and uses English in the last third of the film, she gives a fine performance.

"Malick is extremely talented, his best work to date is Badlands [1973] and The Thin Red Line [1998]. He has been nominated twice for Best Director and once for Best Writing. In The New World he let his lyrical, artistic sensibility dominate to the extent that this film is unbalanced."

--ggf

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"Valley of the Dolls" [Mark Robson] 1967

"Valley of the Dolls [1967] was directed by Mark Robson and based upon the best-selling roman a clef novel by Jacqueline Susann. It stars Barbara Parkins as Anne Welles, Patty Duke as Neely O‘Hara, and Sharon Tate as Jennifer North. Susan Hayward plays Helen Lawson. The score got John Williams his first Oscar monination.

"The novel was a work of fiction loosely covering personalities and events that the author had seen during her career. The film is essentially a high-quality soap opera about the difficulties that three women of talent have in the entertainment industry due primarily to their lifestyle weaknesses.

"At the time of its release in 1966, the novel was a guilty pleasure, since the loose lifestyles of celebrities and bad language could still shock. Things were changing very fast though. The summer of love and rise of the hippie counterculture was only a year away. It all seems tame by today‘s standards.

"The underlying theme of the film is the stress of the business leads to use of alcohol and especially pills, the ‘dolls‘ in the title. That in turn leads to self-destructive behavior and eventually to the loss of career or death. The only one of the three to survive intact, Anne, does so by leaving the business and returning to her small town New England home.

"What is there to say about a soap opera? It is well made and photographed. The acting is good except perhaps for Neely O‘Hara‘s overwrought last scene. But it does entertain sufficiently if you are in the mood for something lightweight.

"Since it is a roman a clef, who were the characters based upon? Helen Lawson plays an aging stage titan who is nastily jealous of up and coming talent that might outshine her. She is closely associated with Ethel Merman who was a personal acquaintance of Susann‘s. Jennifer North is associated with Carole Landis and Marilyn Monroe, who committed suicide using barbituates. Neely O‘Hara is closely associated with Judy Garland and that is easy to see.

"As a matter of curiosity, Garland was cast as Helen Lawson until her constant misbehavior and tardiness got her fired and replaced by Susan Hayward ... art imitates life imitates art?"

--ggf

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"Sour Grapes" [Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell] 2016

"This is a documentary about the largest known fraud in the high-end wine industry. It covers the short but profitable career of Rudy Kurniawan, a Indonesian wine expert and con artist.

"Rudy perfected an almost perfect con. As a wine ‘artist‘ he was able to blend wine that fooled many, many experts into tasting and being convinced they were drinking extremely rare and fine famous wines. This tells you something about the palates of many wine ‘experts‘. Therein lies the subtle humor of this documentary.

"As far as this reviewer is concerned, there was no ‘wine‘ fraud in that sense. There was label fraud. But for those who bought the wine for the label, not what was in the bottle, they were indeed defrauded.

"Now we come to the growers and distributors. Rudy helped push the market price of the best French vineyard wines upward by at least 100%. This was rotten for average wine drinkers, but for those vineyards it was a goldmine. Should any of them be unhappy with Rudy Kurniawan? No, quite the opposite. His promotion lined their pockets with much more money than he ever made. Likewise the distributors and auction houses ... they all made plenty.

"This is an entertaining documentary, especially if you enjoy wine. You can take some pleasure at the expense of the nouveau riche getting skewered and various wine experts tripping over their palates."

--ggf

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"Sour Grapes" [Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell] 2016

"This is a documentary about the largest known fraud in the high-end wine industry. It covers the short but profitable career of Rudy Kurniawan, a Indonesian wine expert and con artist.

"Rudy perfected an almost perfect con. As a wine ‘artist‘ he was able to blend wine that fooled many, many experts into tasting and being convinced they were drinking extremely rare and fine famous wines. This tells you something about the palates of many wine ‘experts‘. Therein lies the subtle humor of this documentary.

"As far as this reviewer is concerned, there was no ‘wine‘ fraud in that sense. There was label fraud. But for those who bought the wine for the label, not what was in the bottle, they were indeed defrauded.

"Now we come to the growers and distributors. Rudy helped push the market price of the best French vineyard wines upward by at least 100%. This was rotten for average wine drinkers, but for those vineyards it was a goldmine. Should any of them be unhappy with Rudy Kurniawan? No, quite the opposite. His promotion lined their pockets with much more money than he ever made. Likewise the distributors and auction houses ... they all made plenty.

"This is an entertaining documentary, especially if you enjoy wine. You can take some pleasure at the expense of the nouveau riche getting skewered and various wine experts tripping over their palates."

--ggf

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Last update on Jan 15, 2010 at 12:15:10.