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Bottle Shock

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Unpalatable promo for California wines, more broadly a paean to good old American know-how and a chance, at the same time, to stick it to the French, the British, the Old World. A competitive wine tasting in the Bicentennial year of 1976, boiled down as “a bunch of hicks taking on the French,” has been freely fictionalized into a chipper comedy (or so we intuit from the prodding music), boasting bright photography, a spotty period atmosphere, a flimsy vinicultural backdrop, and, apart from Freddy Rodriguez in a small role, an assemblage of oddly unappealing people: the stereotyped snob (Alan Rickman), the tactless capitalist (Bill Pullman), the dippy hippie (Chris Pine), the blithe blonde (Rachael Taylor), the snooty barmaid (Eliza Dushku), among others. Directed by Randall Miller. (2008) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated PG-13 | 1 hour, 50 minutes
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I had the very special privilege of seeing "Bottle Shock." This is an outstanding movie, first class all around! My first thought was, "They really have a LOT of great friends!" The film has so many established stars, all supporting the going-to-be-famous young actors. The story is about the beginnings of the California viniculture, at the point where the great wines are being noticed. This story, based on fact, is so real, so bittersweet, and ends - of course! - with a fantastic triumph, of the superlative California wines. The film is set in Napa, and is gorgeously photographed. The music was a kick, as enjoyed before on "6 Feet Under." This is a love story, for family, for the earth, and for the vines. I loved it! Plus, it is funny!

Aug. 12, 2008

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