Sunday, October 17, 2010

Movie Review: Blood Into Wine

Mr. Black
I don't like wine, I have no interest in wine and the only reason I even entertained the idea of watching this is because it features Maynard James Keenan of Tool. He rarely does any public interviews so I thought it might be interesting regardless of the fact that it's about his venture into the wine business.

The documentary opens with a very unique title sequence featuring a twangy soundtrack and subtle motion graphic treatments which slightly distort the environment. This all faithfully sets the stage for what is to come. If you have seen Maynard in any video interviews you'll notice that every nook and cranny of the film isn't without his signature personality. He's a guy that has a very subtle sense of humor and usually when he says anything it holds weight. Almost as though if something isn't worth saying he doesn't seem to think it should be said.

The film covers everything from why he decided to move to Arizona of all places and start a wine business, to a brief history of wine and wine making, to interviews with his peers and friends and what they think about the whole idea of a rock star wanting to move to the desert and make wine. Patton Oswalt and Mila Jovovich are just two of his friends that show up in the documentary; the scene with Oswalt being one of the most memorable. And of course, what would be a documentary involving Keenan without talking about his bands Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer? It wouldn't be, so if you're a fan of any of those bands I'm sure you'll get something out of this.

The story further progresses with mostly interviews including his wine-making mentor, Eric Glomski, the quirky historian of Jerome, Arizona, and even the editor of Wine Spectator magazine; who shows up with a giant wine glass housed in a metal briefcase nonetheless. The entrepreneurial and musical aspects of the film interested me, and even the wine-making process despite my initial disinterest. I guess in that regard I came away with more of a respect for the process than anything. I still don't see myself giving wine a second chance.

Apart from the interesting characters and locations you'll see in this documentary, one of the stand out features was the color treatment, editing, and cinematography. It doesn't look like any documentary I've ever seen so that in itself is another plus, albeit maybe not as apparent to the casual viewer. It does help drive the story and give you something interesting to look at even if you may be slightly bored with say, the history of Jerome, Arizona.

That said, I can easily recommend this film to anyone who likes wine, likes Tool, or even wants to see how documentaries should be done. It's a landmark for the medium of the documentary which is usually littered with handheld consumer cameras and bad editing. Even if you want to see how tough it is to start something up like your own business, you'll find something here. It definitely presents the reality of how difficult it is to get something up and running to how long it takes most ventures to begin being profitable.

And just like Keenan concludes his live shows with an unexpected thought-provoking, and possibly motivational micro-speech, he does the same here. And this just further enforces the notion that this documentary isn't just about a rock star's journey into the wine business.


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