Monday, June 15, 2009

Really Behind The Movies--"Bottle Shock"

Another bullet point to my declining awareness of movies is that I run into movies of which I was never aware of their release. I attribute part of this decline to living in South Dakota and its lack of independent film houses. The independent film houses are outside of Sioux Falls, and they will stick with popular movies because of the survival need. Sioux Falls film houses must not have a market for a wide variety of films--even the Oscar-nominated films generally do not run until the nominations come out, or the awards are given. This film scene did not matter so much for my dear wife and me, we were at the point of our family life and vocation that we weren't going to view many films anyway. The schedule rarely gave us 2 hours where weren't exhausted or occupied. My dear wife's schedule has changed a bit. Though we will never catch up, we are becoming reacquainted with films-three in two weeks is almost unheard of.

We learned about Bottle Shock as a preview before viewing "Religulous." Bottle Shock is the behind the scenes story of California wines bursting on to the world stage at an unassuming blind taste test in Paris staged by a smarmy British C-List wine critic, educator and merchant. The value in this film is the story behind the story of wine--the people and relationships involved in making wine. It has some popular appeal in that Americans love an underdog victory story, and Bottle Shock delivers on multiple layers. I found particularly disorienting a story of America being the underdog in the 20th century, but apparently this was the case for American wines as late as the 1970 (shows how little I know about wine). The film is a bit slow at times, but I was held by the whole idea about America being an underdog in recent history and how electric that concept. The father-son relationship takes an important role in this film. The key figure vintner and his son is a typical dynamic of son not living up to father's expectations. This relationship stands out more when contrasted with a brief look at a (term?) Latino vineyard shop steward and his artisan/laborer father who never had the true opportunity to practice his craft, presented a powerful picture of the father-son dynamic, opportunity and vocation.

A key theme in the film is a particular brand American ingenuity is in danger because socialism is on the rise. Though sometimes this propeganda carries a level of persuasion to it because Americans also extraordinarily market their ingenuity and whose history is filled with innovation--this doesn't mean that American-style capitalism is the only societal system that can be innovative. Indeed, the history of the Soviet Union is filled with stories of how innovation is killed by misguided central planners. I studied some very bizarre projects in college--factories placed in the middle of nowhere, places with decayed or non-existent infrastructure. I was recently intrigued by a story about how Sweden has created an urban structure that reduces traffic congestion. American innovators at IBM have recognized the waste presented by traffic congestion and are encouraging the United States to take up the same cause as we consider the hopes for our recent public investment, and that our party politics can be put away in favor of recognizing that innovation will not be encouraged by the ideologies of Democrats and Republicans.

I am glad that this film powerfully directed me toward a reflection on innovation--and that Washington can be a good partner, despite some of the party politics blather.

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