Blood into Wine

July 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Maynard James Keenan, Eric Glomski, Milla Jovovich
Directed by: Christopher Pomerenke (“The Heart is a Drum Machine”) and Ryan Page (debut)

While most wine connoisseurs might think twice about drinking a glass of Cabernet made by a musician who is famous for singing the lyrics to such songs as “Stinkfist,” “Ticks and Leeches,” and “Hooker with a Penis,” Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan is doing everything he can to dispel his rock star persona in preference of his new winemaking passion. In the documentary “Blood into Wine,” filmmakers Christopher Pomerenke and Ryan Page follow Keenan through the winemaking process in Arizona where he owns a winery and vineyard.

“Blood into Wine” isn’t a story about some rich, entitled celebrity with so much time on his hands that he decided to bottle some wine one day and peddle it for profit. Realizing he is in the twilight of his full-time performance career, Keenan is now dedicating himself to a new venture that will make him equally as happy as when he is on stage.

“I don’t necessarily want to scream my whole life,” Maynard says during the film to describe one of the reasons making wine will soon define him as a person.

Through funny, inspiring, educational and sometimes emotional interviews with historians, wine makers, music fans, Hollywood stars, and Maynard himself, Pomerenke and Page have taken the complexity of the winemaking industry and eliminated the stereotypical snobbery associated with the process.

“Blood into Wine” is a solid and well-researched documentary for both lovers of wine and Keenan. We’re not certain what a diverse party like that would actually look like, but if it is anywhere as entertaining as “Blood into Wine” take down our RSVP now before someone makes a toast.

The Fourth Kind

November 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, Will Patton
Directed by: Olatunde Osunsanmi (“Within”)
Written by: Olatunde Osunsanmi (“Within”)

Marketing gimmicks are getting more and more intricate as Hollywood studios attempt to cash in on what “The Blair Witch Project” did a decade ago. Riding on the coattails of the low-budget albeit highly intense “Paranormal Activity” is “The Fourth Kind.” Like its predecessors, the thriller declares the authenticity of its amateur footage and reels in its audience with promises of exclusive video of inexplicable and frightening occurrences all caught on camera. What you’re left with, however, is a mockumentary thriller that obscures its true intentions to the brink of corniness.

In “The Fourth Kind,” there are no witches picking off filmmakers in the woods or evil entities causing a couple many sleepless nights. Instead, the film, which bills itself as being “based on actual case studies” is more extraterrestrial than it is paranormal. Set in Nome, Alaska, Milla Jovovich plays Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychologist who uncovers odd similarities between some of her patients who she thinks are experiencing sleep paralysis.

What these patients are actually enduring, however, is much more difficult to diagnose. Through “real footage” of Abigail’s sessions with her patients, which are edited quite well with “Unsolved Mysteries”-type reenactments, we watch as she tries to make sense of what is happening in her small Alaskan town. Why can’t any of her patients remember what happens when they awake at night? Why are they all seeing the same ominous owl outside their bedroom window?

All signs point to alien abduction although Abigail and others close to the case are hesitant to say it. The testimony flows freely from the mouth of the “real” Dr. Abigail Tyler who basically narrates the film via an interview conducted by “Fourth Kind” director/writer Olatunde Osunsanmi.

Surprisingly, the scenes that will make the most impression with mainstream audiences will probably be the over-stylized ones featuring characters levitating from their beds and screaming out in terror. It’s not so much the creepy imagery Osunsanmi shifts around on screen that makes the thriller unsettling. The film creates uneasiness based on what you allow yourself to see through the static-filled climaxes. If you let your mind outthink your better judgment, “The Fourth Kind” is worthy of a few shudders.

Still, there’s only so much Osunsanmi can do for the narrative before the few scares on the surface start fading. “The Fourth Kind” spends all it’s time and effort pushing us to believe, it forgets that the true mark of a convincing thriller should go beyond mere collections of tricks and conspiracy theories.