business news in context, analysis with attitude

It's been a while since we weighed in on movies and wine…

  • This will be something of a minority opinion, but we're a little less transfixed by Lord of the Rings: Return of the King than most people. That's not to say it isn’t a magnificent cinematic achievement. It certainly is. It is hard to think of another 10 hours of film that offers as consistent a vision, such breadth of performances, and as facile a blending of special effects and live action.

    That said, we found to be stirring without being really moving. Maybe it's just because fantasy isn’t our favorite genre, but when the 20-foot elephants shows up, and that's sort of when it lost us.

    It is a minor caveat, perhaps. And it seems petty to carp about such a terrific movie. But the best movie of the year? Nah…

  • in fact, one of the best movies of the year may be a small movie called 21 Grams, which features Sean Penn in one of the most heart-wrenching performances we've ever seen on film, plus great supporting turns by Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro. Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (whose previous work we are unfamiliar with), 21 Grams has as its centerpiece the Penn character's desperate need for a heart transplant. This need is both served and affected by the wildly disparate lives of a suburban housewife (Watts) and an ex-con (del Toro) - but the film takes twists and turns and genuinely surprises. It helps that the film does not unfold chronologically; rather, its scenes are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that pop up in no particular order, at first seeming disjointed but becoming meaningful and even poetic as the entire picture begins to take shape.

    21 Grams can be seen as profoundly depressing, but it is a fascinating and compelling piece of work that finally is about the search for redemption. Great work.

  • Wine. We've enjoyed some terrific wines over the past few weeks, including…

  • A 2000 Chateau Treytins Montagne Saint Emilion from France, which, in the words of a great modern poet, inspired great memories: I think about Paris when I'm high on red wine; I wish I could jump on a plane.

  • A 2000 Cline Syrah from California, which is delicious…"soft and round" in the words of the experts.

  • Our favorite wine of the holiday season, though, remains an old standby, a Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend from Washington State's J. Bookwalter vineyard known as "Lot 14." Filled with vanilla and spice, and one of our favorite wines.

KC's View: