Tuesday, August 12, 2008

'Jane Austen Book Club' for September

Hi everyone. No, I haven't been to an actual meeting except for last week's tea time. Yes, I have decided my first meeting will be one I host. (:

I'm going to guess that many of us have read the Austen novels and hope that people are interested in "The Jane Austen Book Club" by Karen Joy Fowler, available in paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Jane-Austen-Book-Club-Novel/dp/0452286530

It's supposed to be a charming, sad, silly book in the vein of Ms. Austen's novels. The Evite has gone out. The suggested date and time for the meeting is Sunday, September 14 at 2 pm. Coffee/tea/bakery place is yet to be determined, and I'll happily take any suggestions.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

'Shock' and Ew

Well, our experiment with Movie Month was a bust. I blame August. And the terrible screenplay and/or direction of the chosen flick, "Bottle Shock." There was potential in the subject matter (in fact, another movie, titled "Judgement of Paris" and based on a book of the same name, is being made on the topic), but it had too much pointless love triangle and not enough awesome Alan Rickman. (I saw the movie early because I had a conflict with the planned show time. Grr.)

So, I consider my canceling the screening a public service, but I'm sorry for all the last-minute plan changes. Melissa, Catherine and I met up for the non-after-movie gathering, though, and had a great time discussing the latest in literature, performing arts and politics. Kidding! I pretty much just yammered about my engagement and wedding stuff the whole time. Hey, I hadn't seen these gals in ages, so I think it was okay in this case. ;)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Letter From the Director

I knew there was a time when my parents were no longer ashamed to serve California wine to their dinner guests, when it actually became chic to do so. I had no idea what happened to cause that change. And so, when I was first told this story of how a group of California farmers took on the exalted French wines and bested them, I was intrigued. Maybe there was a movie in this.

Here was an underdog story that wasn’t about sports or war. And when I flew up to Chateau Montelena, the vineyard we focus on, and met with Jim and Bo Barrett, I realized what rich characters I had before me. The story of a lawyer who risked everything in the pursuit of an artistic dream (to make fine hand-crafted wine) is what initially hooked me into wanting to make Bottle Shock. I had directed studio movies and some TV before I convinced Jody (my wife and partner) to mortgage our house so we could make a movie we felt passionate about. That movie, our first indie, was called Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School. Bottle Shock is the heir to that choice.

I am drawn to stories of passion or risk. Stories about men or women who realize they only have one shot at this experience that is life and who set forth into an unknown in pursuit of a dream—or a dream of a dream. Jim Barrett was one of those men and I admire the choices he made and the journey he chose. It was an honor to work in his shadow.

With Bottle Shock, I was also intrigued by the story of a little blind tasting that lit the spark that ignited the enological fire that burnt down the cronyistic forest that triggered the creative earthquake that upset the status quo and opened the world to new pioneers of viniculture and viticulture around the globe. In the film, Alan Rickman quotes Galileo: “Wine is sunlight held together by water.” Alan, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Rachael Taylor, Freddy Rodriguez, Dennis Farina and Eliza Dushku are my sunlight, each perfectly capturing the moment and making me look like a better director than I am. And Michael Ozier’s cinematography makes every image captivating, from the intimacy of a bedroom mirror to the lush fields of grapes sweeping by. Brilliant cinematography in the service of Craig Stearns’ magical production design puts us in the ‘70s in both Napa and France. Mark Adler’s luminous score ties the story together and gives a musical heart to the film. My collaborator, my partner, my wife, Jody Savin, is the rudder. She was the one who compiled the hundreds of pages of source material and shaped them into what became the shooting draft of the script. This is my creative family with whom I continue to collaborate on upcoming projects and future pursuits.

Best, Randall Miller, director