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Switching gears: Maynard James Keenan remembers the meal where wine first spoke to him. “Like anything, it was about focus. It was about a quiet moment and calming down the voices in your head, having the right meal sitting in front of you,” he tells CityBeat. “For me, it was a California Cabernet that had been open for an hour, prime rib, with garlic mash, sautéed green beans. Something was going on with that wine and that meal that set the hook.”
Plenty of us have had that moment, when we suddenly discover that wine can be a complex artistic endeavor. But once we're bitten, few of us have the resources to truly attempt to fully explore it. Keenan does. If his name sounds familiar, it might be because he's the frontman of Tool, the multi-platinum-selling hard-rock band. Several years ago, Keenan left L.A. for the tiny town of Jerome, Ariz., purchased some land, partnered with local winemaker Eric Glomski, started growing grapes and founded Caduceus Cellars.
Does that sound like a vanity project? Maybe, but if you watch Blood Into Wine, the new documentary about Keenan's winemaking adventures—screening at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Friday and Sunday, Feb. 19 and 21, before its May DVD release—you'll see that, rock star or not, this is something he takes seriously.
“I feel like a novice,” he says. “I'll always feel like a novice. I still feel like a novice with music. I can't play piano. I would be hard-pressed to show you how to tune a guitar right now.”
Keenan let directors Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke into every facet of his venture, and the result is a film that's heavier on the winemaking than the heavy rock. It's a behind-the-curtain peek at a notoriously publicity-shy celebrity, but more than that, it's a fascinating look at pioneers braving the Arizona elements to create drinkable art. And while the movie has a built-in audience of Tool fans, it's really a film for people who are into wine, or people who want to get into wine.
But Blood Into Wine isn't a stuffy documentary. It has a rock 'n' roll spirit to it, and there's a lot of insight into the juice itself. The film also manages to be very funny. Keenan has a dry, cynical wit, and he opens bottles with the likes of Patton Oswalt and Milla Jovovich during the film and allows himself to be mercilessly mocked on television's Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
And though he's had success on the stage, Keenan recognizes that with wine, your fans may not immediately appreciate what you're trying to do. “I don't really foresee anybody truly really getting it for five years,” he says. “If they hang on to the bottle for three or four years, they probably will have forgotten about us altogether. That will be the true test, to see if they've gotten into wine or not, if their focus is on wine rather than the rock guy.”
Creation: Paul Bettany is great as Charles Darwin, struggling to get over the death of his daughter so he can complete Origin of Species, but the rest of the film simply doesn't evolve. See our review.
Oscar Nominated Short Films: All 10 of the short films nominated for Oscars are playing the Ken Cinema, divided into two programs, animated and live-action. It's all great stuff (they have been nominated for Oscars, after all), but make sure you don't miss the animated brilliance of Logorama.
Shutter Island: Leonardo DiCaprio is U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels in Martin Scorsese's latest, investigating a missing heiress who's escaped from an asylum and is presumed to be hiding out on the desolate titular atoll.
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Steel Magnolias: FilmOut's latest monthly entry is about different generations of Southern ladies who patronize the same beauty parlor. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Blades of Glory: Quite possibly the movie we'll look back on while reminiscing about when Will Ferrell jumped the shark. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
La Scorta: To avoid his crumbling marriage, a judge accepts an assignment in a corrupt part of Sicily, taking over for an assassinated predecessor. Presented by the San Diego Italian Film Festival, it screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Burning Man Film Festival: Those freaky pagans who take over the desert each year are bringing their art home. There are four films included, as well as a late-night after-party at Kava Lounge. Screenings are at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. Read more in CityWeek, and check www.sdbmff.com for film info and ticket prices.
Pulp Fiction: Yes, Inglourious Basterds is great, but Pulp Fiction remains Quentin Tarantino's badass motherfucker. Screens at midnight, Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Ken Cinema.
Z: Costas-Gravas' classic takes a hard look at the Democratic government in Greece as it's overthrown via a massive right-wing conspiracy. It's a thriller and probably should have been required viewing for American students in the last decade. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
A Serious Man: The Coen brothers' look at religion is beguiling, befuddling, depressing and hysterically funny—kind of like religion in general. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Edward Scissorhands: When you're a teenage Johnny Depp with big scissors for hands, getting Winona Ryder's bra off is no problem. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Romancing the Stone: Kathleen Turner is a romance writer looking for her kidnapped sister in the Amazon. Michael Douglas is an Indiana Jones knockoff. Neither of them gets busy with a large rock. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Law of Human Gravity: Local filmmaker Dave Sims' dramedy is about a former WWII fighter pilot who never met a POW camp that could hold him. The same doesn't hold true for the nursing home he's currently in. This Badlam Cinema event seeks to raise money for other local film projects. The event starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Prospect Bar & Grill in La Jolla. Free, but give 'em a donation.
DanceOnFilm: The third annual collection of short dance films once again straddles the border between San Diego and Tijuana. It runs Wednesday, Feb. 24, through Saturday, Feb. 27, at various locations. Check www.dancefilmfestival.com for a list of films, showtimes and venues.
A New Generation of Spike and Mike Animation: These short films aren't so sick and twisted, but they're still pretty awesome. Opens Friday, Feb. 12, and plays weekends at the La Jolla branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego through March. Check spikeandmike.com for listings and showtimes.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief: It's tough times for young Percy. His dad is Poseidon, his mom has gone missing and he's the prime suspect in the case of Zeus' missing lightning bolt. Also, it's tough times for anyone who believed in a deity that isn't Greek.
Police, Adjective: Terrific Romanian film about a cop asked by his superiors to do the wrong thing. Ends Feb. 18 at the Ken Cinema.
Saint John of Las Vegas: Steve Buscemi is John, an addicted gambler doing his best to stay away from Vegas. But just when he thought he was out, the city drags him back in. Ends Feb. 18 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
District 13: The Ultimatum: This sequel to the ass-kicking, parkour-saturated 2004 film is probably unnecessary, but it's still pretty fun, as the Luke Besson action factory goes from taking on well-armed drug dealers to battling corrupt government officials. See our review.
My Name is Khan: Bollywood film about an Indian couple in the U.S. whose relationship is profoundly changed after 9/11.
Valentine's Day: One of those movies with a lot of different people tangentially connected dealing with the same thing. In this case, that thing is Valentine's Day, and those people include Jessicas Alba and Biel, Jamie Foxx, Taylor Swift, Julia Roberts, Taylor Lautner, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Garner and Topher Grace.
The Wolfman: This re-imagining, starring a shaggy Benicio del Toro, was supposed to come out, like, 18 full moons ago. See our review.
Dear John: Lasse Hallestrom can be a pretty great director, but he may be jumping the shark by adapting a Nicholas Sparks novel.
From Paris with Love: Jonathan Rhys Meyers teams up with a wisecracking John Travolta to stop a terrorist attack. Sounds terrible, but director Pierre Morel's last film, Taken, was awesome.
Journey Into Amazing Caves: Is it stalactites or stalagmites that go up? And why? Find out in this classic IMAX film. Screens at 8 p.m. Fridays through Feb. 19 at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
La Danse: Le ballet de l'Opera de Paris: Frederick Wiseman is one of the greatest documentarians ever, and his new film looks at seven productions of the Paris Opera Ballet.
The Last Station: Michael Hoffman's film about Tolstoy's final days manages to avoid being a stuffy, standard period piece and features some terrific acting from Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer. See our review.
Paano Na Kaya: The latest entry in the ongoing Filipino series at Horton Plaza.
Edge of Darkness: After his daughter's murder, homicide detective Mel Gibson shoots a bunch of guys.
The Greatest Places: This IMAX adventure features seven locales, which range from Greenland's icebergs to the enormous waterfall at Iguazu. Through February at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
When in Rome: When Kristen Bell steals coins from a Roman fountain of love, she's suddenly besieged by dopey suitors like Jon Heder and Dax Shepard.
Legion: The apocalypse is now, and the only thing that can save humanity from the hordes from Hell is a small group of people, including Dennis Quaid and Tyrese, holed up in a small Southwestern diner. Good thing they have Paul Bettany, aka the Archangel Michael, on their side.
The Tooth Fairy: No, it's not a horror film. This family comedy stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a small-time hockey player forced to become the titular Fairy. Actually, that's pretty horrifying.
The White Ribbon: Michael Haneke's black-and-white examination of acts of brutality in a small German town just before WWII is a self-assured look at the roots of violence in society. Hard to watch, which means it should be watched. See our review.
The Book of Eli: Denzel Washington stars in the new film from the Hughes brothers, fighting his way across scorched earth to save a fancy book.
The Lovely Bones: Peter Jackson films Alice Sebold's novel about young Susie Salmon (Saorsie Raorsin), who narrates the picture after being raped and murdered by her creepy neighbor. Jackson works hard, but books are referred to as “unfilmable” for a reason. See our review.
Crazy Heart: Sure, it's a clean-and-sober story, but Jeff Bridges is guaranteed an Oscar nomination for playing faded country singer and legendary drunk Bad Blake. See our review.
Leap Year: Apparently, here's an Irish tradition that says a guy must accept if he's proposed to on Feb. 29. So Amy Adams goes to Dublin to try to snag Matthew Goode in the year's first stupid romantic comedy.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: Terry Gilliam's latest is also Heath Ledger's last. It's a strange, fascinating and flawed piece, an examination of good (Christopher Plummer) versus evil (that'd be Tom Waits) with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law filling in for Ledger, who died midway through shooting. See our review.
Sherlock Holmes: Robert Downey Jr. is great, as usual, even if his Sherlock Holmes is more brawn than brains.
A Single Man: Colin Firth delivers on the role of a lifetime in fashion designer Tom Ford's directorial debut.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel: Another sign of the pending apocalypse.
It's Complicated: A romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. Yet another sign of said pending apocalypse.
Nine: Rob Marshall, the guy who brought you Chicago, goes back to the Broadway trough for Nine. And even though this film adaptation of a stage adaptation of Fellini's 8 1/2 stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a film director dealing with all the women in his life, it feels long, boring and lifeless.
The Young Victoria: The Devil Wears Prada's Emily Blunt stars as, well, a young Queen Victoria.
Avatar: James Cameron's sci-fi magnum opus is too long and has an inevitable love story. But, for once, when they say you've never seen anything like it, they're right. This is a film and a truly rendered alien planet that must be seen on the big screen and in 3D.
Invictus: You might think Morgan Freeman would be the perfect guy to play Nelson Mandela in a film directed by Clint Eastwood about how the South African rugby team, led by Matt Damon, united the country shortly after the end of Apartheid. You'd be wrong.
Up in the Air: George Clooney is at his charmiest (charm + smarmy) as Ryan Bingham, flown in to fire employees at companies he has nothing to do with and aspiring to little more than more frequent flier miles. He's a lock for a Best Actor nomination.
Fantastic Mr. Fox: Wes Anderson's adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic story, which features stop-motion animation and performances from George Clooney and Meryl Streep, really is fantastic.
The Blind Side: The book this is based upon is about the economics of football and an enormous, poverty-stricken young black man—adopted by a white family—who has the potential to be a highly paid professional athlete. So, of course, they turned it into a Sandra Bullock movie.
Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire: Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry helped produce this film about an obese Harlem teen in the 1980s.
An Education: Nick Hornby of High Fidelity fame wrote the script and does a 180 by writing about a girl who desperately wants to grow up and thinks she may have found a shortcut in a good-looking charmer twice her age.
Amazon: Tour the storied river from the high Andes, through the rainforest, and into the Amazon basin—in IMAX. Through Feb. 28 at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Under the Sea: This IMAX film takes you to such underwater locations as South Australia, the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Triangle islands of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Through Feb. 28 at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Hurt Locker: Kathryn Bigelow's tense new film focuses on an Iraq unit that specializes in defusing bombs. Well-made, well-written and well-acted.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.