Movies for Wine, Art and Opera Lovers

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What kind of Christmas presents can you give to GrownUps who have accumulated a houseful of stuff over their lifetime? Gifts that can be used up are good as they don't add to the clutter.

One of our favourite presents last year was a handful of movie passes. It was a gift that lasted throughout the year so we could pick and choose exactly which movie we wanted to see.

There are some good movies in the pipeline for 2013. In the last few weeks I have been fortunate to preview two French movies and the first of a series from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Welcome Aboard

In this French movie Tailladier, a well-known painter in his sixties, becomes ill and depressed to the point of being suicidal. His creativity has dried up and his life is falling apart but he refuses to seek medical help. Although he is surrounded by a loving family they are unable to lift him out of this dark abyss. One morning it all comes to a head and he leaves home on a journey to nowhere in particular.

He runs into Marylou, a rebellious 15 year old who has been kicked out of the family home by her Mother. As she has nowhere to go he takes her under his wing and hires a small house by the beach for them both. In this little nest an unusual friendship blossoms and deepens. Apart from occasional unseemly bursts of anger Tailladier is a protective and generous companion to Marylou who likes to live on the wild side. She in turn begins to reawaken his creativity.

But they can't hide away from the world forever.  Eventually they have to make some decisions about how to reconnect with their past lives.

I thought that the screenplay in this movie was excellent which made this relationship between two human beings, several generations apart and each with their own problems, seem entirely plausible. It was a very human movie.

This movie is distributed by Rialto. It opens in Cinemas on December 20, 2012

You will be my son

This was another French movie, a family drama about the difficult relationship between Paul, the wealthy owner of a large French vineyard and his son Martin. Paul cares passionately about his business as it has been in the family for many generations.

Martin should have been the natural successor but his father feels strongly that he just doesn't have what it takes to be a great wine maker because he lacks the necessary passion and the palate to create excellent wines. He therefore despises Martin and cruelly bullies and humiliates him at every opportunity.

The situation worsens when the longstanding estate manager Francois becomes terminally ill with cancer. His son Philippe, who has already established a name for himself as a successful young winemaker in California flies over to be with him. Paul recognises his talent and sees him as a natural successor. He showers him with praise and presents and begs him to become a co-partner in the vineyard. He even wants to make him his legal son through adoption.

Paul does feel bad about supplanting Martin but as he is exceedingly ambitious it is too good an opportunity to pass up. This state of affairs further inflames the relationship between Martin and his father. The tension finally comes to a head when an unexpected event changes everything.

I found this family drama fascinating although at times it verged on the melodramatic. It was a moving reminder of how damaging sarcasm and cruel put downs can be. And how important it is for fathers to value their sons for who are, not who they want them to be.

Wine lovers will enjoy this movie as much for the setting as for the story As the story unfolds so does the wine making and you see all its stages, from the grapes growing and being harvested to the fermentation and cellaring. It is a unique opportunity to have an insider's look at a large and stunningly beautiful French wine making estate in St Emilion.

This movie is distributed by Rialto, It opens in cinemas on January 24, 2012

The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD 2012-2013 Season

This series has become an annual event and it is now in its seventh year. We were invited to preview the first one: Donizetti's popular comedy L'Elisir D'Amore,

I was in the mood to be entertained so thankfully it was a comedy rather than one of those heart wrenching tragic operas. Nemorino, a lovelorn peasant falls headlong in love with a wealthy landowner, the beautiful and flirtatious Adina. To complicate matters a romantic rival, the arrogant sergeant Balcore appears on the scene. But help is at hand from the magic potion pedlar Doctor Dulcamara.Despite a series of amusing botch ups and misunderstandings true love wins out at the end

Seeing an opera on a movie screen may not be as exciting as being at a live performance in a theatre. But there are advantages. The price is much more affordable. The subtitling means you can understand each aria fully. And the camera captures close ups of faces and expressions, and costume details much more clearly than you would be able to see at an actual performance.

There were also some interesting short interviews with some of the cast and the backstage crews.

L'Elisir D'Amore will be followed by Otello, The Tempest, La Clemenza di Tito, Un Ballo in Maschera, Aida, Les Troyens, Maria Stuarda, Rigoletto,Parsifal, Francesca Da Rimini and Guilio Cesare. The season continues until June 2013.

If you love opera here is an opportunity to see productions by a highly talented and professional cast.