June 15, 2005
Mondovino reviewed, with claws
I was perusing the list of links from Tom Wark's Fermentations and saw a link to The Wine Offensive, where this review of Mondovino appears:
Posted by Nicholas at June 15, 2005 02:25 PM
I saw Mondovino last week just before I jetted out of town. Those quirky, stubborn Frenchmen just tugged at my heartstrings. What a contrast to the creepy, unabashedly capatalistic (Proustian, even) Mondavis.
But one of the criticisms I kept hearing about the movie, before I saw it, was the way that Lassiter portrayed some of his subjects unfairly. Allow me to disagree. I think everyone is portrayed quite fairly — as in, you can't edit someone into an asshole, without some footage of them being an asshole. I offer you some of the things, straight from the mouths of the following:
Sheri Staglin of Staglin Family Vineyards, talking about how good they are to their immigrant(Mexican) employees, "We know all of their names, and we give them t-shirts..."
This is after she makes sure to tell you that the veranda table is solid marble modeled after a table in The Godfather 2 and points out a sculpture in the garden made by the number one funk ceramic artist(wha?) in the US. Her husband then goes on to compare their property's allignment with Mondavi's and Opus One as very similar to that of the Washington Monument and the Capital building. I shit you not.
I don't agree with you. Sure, the people did make asses out of themselves, but the director helped them immensly. There's something called editing and that's exactly what this movie is all about.
Let's look at how they shot the Mondavi's. It was a cold blue light indoors. He asked them questions about business and globalization. This was a completely different format than his French and Italian trips. There were no pretty sunsets and beautiful music. As a documentary you try and shoot footage and allow the viewer to make up their own mind. Instead this movie shoves his politics down your throat. Although I may agree with the message, it would have been nice if I could have made up my own mind.
I've been to the Napa Valley many times and it's hard to make it look ugly, but he managed to do it. Bravo.
I do believe I could have done a better job....maybe I will.
Well, as I haven't seen the movie yet, you're actually disagreeing with the blogger at "The Wine Offensive" rather than me. From what you say, the documentary fails in some key ways to accomplish the task.
As for editing, the king of the malicious edit at the moment is Michael Moore, who has become brilliantly adept at editing footage to reverse the meaning of the person being interviewed. He's so good at this that I'm sure he's going to be on the course of study for documentary film programs in the next few years. It does sound as if "Mondovino" is pushing an agenda rather than illuminating aspects of the wine business.