Saturday, July 25, 2009

Corked! (the movie)


After waiting for the arrival of the new mockumentary Corked! to show near me, and after the friendly twitter prodding from the producer to convince me that it would be worth putting off seeing Food, Inc in order to see his film first, I went to the independent film’s San Jose debut last night at the downtown Cinema 3.  I am so very glad I did.  Distribution of Corked!, limited as it is, probably meant that I might not get another chance to see the film before it comes out on DVD, while Food, Inc comes with a preset following and will be showing in the area for a while.

The movie, true to the  mockumentary genre, bounces back and forth between believable and sarcastically tongue in cheek.  The movie touches on the underlying snobbery, double standards, shattered dreams, racism, vineyard worker disrespect and fickle uninformed wine consumers.

The movie was fun to watch.  I found myself laughing out loud many times.  The scenes and shots of the over-worked solo winemaker, doing backbreaking labor, doing everything he could to keep awake after exhaustion from the long hours, seemed surprisingly realistic and sad, while at the same time true. 

But, as I was watching the movie and listening to the Q & A afterwards, I started to appreciate more than just the movie itself.  There was a bigger experience happening here.

The winery business has a reputation as being a subculture of misunderstood, overworked, passionate, committed and a somewhat crazy group of people with a dream and a desire to take a path almost no one in their right mind would ever seriously take.  That reputation is probably well deserved.

Interestingly enough, there is another industry that deserves the same characterization, that is the independent film industry.  At first glance, you imagine that film makers are making film after film, working on scripts while sipping on pernod at sidewalk cafes, hobnobbing with beautiful starlets, chain smoking cigarettes and living a pampered life as proceeds from their films roll in.  Well, other than the beautiful starlets (Sara Woo, that’s a reference to you), the rest of that imagined existence is all as much fiction as they provide in the films they produce.

The cast, crew, writers, producer and many of the people that made this film possible, know each other from growing up or going to school together.  They all have other day (or night) jobs that pay the bills.  Some work in the wine industry or come from wine making families.  Some had to drive hours back home late that night, to pour tasting room wines and give winery tours to tourists.  Much of the film’s budget, you can imagine, comes out of their own pockets or from friends and relatives.  Getting into theaters, dominated by huge Hollywood blockbusters is as hard as the small 1000 case winery trying to get shelf space along side the mega wineries. 

These filmmakers are passionate and dedicated to their craft and their dream.  I am glad I choose Corked! over Food, Inc last night.  If I hadn’t, I would have missed this gem.  Visit their website, follow the cast and people that made it happen, encourage them.  It will pay off in the future like a great, young wine, laid down as an investment for future enjoyment.

Good Job Corked!  Keep them coming.

Visit the Corked Website at or follow them on Twitter at  Or, if you really want to make this available to more people, talk to theaters in your area.  Encourage them to carry more independent films.  You owe it to yourself and your community.  And while your at it, find some great small wines to have while you do it.  Invite an independent filmmaker to come share it with you.  They make great company.