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Blood and Wine

Fox // R // February 7, 2006
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Louis Howard | posted February 10, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Alex Gates (Jack Nicholson) is a Florida wine store owner whose business doesn't produce the money he leads alienated wife Suzanne (Judy Davis) to believe. Having spent most of his wife's insurance inheritance through the years on both an extravagant lifestyle and an array of mistresses, Gates becomes privvy to knowledge that a piece of jewelry worth a million dollars is kept in a simple safe in the home of a client through information from his latest romantic interest, a young, sexy Cuban refugee named Gabrielle (Jennifer Lopez) who along the way also becomes drawn to Gates stepson Jason (Stephen Dorff). In a confusion of anger and violent domestic breakup, the jewels leave Gates' hands and fall into those of his wife and stepson, and they become the target of Alex and his safecracking partner in the heist, Victor (Michael Caine).

"Blood & Wine" was directed and co-written by Bob Rafelson who directed Nicholson in "Five Easy Pieces", and also worked with him in "The King of Marvin Gardens", "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Man Trouble." In a period where film noir is becoming something of a strained, manufactured style, Nicholson is an actor who has given us intense, chilling performances of that nature in several films over the course of his career, and this one is a fine case in point. When Jack plays an irrational, contradictory character he can spellbind an audience as he envelops himself into that seedy, ruthless persona. Here he is the embodiment of a man who cares little for anything or anyone but himself and a continuance of his decadant, selfish lifestyle regardless of the cost. With so many great roles to his credit I suppose it's not suprising that some of them tend to fall through the cinematic cracks, only to be rediscovered by many fans with the rerelease of his films on DVD.

There is a frank desolation to this film because all here are at times villainous as well as victimized- shining light does not abound in this sorry montage of characters. While the storyline leaves much to be desired, the acting on all fronts is intense and believable. With so many people tragically intertwined who have become so utterly bereft of their humanity and morality, this makes for a rather grim viewing. From Nicholson on down the acting here is dead on - even Lopez plays her role as a high maintenence mistress with sizzling aplomb. Pairing Nicholson and Caine seems like a no-brainer, as these are two of the busiest actors of our times; because they like staying busy, there are lots of misses as well as hits to their collective credit, with degrees of both along the way. Both can phone in presentable performances in so-so films, and deliver the goods when given something to work with, as is the case here. They mesh splendidly, in no small part because Caine gives a sardonic, cruel performance as hard-nosed, expert safecracker Victor. They play off of one another with ease in their cold, jaded roles.


Presentation here is in 1:85.1 widescreen. Overall I found this to be a solid transfer, perhaps a bit dark with what I felt was some noticible softness as well. As this was my first viewing of the film I don't know if this is representative of the original theatrical release, but it did seem to lack sharpness. Still, colors were rich and well represented and the print looked to be free of damage or noticible grain.


Sound portion of this film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as Spanish Dolby Digital 2.1; all in all the audio track here is fine, if not exciting as this is a mostly dialogue driven movie with little use made of surrounds.


Commentary with Bob Rafelson- A very involved commenary with director Rafelson giving his insights as to how he came to make the movie virtually scene by scene, giving his thoughts and insights as to why he made certain decisions regarding both the sets and his cast. Overall a very good look at Rafelson's vision of the film and well worth checking out.
Scene Specific Commentary with Jack Nicholson, Steven Dorff and Michael Caine-Picking scenes that are intergal parts of the film, all three actors are given an opportunity to talk about their decisions in how their characters are interpreted as well as what personal aspects of themselves they implemented. From all indications these were filmed fairly recently. While it isn't a case of all three seated together, they are spliced together to give a good illusion of such a seating.
Making of Featurette: Genesis & The Characters
The Job of Acting: On Jack Nicholson
On Michael Caine, & On Bob Rafelson
Bob and Jack: A Life-Long Dialogue-

This actually flows together as one long piece and can be viewed as such. This series of short sit-downs is a fine little piece, giving us impressions on all aspects of the movie as seen by director, producer, cinematogapher, Nicholson, Caine and Dorff. Some very long and enlightening discussion is given here in a relaxed engaging manner. Again, all the footage here appears to be very recent and was likely filmed for the DVD release.
Deleted Scenes: Introduction by Director Bob Rafelson- There are eight deleted scenes here with an introductory commentary by Rafelson explaining their exemption. Most of these scenes would have fit well into the film, but were apparently cut for time reasons. For the most part I can see why they were cut, as they are short in nature and do little to enhance the flow of the story. They aren't of the same quality as the film but they do look pretty good for outtakes and appear to be free of damage.
Theatrical trailer- Actually two trailers for the film are given here.

Final Thoughts-

While I found the film to be sometimes plodding and overlong, the interplay between all here make it worth watching. The disc itself is very attractive, with a wealth of care given by way of commentaries and extras as well as an extremely low MSRP. Recommended.
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