1. ‘…like being at an isolated lake in the middle of nowhere first thing, and taking a deep breath through your nose.’
2. ‘…rich acids lingering like call girls at casinos.’
3. ‘…good sweaty, like hot sex.’
4. ‘...it has a Korean BBQ edge.’
Did you nod sagely, recognise No. 1 as a particularly fine Sangiovese, and make a mental note to buy three bottles of No. 3? Or did you spray a mouthful of Sainsbury’s house red all over the screen? If the former, you’ll probably find Sour Grapes to be an important account of the scam that damaged the Californian wine industry. If the latter, you’ll probably just enjoy an amusing peek into a world of obsession and pretension.
This world is one of ‘really mostly men’: men who spend their big-bonus ‘fuck you’ money on expensive bottles; men called things like ‘Hollywood’ Jef Levy; men who wear cravats and waistcoats, whose designer spectacles sit on ruddy noses, who laugh loudly in a way best exemplified by this Jim Carrey skit.
Back in the mid-2000s, a man called Rudy Kurniawan was the one who laughed loudest – as well he might. Insinuating his way into the company of movie producers and private equity investors, Jakarta-born Kurniawan soon made a name for himself with his excellent palate and richly stocked cellar. He raised prices and heart rates and added to his millions by leaking some unbelievable vintages into the market.
‘The people in this town are full of shit,’ says one jaded LA resident, and for a while it seemed like Kurniawan might be the exception. He wasn’t. The FBI stormed his house and found a counterfeiting operation that was basically an elaborate version of squeezing old teabags onto wine labels to make them look aged.
One interviewee describes Kurniawan as ‘the Gen-X Great Gatsby,’ but there’s no sense of him as a tragic and/or magnetic figure. As a result, Sour Grapes isn’t anything like as fascinating as political-scandal documentary Weiner, even though it’s almost as slickly made.
It’s a diverting story amusingly told, though, and has good
potential to be remade as a Coen brothers comedy: a kind of Catch Me If You Can or Six Degrees of Separation with a gallery
of semi-sympathetic grotesques and a story that’s both high-stakes and ridiculous.
A goofy thriller with a Korean BBQ edge.
|What||Sour Grapes film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
16 Sep 16 – 16 Nov 16, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|