Pairing wine with movies! See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies, and many more, at Trailers From Hell. This week we pair wines with birthday cake for a trio of movies starring Dustin Hoffman.
Dustin Hoffman is now 85 years old. What birthday present do you give someone who has two Oscars and a large duffel bag full of other awards? A bigger duffel bag? We have all evoked Hoffman’s roles at one time or another, anytime we have said, “I’m walkin’ heah!,” “Are you trying to seduce me Mrs. Robinson?,” “Ten minutes to Wopner” or “No, it’s dangerous, it’s very dangerous.” More Novocaine, please.
It’s a shame that none of those quotes come from the movies we’re viewing this week, but I don’t choose ‘em, I just pair wine with ‘em. If I did get to choose, Ishtar would be in the lineup.
In 1971’s Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? Hoffman plays a songwriter, although a successful one rather than the hard-luck boob of Ishtar.
Kellerman is one of those movies with an incredibly long title – like Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension or Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. Hey, they can’t all be Ishtar.
The critics’ opinions ranged from one end to the other. Hoffman didn’t get the credit when they liked it, but he also didn’t get the blame when they hated it, so it all evened out in the end – which is more than can be said about the film.
Shel Silverstein appears, along with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, and it was apparently a good pairing. They collaborated on a couple of unusual albums in ensuing years, before Hook turned to disco pop.
For a movie with a long title, let’s find a wine with a long name. Nobody does long names better than the Germans, like the Dr. Hermann Erdener Prälat Riesling Alte Reben Lange Goldkapsel Magnum. What style of Riesling is it? Glad you asked. Trockenbeerenauslese.
Straw Dogs, also from 1971, pairs Hoffman with director Sam Peckinpah, so you know what you’re getting into here. It is a hard film to watch, if you ask me. Two scenes in particular have drawn a lot of criticism and while you like seeing bad guys get their comeuppance, you hate to see a mild-mannered guy turned into a killing machine. Or, maybe you don’t hate it. The movie is generally considered to be Peckinpah at his best, or worst, depending on your point of view. Hoffman’s role shows a side of him that was unexpected at the time, even though ‘71 was the year that movie violence got turned up a notch.
We can pair a wine that comes in a straw basket with Straw Dogs. It’s been years since I have seen Chianti packaged that way, but Banfi’s Bell’agio brand still does it. Ten bucks! And there’s a case discount, heh heh heh.
Lenny, from 1974, sees Hoffman turn in a stellar performance as troubled comedian Lenny Bruce. Hoffman gets a lot of praise for the way he portrayed Bruce. The critics who didn’t like Lenny probably didn’t like Bruce, either. Or simply didn’t get him – which invalidates their opinions in my book.
Hoffman obviously put in a lot of work in mastering the comic’s nervous stage presence. So did Luke Kirby, who plays Bruce in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and one might wonder if he’s copying Bruce or Hoffman.
There is a Dom Perignon named Lenny, but that’s for Lenny Kravitz, a rockstar of a different era. In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, you can get a Pinot Noir from the Lenné Estate, which may be as close as we can get to Lenny, unless you know of a Riunite laced with morphine. I don’t.