Lost Indies with Patton Oswalt

by Randy Fuller May 28, 2023

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 examine a trio of “lost indies” with funny man Patton Oswalt. 

I am happy to see Patton Oswalt as a TFH guru. I have always thought he was a funny guy, even when my wife’s phone played the start of the same joke from one of his standups every time her device connected with our car. It was something like, “I’m ah, so hungry…” which is where we hit pause and continued to whatever it was that we wanted to listen to at the time. We never learned how to keep that from happening, so we heard over and over how Patton was “so hungry.” I felt a trace of sadness when the phone decided instead to start playing an Aretha Franklin Christmas song upon connecting. We had a lot more laughs from Patton talking about food than we’ve had from Aretha singing about angels. Will we get even more laughs from his views on movies? Let’s see.

Private Property – the one from 1960, not 2022 – was pretty racy for its day. The film was rated C, for condemned, by the Catholic Legion of Decency. It is the group’s least complimentary rating. People I know who went to Catholic schools tell me that they kept an eye out for “condemned” movies in the Legion’s newsletter. Those were the films everyone wanted to see.

Director and screenwriter Leslie Stevens considered himself an auteur, and one of America’s only New Wave filmmakers. His love of Truffaut and Welles shows through in the way he shot the film, although some critics called his framing “unsettling.” What could be even more unsettling is that Stevens had previously brought The Outer Limits and Stoney Burke to the small screen. How’s that for artsy?

Stevens had worked with Warren Oates before, and must have enjoyed the experience, as Oates costars in Private Property. He also had cast Kate Manx in other productions, which was nice of him because she was his wife.

The film actually was a “lost indie,” whereabouts unknown for years until it was discovered and restored less than a decade ago.

The film follows a couple of shady characters named Duke and Boots. You’re already drooling and rubbing your hands together, aren’t you? They stalk a pretty woman – simply named Ann – and try to get a relationship going with her, however tawdry it is. A relationship that results in multiple people getting shot can generally be considered a flop. The movie did okay, though. The film made money. Critics grumbled about the sex while admitting it was arty, which is like saying you buy Playboy for the articles.

Private Property Rosé is from Caraccioli Cellars in Monterey County, or actually from the youngest generation of the family. The label is son Scott’s project, and gets to use Pinot Noir grapes from the Caraccioli estate. It may be sold out now, no surprise since it sells for just $18.

Frownland won praise at SXSW in 2007, but never really got on its feet in general release. Maybe the distribution was bad, but maybe an hour and 45 minutes of unrelenting negative emotions was more than the ticket-buying public could take. I mean there we were, still slapping our knees over “Mission Accomplished,” and here comes this basket of rotten fruit.

One interesting note: the movie takes its name from a Captain Beefheart song. CB suffered from multiple sclerosis, while the social outcast in the film spends his working days ripping off MS patients. Like the songwriter, we are left to sing, “I cannot go back to your Frownland.”

We can pair just about any wine with Frownland, since wine generally turns that frown upside down. Smile is a Paso Robles Viognier/Chenin Blanc blend which should take the edge off of a movie which is even this much of a downer. While watching, maybe you can drunk dial some funds to the MS Foundation.

Coherence is an odd title – the 2013 thriller seems to be anything but coherent.

Strange happenings occur in a northern California town when a comet passes close to the earth. Remember Comet Kohoutek in 1973? I sure do, and there were plenty of strange occurrences in my life at that time. There is no evidence that those occurrences were caused by the comet, but why not? There were strange occurrences in the years surrounding Comet Kohoutek, as well, both before and after. My life at that time was not exactly a standard of stability. Maybe those NoCalians can say the same.

Their experience of parallel universes goes a step or two farther than my comet time. In fact, the story sounds a lot like something one would dream up while high, then have trouble believing when the drugs had worn off.

A wine pairing for Coherence could be one from a comet vintage. Some folks – probably those biodynamic people – believe that when a comet comes around right before a harvest, that the wine from that harvest will be exceptional. They say 1811 was a particularly strong year, so good luck with that. An 1811 Chateau d’Yquem – a dessert style Sauternes – will run a wine lover north of $100,000, so maybe you want to watch the movie first before throwing that kind of money at a pairing.

For a little more reasonable taste, try Comet Winery in Santa Rosa. Their reds range from $50 to $100. Their website, by the way, shows ghostly images of wine bottles with no labels or no words on the labels. A strange happening.

Randy Fuller

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