The Series (4/5)
My Dad has always considered himself a wine connoisseur, and let me have my first sip at a very early age, I remember having a strong distaste of wine with that first sip, to which my Dad said that it was an “acquired taste.” It is now over two decades later, and he was indeed right. I would not call myself a wine expert, but I have grown to quite enjoy it.
I start my review of Jonathan Nossiter's excellent series MondoVino with this analogy, because it like wine itself, could also be considered an acquired taste. When Kino sent me this series a while back, I was excited, I have wanted to learn about wine for years, and thought this would be a fairly straight forward documentary on the subject of wine and wine culture as the box indicates.
MondoVino was anything but straight forward documentary series. It felt less a film about wine and the culture of wine, and more about the politics and corporate takeover of wine. It opened my mind to aspects of wine culture that I had not previously considered, and now when I am in my local liquor store picking up a bottle, I find myself passing the bottle of Mondavi, and attempt to find something from a smaller, more independent winery(being on a very limited budget, however, this can prove to be difficult).
MondoVino: The Series started life as a feature length documentary, and was expanded by the director into the 10 episode series released here. The series is show on SD digital video, and it shows, and while you do get to see some of the most beautiful vineyards, and wineries of the world, the actual look is not that impressive.
However, this feels less of a budgetary decision by the director, and more of one that comes out of necessity to do justice to the message he is trying to present. By utilizing the DV format as he did, he is able to get interviews on the fly without the setup and lighting times that would slow down other productions. This, however, gives MondoVino a more spontaneous feel, and helps Nossiter get information he may have otherwise not have had access to.
As stated in the prior section the film was shot on digital video, and it shows. Kino has presented MondoVino the series in it's original 1:78:1 image. The image quality varies throughout the series, and there is plenty of video artifacts throughout, the same goes for the sound quality which sounds serves the purpose of the documentary well, and is never inaudible, but it is far from perfect.
There are no extras on the DVD of MondoVino: The Series. It would have been nice to get something from the director maybe describing his process, his decisions in making the film, and how he expanded it from a feature to a full 10 part series.
If you are interested in wine beyond a surface level, and want to delve into wine culture on a more deeper level, then MondoVino the Series is well worth picking up. The film is extremely thorough in it's exploration of modern wine culture.
The A/V is far from perfect, but this is less of an issue with the transfer, and more to do with the production itself. Regardless, I would find myself recommending this to fans of in depth documentary filmmaking, and for true lovers of Wine.