David Bowie and Alan Rickman were two greats in the entertainment world. Both were beyond talented and left their mark as artists in their crafts. Their passing is very sad, but I am just happy I got to experience their contributions first hand and not have to admire them from afar as future generations will inevitably do. So for this entry of my Random Recommendations, I would like to take a look at a couple of lesser known projects from Bowie and Rickman.
Before any of you point out the passing of Lemmy, I haven’t forgotten him. I was not a huge fan of Motorhead, they were a really great band and I got to see them at Coachella a couple of years ago, but I don’t know Lemmy’s music very well. I will be doing a review of a Forgotten Gem which has a cameo from Lemmy and features music from Motorhead a little later this week.
Everyone knows about Labyrinth, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and The Prestige, but this 1996 biography kinda flew under the radar for many Bowie fans. Basquiat follows the discovery, rise, and eventual fall of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a street artist Andy Warhol discovered and helped to make famous. Who do you get to play the man who challenged the art world? You get the man who challenged the music world. David Bowie is phenomenal as Warhol. Considering Bowie and Warhol knew one another, Bowie was able to draw on his familiarity to portray the controversial artist in a very different light than most have depicted him in the past. Most likely in a more favorable light than others have seen him, but it is fascinating to see this intriguing man represented from a different and more familiar prospective.
The movie itself is a fairly typical biography of a genius who was misunderstood and troubled, it has nothing new to say about the artist. But the stellar cast that includes Jeffrey Wright, Michael Wincott, Benicio Del Toro, Claire Forlani, Dennis Hopper, Parker Posie, and Gary Oldman save it from being too cliché.
Alan Rickman has no shortage of memorable roles. When reading the Harry Potter series, he was the only person I could imagine as Severus Snape long before he was cast in the role. His portrayal of the devious Hans Gruber in Die Hard is the tent pole in which I measure all action movie bad guys. Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility is one of the best romantic heroes in recent screen history. My favorite role of Rickman’s is easily the reprehensible Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Who else can threaten to cut someone’s heart out with a spoon and make it a menacing and hilarious threat at the same time?
The 2008 dramedy, Bottle Shock, is VERY loosely based on the events leading up to the 1976 “Judgement in Paris,” a wine tasting competition that helped to put Napa Valley wines on the map. Alan Rickman plays the very real Stephen Spurrier, sommelier and a wine shop owner looking curry favor with Parisian wine critics and bring business to his struggling shop. He reads about the not quite well known, but growing wine industry in Napa Valley and arranges a blind tasting competition between the Californian and French wines. He and the Parisian critics he lines up to be the judges assume the French wines will win hands down, but as Spurrier travels thru the Napa Valley looking for wines to compete, his perception of Napa’s viniculture changes.
Like Basquiat, Bottle Shock is very cliché in all of the “based on true events” tropes it hits. The reason why I enjoy this movie is because it is a feel good type story that is nice to watch with a glass (or several) of wine after a crappy week. One reason I don’t watch Bottle Shock very often is it makes me long for a bottle of wine which I always end up indulging in because my will power sucks. The love these characters have for the craft makes me want to have a glass (or several) and taste all of the beauty they describe. The rest of the cast is nicely rounded out by a pre Star Trek Chis Pine (in a really horrible wig), Bill Pullman, Rachel Taylor, Freddie Rodriguez, Eliza Dushku, and Dennis Farina (another acting great lost too soon).
What other recommendations to you have for Alan Rickman or David Bowie? What is your favorite Bowie or Rickman Role? Let me know in the comments section below.