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"Red Obsession" is a study of power and passion

New wine film set against the aesthetic of the Bordeaux and Chinese landscapes

"Red Obsession" takes on China and the Bordeaux mania.

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Being that Halloween is almost upon us, it's both fortunate and fitting that I'm able to start this week's review with a quote from a classic horror film. In 1931's Dracula, well before Van Helsing and Harker show up with crosses and stakes, the titular Count (Bela Lugosi) entertains an ill-fated prospective realtor named Renfield (Dwight Frye). Dracula pours Renfield a glass of wine, leaving his own glass conspicuously empty. When Renfield asks if the Count won't be joining him, Dracula ominously remarks: "I never drink ... wine." It's a great scene that delicately foreshadows the film's big reveal; Dracula is really a ghost and only Haley Joel Osment can see him. The Count and I share something in common: I also never drink wine.

I don't care if it's a bottle of Two Buck Chuck or a 200-year-old bottle of Merlot from Napoleon's private reserves; it all tastes like some odious cocktail of Kool-Aid and Windex to me.  But that's a reflection on me, not on wine. After all, winemaking is an ancient and affluent occupation built on thousands of years of hard work and meticulous dedication to the craft. Besides, any product that counts both Andre the Giant and Jesus of Nazareth among its patrons must have something to it.

Red Obsession is David Roach and Warwick Ross' directorial debut. This engaging documentary from the "Land Down Under" takes audiences on a journey into the fascinating world of winemaking by going right to the source. No, not California, (apologies to Paul Masson fans), but rather to France and China, the two largest vintners in the modern world. Interviews with famous winemakers, wine critics and wine drinkers, (including one particularly charming interview with celebrity vineyard owner Francis Ford Coppola, who dedicates his life to winemaking when not occasionally dabbling in the art of cinema), give viewers an interesting and informative look at what might initially appear to be a very dry, (or sweet, depending on your preference), boring profession. Native Aussie Russell Crowe provides occasional narration, signifying a rare instance when combining Russell Crowe with alcohol yields positive results.

If you're a wine aficionado, odds are that you were sold on seeing this film the instant you read the words "winemaking" and "documentary".  Rest assured this film is for you. If you utterly hate wine, you'll still enjoy the film. There's just something undeniably appealing about listening to sincere, hard-working and knowledgeable people discuss their life's passion. You might learn something, too. Red Obsession explains, in great detail, what it means when someone says that Year X was a good year for Wine Y.  The sheer numbers of determining variables, some of which are completely out of the vintners' control, are truly staggering. A little too much sun, not quite enough water or even the slightest variations in soil from one season to the next are all that stand between one year's vintage being excellent and another being execrable.

But I still think it all tastes like Windex and Kool-Aid.

RED OBSESSION, 2 and 6:45 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 29, The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $4.50-$9, 253.593.4474

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