xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
In 1976, the year of the American bicentennial, the tall ships sailed from Europe to America and back again. But a smaller event was, in its way, no less impressive. In a blind taste-testing held in France, the wines of California’s Napa Valley defeated the best the French had to offer — and all the judges were French! A bottle of the winning American vintage, it is said, now rests on exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution.
“Bottle Shock” is a charming fictionalized version of the victory, “based,” as they love to say, “on a true story.” Shot in California like "Sideways" but set much closer to the earth, it tells the story of a struggling vineyard named Chateau Montelena, deeply in debt with three bank loans. It’s run by the hard-driving Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), who despairs of his layabout, long-haired son Bo (Chris Pine).
Meanwhile, in Paris, we meet a British wine lover named Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman), whose tiny wine shop is grandly named “The Academy of Wine.” We never see a single customer in the shop, only the constant visits of a neighboring travel agent, Maurice (Dennis Farina, in full Chicago accent). Maurice encourages Steven by praising his wines, which he samples freely while passing out business advice.
Spurrier (yes, a real man) has been hearing about the wines of California and has an inspiration: His grand-sounding “academy” will sponsor a blind taste-test between the wines of the two countries. That he is able to gather a panel of expert judges says much for the confidence of the French, who should have realized it was a dangerous proposition.