There are spoilers!
Hey friends! Here's my first "Film Friday" post! And on Good Friday!
Film Fridays are going to be my Friday posts where I will be talking about a film that I've watched. Film is my passion and I love talking about different movies and shows. Some posts will talk about different things, some will be more on the analytical side, some will be all my opinion, some may talk about where a film lands culturally. It all depends on what I have to say and what my notebook is most filled with after watching a movie!
Today's post is about Uncorked, written and directed by Prentice Penny. If you've watched the amazingggg show, Insecure, then you've seen Prentice Penny's work!
For this one, I'll be taking the more analytical route to talk about symbolism and editing. This was a film FULL of imagery and one of my favorite editing techniques. I've picked a few scenes to talk about and I hope this helps you watch movies a little differently!
This film is driven by its images of the two worlds the main character, Elijah, resides in. The world he was born into, and the world he's working to inherit.
From the beginning, we are shown these two worlds through the paralleled preparation scenes. On one end, we are being shown the preparation of barbecue meat, Elijah's family business and on the other, we are shown the preparation of wine, Elijah's passion. These images set the foundation for the beginning of Elijah's thought process; at first he thinks he can't have both his family barbecue and wine in his life. The scenes of the barbecue being prepared are all dark and smoky whereas the scenes of the wine being prepared are bright and full of vibrant colors. Like Yin and Yang, the two world seem like they're opposites, but they actually compliment each other. The same goes for scenes where Elijah is working at his father's restaurant versus when he is working with or around wine.
There is a scene where Elijah's father, Luis, asked him to go on a run to get logs for the barbecue. In that scene, the environment is dreary and gray and Elijah is dragging his feet and would obviously rather be anywhere else. Contrasting this scene is the scene where Elijah goes to the wine tasting event. This scene is bright and full of life, Elijah is enamored with everything around him and eager to learn. At this point of the film, Elijah believes the two worlds that he is part of cannot coexist but later in the film, he realizes that they aren't really two separate worlds but rather both equally part of him.
During this opening sequence, The Philly Devotions' song, I'll Never Color You A Rainbow, transitions from Luis' car to Yo Gotti's song, Juice, as Luis walks into the store to start preparing for the work day. This transition from old music to new music symbolizes the eventual change of mind and heart that Luis and Elijah will have. The old thinking being adapted into the new thinking. This is a constant theme in the film; even Luis mentions this when showing Elijah the 2nd restaurant that he purchased. Luis wanted to expand their business and move along with the gentrifying neighborhood rather than be swallowed up by it. It is this same thought process that he and Elijah had to adopt so they could see that they were not each other's enemies, eventually making their relationship much smoother.
When Elijah meets his future girlfriend, Tanya, in the store where he sells wine, he introduces her to the world of wines by comparing different types of wines to different hip-hop artists. This not only further solidifies Elijah's two worlds coming together but it is meant to show that Black culture is not independent from wine culture. Wine culture is notoriously known for being uppity and highly exclusive and history shows these types of exclusive clubs don't include a lot of Black members. Elijah's entire character and passions speak to the larger issue of exclusivity and Blackness. The character Elijah serves to demonstrate that race and socio-economic status should not have a standing on the inclusion of someone into a group.
Uncorked uses montages to keep its story going. Montages are basically a sequence of different scenes or images that are edited together to tell a story. Sometimes these scenes may not seem like they go together when they are alone but once edited together, the picture becomes much clearer. Montages are a beautiful way of telling a long or really detailed story in a few shots.
The montages are so strong in this film because they show the culture and economy of the world Elijah grew up in as well as the culture and economy of the world he wants to be in. These scenes tell a larger story of cultural differences and access to the world between different socio-economic classes. Before Elijah has his heart-to-heart with Tanya, we already know the status of his hometown and can infer how he grew up.
The use of montages in this film is appropriate and on-brand for Elijah's character. The montages tell multiple stories without any dialogue. Elijah, though full of ideas and passion, is not really a talkative man. He's not smooth with his words and much of the film is pushed forward through Elijah's actions rather than his words. There aren't any "big moments" here as far as dialogue goes unlike a movie like, say, Breakfast Club. In that film we have a lot of dialogue and then there's the scene where everyone watching pulls out their box of tissues. For the most part, Elijah's dialogue, especially with his father, is very dry and to the point. Much like the wines he's so passionate about.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience of Uncorked! I think it's a film that can make a lot of people feel seen. I think it's important culturally and it was a refreshing twist on a familiar plot. I also learned a few things about the wine world! It's a Netflix film, so this quarantine gives you the perfect excuse to watch it!
Thanks for reading!