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Corked

Northern California wine country proves disappointingly infertile ground for sharp satire.

Cast:
With: Jeffrey Weissman, Ross Clendenen, Rob Reinis, Sara Woo, Ben Tolpin, Todd Norris, Martina Finch, Tim Shippey, Diane Merlino, Steve Lucanic, Brian A. Hoffman, Devin Westberg, Marte Mejstrik.

Northern California wine country proves disappointingly infertile ground for sharp satire in “Corked,” a mockumentary that could have benefited from a longer period of creative fermentation. Neither merciless enough to skewer its alternately clueless and pretentious characters nor impassioned enough about wine to become a funny valentine to its subject, this low-budget laffer from writer-directors Ross Clenenden and Paul Hawley (scion of Sonoma County’s Hawley Winery) may attract a few connoisseurs but looks unlikely to break out. Pic opens June 5 for a limited run at Los Angeles’ Downtown Independent Theater.

Pic tracks a group of rival wineries and the assorted fools and eccentrics who run them, including smarmy, image-conscious Donald Smythe (Clenenden, very good), tireless multitasker Gerry Hannon (Jeffrey Weissman) and two bumbling marketing entrepreneurs (Rob Reinis, Ben Tolpin) whose patter wears thin quickly. A haughty wine critic (Marte Mejstrik), weirdly bearing the name of former Time Warner chairman-CEO Richard Parsons, materializes late in the game; one expects he might describe “Corked” as mildly quaffable at best. Lensing by Miguel Medina (who also edited) shows off sun-drenched vineyards to nice, scenic effect; other tech contributions are well done.

Corked

Production: A TriCoast Worldwide and 28 Entertainment presentation of a Brian A. Hoffman production. (International sales: TriCoast Worldwide, Santa Monica, Calif.) Produced by Brian A. Hoffman. Executive producer, Jay Hoffman. Co-producer, Richard Crouch. Co-executive producers, Strathford Hamilton, Marcy Levitas Hamilton, Ami Artzi. Directed, written by Ross Clenenden, Paul Hawley.

Crew: Camera (color), Miguel Medina; editor, Medina; music, Erin Davis, Dave Foley, Errol Reifman; music supervisors, Kevin Rittner, Brian A. Hoffman; production designers, Sara Woo, Hawley; costume designer, Mogul Designs. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, June 2, 2009. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Jeffrey Weissman, Ross Clendenen, Rob Reinis, Sara Woo, Ben Tolpin, Todd Norris, Martina Finch, Tim Shippey, Diane Merlino, Steve Lucanic, Brian A. Hoffman, Devin Westberg, Marte Mejstrik.

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