So, is Dad more like Liam Neeson in:
(a) “Love Actually”
(b) “Les Miserables”
(c) “Kingdom of Heaven” or
(d) “Taken,” “Taken 2,” and “Taken 3”?
Maybe all of the above. Or none.
Film, art, literature, music, and the real world that inspires them may let us know. Fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, godfathers, father figures. There’s Pop and there’s Daddy; Papa, Babbo, and Vader; Poppa, Tata, and Tatti; Baba, Otec, and Daidi; Otosan, Peder, and Abba.
As Father’s Day nears, it’s time for toasts, with the drinks that suit Dads. Except, of course, Peter Griffin, Al Bundy, and Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov.
If yours has a bit of…
Dr. Seuss’ Horton the elephant – dutiful and diligent, big-hearted and kind, he deserves the sweet 2017 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine (375ml, $49.95), with tropical fruit, peach, and apricot.
Jane Austen’s Mr. Bennet – for neither too much pride nor real prejudice: the 2016 Zenato Alanera Rosso Veronese IGT ($20), a generous, understanding red with cherry notes and a modest price.
Victor Hugo’s Jean Valjean – the ultimate stepfather, strong enough to carry a future son-in-law through the sewers of Paris, earns the 2016 Duckhorn Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($100), a complex and full-bodied choice, with cassis and plum.
E.M. Forster’s George Emerson – a forward-looking, outgoing guy, with a view, would like the 2018 Acumen PEAK Sauvignon Blanc ($75), citrusy and creamy.
Charles Dickens’ Bob Cratchit – in the hardest times, always trying his best. For him, a refreshing, festive, dry sparkler, the 2019 Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Vigneto Cialdini DOC ($17), fairly priced.
J.K. Rowling’s Arthur Weasley – an upbeat, caring father, helping raise seven kids in a world of wizards, should enjoy the 2019 Langlois-Chateau Sancerre ($27), a bright and citrusy winner from the Loire Valley.
Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch – the near-saintly father of Scout and Jem (at least until you read “Go Set a Watchman,” the sequel “To Kill a Mockingbird”) could use a pour of the 2017 Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon ($70), elegant, concentrated, iconic.
George R.R. Martin’s Eddard “Ned” Stark – who raised Jon Snow and was a role model until his shocking exit, merits the 2016 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($175), from the legendary To Kalon vineyard. A powerful red that will be long-lived.
Cormac McCarthy’s The Father – who, in a devastated and frightening world, sacrifices for and sticks by his son. Break out the Lagavulin 16 Year Old ($90), peat-smoky and intense.
Diodorus and others’ Daedalus – who gave Icarus some sound advice about flying very high, or venturing too low, should get to savor the expressive, rich, and complex 2017 Spottswoode Lyndenhurst Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($85).
“Whisky: It’s Not Rocket Science” (Hamlyn/Octopus Books, $24.99) by Mickael Guidot, with illustrations by Yannis Varoutsikos, delivers a primer on the spirit broad enough to include what to serve with haggis. It’s an easy-to-follow, well-designed book that works to demystify its subject while still keeping it as lively as a single malt. Tasting is carefully explained, as are the development of distilleries, the ingredients, stages of production, casks, the art of blending, and the differences, for example, of Knockando and Glenfiddich from Talisker and Lagavulin, among others. Sip away.
ADVENTURES IN AGAVE
“Spirits of Latin America” (Ten Speed Press, $24.99) by Ivy Mix, with James Carpenter, fills a big niche in the library of booze and cocktails. Mix, head bartender and owner of Leyenda, a top-shelf, pan-Latin cocktail bar and eatery in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn that opened in 2015, takes you on a tasting tour in the realm of tequila, mezcal, pisco, rum, and more. An ode to agave, sugarcane and grapes. Her celebration of the “cultural terroir,” via what people drink, is full of vivid recipes, and makes you immediately want to start mixing and imbibing, jump-starting summer.
There’s a library of movies to share with Dad.
You could go high art and poignant with Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist “Bicycle Thieves” (1948) or Yasujiro Ozu’s timeless “An Autumn Afternoon” (1962).
But, for dad’s sake on his day, skip the, well, troubled fathers: Peter Brook’s Beckett-inspired, icy “King Lear” (1971) despite peak Paul Scofield; and Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980) with “Here’s Johnny!” Jack Nicholson. Better for another moment, too: Francis Ford Coppola’s incomparable “The Godfather” (1972) and “The Godfather, Part II” (1974), about family and more; Sam Mendes’ tragedy of betrayal and redemption, “Road to Perdition” (2002); and “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), with its big reveal, directed by Irvin Kershner.
To hear the deep, unmistakable voice of James Earl Jones, not as Darth Vader, call up “The Lion King” (1994), the animated version, and listen to Mufasa.
For an epic, watch Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” (2014), which has less to do with seeking a new planet so humanity can survive than it does the near-lifelong separation of father and daughter. Not a masterpiece in the shadow of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but stirring. With Matthew McConaughey, Mackenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine.
More fun, however, is Steven Spielberg’s grandly entertaining “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) with Sean Connery as Harrison Ford’s father. The casting director found the Holy Grail.
Based on the Amazon adventures of British explorer Percy Fawcett and his fateful return to the jungle with son Jack, “The Lost City of Z” (2017), directed by James Gray, is compelling and sometimes jarring stuff. Starring Charlie Hunnam.
Wes Anderson’s wry mix of comedy and drama, “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001), lightens things up with a sparkling screenplay, Gene Hackman as the exceedingly flawed father of exceedingly talented grown children, and a cast that includes Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Ben Stiller, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Never forget Robin Williams’ performance in “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993), showing what a divorced dad will do to be with his kids. Co-starring Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, and Harvey Fierstein.
And is there a nobler father than Albert Brooks’ Marlin the clown fish, fearlessly on his animated quest in “Finding Nemo” (2003)?
“Father of the Bride” (1950) and “Father of the Bride” (1991) offer two generations’ takes on the theme of daughter growing up and very protective dad trying to adapt.
The Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Bennett, and Don Taylor version is a gentle, well-written movie, with Tracy on target, directed by Vincente Minnelli. But the Steve Martin film, while a bit uneven, must be seen, for his terrific comic update. With Diane Keaton as his spouse, Kimberly Williams as his daughter, and Martin Short as Franck, the over-the-top wedding designer.
Returning to “Les Miserables,” you can put aside the 2012 musical this weekend, even though Hugh Jackman is very good. Instead, consider the emotive black-and-white1935 film starring Fredric March as Valjean, Charles Laughton as Javert, Cedric Hardwicke as the Bishop, and Rochelle Hudson as Cosette.
Or view Bille August’s underappreciated 1998 movie, with Liam Neeson as Valjean, Uma Thurman as Fantine, Claire Danes as Cosette, and Geoffrey Rush, who steals it memorably as Valjean did that loaf of bread, as the internally imprisoned Javert.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
For 34 years, Peter Gianotti reviewed wines, spirits, restaurants, and books at Newsday. He twice won Press Club of New York awards for food writing. Before he became a food critic, Gianotti was a Washington correspondent, a financial writer, and New York City reporter for the newspaper. His books include “Food Lovers’ Guide to Long Island” and “A Guide to Long Island Wine Country.” Gianotti received his B.A. from Fordham University, where he taught journalism; and his M.S. from Columbia University, where he also was a Bagehot Fellow. Harry, his Creamsicle-hued assistant, prefers the bouquets of riesling and pinot noir.