Click photo to enlarge
Martin Insua just finished putting together a masterpeice of a sunday called "The Berry Go Round" for a customer at Fentons Creamery in Oakland, CA on a "not too cold for ice cream" Friday, Oct. 19,2007. (Laura A. Oda/The Oakland Tribune)

I WAS ONCE at a screening at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch. It was for one of the films in the "Star Wars" gazillogy. What made the event so memorable was our hosts offering each of us, critics from around the country, a glass of wine as we walked into the auditorium.

Some (I didn't keep count) dismissed any nagging scruples with the canon, "What harm can it do?" Others chose not to imbibe.

I won't name names but I can testify that the nectar did not make anyone less receptive to the never-ending sci-fi saga.

It's a well-tested fact: Certain beverages enhance the moviegoing experience. Which is why I was delighted when Wente Vineyards recently announced its outdoor Summer Cinema Series.

On tap at the Livermore Valley winery: "The Sound of Music" (Julie Andrews dances on the hill without spilling a drop of wine) on June 29; "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" July 13; and a "Mamma Mia!" singalong, with flowing you-know-what, on Aug. 10.

Admission and parking are free, but no outside food or beverages are allowed. Dining options include the winery's restaurant, the outdoor cinema cafe and, a la carte, from The Grill. Prices vary. There's also a children's package.

It gets cold out there at night, so attendees are encouraged to bring blankets as well as coats and, for the kids, sleeping bags.

For more information, visit www.wentevineyards.com or call 925-456-2400.


Advertisement

With apologies to Oman Khayyam: a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and a good movie playing in a pretty setting — it doesn't get much better than that.

Look it 'Up'

Continuing our all-Pixar, all-the-time cover package, here are a couple of fun local trivia tidbits in "Up," although they may require you to pay a little more attention than you're used to.

First and easiest to spot is the Fentons Creamery element. Russell, the Wilderness Explorer in the animated movie, mentions the popular Oakland ice cream shop and restaurant by name. And get this — the eons-old Piedmont Avenue landmark also factors into the story.

The second East Bay nod goes to the Merritt Bakery & Restaurant in Oakland, by Lake Merritt. Friends and I often went there for slabs of coffee cake and a pot of caffeine to wash it down when I lived in the area, but I doubt that had any bearing on its being referenced in the movie.

Russell's involved here, too. One of the patches on his sash pictures a hamburger and a candle, a tip of the old noggin to the bakery's hamburger-shaped cake. Don't know how it stacks up to the real thing in terms of cholesterol, but I bet it goes down more easily.

A dark and stormy night

"I Wake Up Dreaming: The Haunted World of the B Film Noir," a series of rare and raw ("Rare and Raw," there's a name for a series) noir movies at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, has been extended through June 3 because of popular demand, meaning a lot of sellouts.

For schedules and more info, visit www.roxie.com or call 415-863-1087.