December 14, 2004


Preternaturally positive reviews always makes me leary. Each and every one of the critiques I saw of this film said it was great. I did not see a single negative word or phrase. For me this creates just too much expectation. Of course, it also makes me want to see it, but I've learned to view such films guardedly.

Sideways however, did not disappoint. This really is a very good film.

Paul Giamatti is currently my favorite actor. I totally dug him in American Splendor, and his performance in Alexander Payne's new film solidifies him as the real deal. He plays a perfectly pathetic recent divorcé, who is obsessed with wine. Nobody should know as much about wine as Miles does. (Wouldn't you expect a pathetic wine-obsessed divorcé to be named Miles?)

The gist of the story is illustrated brilliantly in Miles' fixation with the Pinot grape. He says it's a very thin-skinned, frail and temperamental grape that requires a great deal of care. The Pinot is like the most dysfunctional and codependent of grapes. And this is Miles. He's a perpetual wreck. So of course he's also a writer; and of course he's a novelist. But you have to love him.

Now we get to Jack.

Jack and Miles are a perfect pair, character-wise -- an excellent contrast.

Jack is a shitheel. Unlike Miles, he is tall, good-looking, and a rogue. So of course he's an actor; and of course he's a former soap opera actor. He is dysfunctional, but in the opposite way from Miles. He's getting married on Saturday, so he and Miles take off on a wine-tasting tour up the California coast from San Diego. However, wine is not what Jack wants to taste. He's out to get laid, baby. He wants to get Miles laid too, to help him get over his ex, but that's not his top priority.

Anyway, they do find a couple of babes, Stephanie and Maya. Miles has no idea what to do with his and bumbles through the evening even though she likes him. Jack does exactly what you would expect of a rogue.

Sideways is hilarious. And it is sad. And it is beautifully poetic in how it relates wine to life.

Wayne says, definitely, check it out.

We saw this movie in the "little theater" at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. My wife says there are 150 seats in it, but I'm skeptical that there are that many. A perfect venue for this film. I saw today that Sideways has been nominated for six Golden Globe awards. I hope it gets similar Oscar consideration.

Posted by Wayne at December 14, 2004 12:12 AM
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