Monday, May 21, 2007

Sideways...all around excellent

Sideways - Alexander Payne - 2004 - 10/10


Miles (Paul Giamatti) is an English teacher trying to get his novel published and Jack (Thomas Hayden Church) is his best friend about to get married. Together they embark on a journey through California's wine establishment for one last week of fun. Jack is intent on getting laid while Miles is freaking out about the book deal his agent has promised. Miles knows Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress, from previous visits north. When she's obviously into him, Jack gets annoyed when Miles does nothing. That's when they meet Maya's friend Stephanie (Sandra Oh), a wine store clerk Jack has the hots for. The four of them drink wine, hang out and well, you can figure out the rest. Things get complicated as Jack becomes more and more involved in Stephanie even as his wedding approaches and Miles cant handle the pressure of covering for his friend and pretending he's not worried about his book deal. The movie is about people, and life, and wine and book deals just serve as a clever analogy for things everyone faces as they get older.


The movie was extremely insightful and very realistic. The four actors turn in a tour de force - each delivering a powerful performance in their own way. Paul Giamatti with his carefully honed character actor's performance in the body of a leading man. Thomas Hayden Church uses the real life similarities of an actor who has been forced to work commercial voice overs. Virginia Madsen spins her tail of a woman sturggling to better herself yet passionate about her whine. Sandra Oh throws in a performance as a woman completely caught up in Church's charms. The movie is all about the actors, just like life is all about the people. Some of the scenes seem too long, but that's the way life is - long and belabored. It also got a little long as there seemed to be a lot of times when the movie could have ended, but then aagin, life has a lot those points, times when things could go in a different direction.


If you're in the mood for excellence, it's worth it.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Lost in Translation
...Annie Hall
...American Splendor

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