Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Much has been written about Sideways, a quirky movie with a stellar cast. Sideways is the story about two men in search of wine, women and, well, not song, but something perhaps more meaningful. I won't add to the hundreds of long reviews written about this little movie that made it big. I will urge you, though, to see it on DVD if you've managed to miss it.

The first of the two friends we meet is deceitful, steals from his mother, and seems terribly boring, and we gather all of this within the first few minutes of the film. He can't seem to gather enough enthusiasm for anything in his life, including his dying novel. The only time he lights up is when he pulls a wine glass to his nose and deeply inhales. When that happens, he's erudite, he has a brand new vocabulary, he's wise, and he can actually hold a conversation if you can speak the language.

Then we meet his friend Jack, who seems worse than deceitful. When Miles and Jack go to the California central coast in search of good wine and the celebration of the end of Jack's bachelorhood, Jack's only purpose is to screw his way past the grapes, throwing out fanciful tales, trying to make his life seem bolder and his friend's life interesting. Both Jack and Miles find two delicious women along the way who surely deserve more than these two men have to offer. But then, just when we're ready to write them both off, we see a better side, or at least a vulnerable side, of each of these men.

These are the roles of a lifetime for the lead actors. Paul Giamatti, who lately seems to be in a lot of quirky roles he makes his own, shows Miles' sadsack qualities and the ability to make human out of "quirky." Thomas Haden Church's most distinguished role is Dumb (think "Wings"). He is far better and shows it here. Virginia Madsen takes her small role and sails, and we lunge after her, wanting more.

I like this vintage, this wine. Good clarity, but with a little murkiness at the bottom. A bit bitter at first, but with fruity flavors and a definite sweetness at the end.


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