Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh, Marylouise Burke
Director: Alexander Payne
Genres: Comedy, Drama
With Sideways, Paul Giamatti (American Splendor, Storytelling) has become an unlikely but engaging romantic lead. Struggling novelist and wine connoisseur Miles (Giamatti) takes his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church, W... more »
A quirky comedy
Erica Anderson | Minneapolis, MN | 11/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am not terribly familiar with Alexander Payne's work other than the hilarious "Election". I wanted to see what all the hubbub was all about "Sideways". I have been hearing nothing but glowing reviews of the film so I thought it was worth seeing this afternoon. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church (of "Wings" and "Ned and Stacy" fame) are college buddies Miles and Jack, who decided to go on a road trip through California's wine country as a last hurrah for Jack's impending nuptials. Miles is a divorced, depressed english teacher who is also an aspiring writer. Jack is a washed up actor who has all the maturity of a dust bunny and still acts like he was still a teenager, and really isn't marriage material. Along the way, Miles and Jack meet up with Mya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh, Alexander's wife). There is an immediate connection between the men and the women. With Miles, he is more shy and reluctant but somehow uses his knowledge and love for wine as subtle hints for Mya telling her that he is interested in her. Jack and Stephanie hits it off immediately. Although I have an immense aversion to romantic comedies, I thought "Sideways" wasn't your typical romantic comedy. If you think about it, Miles and Jack aren't really likeable but they really aren't despicable characters either. Miles is very self-absorbed and always finds ways to kill the mood while Jack is immature and doesn't consider the consequences of his actions. The dialogue was witty and engaging, especially when Miles is talking about wine. I really enjoyed Sandra Oh's performance in the film. I thought she was a delight to watch. It is really rare nowadays to see a leading Asian actress in a movie , especially a movie that is as engrossing and hilarious to watch. I was surprised to see Virginia Madsen put in a terrific performance considering some of her past work has been some really cheesy Lifetime tv movies. One of my favorite scenes is when Miles retrieves Jack's wallet towards the end of the trip. That was laugh out loud funny. I also loved it when Miles and Jack create an excuse for why Jack's nose is broken. "Sideways" is one of the few films that definitely lives up to the hype. Definitely one of the best comedies of this year."
What's wrong with me then for liking this?
David A. Linneweh | Shorewood, IL | 01/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I realize this movie has come and gone but over the last year I've really grown to love it and after reading some of the reviews that this movie was so poor I felt compelled to give my opinion.
First, what's with the "boring" film thing, if you want exciting I don't know, rent something that's supposed to be exciting with explosions and Bruce Willis. Or if you find it morally ambiguous, consider what movies the director traditionally makes, Election, About Schmidt, these are somewhat dark, slow, depressing movies, rent something with Larry The Cable Guy if that's your thing; point is a little research prevents bad movie choices.
At 28 what I like about this movie is that it recognizes that life is messy and complicated. Considering my limited life experience I recognize that getting older doesn't automatically make someone perfect, responsible, and ethical. Cheating on spouses is not for me, but I've known couples (one of which many would describe as a good couple) who've cheated on each other. I'm not saying this is right but the point is I think people should be able to see some aspects of this story that are similar to their lives. Have you ever had a hard time getting over someone, or has one of your friends??? Ever know anyone who's unable to admit about a problem or won't admit they are in a rut?? I think lots of people feel like this, including myself; the point is there are those moments that give you hope. I'm speaking specifically about Miles in this movie, at one point in time he was much better, (though weak, he did cheat on his wife) Jack describes an entirely cheerier person. Miles reluctantly goes on this trip and is almost literally forced to recognize Mia as prospective relationship; this is ultimately positive, a reminder that opportunities for happiness are all around us if we choose to acknowledge that we are unhappy, in ruts, and are brave enough to follow them out. I know Miles does some despicable things, but somewhere he knows there is a person he wishes he could be, someone who does not just settle down, have a family, and eventually be married 50 years to their fat friend who they argue with constantly and live in there own worlds of denial. I feel I have hope for people in general; I look at the characters in the movie and think they want to be happy and hopefully they deal with the problems in their life.
A "Little Film" Makes the Big Time
Scott Schiefelbein | Portland, Oregon United States | 08/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's always dangerous when you are late in coming to a small movie that has unexpectedly hit the big time -- your viewing enjoyment may be hampered by the crushing weight of expectations. It's wonderful when you can be among the first to see small-budget classics like Stanely Tucci's "Big Night," but I didn't get to see "Sideways" until after the Oscar nominations, the critics' Top 10 lists, and so on. How could "Sideways" possibly live up to these awesome credentials?
Well, "Sideways" does live up to its billing, and it does so through one simple virtue -- truth. "Sideways" is an extremely funny and insightful examination of two men struggling with their mediocrity -- one who is all too aware of his shortcomings, and another who uses a pathetic Peter Pan syndrome to keep at bay the harsh glare of reality.
The self-aware guy is Miles (the lovable schlub Paul Giamatti), a recently divorced middle school English teacher who's having a difficult time getting his novel published . . . or even explained. Miles is awash in bitterness, but he knows deep down that he's a sweet guy once you get past the sour layers (of which there are many). The ignorant guy is Jack (Thomas Hayden Church), Miles' freshman roommate from San Diego State and a mildly successful actor. Jack is one of those guys who should be thankful for the successes he has, but is incapable of doing so because by accepting a given success, he is placing a ceiling on his dreams.
The "plot" of "Sideways" revolves around Jack's impending marriage. Engaged to a rich beauty and walking down the aisle on Saturday, Jack gets escorted by Miles for a week of freedom in the California central coast wine country. While wine, for Jack, is a means for getting drunk, it is a religion for Miles. Of course, it's obvious to anyone who spends five minutes with Miles that he uses his mastery of wine as a defense mechanism ("I appreciate great wine, so I must be worth something") - thanks to the witty script, "there's just like the faintest soupçon of like, uh, asparagus," has entered our lexicon of pretentious criticism. Miles can use his focus on wine to avoid meeting people who could possibly reject him.
That's difficult on this trip, because Miles has met his soulmate, Maya (Virginia Madsen), who is a waitress at a wine country restaurant. Miles and Maya share a devotion to wine, and Miles is continuously surprised at the depth and character of this woman. The question of whether Miles can break out of his various layers of emotional armor to forge a connection with this delightful woman dominates the movie.
Unfortunately for Miles, Jack is as shallow as Miles is deep. In a classic self-destructive move, Jack gets involved with Stepanie (Sandra Oh), a vibrant single mother and good friend of Maya's. A pell-mell romance ensues, with the ever-so-slight complication that Jack hasn't told Stephanie about his impending marriage. Watching Jack skirt emotional ruin while selfishly justifying his caddish behavior is a gruesome delight.
Through it all, the script for "Sideways" puts believable, memorable lines into the mouths of these talented actors. Long narratives about wine reveal surprising details of the speakers, and each character receives a separate, distinct voice (this isn't a Quentin Tarantino movie where all the actors sound like Saint Quentin, or a George Lucas movie where all the actors sound like idiots). A "talky" movie, "Sideways" never runs out of steam.
There is plenty of humor in "Sideways," but most of it is reserved - you will chuckle more often than laugh outright - but there are a few gut-busting moments, as well.
"Sideways" is an attractive movie, but it is shot with a realistic eye -- the California wine country looks great, but this is not an "eye candy" movie like "Under the Tuscan Sun," which looked sumptuous but had little else to offer. "Sideways" gets the balance of visuals and substance just right - one can easily imagine Miles liking his own movie, and that is high praise."
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the bottle
cubicle#3 | 05/22/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the bottle, out pops on corker of a movie. From the director of "Election" and "About Schmidt", Alexander Payne teams up with fellow writer, Jim Taylor once again. Bottled as a dark comedy with a hint of romance and a label that reads, "13% Drama by Volume," "Sideways" tries but fails to capture any one genre. Maybe that is why some moments are touching and others; absurd and pretentious.
Miles (Paul Giamatti) and his best friend, Jack (Thomas Hayden Church) decide to tour the wine-clad hills of California the week before Jack's nuptials; a kind of bachelor party for the wine aficionado except that Jack is everything but and Miles is in such a depressed slump that his vast knowledge of wine can only be summed up with the words, "I'm not drinking any f@%! Merlot!" Miles intentions for the week are quite clear: bond with his best friend over a few bottles of wine, forget about the demise of his marriage, relax from the pressures of trying to get his novel published, and hey! play a few holes of golf. What he gets is a week full of more strife, all thanks to his sidekick, Jack, whose intentions are less muddled -sex, sex, sex, and more sex.
Although Miles is steering the car to their destinations; Jack is the pilot. Jack meets an exotic local cashier at one of the winery stops and decides to temporarily put a halt to his impending nuptials much to Mile's chagrin. Stephanie, played by the delightful Sandra Oh (Gray's Anatomy), is everything that Jack believes has been missing from his life. She is a cross between Biker Barbie and a Wrecking Ball and she comes complete with a single friend, Maya, for Miles. Only Miles is still reeling from his recent divorce from his wife that the best he can muster awkward silence followed by the best display of triathlon alcoholic binge drinking since "Bridget Jones' Diary."
Virginia Madsen plays Maya, a fellow wine connoisseur. She is the only character capable of bringing the movie back from is sophomoric antics of Jack. In one of the most poignant scenes, Miles and Maya go tête-à-tête in a wine slam that not only reveals their knowledge of wine, but also the philosophies that guide their lives. Finally! The writer's supply dialogue that is noteworthy and Madsen is more than apt to take up the challenge of giving the words, and movie, life. Watching Madsen in this scene is like knowing exactly what was going on in Mona Lisa's head when she posed for DaVinci- wine!
Jack, Jack, Jack. How hard is it to insert an egocentric, masochistic, two-dimensional buddy like Jack? Miles knows where his faults lie and completely gives up on himself before anyone else can. Jack has no idea that he has any faults and quickly forgets about them ten seconds after they are revealed. How there two could be friends is beyond me. Miles is the every loveable tragic figure and Jack- one of the reasons they made those "I'm with Stupid" tee-shirts. Poor Miles spends most of the movie trying to reel in the Great White that is Jack. Thomas Hayden Church does his best in his performance, but I can still only anticipate that Stephen Weber will walk across the screen as Crystal Bernard cleans a counter.
"Sideways" is not a movie about romance, nor is it a drama. It falls into that space between the splendor of "American Beauty" and "Dumb and Dumber." However, it is a move about those moments in one's life, however ordinary, where perfection cannot be attained. Regardless of how hard we try to make ourselves believe otherwise, life, like a fine wine, has its moments where it peaks.