Saturday, February 26, 2005


Sideways. US/HU (c) 2004 Twentieth Century Fox. D: Alexander Payne. SC: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor – based on the novel by Rex Pickett. DP: Phedon Papamichael. M: Rolfe Kent – performed by the Sideways Orchestra.
    Starring Paul Giamatti (Miles), Thomas Haden Church (Jack), Sandra Oh (Stephanie), Virginia Madsen (Maya). In English and some Armenian. 123'.
    Released by FS Film with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Katja Paanala / Marko Hietikko.
    Viewed at KinoPalatsi 7, Helsinki, 26 Feb 2005.

I have missed Alexander Payne's Citizen Ruth (1996) and Election (1999) but liked About Schmidt (2002), and now comes Sideways highly recommended. It's a laid back piece which does not push hard for effect. Reminiscent of the 1960s/1970s new / independent American cinema (Hal Ashby) it has connections to the road movie and the buddy movie but is quite an original. Miles and Jack are 40-something men who have not realized their aspirations in life. Miles the pessimist and Jack the optimist make a tour of the California vineyards a week before Jack gets married, tasting wine, playing golf and meeting women while Miles waits for an answer from his agent about the fate of his third unpublished novel manuscript. Nice acting, nice sense of atmosphere, nice music. The actors enjoy parodying their stereotypes but build their characters to more than that. This wine film simultaneously relishes in wine connoisseurship and mocks it. Like good wine, this film might grow with time. At least ***+

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