Sunday, November 28, 2004

Sideways..A movie review..

I always enjoy waiting to go into a movie at the Kentucky Theatre. Seeing the intellectuals of Lexington leave a good quality movie reassures me. Last nights serving of movie genius was Sideways, the new work from director Alexander Payne. Payne was responsible for such fine works as Election and About Schmidt, and this movie ranks right up there with them in quality. The story is this- Miles (Paul Giamatti), an 8th grade teacher and failed writer, gives his buddy Jack (Thomas Haden Church) a has been actor, a gift of a wine tasting trip the week before Jack gets married. Naturally these two are polar opposites, Miles is still grieving over a divorce, and Jack wants to get laid a few more times before he gets hitched. Also, Miles is a wine expert, Jack could drink Mad Dog 20/20 and not care. The only thing that joins these two is a common past and fear of the future. They make it to the wine country of Coastal California, where trouble soon follows. Miles re-meets a divorced waitress and fellow wine expert, Maya (Virginia Madsen). Jack hooks up with one of Maya's friends Stephanie (Sandra Oh), a local vineyard worker and single mother. Of course the guys have two different agendas, Miles falls in love, Jack wants a bed buddy and tells Stephanie what she wants to hear. Through the course of both relationships they wander the Central California coast wineries in all their beauty, till Jack starts talking about giving up wedding plans and Miles finds his book will not be published. Of course Stephanie finds out the truth from Maya, and everything blows up.
This movie has an abundance of great acting. I personally liked Virginia Madsen's performance. She was all soul. Thomas Hayden Church was also hilarious as Jack. He played the aging actor afraid to lose his mojo to perfection. I hadn't seen him in anything since the series Wings. The most prominent characters were actually the Central California locations and the process of wine tasting itself. Payne seems to use both as a metaphor for the lives of the characters: wine needs nurturing, some years are better than others, and some wines mature faster than others. Payne also shows a good contrast of the aristocratic business of wine with the ordinary Wal-mart locals who work in the trenches with it.
This is a must see for people who like a well written movie with an education enjoined with it. You enjoy the movie and learn about wine at the same time..Perfect.