Tuesday, December 14th, 2004
Alexander Payne’s Sideways is turning out to be one of the most highly-praised films of the year, picking up glowing reviews and awards nominations left right and centre. So, always a slave to critical adulation, I headed out in the bitter cold last night to see what the hubbub was about. That, and I had a movie pass that expired today.
Ostensibly a buddy movie about two guys out on a road trip the week before one’s wedding, Sideways is a really rare bird – an genuinely adult comedy. Not adult in the “ooh we get to see some naughty bits”, though there’s some of that (more male than female, actually), but adult in the “this is about grown-ups dealing with grown-up topics, like mid-life crises and drinking wine”. There’s a lot of wine in this film, seeing as how it’s set in California wine country. I only knew a little bit about wine going in, and now I know more. See? It’s educational too!
But seriously, it’s a remarkably good film. The four principal actors are all excellent, particularly Thomas Haden Church (Lowell!!!) and Paul Giamatti – neither is particularly playing against type, Church being the loudmouth womanizer and Giamatti the neurotic sad-sack, but they manage to invest their characters with a lot of depth and complexity. Virigina Madsen (what happened to her all these past few years?) is also good as Giamatti’s love interest but local girl Sandra Oh doesn’t get to do too much as Church’s last bachelor fling, besides beat his face in. Oh don’t cluck your tongue at me, if you saw the trailer you know it happens.
While there are a few laugh-out-loud moments, it’s more of a sit and smile film rather than a knee-slapper. Payne is more interested in letting the actors do their thing and have them carry the film, and it works quite well. Is it 92% on Metacritic good? Hell, I don’t know. All I can say is that I think it’s good – anything beyond that is strictly subjective. It may not be for everyone, but for those for whom it’s for (okay, that was a grammatical nightmare), it’s a treat. And oh yeah, not one, but TWO Luna songs appear in the soundtrack. Thumbs up.
And on a related note, Stylus picks their ten best films of the year.
Thanks to Eugene for pointing out these clips from The Wedding Present’s Take Fountain, out February 15. I must say, first single “Interstate 5” sounds much more RAWK than I’d expected. I wouldn’t have even recognized it as Weddoes… until Gedge shows up, of course. Interesting.
My Mean Magpie rattles off his top albums of nil-four.
I don’t know how I feel about the Jays signing Corey Koskie. I mean, yeah, nice to have a Canadian on the team again, but $17 million over three years is pretty steep – and his numbers aren’t THAT good. And what about poor ol’ Eric Hinske? No, he hasn’t had a year as good as his Rookie Of The Year season in 2002, but it’s far too early to give up on him. I like the guy, come on. I’m hoping they do move him to 1st rather than deal him. I used to buy into Ricciardi’s master plan, but the constant turnover in personnel (dealing Miguel Batista already?) seems more like panic than long-term planning to me now. Come on! How are we supposed to re-take third place in the AL East without a plan?!? Here’s an idea, how about instead of getting free agents, we throw buckets of money at the league until they move us to ANY division besides the one the Yankees and Red Sox play in?
np – Slowdive / Live Bootleg