I like to think of Sideways as 2004's Lost in Translation—the little film that could, immediately garnering rave acclaim in its limited release. This one is guaranteed to make a lot of critics' year-end best-of lists and earn a fair share of Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. I only wonder what the average filmgoer will make of it, since it includes some considerable potentially offensive content—not to mention so many hated the much-lauded Lost in Translation.
To be fair, people will probably find the characters and storytelling in Sideways easier to follow and relate with. Director Alexander Payne (Election, Citizen Ruth) last offered moviegoers About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson, a film about post-retirement life that tickled the funny bone while simultaneously breaking the heart. Sideways does the same thing for the midlife crisis with a script co-written by Payne and his longtime collaborator Jim Taylor, based on the novel by Rex Pickett.
Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti of American Splendor) is a middle school English teacher still coping with a divorce two years after the fact. In his spare time, he's a wine connoisseur (perhaps too much of one) and a hopeful novelist, trying to get his doomed title The Day After Yesterday published. At the film's start, Miles is about to serve as best man in the wedding of his college buddy, aspiring actor Jack, played by Thomas Haden Church (Lowell Mather of TV's Wings). As a final bachelor's present, the two take a road trip to explore California's "wine country" for some tasting and golfing the week before Jack's wedding.
These two are the modern odd couple, a mismatch on the surface—Felix and Oscar, Costanza and Kramer. Miles has refined tastes with a cautious and ...1
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