25 February 2009

DVD: "Sideways" - Widescreen Edition

Directed by Alexander Payne 
Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Based on the novel by Rex Pickett
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh
DVD Release Date: 5 April 2005
MPAA Rating: R (For Language, Some Strong Sexual Content and Nudity)
List Price: $14.98
Cinescopes Personality Types: Loyal Warrior, Dedicated Idealist

The Film
His wedding a week away, Jack (Church) takes off for a week long, one-on-one bachelor party tour of wine country with Miles (Giamatti).  They met in college, and could not be further apart in many regards.  Professionally, Jack is a small-part actor past his prime; Miles is an English teacher with delusions of one day being a published novelist.  Regarding marriage, Jack can't even stay interested in his own forthcoming wedding, and Miles has yet to recover from his wife leaving him several years ago.  Jack wastes no time detecting a long-held attraction by Miles for waitress Maya (Madsen) and prods his buddy off the bench and back into the dating game; which would probably have gone better had Jack not simultaneously pursued her friend Stephanie (Oh).

Of course you get the original theatrical trailer.  For those who've not seen the film, I would honestly advise them to watch the trailer after the film.  Not only does it include several spoilers and shots from the final act, it's structured in such a way that it actually suggests a different picture than the one that was finished.  Otherwise, you get seven deleted scenes, each introduced by on-screen text prepared by director Payne and a brief featurette about the film featuring Payne and the lead actors.  The gem, though, is feature-length commentary between Giamatti and Church.  Of course they reminisce about a particular day's shooting here and there and alternatively sing one another's praises, then mock one another; Church, though, came to the film having just tried his hand at directing, so he offers many of the insights that one would have hoped to be provided by Payne.  Be warned, though: you may need a dictionary handy to keep up with the extensive vocabularies of these two articulate actors!

The Recommendation
Women will very likely loathe Jack and Miles, and I'm not entirely clear how much men should like them, either.  They take narcissism to a Seinfeld-ian high, and while their words and actions can, at times, be morally outrageous, they are nonetheless greatly entertaining.  There's a theory about films that they should take daily life a step further than we'd really go, and omit the boring parts of the day.  Sideways adheres to that theory, and has earned a spot in my top 20 (if not top 10) favorite films list.

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