Watched Sideways over the w/e with the wife. We both enjoyed it thoroughly, and thought it much superior to Groundhog Day, which we also rented. (The latter devolved into a cross between It’s a Wonderful Life and Forrest Gump, though the basic premise was of course good.)
Back to Sideways, besides giving a guided tour of California’s Central Coast (I watched the film Times Atlas of the World in hand), it succeeded as a film that makes you think as well as laugh. It’s unpredictable, which makes a change for most films these days. The way the director handled the sex is an example of this. You think (disappointedly, in my case) that it’s all going to be off-screen (just moans and groans), and then he hits you with two stupendous scenes: the sexoholic boning (I think there’s no better way to describe the act the way it’s portrayed) the Oriental bird, and the hicks getting it on after the sexoholic has “fucked her ass”. (The “pillow talk” between the two trailer trash is thoroughly believable in the context of what has already been established of the characters - and of course one’s knowledge of American culture - and stops the scene descending into slapstick.) His ability to draw wider messages out of the everyday and the banal allows the director to get away with what would otherwise be cliches. The Oriental bird is a case in point: not only does she conform to the stereotype of the Asian hottie, she also gets to practice her moves kung fu style - reducing her 6’2" 200 lb prey to pulp with only a handbag. And yet we buy into it because the director has merited it.
Good stuff. Certainly one of the films of 2004.
And one other strange thing, if you will indulge me a moment longer. Usually, when a film features scrumptious food or drinks, I’ll hit the pause button and go and get whatever it might be - a cup of coffee, some cheese. Yet, in this case, the idea of going to the kitchen and opening that bottle of red had no appeal for me, and was instantly and easily dismissed. And not only becasue it was a Merlot. When a film has that effect, you know that it’s working well on a serious level too.