We just saw this 0scar-worthy film and were bowled over. What a terrific job by cast, director, etc. I highly recommend it. No gimmicks (like Eternal Sunshine, which I thought was overrated), just solid acting and a wonderful example of what a filmmaker can achieve in the realm of describing the human condition.

I concur. It’s about time we started giving more Oscars to comedies instead of the typical schmaltz that usually gets them.


I saw it recently.

I was very excited to see it, but was pretty underwhelmed.

Well-shot, very well-acted, well-written but it just left me feeling “whatever”.

For a movie to be really great to me, it has to be all those things, but also have a dramatic arc that I care about. Basically what you had here was the Groom was kind of a scummy guy who set out to get laid, did it, then stayed scummy. Giammatti just sort of came out of his shell a little. That’s not “drama” to me, though. There was nothing to connect with to get into and say, “I hope such-and-such happens”.

I don’t demand a by-the-book plot in my movies or anything, but if it doesn’t have that, I’d like to see an interesting take on friendship, love, mid-life crisis, anything. That’s why I’d put “Eternal Sunshine” out ahead of it (since the OP mentioned it). I thought what it had to say about our connections to others and love and the pain/joy dichotomy of it was very interesting, and spot-on.

I never read the book, but I got still got the feeling that it was from a book when I was watching it. Scenes like the naked guy, or trying to drive the car into the tree seemed like they would probably be funny in a book, but didn’t translate well to the screen. The theater I was in never really laughed.

Lukewarm for me. Well-crafted, but overall, no real payoff. I haven’t given it a second thought since I saw it two or three weeks ago.

There were some great lines, though. e.g “drinking and dialing”,

“Are you chewing gum?” was a great line at the end of that scene.

His book was called “The Day After Yesterday”.

I liked it precisely because it didn’t rely on a lot of plot devices to ‘make it interesting’. It was more a slice-of-life movie, and life just isn’t all drama. Sometimes it’s just about coping and living and loving.

Yeah, but sometimes we edit out the boring parts to make movies and books.

See, take something like “Thelma & Louise”. Road trip movie with two women. I felt like you equally can learn something about their friendship, their relationship with those they left behind, and their life, etc. while having something drive the story.

In “Sideways”, I’m not asking for a ticking bomb in a vineyard that the heroes have to jump out of a helicopter and cut the red wire to diffuse. I just thought it needed. . .something.

Don’t get me wrong here. . . I did like it.

I think I’m partly critical because I thought it could have been so much more. I really like movies that “sneak up on me” with actors I don’t know that do new things, and when I see one, I don’t want it wasted. That’s not even such a criticism of the movie, but more like a criticism of my expectations.

I was looking for the feeling I got from a movie like “The Sweet Hereafter” or even moreso, “You Can Count on Me”. Or another Giamatti movie, “American Splendor”.

I liked Sideways a lot. There was a dramatic arc, IMHO, but just a bit more subtle than usual.

Back in another generation, the question was, "Which did you prefer, Secaucus 7 or Big Chill? This was a movie for Secaucus 7 lovers.

First strength: the characters are real, not cardboard. Miles is the protagonist, but he isn’t anybody’s hero. Jack is a cad, no question, but he isn’t dismissable; he’s worth liking, despite his faults. And neither Maya nor Stephanie is a cardboard prize to be won, but interesting in their own right.

Now, the arcs: Miles’ friendship with Jack goes from Miles basically writing Jack off as a human being, to Miles’ being willing to forgive Jack for his very real shortcomings. Maya goes from liking Miles superficially, to thinking he’s scum, to being willing to look past his silence on Jack’s upcoming wedding and see him whole. Miles’ feelings about his ex-wife go from still desperately wanting her, to being pissed that she’s getting remarried, to accepting that she’s moved on and that he must as well. Miles goes from hiding behind his wine-snobbery to realizing that Maya means something to him, and being willing to take a risk and act on those feelings.

This is all pretty prosaic stuff by American big-screen standards, but it’s the stuff of the major dramas in our own lives. Payne turns the stuff of our lives into poetry. And comedy too, as a bonus. We’ll never be Indiana Jones, but if Miles can get his life unstuck, maybe we can too.

Yeah, what you said.

I don’t have the chops to really get into a literary-type discussion.

But, I’ll say this. What you wrote, RTF are arcs, growth of characters, what have you.

But, what I’m getting at is that there was no, I don’t know, Conflict. There were conflicts, but I mean Conflict with a captial ‘C’. You know, a situation that I, as the viewer, can get invested in the outcome of.

The movie might have seen Miles move through the stages of acceptance with his ex-wife, but it’s not like we were set up to be invested in that, contrasted to something like “Sleepless in Seattle” where we asked ourselves, “will Tom Hanks get over his love for his ex-wife and let himself go with the new girl”. If he does, a nice happy ending. If he doesn’t, then a tragic ending. But either way, I have an emotional investment in the outcome.

If Miles didn’t reconcile his feelings with his ex, then fine. If he does reconcile his feelings, then fine. I’m not “manipulated” to feel a certain way towards the outcome. I’m just given an outcome.

His book? So, it didn’t get published and he goes back to teaching 8th grade English. We’re not given a reason to feel happy or sad about it. We’re basically just given a fact: his book didn’t get published. It wasn’t tragic. It was kind of expected. Based on the character, we wouldn’t have been happy really if it had been published.

Maybe that’s a lame criticism. Maybe that’s my own shortcoming as a movie-watcher.

But it’s why the movie didn’t get quite get over the hump for me.

Thanks, that’s very kind of you.

I won’t say the conflict was out there in plain sight; I can see how it might have been tough to relate to it. The conflict was basically within Miles, of course, and I think either you like that sort of thing or you don’t. Most of the meaningful conflicts in our own lives are within ourselves; I know the few times in my life that all of me has been on the same page, moving in the same direction, I’ve been able to move mountains. And that’s what makes internal conflicts such as those meaningful to me.

I went to Sleepless in Seattle in a positive frame of mind, because Meg Ryan was then one of my favorite actresses (When Harry Met Sally wasn’t a distant memory yet), and Tom Hanks was and still is one of my favorite actors. You’d have to pay me to get me to see it again; by the end of the movie, I confess I didn’t care about either character, let alone whether they hit it off. So I think we’re just in different places here, with respect to our movie tastes.

I’m not sure I see the need for being told in some fashion which outcome is the right one. ISTM that once the woman you desire, no matter how desperately, has moved on to the extent of getting married to someone else, there really is only one right outcome that remains. (BT, DT, got the t-shirt.)

To me, Miles’ book not getting published was reality. Good books routinely go begging for a publisher, unless they fit nicely into some category that book publishers know they can sell. We know Miles’ book isn’t such a book.

In a standard Hollywood movie, that is, one that takes place in a reality that looks like our own, but has a whole different set of rules governing it, the book would find a publisher anyway, and become a bestseller to boot - after the writer’s having overcome whatever obstacles the scriptwriter tossed in his path, of course.

But this isn’t that sort of movie. This movie takes place in a reality much more closely approximating our own. The writer’s resolving his internal conflicts doesn’t change the fact that his book barely stands a snowball’s chance in hell of being published. The payoff, rather, is that the woman who he falls in love with, falls in love with his writing. Maybe things will work out between him and Maya; maybe they won’t. But most of us can go a long way on that sort of validation of what we’ve been doing with our lives.

Thanks for sharing all that, RTFirefly.
I wasn’t quite as underwhelmed as Trunk but was feeling similarly.
You helped me understand better what exactly I saw.
I thought the acting, by all, was wonderful. (I adore Giametti!)
But they certainly had some good writing to inhabit. Good stuff.

I was completely underwhelmed as well, especially after pre-reviews had me expecting something with much more nuanced and convincing characters. I just didn’t buy Jack at all, and the film seemed conflictd about Miles - are we supposed to mock his dilettantism (wine, literature, etc.)and cheer when he suffers for it, or is he a sympathetic character? I continually felt that the confusion was not mine, but the film’s.

My theater’s showing was hampered by an affect that someone else on IMDB echoed - for whatever reason, the audience decided at some point that it was a “capital-C comedy,” and proceeded to shriek, scream, and howl with laughter throughout the entire film. Least appropriate were the guffaws that met Jack getting smashed w/ the motorcycle helmet and Stephanie’s apoplectic tears, cheers and howls at the “i’m not drinking Merlot!” line, uncontrolled shrieks of laughter when Miles’ ex-wife reveals that she’s pregnant (and at his defeated face), and of course a near-riot during the “funnee nekkid guy” scene that drowned out the film for a good five minutes.

That’s interesting. My theater was complete opposite. A couple of “huh huhs” at lines like “are you chewing gum?” but not a huge comedy.

HOWEVER, same theater, different movie: “Lost In Translation”. I had a guy next to me going into conniption fits whenever Bill Murray raised an eyebrow. You’d have thought we were all stoned and watching “Caddyshack” the way people were carrying on.

Weird how a vibe can take over like that. I’ve seen it happen in horror movies where one audience can be sucked in and scared, and another can be rolling their eyes and laughing at the whole thing.


One last thing about “Sideways”. I think I’d still recommend it. It’s at least more interesting than most other movies out there.

I never read the book, but you know it reminded me of John Irving novels. Kind of bittersweet with situations drawing humor through their absurdity – humor that plays better in writing than on the screen.

I saw it last night at the insistence of my girlfriend, and I was pleasantly surprised. A very solid effort all around. The acting was very good, and the great views of wine country made up for the prosaic cinematography. I think Giamatti did a better job in American Splendor, and I hope he doesn’t get typecast into the put-upon guy. He’s better than that.

Afterwards, as we were leaving the theater, my girlfriend said “That makes me want to drink some wine!”

“…And not talk about it.” I said.

Oh, man, you just reminded me of my nightmare Royal Tenenbaums screening experience, which was very similar to yours.

More /hijack/

Quote: Originally Posted by Trunk

HOWEVER, same theater, different movie: “Lost In Translation”. I had a guy next to me going into conniption fits whenever Bill Murray raised an eyebrow. You’d have thought we were all stoned and watching “Caddyshack” the way people were carrying on.

I nodded off 3 times during “Lost in Translation”. Never cracked a smile. I couldn’t wait for it to end, figuratively.

I couldn’t wait for “Royal Tennenbaums” to end. Literally. I left half way through it.

I’m usually the prime audience for this kind of a movie, all dialog and character and lack of explosions. But underwhelmed is understatement.

I saw what they were trying for in the way that RTF described it, but instead I felt that they put the characters on the screen in the first ten minutes and kept them from growing, changing, learning, whathaveyou, at any point after that.

Worse, the individual incidents that they chose to put on the screen weren’t interesting; they were boring to outright stupid.

Incidents are incredibly important but seldom get their due in writing. They have to delineate character, move the plot, and strike our ears with dialog that sparkles, and more: Think of a movie as a meal. Each incident has to whet our appetites individually, not just as vegetables that contribute vitamins to our overall health.

Sideways was like food that screams on the package that it’s good for you, even though it tastes like cardboard.

If you want a good Paul Giamatti movie, see American Splendor.

I liked American Splendor quite a bit, more than Sideways–but feel that the latter is head and shoulders above a lot of the other stuff out there.

I guess not everyone will enjoy what the filmmakers were doing as RTFirefly described. And I understand what Freejooky says about Giametti’s character (is he sympathetic or not, do we mock the elitist wine attitude or what?) but to me this is how I often feel about real people.
In addition, I have known a few Jacks in my time, and sadly they do not necessarily change, learn, grow.
Usually life does not provide tidy endings or decisive outcomes, let alone one perfectly crystallized incident after another, but I can understand that a movie-goer might not appreciate some of the less lively events in Sideways.

I do like to think that Miles was no longer ‘drinking and dialing.’ :slight_smile:

So I dunno, maybe these days certain films are so hyped up that the viewer, upon seeing them, perhaps feels a bit of a let-down.

(I don’t know if there will be spoilers in this post but I won’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie!)

Wow. I went and saw this today and I loved it. People in the theatre laughed more than I did but they weren’t being out of control lunatics. I know that in the scene where Miles was listing off authors who killed themselves only after being published I was thinking “What about that guy O’Toole who wrote…” and then Jack said, “What about that guy who wrote Confederacy of Dunces?” and I burst out laughing like crazy and probably annoyed everyone.

I thought this movie definitely was about Miles getting over his divorce and dating again so to me, the tension is in wondering whether he will be able to relate to Maya. I was actually on the edge of my seat over whether or not he was going to be able to do it. Maybe it’s just me, I mean I just started a thread yesterday about whether or not people can keep falling in love when they are older, and the reason I asked it is because I feel like Miles. I loved the contrast with Jack, because hope seems to spring eternal for Jack, except only to Jack. From the outside, Jack looks more and more like he’s just a fool. So is it better to be like Jack, naive and foolish in your hope, or to be jaded and worldly like Miles? It’s kind of like the Blakean eyes of experience thing. Well, I thought it was really effective how they were contrasted, and how they are so different at first, but over the course of events, they are not so polarized as they seemed at first. I thought Paul Giamatti did some amazing “eyebrow work” in the driveway at Christine’s. It was one of those things where the actor has to show subtle thoughts without words and without contorting his face like a monkey.

I think it’s really summed up in Miles’s speech about why he likes the pinot noir. Not everyone is the tough, sturdy, thick-skinned Sleepless in Seattle fan. I thought it was a beautiful metaphor, and explained the whole theme of the film. I thought it was a very well crafted movie and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

I think this movie does and excellent job of portraying the diametrically opposed personalities we have as men. Some men are brooding, sensitive, intellectual types and some men are shallow, conniving oafs. But most of us are a complex blend of these two types, bottled and corked by our own distinctive vineyards.

His wine snobbery served a dual purpose- it provided a veneer of self-esteem and it provided a cover for his alcoholism.

I think his writing was supposed to be genuine. It was as complicated, depressed and messy as he was but it also contained that real kernel of intelligence and humanity.

I also disagree that Jack wasn’t believable. I’ve had friends like that. I know exactly what it’s like to have a friend that can’t stop himself from macking on waitresses. Those guys exist. I’ve been caught up in that exact same tangle of not wanting to nark on a cheating friend but not wanting to be a co-conspirator either. Watching Jack, I kep thinking. “wow, he’s exactly like ______.” He seemed pretty real to me (right down to “I’m gonna get you laid.”)

Wasn’t that stuff supposed to be funny? With the exception of the pregnancy reveal, I laughed my ass of at all that stuff. I about peed my pants at the naked fat guy. And “I’m not drinking any fucking merlot,” was a great, funny line which was perfectly in keeping with Miles.