World of India!: PopularCulture: 'Sideways' - Two friends, a week long holiday, Wine & Women ! e

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PopularCulture: 'Sideways' - Two friends, a week long holiday, Wine & Women !

I saw 'Sideways' on video yesterday night, which is 2 years after the film was released. I hadn't heard of the film earlier. I got the video only because i read it was nominated for 5 academy awards and the Time' review line labelleling it "the best film made in 2004", on its cover.

For readers who have tuned in late, like I did, Sideways is a story of two middle aged friends who have known each other since Freshman year in College, Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), who decide to go on a week long tour of the California wine county, just before Jack's marriage ceremony. The film is an account of this holiday week , ostensibly. But it manages to give us a peek into the tragic, comic lives that Miles and Jack are leading, their flawed relationships, fear of aging and failure.

Miles is separated from his wife and trying to get over the depression, since the last two years. He is a wine aficionado, who has a deep understanding of the process of making and tasting wine. In fact, the film uses wine as a metaphor for life throughout, so much so that it is almost the fifth major lead of the film. Miles has a thing for wine made out of 'Pinot Noir' grapes which he describes as 'needing constant care, affection and love, not a toughie like Cabernet Sauvignon, which can grow anywhere. He is really no different. A failed writer, rejected many times by Publishing houses and desperately seeking the same care and love. Jack, on the other hand, is a voice artist, by profession- a playboy who wants to "party" before the chains come on after marriage, and in the process, almost jeopardizes his oncoming marriage. Miles is a reluctant participant in this 'bachelor party' holiday, still recovering from the bruises of his failed first marriage. But Jack drags him in nevertheless.

During their travels, they meet Maya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh). They hit it off, Miles with Maya and Jack with Stephanie. Finally, when Stephanie realizes Jack's made false promises to get laid, she beats him up and the two beat a hasty retreat back home.

Nothing over dramatic happens in the film throughout. And yet, it manages to hold your attention. There is no 'in your face' humor and yet, you can't but help giggling as the two friends bumble down, from one hysterical event to another.

'Sideways' is the kind of comedy that I would like to see more often. It is a 'layered' film; which conveys many things, without even saying it; makes us laugh, without trying too hard; makes us think about our own lives and the direction in which they are going. There is no sermonizing, no moral posturing. Essentially it is a story of modern lives and its multi hued colors and tastes- a bit like the 'Pinot Noir 1961' which Jack has been saving in his cellar !

Must Watch!

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