January 28 - February 3, 2004 • Vol. 25 - No. 04

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—Sometimes it’s Better to Go Forward

by The Maven and The Blonde
Film Columnists

When we first heard about Sideways, it was your typical, small, limited release type of flick that was certain to fall off the map quickly. Six weeks later, film critics are adoringly still talking about Sideways. Now that the Golden Globes have made Sideways a winner and a contender for all the other award shows, it has caught our interest as well.

Sideways tells the story of a whiny enophile who can't get over being dumped by his wife (two years later) and is desperately trying to get his first novel published while teaching the eighth grade. A depressed Miles, played by Paul Giamatti (American Splendor and Private Parts), has more insecurities than any forty-something who hasn't discovered Prozac could ever normally have. His old college roommate and best friend is Jack, portrayed by Thomas Hayden Church (“Wings” and 3000 Miles to Graceland), a washed up actor who is restless and determined to have a fling, even though he’s seven days away from getting married.

The two ole-buddies embark on a weeklong journey through the wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley. Their plans start innocently enough. They visit vineyards, wine tastings, and enjoy beautiful, sunny days out on the golf course. Their mission was simply a last jaunt for Jack before he settles down into marital bliss. Obviously they meet other wine tasters and naturally the ever DESPERATE Jack gets way too involved with a young woman and single mom Stephanie, played by Sandra Oh (Under the Tuscan Sun and The Princess Diaries), who has NO idea that Jack is about to be married.

Meanwhile, the always depressing Miles meets up with a waitress he knows, Maya, portrayed by Virginia Madsen (The Haunting and The Prophecy). Maya, wouldn't ya know it, just happens to be a good friend of Sandra's, who by the way is also divorced and is quite uneasy about this new friendship with Miles. She is shy and concerned about getting involved with Miles since he is so unhappy and despondent and nothing about Miles is ever easy! 
This melancholy comedy tries to answer the question of how to stop moving sideways in life (don't we all at times)!  Go see and find out if you get any answers to this ironic question.   

The Blonde: Sideways was like Two for the Road meets Scarecrow meets…ya know what, moviegoers? It was not worthy enough of a movie to even compare! I must begin by stating you can't always believe what the Golden Globe Awards say. Although this was a MILDLY amusing and interesting story (and I do mean mildly), it was FAR from an award-winning film. I cannot believe this film won under ANY category as the best ANYTHING! Now a film about why Prince Harry (his mother, the beautiful Diana is rolling over in her grave over this) dressed up as a Nazi German officer to go to a party would make for a much better story. I can't even say it was a great guy flick for that matter!
The Maven: So that's what all the hubbub was about? Maybe it's because there aren't that many movies out there that expect the viewer to have some intelligence. In Good Company was similar, although it dealt more with corporate business. Sideways took us into the wine tasting world of California. I so wanted a taste of some of the wines Miles and Jack were drinking.

The Blonde: You wanted the wine because the movie was so dull! It would have helped us pass the time. Maven, as I am totally trying to avoid this movie review, were you invited to Donald's wedding? I am quite disturbed about not getting my invite. I know it MUST have been a secretarial error!

The Maven: I was wondering why you weren't there! I just thought you were protesting the fact that he didn't choose you!


The Maven: Would it help you if I told you that I missed your company?

The Blonde: NO! It would help me if you said you didn't go!

The Maven: Okay then, I didn't go?

The Blonde: ANYWAY….This movie was depressing, annoying and portrayed the absolute worst in men. I do hope this wasn't an accurate look into the world of the average guy. The best part for me was the scene where the waitress served a plate of huge barbeque beef ribs that looked so amazing and the scene where the man was running stark naked in the street. Other than that, I would rather have gotten in my workout! I must admit that it was SLIGHTLY clever how they used metaphors to compare wine to life, I SUPPOSE?

The Maven: Oh that reminds me, the Donald did serve the best wine in the world.

The Blonde: SO YOU DID GO!

The Maven: AAHH, I heard about the wine!
The Blonde: Yada, yada  yada!

The Maven: The co-writer and director, Alexander Payne, took his time revealing his characters. I didn't care much for his past films, About Schmidt and Election, but this film in my opinion was more amusing. Sideways made wine tasting both a sublime ritual and a slightly ridiculous display.  

The Blonde: The whole movie was a ridiculous display of movie film! Moving right along, I didn't particularly like either of the two main characters. I think however, if forced to choose one…I would pick the cad Jack, as he was AT LEAST more fun to watch.

The Maven: Oh come on, you just picked him because they showed his naked tush!
The Blonde: Hey, whatever! I kept waiting for some definite and amazing thing to happen in the story to warrant a Golden Globe, but it just never came. All I know is that there were only 16 people in the theater and six of them walked out. I ONLY WISH I WERE ONE OF THEM... Speaking of walking out, did you watch any of the inaugural ceremonies on television?

The Maven: That has nothing to do with walking out of a theater! However, if I could, I would walk out on this whole administration. How could they even think of spending $40 million for an inauguration weekend just three weeks after the tsunami disaster? I am so ashamed!


The Maven: OH NO!  Now there, we're NOT going. At least for four more years! By the way, did you ever get in touch with Brad Pitt or Julia?
The Blonde: We keep missing each other…

The Maven: Talk about yada, yada yada! I agree with Blonde that this film isn't award material. It's educational, if you consider learning about some wines that are worth the effort. All of the actors gave good performances. Sideways was a funny intense film, without much action. I rate it a C+ for creating a buzz with ease.

The Blonde: Oh Maven, you are so easy!

The Maven: Have you been talking to Trump?

The Blonde: I KNEW YOU WENT! Sorry folks. As much as I hoped to agree with the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press before viewing this film, I don't see the worthiness of ANY major awards here. If you like a film that's slow moving and depressing about lies, deceit, denial, betrayal, unfaithfulness and a lot of WINE, then this is the film for you. I rate it a D for disappointing. I recommend if you must see it, in spite of my 'BIG Don't Go” warning, that you skip the snacks and sneak in the theater a bottle of wine and some brie cheese to pass the long 2 hours. Ya know Maven, Kerry wouldn't have spent 40 million dollars!

P.S.: For a delightful movie going evening, go see Beyond the Sea, the Bobby Darin movie. It was fun to watch with great acting, music and dance. Kevin Spacey will surprise you! Not only did he write, produce and direct this film, but he did all the singing himself. Kevin is quite a good dancer as well.

P.S again: The Aviator, which is about the life story of Howard Hughes, is a good bet as well. Although it doesn't give you the closure that you may need or tell the whole story about this unusual man, it was a wonderfully interesting story with some brilliant acting by Leonardo De Caprio.

Miami International Film Festival Presents the
REEL Education Seminar Series
 From Script to Screen: Film, TV & New Media,
February 5-12, 2005


Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) has a mission: to bring the best of world cinema to South Florida, and to play a leading role in maintaining and further enriching its film culture. Film enthusiasts will learn about the creative process by attending the 2005 MIFF REEL Education Seminar Series, offering panels, workshops and seminars with key film and television writers, producers, directors, entertainment industry experts and professionals.

Seminars featured during the weeklong REEL Education Seminar Series will include “The Digital Age” on Monday, February 7, led by Laurence Gartel, the internationally recognized father of the digital art movement, leads a discussion on the future of digital technology, new media and HD TV. “A Woman’s POV” on Tuesday, February 8, led by award-winning director of photography Judy Irola, alongside female filmmakers Marilu Mallet, Susan Kaplan and Maria Victoria Menis. In “Through a Brazilian Lens,” also on February 8, producer David Mayer and directors Helena Solberg and Kiko Goifman discuss their work and cinematographer, Ricardo della Rosa shares his experience on the making of the internationally acclaimed Brazilian film “Olga.”

On Wednesday, February 9, Peter Broderick, founder and former president of Next Wave Film, gives an intensive presentation on state-of-the-art distribution techniques “Maximizing Distribution and Revenue.” “A Sound Story: A Workshop With Tod Maitland” takes place Thursday, February 10. Maitland has worked on “Born on the Fourth of July,” “JFK” and “Seabiscuit” and will provide tips for creating a noteworthy soundtrack. “The Magic of Editing: A Workshop With Tina Hirsch,” will divulge the secrets of putting it all together on Friday, February 11. Hirsch is recognized for “The West Wing,” “Stealing Sinatra,” “The Driver” and “Gremlins.”

Also on Friday, February 11 there is an intensive day dedicated to documentary, “Doc_Day: Get the Facts and Meet the Players” when international TV executives, including National Geographic, Discovery Channel, PBS and Latino Public Broadcasting discuss their needs and co-production opportunities. On Saturday, February 12 two panels with leading industry insiders discuss “Independent Film Finance” and “Producing in South Florida.”

One of the highlights of the series is “Jean Rouch: A Celebration of Life and Film,” a retrospective and symposium presented in collaboration with the University of Miami’s School of Communication and the Cultural Service of the French Consulate General. Anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch (1917-2004) was a pioneer of the cinéma vérité style of filmmaking. On February 5 and 6, at the University of Miami’s Bill Cosford Cinema, the retrospective unites leading scholars and some of Rouch’s friends and close associates for a colloquium, panel discussions and screenings of Rouch’s finest films. More of Rouch’s works are shown throughout the festival at the Wolfsonian on Miami Beach.

Gain insight into the industry from television network executives, Academy Award nominees, film producers, distributors, financiers and independent filmmakers. Who should attend? Students, educators, audiovisual professionals and the general public. For more information on MIFF and the REEL Education Seminar Series, including program updates and ticket information, visit www.miamifilmfestival.com. Times and dates for the REEL Education Seminar Series are subject to change; please check the final program on the Web site. For ticket information, call 305-405-MIFF; general information, 305-237-7456.

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