"Sideways" Nominated for Seven Globes!

I heard that Alexander Payne's new flick has been blessed with a staggering seven Golden Globe nominations. I also heard--from nineteen different people--that it was absolutely imperative I see this movie. I changed my underwear, laced my boots and strolled over to Cumberland theaters to check this puppy out.

I wanted to catch Sideways at the Toronto International Film Festival this year but my girlfriend and I were busy breaking up. Somehow, I'm glad that I missed it in September--the movie wouldn't have had the same effect on me. Sideways tells the story of man struggling with the aftermath of divorce: the insecurities, the isolation, the ungratified libido. It is a brave film in its continual reminder that life, at times, is filled with major disappointments.

The manic odyssey of wine, women, and woefulness, begins when Miles decides to take his old college roommate Jack on a celebratory tour of the region's finest vineyards. Jack is getting married in a week and this trip is supposed to serve as a bon voyage--one final hurrah before the heavy clutches of matrimony take hold. Miles has been there before. He is recently divorced, completely unadjusted, and lacks the time and social skills necessary to land another woman. His main concern is selling his manuscript and expanding his already overwhelming knowledge of wine. Jack, on the other hand, is only concerned with having sex with a woman, any woman, before resigning himself to an imprisoned life of monogamy. Like the coastal trails these characters take from vineyard to vineyard, the roads leading to success are rough and winding. Things simply do not go as planned.

At times, I was saddened by the raw truthfulness of the movie. Alexander Payne has put together four stellar films that all seem to capture the intricacies of human nature; or, at the very least, showcase terrific satire and a sense of humour with the ability to rise from the most dismal situations. Characters are trapped in lives they are unwilling to accept, and given skills that appear to be more of a hindrance than a help. But they roll with it as best they can.

A good bottle of wine gets better with age. Eventually it reaches a peak and the grade declines steadily from that point on. While watching Sideways, we are forced to wonder: have these characters reached their peak? Are good times ahead, or is it all downhill? I like to believe that good times are still ahead for these characters. Anything less would be too depressing.

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