Sideways, Blu-ray (2004)
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh
Director: Alexander Payne
Studio: Fox Searchlight [Release date: Feb. 3, 09]
Video: 1.85 adjusted for 16:9 color, 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish/French/Portuguese DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese
Extras: Audio commentary track by Giamatti & Church, 7 deleted scenes, Behind-the-Scenes featurette
Length: 127 minutes
This is a thoroughly grown-up comedy from the same director who did Election and About Schmidt – both winners. Sideways won some Golden Globes and a bunch of Oscar nominations. Two former college buddies decide to make a bachelor wine-tasting tour of central California’s wine country for the week just before Jack’s upcoming wedding in San Diego. Part of the reason is that Miles is an authority on wines. But he’s also a schoolteacher with a novel that has just been refused by every publisher he’s tried, and fraught with depression over his divorce some time ago and complete lack of success with women.
Jack, on the other hand, is hot to sample not just the wines but the women of the region. This leads to some violence, but not without humor. The two wine-expert women they connect with are perfectly played by Madsen and Oh, the scenery of the area is rendered beautifully, and cinematography is fine. It’s not all in-your-face comedy by any means; Miles’ concerns are especially well-depicted by Giamatti, whose apparent ordinariness makes him a highly believable and sympathetic character even though he does some things just about as despicable as Jack. The Making Of featurette is interesting and the deleted scenes fill in some useful details about the plot and characters. But director Payne must think his viewers are about second-grade-level readers – he leaves his text introductions on the screen forever!
– John Sunier