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Not as sharp as Election but not as forgettable as About Schmidt.

After a meandering start (I couldn't get a clear grasp of the arc of the story or the characters) the film comes into focus once Virginia Madsen's character Maya appears. She really only has the one showcase speech but carries it off radiantly. And she personifies the phrase "something going on behind her eyes" in all her scenes. Her Oscar nomination was well deserved for making a relatively small - but critical - part memorable.

Paul Giamatti as Miles Raymond is also very, very good and Thomas Haden Church almost as. There's nothing wrong with Sandra Oh's performance (in fact she's very good as well) but she doesn't shine as much as the other three, possibly because her role isn't as interesting.

I often enjoy movies or books which go into great detail about a topic I know - or care - little about. If the passion for a subject comes through it's infectious even for someone not an aficionado. And if the subject in question can be used dramatically as well, as in Sideways it's all the better. So when Miles describes pinot he's clearly describing himself It's a great speech but almost too on the nose. And Maya's response, when she talks about why she loves wine as a living thing, is a great seduction. This scene, to me, establishes the movie as a romance, albeit a skewed on.

The commentary by Giamatti and Church isn't very informative but it is entertaining. I think they absconded with more than a few good cases from the shoot and consumed at least some of these while recounting their recollections.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 23, 2005 9:03 AM.

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