from January 15, 2005
Every critic worth a saline solution has discovered the film, Sideways. Many are the accolades that have been tossed its way; many are the prizes it has captured. Some in the film critic industry have gone so far as to predict the Academy Award for Best Picture.
With these plaudits in mind, I wandered over to the local cinema to check out the fuss and see how a two-hour marathon film about wine-tasting could engender so much enthusiasm.
I must begin this brief critique with a confession: I am not a connoisseur of the potable of choice by the elite. Before my cremation back in 1958, I preferred cheap beer. Post-cremation, my ashes have developed a taste for rotgut. Thus it should not surprise my many admirers that I entered the theater, known among the elite as “theatre,” with a chip on my robotic left shoulder.
Another confession: I dislike the contemporary novel or film that contains the word “f#@k” within the first sentence. I can tolerate “the F word,” as the genteel among us call it, when it appears tastefully and with good purpose midway through the story. Thus it should not shock my legions of readers that I rose from my seat and started to leave the theater when I heard the first spoken word of Sideways.
And now a third confession: I had made the mistake, on entering the theatre, of choosing to sit between two figurative elephants. The implication of this ill-chosen seat was that, though I found the act of rising a feat I could perform with grace and ease, I found it impossible to exit.
Why, you might ask, did I not request that one or the other of my companions stand up and allow me to slither down the row to the aisle?
In answer, I must report that I did. In fact, I asked both of them, first the one on my right, then the other larger-than-life creature. I did so politely. Both, however, answered in a negative way, and with precisely the same snarled word: “Siddown!”
Left without a choice in this matter, I sat down, determined to enjoy the tour de force I was being forced to endure.
To my surprise, I enjoyed it, despite the fact that my ill-chosen seatmates seemed to enjoy the multiple tubs of popcorn more than they did the humorous lines scattered throughout the film. They laughed in the wrong places. They chewed continuously—though fortunately, the sound emanating from the dozens of loudspeakers scattered throughout the theater was able to compete with the sound of the gnashing of their teeth.
As for the film itself, Miles, a depressive, was a better actor than Jack. His mother was even better; she should have been granted more dialogue.
And I have not converted to pinot noir.