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Sideways


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Just got back from a post-Turkey Day showing. My sister and bro-in-law have been dragging my Dad to all sorts of flicks the past few days -- Alexander (which he hated) and National Treasure which only slightly amused him. So we all went and my Dad, who is no where near a wine geek laughed and enjoyed himself immensely. Yeah, we saw it in Napa so a LOT of the inside wine jokes were only getting laughed at by other folks in the theatre (probably ITB), but then we all laughed at the biggie funny scenes.

Very, very enjoyable.

Mild trivia -- One of Virginia Madsen's early flicks was Electric Dreams with Lenny Van Dolen. His character (with whom she ultimately falls in slove) is also named Miles...

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We saw this on the night it opened here in Day-twah, and we liked it. We didn't quite think it was Academy Award material, but it had its moments, and it was obvious that there were a lot of wine-folk in the audience from the hoots and hollers in the obvious spots.

One thing that struck both Kim and me was that more people didn't comment on the fact that Miles only showed up at his mother's place to lift money out of her stash early on in the movie. In fact, when you come right down to it, both Miles and Jack pretty much lied their way through the whole show. Miles had some redeeming qualities, for all his quirks, but the two men in the movie were hardly role models, but then, who am I to argue or to judge?

I couldn't quite buy Miles dumping the dump bucket in the general direction of his mouth, no matter how funny most people found that scene. Great for shock value, but really...

Bottom line; we'll watch it again when it's on HBO.

Cheerios,

geo (and Stripe, who keeps trying to type along with me...)

George Heritier aka geo t.

The Gang of Pour

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Miles had some redeeming qualities, for all his quirks, but the two men in the movie were hardly role models, but then, who am I to argue or to judge?

I couldn't quite buy Miles dumping the dump bucket in the general direction of his mouth, no matter how funny most people found that scene.  Great for shock value, but really...

Great points, George. I questioned the value of the whole Mother scene -- the guy has a reasonably decent job as a teacher in San Diego (a 40k a year job give-or-take) and he lives in a dump of an apartment. Excluding the fact that his entire wine collection is on the floor of a small closet (what? no VinoTemp???), what was the plot reason behind the mother visit and theft of money? It really wasn't necessary to either the character development or film (except, perhaps, to show how lame he was in only bringing her flowers and ducking out early the next morning - theft aside).

Also very true about the bucket dump... A true wine geek, no matter how emotionally or personally destitute, would never stoop to consuming from a dump bucket.

The scene in Napa that got the biggest laughs was when, driving down the road, Miles explains how California chardonnays are over oaked with too much secondary ML fermentation... We ALL know that is true, eh? :laugh:

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Mild trivia -- One of Virginia Madsen's early flicks was Electric Dreams with Lenny Van Dolen. His character (with whom she ultimately falls in slove) is also named Miles...

I'd forgotten about that even though I have a 15 year old tape of that movie that I watch ever now and again. His name was Miles... or was it Moles (the name his computer keeps calling him when he mistypes it on the keyboard). :biggrin:

David

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...  (what? no VinoTemp???),

Ah. Family dysfunction. For as much love as she lavished on Miles did you notice that Miles' mother did not even place the cheap bouquet of flowers in a vase? As the boys were leaving, the camera pans to her passed out on the couch and the flowers still wrapped, left lonely on top of the side-board, in that weird celophane one gets flowers purchased in grocery stores. Sort of says a lot about how much she appreciated the gift. And how surprised was she to see him on her birthday? Sort of says a lot about their ongoing relationship. Miles had one thought in mind when he suggested visiting his mom - to steal from her and to get the heck out of there. And in order to steal from her he had to wait for just the right moment and that meant that he had to lie to Jack as well. That whole section of the film was ugly in terms of Miles' character development and I'm not sure what message it was meant to convey. All-in-all, I really enjoyed the movie.

On the bright side, I know a lot of wine geeks without VinoTemps, so don't hold that against anyone :smile: .

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...  (what? no VinoTemp???),

On the bright side, I know a lot of wine geeks without VinoTemps, so don't hold that against anyone :smile: .

Oh, no worries. I consider myself well on the way to wanting to be the ultimate über wine geek and it'll be years before I buy a VinoTemp (preferring to spend my cold, hard-earned cash on the wine itself!)

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...  (what? no VinoTemp???),

On the bright side, I know a lot of wine geeks without VinoTemps, so don't hold that against anyone :smile: .

Oh, no worries. I consider myself well on the way to wanting to be the ultimate über wine geek and it'll be years before I buy a VinoTemp (preferring to spend my cold, hard-earned cash on the wine itself!)

Yup; as we like to say at Gang Central, it's money better spent on wine! :cool:

Edited by geo t. (log)

George Heritier aka geo t.

The Gang of Pour

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So, anybody else see Miles' anal-retentive relationship with wine not as a love affair with wine but as a prop that gave him the appearance of sophistication while concealing the fact that he was scared shitless to enjoy any action, woman, taste or wine for the sheer glee of experiencing it? His laughable snobbery -- contrasted with the relatively fewer moments when he fucks up and actually drinks wine because he likes it -- is indicative of his fear and loathing of life and passion. It's an oversized codpiece meant to give him leverage against his buddy who, despite being a prick, at least know how to use one.

I loved the moments when the dialogue meandered between authenticity and parody. I'm guilty of the occasionial pompous pronouncement myself, but hearing wine people talk about wine can be desparately amusing, if you don't take then too seriously. Haven't you ever wondered why some people spend more time talking about wine than drinking it? It's because they prefer to appear passionate than to be passionate -- becuase they're afraid, like Miles, or because they're just asses.

And so Miles, gun-shy and reclusive, finally wolfs down the Cheval Blanc

out of the styrofoam cup. Why? Because, he's finally realized that talking about life, analyzing it, even understanding it, is not the same as living it. Bragging about the bottle in your cellar is bullshit, drinking it is real. It's a rare and delightful moment, the moment when he begins to move back from the sterile world of arid conversations about malolactic fermentation and into the more dangerous and rewarding world of drinking the wine and seeing what happens.

Good flick.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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BTW, being the movie nitpicker that I am... there was one minor blooper I'd like to mention.

When Jack and Miles walked out of one of the first wineries, Jack is carrying two cases of wine. He is shown carrying them up by his chest and easily loads them into his trunk.

There just ain't no way, my friends, lest he be Ahhhrnold. A case of wine weighs at least 36 pounds. Some weigh up to 50 pounds. That would mean he is hefting over 70 pounds up around his midsection. IF a guy can lift two cases at once, he would have to hold them down by his groin AND struggle to get them both to a car at one time.

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And so Miles, gun-shy and reclusive, finally wolfs down the Cheval Blanc out of the styrofoam cup.  Why?  Because, he's finally realized that talking about life, analyzing it, even understanding it, is not the same as living it.  Bragging about the bottle in your cellar is bullshit, drinking it is real.  It's a rare and delightful moment, the moment when he begins to move back from the sterile world of arid conversations about malolactic fermentation and into the more dangerous and rewarding world of drinking the wine and seeing what happens.

Good points all; I think you hit it on the proverbial head, Busboy. Miles finally comes around in the end.

George Heritier aka geo t.

The Gang of Pour

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BTW, being the movie nitpicker that I am... there was one minor blooper I'd like to mention.

When Jack and Miles walked out of one of the first wineries, Jack is carrying two cases of wine. He is shown carrying them up by his chest and easily loads them into his trunk.

There just ain't no way, my friends, lest he be Ahhhrnold. A case of wine weighs at least 36 pounds. Some weigh up to 50 pounds. That would mean he is hefting over 70 pounds up around his midsection. IF a guy can lift two cases at once, he would have to hold them down by his groin AND struggle to get them both to a car at one time.

I don't know that I'd call it a blooper, Carrie. I know a few guys who do carry around wine two cases at a time; young wine distributor reps with muscles and hormones to burn. Despite some excess baggage around his midsection, Jack had a pretty broad and solid frame, and we KNOW that his hormones were burning...

:laugh:

George Heritier aka geo t.

The Gang of Pour

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So, anybody else see Miles' anal-retentive relationship with wine not as a love affair with wine but as a prop that gave him the appearance of sophistication while concealing the fact that he was scared shitless to enjoy any action, woman, taste or wine for the sheer glee of experiencing it?  His laughable snobbery -- contrasted with the relatively fewer moments when he fucks up and actually drinks wine because he likes it -- is indicative of his fear and loathing of life and passion.  It's  an oversized codpiece meant to give him leverage against his buddy who, despite being a prick, at least know how to use one. 

I loved the moments when the dialogue meandered between authenticity and parody.  I'm guilty of the occasionial pompous pronouncement myself, but hearing wine people talk about wine can be desparately amusing, if you don't take then too seriously.  Haven't you ever wondered why some people spend more time talking about wine than drinking it?  It's because they prefer to appear passionate than to be passionate -- becuase they're afraid, like Miles, or because they're just asses. 

And so Miles, gun-shy and reclusive, finally wolfs down the Cheval Blanc

out of the styrofoam cup.  Why?  Because, he's finally realized that talking about life, analyzing it, even understanding it, is not the same as living it.  Bragging about the bottle in your cellar is bullshit, drinking it is real.  It's a rare and delightful moment, the moment when he begins to move back from the sterile world of arid conversations about malolactic fermentation and into the more dangerous and rewarding world of drinking the wine and seeing what happens.

Good flick.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I read the book. Your observations definitely applied there.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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When Jack and Miles walked out of one of the first wineries, Jack is carrying two cases of wine. He is shown carrying them up by his chest and easily loads them into his trunk.

I can't lift two cases, because my arms are barely long enough for one case, and I would have no desire to, anyway. :wacko:

But Dan and Jake here can lift and carry two cases, and often do. Our barrels are stacked pyramid-style on chocks, not on racks, and Dan lifts them into place. They weigh 110 pounds empty.

Another interesting phenomenon is how willing these guys are to do this when they have a female audience. Otherwise, they usually just toss one case on their shoulder. (If I tried that, it would fall off.) :shock:

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Mary Baker

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So, I have one geeky wine question from the movie. Early in the movie, when Stephanie (Sandra Oh) first pours the two men tastes of wine, Miles launches into a long, funny, snotty tirade against cabernet franc. He says something to the effect that it doesn't have the backbone to make great wine. Then it turns out the legendary bottle he's been hording in his closet is a '61 Cheval Blanc, i.e., the most exalted (predominantly) cab franc ever. So was this an insidery wine joke about Miles' self-defeating loserdom or an oversight?

Edited by MidniteToquer (log)
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Welcome, Midnight!

It is a good question -- but I don't think he was speaking about CabFranc in general, but specifically about what was being poured... at least that is how I took it. If memory serves, she said something about it being 100% CabFranc and Cheval Blanc is a blend of 57% CabFranc 41% Merlot, and 1% each Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is an interesting blending to be sure.

It IS interesting that for all his obsession with Pinot, the most expensive, revered bottle in his collection is this blend... (by the way, that 61 CB can be found here in America for anywhere from $1,200 to $1.800 a bottle).

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It's interesting that the two varieties that he hates the most individually make up most of the blend at Cheval Blanc. does this have deep meaning? I doubt it.

And since he ended up drinking the CB out of styrofoam, I imagine he didn't detect all those things he really despises in those varietals! :laugh:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I enjoyed the movie, sort of. I have trouble with humor that's based on people's irritating features, like Seinfeld and like this movie. For the first half of the movie, I felt like I was on the road trip with these guys and they were bugging me out of my mind. I also thought Miles was truly hateful. From the Slate review:

"Apart from being luckless and joyless—his life is truly an empty glass—Miles is also a bit of a wine asshole. At the first winery he and his friend Jack hit, Miles claims to detect in one wine a "soupçon of asparagus" and a "flutter of nutty cheese," descriptions that had me sliding a little lower in my seat. Later in the movie, he pompously dismisses another wine as "quaffable but far from transcendent." Miles is also condescending. When Maya (the love interest played by Virginia Madsen) observes that the alcohol overwhelms a pinot noir the two of them are sharing, he seems excessively surprised that she recognizes the flaw in the wine and can diagnose it using the correct lingo."

Yeah. And he also made a reference to the Sandra Oh figure as "just some pour girl" (approximate quotation). I agree with the poster above to some extent; it's good when characters are neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly bad. For me, the traits in Miles that could make you empathize with him bordered on being too little, too late. Both the guys seemed like such sleazebos; why were the Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen figures even interested in them?

I loved the performances by Oh and Madsen, though.

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my wife and i saw sideways over the weekend and i've gotta say i really hated it--not for wine reasons, but for the storytelling. i agree with tess: the two male characters were just pathetic, with hardly a single redeeming quality between them. i am so tired of movies (and books) where the author seems to have absolute disdain for his characters. santa barbara county did come out looking nice, though.

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