The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2004
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 127 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:English SDH, French, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Cantonese
Starring: Thomas Haden Church, Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Music by: Rolfe Kent
Written by: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 3, 2009
"In search of wine, women and ultimately themselves"
A wine tasting road trip to salute Jack’s (Church) final days as a bachelor careens woefully sideways as he and his friend Miles (Giamatti) hit the gas en route to mid-life crises. The comically mismatched pair, who share little more than their history and a heady blend of failed potential and fading youth, soon find themselves drowning in wine, women and laughter!
The first time I heard about Sideways was during the Academy Awards the year that it was nominated. I didn’t see it theatrically although I am a fan of both Haden Church and Giamatti. Jack and Miles have been friends since college and share a friendship bond that is strong. In looking at them they appear to be two very different people and in some ways they are but in many ways they’re not. It’s obvious right away that they have a give and take relationship that seems to compliment their strengths and weaknesses. Jack is a moderately successful actor whose moment in the sun came when he played a doctor on a popular soap opera. Lately he has been doing voice over work in commercial ads which he thinks is demeaning. He and his fiancé Christine are getting married in a week and his best friend Miles has come up with the idea of them going away to wine country. Miles is unassuming in most regards but when it comes to wine he fancies himself an intellectual. He has been being divorced from his ex-wife Victoria for two years. He is still in love with her and has been struggling emotionally since. He wrote a novel but has had no luck getting it published.
Miles has the entire week of wine tasting, fine food and golfing planned for the two of them. Jack on the other hand is feeling a little trapped, insecure, and unsure of what married life has in store for him. He has one thing and one thing only on his mind. He wants to hook up with some women and do the thing one last time before getting married. Once they arrive in the Santa Ynez Valley they meet Stephanie (Oh) and Maya (Madsen). Maya works at a local restaurant and shares Miles’ enthusiasm for wine. She is recently divorced, bright, and not particularly looking for romance. Miles has known Maya from previous visits to the restaurant and has always been attracted to her. Stephanie is a single mother who works in a local winery and seems pretty open to having a good time. At Jack’s insistence they all go out. Jack and Stephanie hit it off which leaves Miles and Maya to figure out what, if anything, there could be between them. As things progress the web becomes pretty tangled for all of them which results in some rather embarrassing and hysterically funny situations.
Sideways is a buddy flick plain and simple. Here are two guys that perfectly compliment one another. Miles is emotionally stunted, depressed and hasn’t been with anyone since his divorce. Jack has a devil may care attitude, is very immature, and rarely thinks things through. Both men are insecure about their futures and are searching for something. I find this to be a film that I can watch over again that never seems to lose its luster. Miles and Jack are two sides of a coin. One doesn’t work without the other. These are two wonderfully drawn and interesting characters that are as human as they come. Thomas Haden Church and Paul Giamatti play them to perfection. I don’t think that either is the leading man type. Like Miles and Jack their performances complimented one another which is one reason why this film works so well. The other is the superb writing (co-written by Jim Taylor) and direction by Alexander Payne. The situations and dialogue are sprinkled with a great blend of humanity, drama, and humor (both in your face and subtle). It was great to see Jack come full circle and Miles to come to the realization that you can’t hold onto the past forever. The story evolved in a satisfying (and sometimes hilarious) way that allowed the audience to really look at these two men. They were very much like people in our own lives who are flawed but have redeeming quality that make lovable nonetheless. This is one of my favorite films and I am so glad to see it released in high definition on Blu-ray Disc.
The rating is for language, some strong sexual content and nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Sideways comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 33 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4 mbps.
By its nature this is not a film that is going to look razor sharp with eye popping definition and deep image penetration. It was shot using filtering that gives the video a noticeably soft, hazy cast that gives it a bit of a dull finish. During certain scenes this accentuates film grain which can make backgrounds appear noisy. Grain is preserved naturally and helps give it a textured and filmic quality. Images are resolved cleanly with no apparent signs of artificial enhancement. Primary colors stand out while secondary colors are a step below in saturation. The balance works well with the other aspects of the film’s appearance. Fleshtones are natural looking with appreciable delineation and warm tonality. Contrast runs a little hot but was rarely an issue. Black levels and shadow detail were respectable which provided dark segments with ample depth. This soundtrack is nearly entirely driven by dialogue and only occasionally uses the surround platform for the enhancement of spatial dimension. Every aspect of its audio presentation was delivered with definitive clarity and appropriate focus so that even minute details within the recording were discernible.
- Commentary by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church
- 8 Deleted scenes
- Making of featurette (6 minutes)
Sideways is a well written, directed and acted film that examines a brief moment in the lives of two men that provides an intimate look at who they are and how the events that occur in that moment gives them an opportunity to examine themselves. The film, as in life portrays them in a way that we can all relate to on some level. It is funny, shocking, and charming all at the same time. Audio/video quality isn’t the type that will be used to show off you’re A/V system but I am sure that this Blu-ray Disc from Fox gets viewers closer to its theatrical presentation than ever. Bonus features are the same as those from the 2005 DVD release and don’t offer much. Regardless this is film worth adding to your collection.
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