This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church discuss merlot and more in Alexander Payne’s Sideways

SIDEWAYS (Alexander Payne, 2004)
7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Friday, June 1, 7:00

The “Academy at Metrograph” series, a yearlong residency for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Lower East Side cinema house, concludes June 1 at 7:00 with Sideways, eclectic director Alexander Payne’s fourth film, following the underseen Citizen Ruth, the excellent Election, and the overrated About Schmidt. Sideways is fabulously entertaining from start to finish, a smart, inventive, very funny dark comedy about friendship and love set in California wine country. Paul Giamatti stars as Miles, a schlumpy wine connoisseur who is having trouble getting over his divorce and the failure of his massive novel to get published. His best friend, Jack (Thomas Haden Church), is getting married, so the two head off on a road trip, with Miles looking forward to sampling fine wine, and Jack anticipating sampling fine women. While Jack finds what he is looking for in Stephanie (Sandra Oh, who was married to Payne at the time), Miles seems hell-bent on not allowing himself to enjoy life, even as a beautiful woman with a deep appreciation of the grape (the excellent Virginia Madsen in what should have been a career-redefining performance) shows an interest in him. You definitely do not have to be a wine drinker to fall in love with this marvelous movie, one of the best of 2004; it was nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Madsen), and Best Supporting Actor (Haden Church), and screenwriters Jim Taylor and Payne won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Taylor will be at Metrograph to talk about the movie, which will be preceded by a screening of Jeff Fowler’s 2004 Oscar-winning short, Gopher Broke, and followed by a wine tasting with vintages provided by Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

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