Monday, September 24, 2012

Flicks and Flights: Sideways

The Flick: "Sideways" directed by Alexandre Payne, starring Paul Giamotti and Thomas Haden Church

The FlightSanta Barbara County Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir, Pommard 1er Cru Pinot Noir, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Merlot Blend

The central theme of the film, male bonding and the good and bad behaviour it produces, could just have as easily been linked to sports, cars or any other muse that elicits emotional devotion. It just so happens that the author decided to structure the plot around wine and its practical (winery visits) and romantic application (personifying varietal characters). Yes, the granddaddy of all wine-related films could have had any number of different subjects as its plot catalyst. As wine lovers, we couldn't be happier that he chose wine.

The story needs little introduction for folks who are already very familiar with the plot, quotable phrases like "I'm not drinking any fucking Merlot!" and the surprise effect the film had on the wine industry upon release (worldwide Merlot sales are still in recovery). We love this film because it aptly conveys how wine lovers view wine as more than just a tasty drink. It reflects the notion that it is a living thing which deserves a unique language with which to discuss its infinite intricacies and the film does just that, accurately and with humour, intelligence and heart.

Yes, some hardcore vinos objected to the fact that Miles is constantly drinking to intoxication but these folks miss the point that this detail is character based and not a thinly veiled pronouncement by the author that wine appreciation is just an over-intellectualized vehicle for getting drunk. In Vino Veritas, and in the movie Sideways Miles uses wine to expose and communicate the sadness in his life; his inner truth revealed.

It's hard to imagine anyone integrating the language of wine more intricately than its seamless inclusion into the Sideways script - simply put, the best wine related film of all time.

The Sideways Drinking Game:

  1. Take a sip of Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir every time... Miles vocalizes an over-elaborate tasting note.
  2. Take a sip of Pommard 1er Cru every time... Miles is seen nursing a hang-over.
  3. Finish the bottle of Saint-Emilion Grand Cru when... Miles hilariously, albeit ironically, disparages Merlot, one of the main varieties in his beloved Cheval Blanc from Bordeaux's Left Bank commune of Saint-Emilion.
  4. Finish the bottle of Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir when... Miles and Maya speak of their love for Pinot and wine in general (though we know they are really describing themselves to one another in this poignant scene).
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

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