Monday, May 22, 2006

Moving the only way I know - Sideways

Speaking of movies I must confess something.

Sideways may be my favorite movie of all time.

And that would be something – it would nudge out a Hitchcock classic that I thought was insurmountable on my list. Which is:

1. North by NorthwestCary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in delightful and suspenseful intriguing romp through many of this country’s institutions – and the train scene is to die for.

2. When Harry Met Sally – Such a great depiction of modern love and dating – and so many truths unearthed within. I love Baby Fish Mouth.

3. Planes, Trains and Automobiles – I still well up in tears at the end. John Hughes had a great way of weaving the current and the reality in his films. Anyone who has traveled a lot can relate – and trying to make it anywhere for a holiday (who doesn’t really live at home) is a quest indeed. It makes every Thanksgiving special and the bond of these two different guys make that day.

4. Goodfellas – Why Martin Scorcese hasn’t won an Oscar is beyond me. He obviously must have pissed people off in Hollywood sometime. The music in this film is spectacular.

5. A Bronx Tale – A moving depiction of growing up as a relatively poor son of an honest working man (bus driver DeNiro) next to a den of gangsters. The best part is seeing little “C” rolling bones with the mobsters.

And, as all of us, I could add many more: Animal House actually set the tone of what we ALL DID in college – we actually took that road trip to an uptight Baptist school – and our dorm had the first university-wide toga party. I think the Waterboy is one of the funniest movies of all time. And how could I forget about The Blues Brothers – frankly an artistic comedy triumph. And I would be remiss to not add The Odd Couple to this mix – Walter Mathiau and Jack Lemmon were the best. In the end it’s just one man’s list that is also missing longtime favorites Rocky, Rocky 2, Pulp Fiction, 2001 : A Space Odyssey, Sea of Love, Scent of a Woman and many more.

Some of you may say – hey these were fun films but they are just pap – what about Casablanca et al. I sort of disagree – they are well put together with clever ideas, fantastic music and interesting premises. The reality is dramas are easy to do (oh shit I forgot Twelve Angry Men (what a great film!). I believe good comedy is one of the hardest things to pull off. And many of the older movies really put me to sleep – and I got North by Northwest there. And many times where I think my list is pitiful I ask myself “well what serious film do you like that could make this then?”

Well Sideways.

I’m not sure a more serious movie was exactly this funny. And it is serious (or dark). Miles ( Paul Giamatti) is living on a serious darkside (he steals from his Mom for chrisakes). And Jack ( Thomas Hayden Church) knows it. The guy relationship they have is priceless, real and ever lasting. C’mon Buddy, - come up here and we will have a good time. The filmmakers have framed this conflaguration in a seemingly innocuous “road trip”. But Miles is really hurting. And while he is hurting his buddy is on his way to seemingly screwing up his upcoming blue sky future life. What a juxtaposition – a guy who has it all self destructing and his buddy who doesn’t have it all – sort of doing the same thing.

You cannot find a guy on this planet who has not experienced part of this story in some way. And that is why it is so good. Conversations like the one outside the restaurant happen all of the time when two guys get involved. “Do not screw this up Miles – don’t go to the darkside”. This is exactly how two guys talk when it comes to women. When you can witness your life in a picture then it resonates to no end. And I know a real-life Jack. And many times we were a “team”. And a lot of times I felt just like Miles. And sometimes like Jack.

Sideways is also a film that you can find further meaning the more times you see it. It is fairly deep. And its characters are rich. All wanting something desperately that they cannot obtain. And I’m sure you understand the symmetry of Pinot Noir and Miles. And the other parallel part of how the film starts with a knock on the door and ends with such. Really beautiful stuff.

And a chick on a motorcycle the morning after is pretty sexy also. Love that helmet.

So why am I telling you this?

We have buddies coming out from Houston to do a Sideways vacation this Memorial Day weekend. One couple is coming to stay at our house on Thursday and then we drive up to Santa Barbara (well really Solvang) for the weekend (and the first time one of my Houston friends have come out to see us in the eight years I have been out here – unbelievable – many of Deborah’s friends and family has come out before). Then we got tours planned with about 14 people and then the fun ensues.

Deborah and I did this back in 2001 before ANYONE knew about it. In fact five years ago to the day – we went to Santa Barbara, found it fairly boring after one day, and then somebody told us about the wineries some 20 miles north. So we did a lot of what Miles and Jack did that day. And the biggest Cab of all time is at the Longoria winery storefront in downtown Los Olivos. And I’m not letting it pass by this time.

And I’m not drinking any fucking Merlot.


wordgirl said...

Whew! Where to start? Ditto on the "North by Northwest". The train scene is..uh...unsettling. "Planes, Trains & Automobiles"...yes! yes! yes! John Candy was peerless when it came to playing the funny guy with tragic undertones. "Pulp Fiction" and "Animal House" ("Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?)"When Harry Met Sally" is absolutely the best...on so many levels. ("I'll have what she's having")

And "Sideways". At turns mournful, hopeful, philosophical, sexy, frustrating and funny.

As for your H-town buddies coming up? I will require you to post pictures. Please.

Rock said...

Wow - I'm so pleased that my list resonates with you as well. And I'm glad WHMS still ages well. I love the restaurant scene on the double date.

Now can I tell you what I think about Brangelina?

wordgirl said...

Please do. Oh wait...I think you did...and I thank you. I've never really liked her either.

Marcie said...

Sideways is on my Summer rental list.
GoodFellas and Pulp Fiction are on my all time fave list. I love lists!

lildb said...

I still like merlot.

'course, I live in Pinot Noir country (the Willamette Valley, baby), so I drink it enough to occasionally want the mainstream flava of cabernet or merlot, just to make things interesting.

I'm so with you on the Hitchcock, and your take on Miles' character as being complex and layered, like a good wine, but there's a movie I'm sad you left out. Fletch, my friend. Fletch.

Comedy platinum.

TB said...

The Sonny Test from a Bronx tale... it holds up as one of the best indicators of a person's character I've ever seen. I ALWAYS make a point to open the driver's side door for whomever is getting in, man or woman.

Great reviews. It seems we have similar taste in movies and strangely, WordGirl was just singing the praises of NBNW last weekend in Savannah.

Rock said...

Wow - I forgot about the Sonny test in that movie. Alot of simple truths in that film.

I've never met many people who even KNOW about that movie, so I'm glad you're one of them.