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:: Spotlight :: Open Air Cinema - Opening Night screening - Sideways

By: Alina Berdichevsky

ST.GEORGE OPEN AIR CINEMA presented the Australian Premiere of the film “SIDEWAYS

Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen
Rating: M

At the Australian premiere of “Sideways” something made me mentally reward a point or ten to Sydney in the notorious Sydney vs Melbourne. That’s what happens when you are ushered into a terrace brimming with socialites, fed plenty of yummy food and then treated to a fantastic film in an outdoor cinema that has the majestic Sydney Harbour as its glowing, dazzling backdrop.

I resisted the St George Open Air Cinema for a while, due to its higher pricing and seemingly inconvenient location (no free parking). Yet the ambience and romance of such a splendid location will ensure next time I bring a hot date – and squirm next time I’m in a stuffy Hoyts.

Basically, I could watch paint dry in such a balmy, picturesque setting. So you can imagine my delight when “Sideways” turned out to be a highly clever, funny and captivating film.

It is the witty and decidedly un-glam journey of two old friends though the vineyards of Santa Ynez Valley in California and the adventures, feuds, sex-capades and romance that ensues. Miles is a worrier, whose anti-depressant prescriptions are being fuelled by the fact that his one big novel remains unpublished, a divorce two years earlier left him broken and celibate, and he is a neurotic wine nut in search of the perfect pinot. His smooth-talking friend Jack is decidedly more upbeat, although he knows nothing about wine. Furthermore, he is getting married in a week and his skirt-chasing, irresponsible ways do nothing to soothe Miles’ anxieties. Naturally, things don’t go to plan for this odd couple, especially when they meet a sassy wine-pourer Stephanie, with whom Jack embarks on a torrid affair and the wine-savvy, gentle waitress Maya, with whom Miles has a very cringe worthy and fumbling courtship.

I have always been a fan of cinematic realism, the movies as such where the leads are far from handsome but always endearing through a well executed collection of humanity - where quirks and failing are tempered by bold moves, funny remarks and heart-warming insights - without the slush. The acting in “Sideways” is phenomenal to the degree that you could be watching an interaction through a peephole, yet the escapism factor remains due to the engaging storyline. However, rather than escaping into the glossy land of fantasy Hollywood so often churns out with J-Lo movies, we are taken on a wry journey into the bleak and mediocre, to see how the other half live. It feels good to identify with that side, feel pity, stifle a chuckle and not leave wishing that Orlando Bloom was your boyfriend or that you at least had Julia Roberts' thighs.

I was engaged, captivated and entertained by this wry, clever and entertaining tale. Apparently it even rained, but I hardly noticed. My eyes were glued to the screen and soon I forgot all about the Harbour..

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