Sunday, January 30, 2005

Once more.

I saw Sideways again last night and unless Million Dollar Baby completely blows me away, there's no doubt THIS is the GREAT movie of the year and frankly one of the best American movies of the last five years. People don't realize just how difficult comedy is to do well. It's a shame that the Academy is populated by people who always seem to fall for the most maudlin of sentiment but can't find it in their disease-of-the-month-lovin' souls to get a sophisticated joke when they hear or seen one. I mean there's a reason Cary Grant is the greatest movie star of all time, and it has to do with what Stanley Cavell calls those classic "Hollywood comedies of remarriage": Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, Bringing up Baby, His Girl Friday, and The Awful Truth. If he'd quit making movies in 1940 and never met Alfred Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman, Debora Kerr, Grace Kelly, or Audrey Hepburn, he'd still be a cinematic God: for his pratfalls, his one takes, and his delivery of zingers like "She has a horror of men who wear their hats in the house" or "To hardly know him is to know him well."

The thing about Sideways is it's well nigh pitch perfect: one minute you're laughing your ass off and the next something deadly serious has transpired, yet you don't feel manipulated by the film. The four main characters are so finely drawn and fully developed that the movie has an internal logic all its own. For another take on the brilliance of this movie from across the pond, see Peter Bradshaw's review in the Guardian UK.

No comments: