a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Sideways / サイドウェイズ

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The Japanese remake of Alexander Payne’s Sideways is amazingly faithful to the original and has more product placement than you can shake a corkscrew at.  Journeyman Cellin Gluck brings a sure hand to these already mined proceedings with this first full-fledged directorial effort. A quality quartet of Japanese film and TV character actors convincingly portray the pair of buddies who hit the California highway – this time to Napa, rather than the Central Coast – and the women they meet. Fumiyo Kohinata plays Michio, the analog for Paul Giamatti’s Miles. A bit more likeable and less edgy than Giamatti, he plays the wine nerd at the end of his tether with a quiet sensitivity. Katsuhisa Namase as Daisuke – having his last fling – tries valiantly to fill Thomas Haden Church’s shoes, but comes off as a one-dimensional party boy. Kyoka Suzuki fills in for Virginia Madsen and Babel’s deaf-mute girl, Rinko Kikuchi, plays a slightly less worldly Sandra Oh. Sideways plays with an unsettling sense of deja-vu and sadly, the famous merlot putdown seems to have been lost in translation.

Originally published in EL Magazine, November 2009

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

November 1, 2009 at 1:06 am

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