Archive for Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Sideways’ DVD a bit of a buzz kill

April 5, 2005

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The parade of Oscar movies on DVD continues with today's release of "Sideways," director Alexander Payne's wine-country buddy comedy about two middle-aged men sorting out their personal lives while consuming large quantities of pinot noir. Every movie fan seems to take a different side in the "Sideways" debate. Some see this best picture nominee as an overrated look at two boozing, reprehensible human beings. Others toast it as one of 2004's finest films, filled with carefully calibrated performances and real, poignant details.

Either way, "Sideways" certainly merits at least one viewing, if only so you can finally voice an opinion about it during your next wine and cheese party. (For the record, I think it's a terrific movie, though not quite as emotionally resonant as Payne's "About Schmidt.")

The sunshine of Santa Barbara County, where much of "Sideways" is set, looks decent on DVD, but not as eye-popping as one would hope. In fact, the visual transfer appears noticeably grainy in sections, though it's difficult to tell if that's an incidental or intentional flaw given Payne's desire to replicate the feel of movies from the 1970s.

But the biggest disappointment about this DVD is its lack of extras. The single disc contains a few deleted scenes, a making-of doc taken straight from the electronic press kit, a trailer and an audio commentary by stars Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church. Perhaps they're saving more extras for a subsequent special edition. In which case, pour yourself a glass of red wine and enjoy the film, the few deleted scenes and the entertaining Giamatti/Haden Church commentary. Then hope we'll soon hear through the grapevine that a better vintage of "Sideways" is coming soon.

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