Sideways (Run away now. A movie review lies below.)

Yesterday, while Toby was diligently finishing up his PHP 5 book (which, as of today should be complete and we can now move on with our lives) I decided to leave him alone for a few hours and see a movie. I decided on Sideways.

Let me first start by saying that going to see a movie at the Union Square movie theater the day after the Golden Globes deemed it “Best Motion Picture of the Year” is probably up there with one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. The theater was jammed packed with people who, individually, seemed to believe that they had more of a reason to be there than the person next to them. This mentality, once “groupified”, turned into a moving blob of negativity.

While waiting to purchase a $3.50 bottle of water from a Lowes employee I had to tell an uppity hyper woman to “Chill out” I don’t know where the words “Chill out” came from. I don’t use these two words. But I said it. And she responded with something like, “Well. I mean. The line. It’s not. Fast. Enough. There. No line. See? None.”

What a grumpy parade.

I was the sixth person in the theater. Which basically meant I got to listen to 45 minutes worth of commercials and watch people trickle in in search of a seat much like a dog does a missing chew toy after they know it’s been thrown. Finally, the movie began.

I generally don’t like to “review” movies on here or in person for that matter. I have always sort of likened it to that of telling someone about a dream I had; who the hell really cares? I don’t do this for a living. Nor do I understand (really) what goes into great movie-making so it makes it a hard thing for me to justify.

This time, I will make a bit of an exception. Because Sideways was probably one of the best films I have ever seen.


Years ago, I went on a camping trip with an ex boyfriend. We had to hike several miles to get to the spot he wished stay for the night. This wasn’t a planned spot. Instead, it was based entirely on a feeling he’d get when he felt that we were far enough away from civilization and one could no longer hear the cars from the highway, or the sound of trees being destroyed for lumber. We always ended up in the middle of nowhere.

This time, his friend decided we should bring some wine along for the trip to have alongside our campfire-cooked meal. This is the sort of situation one finds themselves in while on a camping trip with two aspiring chefs on their day off. He decided that bottles were a bad idea. They might break along the way. Plus, they are heavy and hard to pack. Beer was annoying and bulky as well. After some thought, he picked up a box of wine instead.

Have you ever removed the box from the box of wine? The box peels away introducing you to a metallic balloon. It looks like an old-fashioned ice-pack. Or, should one find themselves a cartoon character, something one might wear on a bump after suffering from a head injury.

Basically, it made for a perfect traveling companion. It was only after creating a memory surrounding boxed wine did I realize that it had its place in life. In the end, it proved to be a perfectly acceptable treat as we ate our smokey dinner next to a crackling campfire in the middle of September.

Fast Forward.

Before Toby and I moved to California, we knew very little about wine. However, it seemed that every time we had visitors in from back east, we’d end up taking them to Napa Valley. Basically, Napa Valley became my New York version of the Empire State Building (which I have been up about 10 times).

Our wine education was suddenly put on fast forward. We learned about Pinot Niors, Pinot Grigios, Cabernets, Ports, Zinfendales, Cabernet/Merlot mixes, Syrahs, aged wines, young wines, vintages, grapes, climates for grapes, and vintage makers. We gained so much information and so quickly, I’m not sure how much of the information I actually retained. But I did come away from it with one important idea; every wine has its place.

If you like drinking boxed wine, then so be it. No one should tell you that’s anything less than perfect. If you enjoy the $8.99 bottle of merlot over that $100.00 bottle of cabernet, then the cheaper bottle is the better bottle of wine. I should no longer feel embarrassed about the time, years ago, at Le Bec-Fin when the waiter turned his nose up to me when I ordered red wine with my fish entree. I should no longer feel weird about spending a 100+ dollars on a bottle of cabernet for my father. Everything has its place.


As the credits began to roll and I sat there waiting to leave, I looked around once more and realized I was surrounded by strangers. It was then I began to really appreciate the movie; it showed me that life and everyone making it up – every idea and every relationship – is complicated and wonderful no matter how simple they may seem at the time. It reminded me that each moment and each relationship should be savored by every breath I take. Sideways illustrates that life comes together – though many times, clumsily – in the most unexpected ways.

And best of all, the movie did all of this without snobbery or haste. The director doesn’t beat you over the head with any one meaning. I’m not even sure each person would step away from it with the same idea or feeling. Either way, it holds an excellent story. And I’m willing to bet that should this film be seen again by the same person, they’d step away from it with something new to discuss each and every time.

And that, my friend, is an excellent bottle of wine.

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