MNFC had been on a summer hiatus, with the fascists embracing a sticky London summer as well as flying off round to globe to far-flung places. But of course, we all know where our spiritual home really is (sitting in front of the telly), and as such MNFC was reborn this September with a fantastic night at Clapham.
Comrade Helen chose to show Sideways, a 2004 American indie film, which created quite a buzz on its release back in the day. It was a great choice because for some MNFC-ers it was a old favourite, for some it was vaguely remembered and well worth a dust-off, and for others brand spanking new.
Sideways follows Miles and Jack (played by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church) as they tour California’s wine country; a last hurrah for the two middle-aged men before Jack settles down and gets married. Through the film we gradually see the layers of each character peel away to reveal their deep-seated insecurities. It is a movie that comments on masculinity, on mid-life crises, depression, and infidelity. Of course, it is very funny too with a dry wit flowing through the narrative, as well as some more slapstick and cringe-inducing moments.
On the surface, neither character is particularly likeable. Jack is misogynistic and intent on getting laid before his wedding, and Miles is pretentious and self-obsessed. In our chin-stroking after the film we considered these traits, and discussed the odd contradiction and clever writing that got the viewer to sympathise with the two men, and hence allowing the comedy aspects to shine through.
That said, when viewed through the eyes of the female characters Maya and Stephanie, I doubt the actions of either character could be forgiven easily. This forum is interesting, which debates “Sideways: A Misogynistic Mess?”
But it is wine, ultimately, that is the blood running through every aspect of this film. When I first saw this movie at the Showroom cinema in Sheffield, my lasting memory was dying for a glass of red wine by the end of it. And on repeat viewing in 2016, the film has the same effect. Just not f-ing Merlot!
With that in mind, a last recommendation from your humble Tuesday Reviewer: http://thewineshow.com/uk/
THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY