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Alexander Payne’s Election is among my favorite movies of the last 10 years, and combine that with the universal critical favor that Sideways received, and I went in with some pretty high expectations. And went out feeling, “Eh, it was pretty good.” Sideways goes a baby step beyond About Schmidt (which my dad dubbed About Nothing), by being about almost-nothing. When the movie ends, neither the characters nor story have significantly developed.

What’s to like about the film? Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church’s acting. Both provide stellar performances. What’s not to like? The filmcraft — I haven’t seen a movie as riddled with cliches (shaky-camera for drunkenness, soft light sunset wine country picnic scenes, a score that telegraphs emotions) in a long time. I was also disappointed that the film contains not one single narrative surprise–everything plays out exactly as you expect it would from the moment you meet these two folks.

So, even though I liked it, I found the film disappointing. That’ll learn me to have expectations.

Brad Bird’s The Incredibles proved a far more enjoyable cinematic experience. It takes a surprising while to get going (there’s a lot of setup — superheroes, who marry, who are banished by an enraged public, who attempt to “fit in” to normal society, who are then called back into action), but once it does, it rip-roars through an exciting second half. It replaced the laconic, easy-going charm of his The Iron Giant with more Pixar-friendly deadpan style, where amazing things happen all around you and people don’t react all that strongly. It’s also a quality feel-good movie, and it has plenty of laughs. I went to see it at a theater filled with children, and some of the scenes were too intense for the younger ones — there are images of death, and the evil machine can be rather frightening.

  1. I didn’t see anything to like about either of these empty movies. SIDEWAYS (and what does that mean?) has Giamatti playing another dull, drab, empty character with absolutely no appeal or interest whatsoever. That the script has Virginia Madsen come on to him is ludicrous and never for a moment believable. This lack of chemistry is neither actor’s fault, it is the fault of a writer-director team that one time flew high, but have now totally crashed. Nor is the relationship between the two friends ever established and made coherent. There is no justification or rationale for their one-week odessey. Of the four leads, only the Church character has any recognizable reality or logic to his behavior. The two women are nothing more than writer-manipulated automatons.

    As for THE INCREDIBLES, as I already posted elsewhere, the great incredibility about it is its mindless acceptance by young adults who are so immersed in the American Cartoon Culture that they suspend any intelligent standards of taste or expectations of quality. It is derivative (a lack of imagination that seems to be regarded as a plus by its fans), tedious, visually unattractive and UNFUNNY! There is more full entertainment packed into a one reel Bugs Bunny or Roadrunner that into this elongated obesity.

  2. How wonderful it is! Today, I had seen the film – “The Incredibles” this afternoon, My father also had seen this film in this evening. This cartoon movie is powered by Disney Company.
    In this film, I love the people’s sensation, scene, bugbears. The scene is so sublime.
    With the great imagination.

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