Friday, June 03, 2005

Sideways with Alexander Payne

I finally got around to watching Sideways, thanks to a special Stanford screening with director and Stanford alumnus Alexander Payne in attendance. The movie itself was generally fun in its own harmless way although I agreed with Jonathan Rosenbaum that it was hardly the brilliant film it was often made out to be, my primary complaint being the intensely stereotypical and one-dimensional characterization.

Although Alexander Payne is not one of my favorite directors (I wasn't a fan of his earlier "About Schmidt" either), I came away impressed by the keen wit and overall articulateness that he demonstrated in the ensuing Q&A session. For example, when quizzed about his use of "The Grapes of Wrath" in a motel scene in the movie, he confessed that the main driver was that Fox owned the rights to "Grapes of Wrath" and he liked "the cheap symbolism". His unpretentiousness was extremely refreshing and a welcome break from the annoying, pseudo-sophisticated blathering that one is used to from the prototypical Hollywood filmmaker.

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