Movie Project #25: Sideways [2004]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Sideways [2004]

Sideways [2004] 
Director: Alexander Payne
Writers: Alexander Payne & Jim Tyler (screenplay), Rex Pickett (novel)
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh
Running Time: 126 minutes

I’m not much of a wine drinker, so I never really had a burning desire to see Sideways, which I always thought of as “that wine movie.” Foolish me — I should know better than to doubt Alexander Payne. This is an intelligently-written and surprisingly funny film that works on multiple levels.

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Movie Review: The Ides of March [2011]

The Ides of March [2011]

The Ides of March [2011]
Director: George Clooney
Genre: Drama
Starring: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood
Runtime: 101 Minutes

I hate politics. The backstabbing, corruption, greed, the selfishness. It can be downright disgusting at times, as everyone is out for themselves, seldom caring about who they take down on their way to the top.

The Ides of March is a perfect example of this debauchery, as it follows the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful, Mike Morris (Clooney), while he battles to win his party’s nomination. At first glance, Morris appears to be an easily likable guy, one who seems different from the usual talking heads. He is backed by a campaign team that believes in him, especially Junior Campaign Manager Stephen Meyers (Gosling). Meyers is a young guy with all of the potential in the world; he has a reputation as one of the top political aides in the game, and he is a major reason that Morris has found success. Meyers has learned from the best, in the form of Senior Campaign Manager Paul Zara (Hoffman). Zara is jaded, but has been around the block more than a few times in his long career, and he knows how to play the game.

The Ides of March [2011]

There are a few questions presented by the film. Will Morris win the Ohio Primary? Will he guarantee a state senator a Cabinet position in order to get his recommendation (even though he doesn’t agree with his views)? Will Meyers continue to support his presidential candidate, even as things take an ugly turn? Political scandals develop, characters betray others, and a whole lot of bullshit happens. It’s politics, folks, and as much as I hate it, it can still be pretty damn fascinating.

It doesn’t hurt to have an all-star cast either. Hollywood darling Ryan Gosling is particularly fantastic here, in what may be his best performance yet (yes, even better than in Drive). George Clooney, of course, just oozes suave and comes across as someone who could legimately run for president. Hoffman plays up the jaded veteran very well. Other noteworthy cast members include Evan Rachel Wood as a young intern who gets dragged in well over her head, Paul Giamatti as the rival campaign manager, and Marisa Tomei as the feisty New York Times executive who stops at nothing to get her story. Seriously, this movie has a lot of firepower, and it is all the better for it.

Whether you like politics or not, The Ides of March is still a pretty damn good movie that tells a very intriguing story. It can be hard to like the characters at times, and it might leave you pissed off at the end, but the script is tight and the cast is stellar. All the makings of a gripping melodrama.