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FALL SNEAKS | 'SIDEWAYS'

A trip to the local wine country

September 12, 2004

Director Alexander Payne and his writing partner, Jim Taylor, take audiences on another road trip, "Sideways," which travels less physical distance than Jack Nicholson's cross-country motor home tour in "About Schmidt," but the journey offers just as many emotional rewards. Paul Giamatti plays a frustrated book writer suffering a difficult post-traumatic divorce syndrome who takes his about-to-be-married best friend Thomas Hayden Church on a final bachelor fling through Santa Barbara wine country. Wine aficionados will particularly appreciate the level of discourse, and Southern Californians will get a kick out of visiting some familiar territory virtually in our backyard, but movie lovers will savor a thoroughly adult adventure (from a novel by Rex Pickett) with vintage performances by Giamatti, Church, Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen. From Fox Searchlight, the fifth feature film directed by Payne opens Oct. 20.

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