Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Sideways sucks, Part II

So my good friend who lives in the San Fran area (I'm not from there, is it offensive to San Fransiscans to say, San Fran?) told me she almost went to Sideways and after reading my post, decided not to. Thank the lord. I'm not kidding, either. Let me explain more of why I hated it and why Stoker, a guy not offended by tough-to-watch movies like Requiem for a Dream and Monster, also hated it.

First of all, the film appears to be something entertaining: funny, great dialogue, good character development, etc. And it is, in fact, character driven -- our knowledge about the characters increases through their actions and words and is the focal point of the film. For instance, the scene where Miles (played by Paul Giamatti) steals money from his mother, who later asks if he needs money. Only a very pathetic, lonely and desperate man could stoop so low without breaking a sweat or bowing his head in shame. Miles seems past feeling.

In the beginning, there is this hope that the film will be a road trip movie along the lines of About Schmidt with heart tugging moments that force a person to confront the unattractive aspects of a normal life, without crossing lines of decency or morality. Sideways fails in this regard and in the end seems to be more about shocking the hell out of a respectable, adult audience. Granted, I'm assuming the average viewer is like me, willing to go out on a limb, but with limits.

Let me explain further. Sideways ultimately is not about good fun, or two grown men having a bonding, road trip experience. It's about depravity in men and portrays them as everything the media has depicted them to be: liars, unfaithful in their hearts and actions, thinking with their genitals, spineless, weak and unrepentant. I believe there is beauty in illustrating through film the drama and journey of the human condition, the ugly side of things, and how people grow and change. The stories are endless and each is beautiful and illuminating in it's own way. But there is a point when suggestion is more powerful and less alienating than showing. There is a distinction between glorifying debasement and revealing it as the ugly, lonely and hopeless thing it is.

I feel that Alexander Payne (the director) fails at this.

In Sideways, Miles and his friend are both men with no redeeming characteristics. At the end of the film I was completely horrified at their choices. There was no empathy created between me and their roles. To be blunt, I didn't give a shit about them and I honestly thought the woman Miles pursues is an idiot for giving him a second chance. Jack's character is basically a monster, sleeping with anything that will move. That's not the worst of it, though. I've never felt so sick in my guts, so on the verge of vomiting in a theater than I was during the scene where Miles watches a white-trash man having sex with his wife, while they both talk dirty to each other. And the dirty-talk isn't mild. It's graphic and violent and full of expletives. What's worse is that the husband walks in on his wife have anal sex with Jack, and he's aroused by this and is now 'giving it to her' because she was a 'bad girl'. I've never regretted walking into a theater more and I wasn't even watching. Yes, I was closing my eyes, because I have no desire to watch other people having sex. My voyeurism has limits. I enjoy watching a good story unfold. But I don't enjoy watching sex scenes.

Stoker was upset with me for taking him to a movie like that. I was upset with me for taking us to a movie like that. I love Stoker, you know, and maybe I'm just an idealistic idiot, someone who romanticizes sex, but I don't appreciate how the media turns something I consider good and intimate, into something ugly, harmful, and evil. It gets my ire up almost beyond endurance.

After we left the theater, I never wanted to touch Stoker again, or be touched by him. It seemed impossible to ever get past what I had just seen and had caused him to see by suggesting we go see the movie. I felt horrible for thinking he had actually enjoyed what he'd just seen, because why shouldn't I think that? The movie we'd just watched had created that reality for me. That men only care about sex, in all it's forms, and they just want to get their jollies any way they can. As we were leaving, Stoker said to me, "I can't imagine you're any less offended than I am." And we got into a little scuffle because I was so angry at everything, even him. But mostly myself. Well, we worked it out and I realized that it's completely unfair of me to not believe he is good. That he loves me and not because I'm just a nice body he can get his hands on. (Again, the things the media perpetuates that men are.) We both felt sick and the things he said he felt were the exact things I felt and we both wanted to leave the movie, but neither dared to suggest it, falsely assuming the other was enjoying it.

Eventually we both got over being hurt or angry, mostly me because I'd been thinking through the last fifteen minutes of the movie that he didn't care about the horrible, graphic sex scene (and I'm not kidding, it stretched on and on). I recovered. And Stoker said to me, "What gets me is that it's only rated R, not even NC-17 and there are 13-year old girls out there who can watch it." Because there's this awful scene right after the sex scene where you have to watch the white-trash man chasing after Miles completely naked. Huge, ugly penis and all shaking in the morning wind, right along with his flabby, hideous body. And I'll make this clear right now, I'm not horrified by naked men. I don't usually think they're ugly. Just that guy. Just in that moment because it was completely wrong that I was in that movie theater.

Stoker has a cute younger sister, who just turned 14. He cares about his sister and what she sees. And he transfers that to the whole word and all the little girls who might see the trash called Sideways. I'm with him.

For a complete breakdown of why this movie sucks and what other crap is in it that you may not want to see, in forthright, honest terms, visit or go directly to

Disclaimer: I really try to support independent movies and usually am not disappointed. Sideways is an independent movie and that's cool. But it still sucks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Sideways, the Movie, Sucks

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and Stoker and I were very original in our gift-giving. I gave him some cologne and he gave me some perfume. I know it sounds very boring and predictable, but what’s the point of Valentine’s Day anyway? It’s probably the worst holiday we celebrate, if you can even call it a holiday. No one gets the day off. No one even knows where it came from except for some vague story about some guy named Valentine who supposedly gave a Valentine and was killed and blah blah blah. Typical pagan celebration with sexual overtones turned Christian. Anyway, we can now use it as an excuse to give chocolate-related presents and cologne and sexy underwear. Sadly, Stoker and I did not give each other sexy underwear because we wouldn’t be able to (in good conscience) use it until June 3rd. Yes, my friends, June 3rd, for that is the new Official Day of Our Union. Hereafter referred to as the ODOU. Pronounced, o-doo. Send any gifts, monetary or large packages, to Nicole, P.O. Box 123456, Anywhere, USA. Just kidding, I made that address up. If you send anything to that address you deserve to win a Darwin award.

About the cologne and perfume. I’ve been wanting to give him cologne for some time now. I showered him with gifts at Christmas because I’m into giving gifts, and I couldn’t (in good conscience) give him one more Christmas gift. I had to wait. Sooo. We chose to do it on Valentine’s Day.

In other news, on Saturday Stoker and I went to the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Worse than the movie Maid in Manhattan, and easily the most offensive movie I have ever seen, beating out Trainspotting. I want to explain that I don’t think I’m easily offended by movies or music. But I have limits. And I also want to say that what the hell is wrong with being offended by something? Limits, if they’ve been defined by yourself and based on your own desires and choices and are not enforced by another party, are good. They keep society decent. Others would have you believe that limits are BAD. They’re LIMITING (redundant, I know, but purposely so). And I must say, Hollywood would especially have us believe that being offended is stupid. But I say Hollywood is mainly stupid and most of the fruit they've labored to produce is crap. I had suspected as much upon seeing certain movies, like Maid in Manhattan (which I saw with my sweet, little aunt. She wanted me to go along with her, so I did, being a kind, generous person. And if you cannot sense my tongue-in-cheek tones….) But after having everything good and humane and decent virtually flushed down the toilet on Saturday night, I knew Hollywood was the largest receptacle for sewage and filth in America. I steal my references like Hollywood = sewage plant, from Michael Savage. Yes, sometimes he’s a jerk, but very often he’s right on. And about Hollywood, I think he is.

So, Sideways. There’s all this buzz around about it. Academy awards, Golden Globe awards. But if you believe everything you see or hear, especially when it comes from a group of critics and not an average person like me with nothing to gain from saying it sucks, you deserve to sit through the disgusting film. No one in the media will tell you how awful Sideways is because they’re idiots and paid off -- they have jobs to think about. But I’m telling you. I have no agenda except to be honest about it.

More on Sideways tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Road Trip (or How Stoker Proposed)

So I have several friends who actually read this blog (I hate that word). And maybe several is an exaggeration, but there are at least two. Or three. Anyway, they said to me, independently of each other, have you posted lately? And I said no, because I haven’t. I haven’t had access to the internet when I’m at home. My mom’s internet is down. And can you believe it, I still live at home. But before you condemn me let me explain. I lived with roommates in SLC before moving home. When I realized that I’d most likely be getting married, I decided to move home. I want to save money to pay off some stupid debt before I get married.

Anyway, no internet=no blog postings. There you have it.

You might be thinking, ha ha, stupid girl, moving home on the slender chance that she’ll get married to Stoker. Ha ha. Well, we ARE getting married. I have a ring and we’re working on a date. There you go, two of the criteria are met (in case you listen to Dr. Laura).

But seriously, Stoker proposed on Friday night on our way to St. George. The kid couldn’t even wait until we actually got there, which I guess was the original plan. The ring was burning the proverbial hole in his jacket pocket. I had no idea and I feel sort of guilty about it because I was in a strange mood, dazed, staring out the window at the scenery. I was kind of out-of-reach emotionally and mentally. He was sweet and adorable and loving and I had the attention span of a goldfish. My mind would settle on a distant house and then jump to the huge bird on the telephone pole. Poor Stoker. I’m sure he wondered if he was making a gigantic mistake. Will she always be like this, he probably thought. But I think that’s how life is. You choose to be with someone and how can a person always be 100% perfect? If someone wants to be with me for a lifetime, the odds of them being around when I’m in one of those moods are very, very high. And vice-versa. I get to be around Stoker even when he’s grouchy and moody and believe me, men can be as moody as women. One time Stoker told me he’d rather be with me when I’m in one of those moods, than not. And that’s a very good point. Usually I’d rather be with him when he’s in one of those moods, than not with him.

How it happened: Out of Salt Lake two hours, the sun is setting, we’re driving southwest and Stoker announces that he wants to get out and walk. He pulls off the freeway on some random exit with nothing around it except a bridge and the top of this mountain pass. His behavior is random and unexpected and I start to wonder if I know him as well as I think I know him. I ask him if he needs to go to the bathroom or something. No, he says. He just wants to walk and stretch his legs. Do I want to go with him? he asks. Is he going to kill me, I think to myself. You hear of things like that. Abandoned roads, distant hills with no one around for miles. I tell him no, I don’t want to go, I’m cold and a little frightened. He gets out of the car and opens my door. I want you to come, he tells me. Reluctantly, I get out and ask him if he’s going to kill me, and I say it jokingly, but he knows I’m serious. Nikki, he says. No. I just want to watch the sunset. We walk up the hill, though sagebrush and weeds and rocks and scattered, roadside litter. We stop at a fence and Stoker wonders out loud if we can get over the fence. No, let’s not, I say. He gestures to the sunset and says it’s pretty and then suddenly turns to me and says, "Nikki, I don’t need to stretch my legs and I don’t need to go the bathroom. I wanted to give you this,” and he takes a little box out of his pocket. Aha! It all makes sense. Now I realize why he’s being so weird. He’s not going to kill me. I cover his face in kisses and break his neck, squeezing him to death. I put the ring on.

Anyway, it was real adorable. He got down on his knee and the whole shebang and the ring is perfect and he’s perfect and sweet. It didn’t turn out quite how he imagined it, or how I imagined it, I got too excited to let him even make a beautiful speech or anything. But if you knew him . . . you’d understand. He’s a sensitive and gentle, like my grandpa. And I love that Stoker.

And now I wear this ring that means all sorts of things. It’s interesting getting used to wearing a ring. I’m going to get him one because who cares about tradition. All those conniving girls need to know he’s spoken for. Because isn’t that what my ring tells the world? They do it in Greece, why not America? Why not Salt Lake City, Utah?