January 2, 2005

The new "Sideways" backlash.

A.O. Scott writes in the NYT that "Sideways" is "the most overrated film of the year." The "Sideways" backlash has arrived. You can't get away with so much praise. Here's a movie that virtually all the critics liked, but how much did they like it? Maybe not enough to tolerate seeing it vanquish more thrilling, daring movies. It's just a charming, little film that hit home, but should it win the Oscar? We saw a similar chronology last year with "Lost in Translation," as critical praise led to backlash and the Oscar for "Return of the King" was saved.

According to Scott, the male critics have their reasons for being seduced by "Sideways":
In "Sideways," a good many critics see themselves, and it is only natural that we should love what we see. Not that critics are the only ones, by any means, but the affection that we have lavished on this film has the effect of emphasizing the narrowness of its vision, and perhaps our own. It both satirizes and affirms a cherished male fantasy: that however antisocial, self-absorbed and downright unattractive a man may be, he can always be rescued by the love of a good woman. (What's in it for her is less clear.)

It's the critics' own self-love we're seeing displayed in the over-good reviews. All right. That settles it. Now I don't have to drag myself to the second-rate theater where this film is playing in Madison. If it was playing at Point, I'd probably go, but it's so depressing to go to Westgate. I'll wait for the DVD. It'll probably be better on DVD anyway, being a small-scale film. It will fit the TV. Who needs the "downright unattractive" Paul Giamatti looming over you for two hours on the big screen anyway?

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