SIDEWAYS
2004, Fox Searchlight Pictures, 123 min, USA, Dir: Alexander Payne

Writer-director Alexander Payne's fourth feature film (following CITIZEN RUTH, ELECTION and ABOUT SCHMIDT) starts with two old friends setting off on a wine-tasting road trip . . . only to veer dizzily SIDEWAYS into a wry, comedic exploration of the crazy vicissitudes of love and friendship, the damnable persistence of loneliness and dreams and the enduring war between Pinot and Cabernet. Thomas Haden Church plays Jack, a womanizer who is about to be married. Best friend/wine lover Miles (Paul Giamatti) takes his buddy on a tour of the wine country as a last hurrah before Jack ties the knot. The two buddies soon find themselves caught in a heady mix of wine and woman, with Jack's upcoming nuptials fast approaching.


DOWNSIZING
2017, Paramount, 135 min, USA, Dir: Alexander Payne

This sci-fi satire imagines what might happen if, as a solution to over-population, Norwegian scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall and propose a 200-year global transition from big to small. People soon realize how much further money goes in a miniaturized world. With the promise of a better life, everyman Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in Omaha for a new downsized community, taking the irreversible leap that will trigger life-changing adventures when they become small.


3:10 TO YUMA
2007, Lionsgate, 117 min, USA, Dir: James Mangold

Christian Bale plays a wounded Civil War vet who sees a chance at prosperity in thief Russell Crowe, for whom Bale hopes to collect a reward when he delivers him to the prison train of the film’s title. In director James Mangold’s riveting remake of the 1957 classic, Bale and Crowe engage in a compelling battle of wits and guns that is both thoughtful character study and kinetic action film.


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