You will either love this one or hate it. I daren't guess which it will be...

"Sideways" was a little independent film that made modest waves the year it came out. Paul Giamatti ("The Illusionist" and "American Splendor") plays a recently divorced schlub who has a hobby of wine tasting. An old acquaintance from college has sent him a wedding invitation, and because Giamatti's character doesn't have many friends, he decides to take this guy (Thomas Haden Church, who was nominated for an Academy Award for this role) on a wine-tasting tour of the California wine country as a wedding gift. This is more an excuse for companionship than an act of generosity.

The friend is blustery, claims to be blissfully happy with his impending marriage and is delighted to take off on the tour. The minute they get out of town, he starts being an absolute jerk. He is immediately unfaithful to his fiancée, gets into one scrape after another and generally turns this "gift" into an unmitigated disaster. HE is on a wine-drinking tour, not a wine-tasting one.

Sandra Oh plays one of the women with whom he hooks up. When she discovers that the men have to be back "home" in time for his wedding, she pops a cork! That scene is immensely satisfying to every woman in the audience, so stay with it, even when you are becoming very impatient with the characters. Talk about getting your just deserts!

I hated this movie until this scene and then I loved it!

The Count of Monte Cristo

I re-watched "The Count of Monte Cristo" the other night. I LOVE this version! The locations are breathtaking (Malta) and I like Jim Caviezel (from Mt. Vernon, WA). It was one of Richard Harris' last movies (other than his Harry Potter films), but he is so bearded, dirty and hairy, one would hardly recognize him...and that's a GOOD thing!

If you are a devoted fan of Alexandre Dumas, you will spot the change from the book, but it is so logical, you will be happy they did it. As the scriptwriter said, "If you want it exactly like the book, read the book! It's a good book!"

That Australian actor Guy Pearce ("Memento," "LA Confidential") makes an absolutely despicable bad guy and Luis Guzman ("Traffic") is the perfect sidekick for our Count. Great story, beautifully rendered! Maltin calls it "surprisingly good" and gives it three stars. If you didn't manage to catch this 2002 version in the theaters, please get it from Netflix.