Formative | The Sideways Soundtrack

Works of art that made me who I am.

Sideways, 2004.

My Mount Rushmore of filmmakers certainly includes Alexander Payne, most notably for the delightful Sideways, which remains one of my favorite movies, especially now as I come upon the age of the characters. There’s some clear cut omissions from book to screen, to better serve the economy of the film medium, but I love how the script adaptation excels at using story compression to elevate the tension in the character’s road trip.

Giamatti is simply phenomenal as Miles in portraying his humanity and honesty. As a young man, I veered into morose territory often, so I suppose I saw a potential future version of myself in Miles. Every writer in the 2000s may have seen a little bit of Miles in themselves. I don’t know. I could ramble about Sideways for days, about the brilliant performances, the beauty of its adaptation, the production! But to be specific, I’ve been thinking of the soundtrack of the film lately. Wondrous, mellow jazz that underscores the sophistication of what Miles thinks he is, and yet there is a playful quirkiness to some of the pieces that inform the reality of the trip: What a beautiful, hilarious, heartbreaking shitshow. I return to Los Olivos, which is in my opinion one of the most beautiful pieces of score ever written. Rolfe Kent captures a melancholy and sadness at the core of Miles that reverberates throughout the entire soundtrack, but Los Olivos to me, is the protagonist’s heart laid bare for a moment. It’s not only true to the character, but it sounds like a trip cutting through wine country on an uncertain road. I’m over the moon just thinking about it. Listen here and tell me what you think:

This leads me to reminisce about the books, films and media that made me fall in love with stories. Who else is on my Mount Rushmore of filmmakers and for what film? What books still take my breath away? Music?! Let me think about that.

Much love,

j