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.


JINGLE ALL THE WAY
1996, 20th Century Fox, 89 min, USA, Dir: Brian Levant

Every year brings a hot new toy that every kid wants for the holidays, and in this family comedy hit, it’s Turbo Man. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad play rival dads desperate to give their sons the sold-out action figure for Christmas, running afoul of cops, counterfeiters and parades along the way. Costars Phil Hartman, Robert Conrad, Rita Wilson and Jim Belushi help supply laughs (as well as some gentle jabs at the commercialization of the season).


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