Sideways (2004) is one of those rarest of beasts: the film that is better than the book. Only by a smidge mind you, the leanest of victories. All the movie really did was smooth out a few rough edges, but sometimes that’s all you need to reach transcendence. Whatever it was, it worked. Somehow I’ve managed to read both the book and the screenplay, watched the movie and listened to the audiobook. Multiple offences on each count. If they were to make Sideways into an old-fashioned radio drama, I’d happily listen to that too. I may have issues, but I have no regrets.
However, as good as Sideways is, its sequel, Vertical, is so much better. Think The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, and Superman II. Vertical is chaos. Pinot-anarchy. No spoilers here, but Vertical pokes around some rather dark corners and gloriously so. It is a king-hell freak ride through Oregon wine county, and my favorite of the bunch.
Sideways 3 Chile is the newcomer to the party, far more serious and subtle than its siblings. It’s not so much dark as it is introspective. When penning a trilogy about a pair of alcoholics, the third act tends to be a bitch.
Every couple of years I find myself sitting down to reread the trilogy. I’m in the process of doing exactly that right now, having just finished Sideways for the umpteenth time. I’m actually giddy with anticipation over revisiting Vertical again. Giddy, I tell you.
In vino veritas.