Giamatti’s Sideways Character Turns Japanese

Alexander Payne’s 2004 opus Sideways, which was a breakout role for Brooklyn Heights resident Paul Giamatti, has been remade in Japanese.  Director Cellin Gluck has unleashed his version of the film, with Giamatti’s character Miles transformed into the less edgy Michio, played by Fumiyo Kohinata.  The venue of the film is changed from Santa Barbara to the Napa Valley, which is more familiar to Japanese audiences.  That flip has at least one wine writer a little miffed and calling on Santa Barbara wine makers to try harder in making their brands more well known worldwide.

As for the movie itself, Japan Times writer Mark Schilling notes:

This is pretty much the approach of the entire film, which rounds off the original’s rough (that is, interesting) edges, particularly Paul Giamatti’s prickly wine-snob writer, while re-engineering the story for Japanese tastes.

This makes box-office sense, since a direct translation of the original would jangle local sensibilities like merlot in a sake cup. Gluck’s “Sideways,” however, has a play-pretend quality, like the Japanese boomers who dud themselves up in cowboy gear to listen to Hank Williams tunes at a club in the Harajuku area of Tokyo. Not that there’s anything wrong with it — but you would never mistake it for the real thing, would you?

You really need to see the trailer… after the jump.

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