Tag Archives: animation

Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra & Sita Sings the Blues

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tonight we’re getting cultured with the crowd-funded animated film Sita Sings the Blues while sipping on a delightfully unusual Indra Kunindra. Since there’s a lot to talk about, let’s just dive right in, shall we?

First off, I can take no credit for choosing tonight’s film. My dear friend Anne over at We Recycle Movies suggested I check this film so all the credit goes to her and her expansive mental library of movies. Secondly, this is not a film that people have heard of it. As far as I know, it had almost no theatrical distribution and has probably made zero money. A big reason why that’s the case is because Nina Paley, the filmmaker who pretty much did everything on this project, released the film for free under the Creative Commons. You can actually watch it right now here. And I’d recommend doing so. Once you get past the first few weird minutes, you’ll find yourself deeply in love with this insightful, heartfelt and funny semi-historical film. As a frame of reference, the film is divided into three different animation styles, each of which is responsible for a portion of the narrative. One tells a breakup story of the filmmaker. Another is an interesting history lesson in the Indian story the Ramayan, as narrated by three hilarious shadow puppets. The third informs the previous two through musical acts set the beautiful music of 20’s blues singer Annette Hanshaw. As disparate as they are, the three stories and visual styles all blend together beautifully. The visual imagination of Nina Paley, combined with some fantastic storytelling and some truly wonderful music creates a movie-watching experience that is simply a delight.

A good cross-section of this film's artistic style

A good cross-section of this film’s artistic style

What I think I liked most about this film was its playfulness. What could have easily been an esoteric history lesson is transformed into something fun, understandable and relatable. Our shadow puppet narrators navigate their way through the story’s inconsistencies for us and turn our questions into humor. And it’s so effortless! On top of this, there’s even a three minute intermission just when your brain needs a micro-break from the oddity that is this film. Finally, it’s great to know that this film was crowd-funded. In both the opening titles and closing credits, the filmmaker goes out of her way to thank everyone involved in making this project come to life. And as someone who contributed nothing to this project, it feels great!

Sita being all pure n' stuff

Sita being all pure n’ stuff

And the Indra Kunindra? Well, as it turns out, I clearly can’t stay away from Ballast Point Brewing Company since this is my second in a row here on BAAM. But I really do love this brewery and this beer is a major factor in that. The beer’s label classifies this brew as a “India-style export stout” which I guess explains it but fails to fully encompass what it really going on in this beer. So let me break it down for you. Take an export stout (i.e. a stout that is super dark, malty and high in ABV) and throw in a host of spices. I’m talking curry, coconut, cayenne, cumin and so many more. It’s kinda crazy. The beer is still super smooth but it has this tiny kick. You so clearly get the curry and cayenne but they never overpower that solid, chocolately malt backbone. It’s quite impressive. And you don’t even realize that this beer is 7%! Bonus! To put it in perspective; this is only the second time I’ve had this beer and it easily ranks up in my top three favorite beers. It’s so good that I’ve even written about in previous posts from about a year ago. And the impression that it made!  Anyway, If you see an Indra Kunindra at your local beer shop, I demand you buy. DEMAND!

So there you have it, folks. One of our more legit, classy BAAM combos. We had an accessible art film with an accesible crazy-spicy stout. I truly enjoyed this pairing and I recommend to everyone to check out both of these bad boys. Whether together or separate, they’re sure to put a smile on your face.

And as always keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:image[3]
Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra:
-Rich, malty stout backbone
-Complex, layered spicy flavor
-Surprisingly easy-to-drink

Sita Sings the Blues:
-Beautiful animation
-Fantastic music. Perfectly integrated.
-Crowd-source FTW!

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Hitachino Nest’s Red Rice Ale & Spirited Away

Good evening, Drinkers!

In the international spirit of the Olympics, tonight’s combo is imported from Japan. While there are plenty of American films & beers to discuss, it’s nice to step outside of the U.S. from time to time. And with that in mind, let’s dive right into tonight’s pairing of the fantastic animated film Spirited Away and Hitachino Nest’s unique Red Rice Ale.

For those of you who haven’t seen the 2001 Academy-award winning animated film Spirited Away, directed by the unparalleled Hayao Miyazaki, stop reading this review and go watch the movie. Without exaggeration, this film is truly beautiful and offers something to every audience member. Ostensibly about a young girl who becomes trapped in a magic bathhouse, the film’s themes are broadly human and deeply touching. Buried in this astounding and unfamiliar magical world, our protagonist, Chihiro/Sen undergoes an immediately familiar coming-of-age tale.

Note: I know I can’t really do the plot justice, so I’m going to avoid exposition and just tell you what I think about this film.

Just another day at the magic office.

Though every frame is filled with monsters and creatures, our attention is always focused on our hero’s journey. And that kind of focus is difficult to achieve. Every detail of Miyazaki’s film is accounted for and presented as if it’s part of our everyday experience. Lanterns hop around on feet, trains float over water and dragons streak across the sky. The close-minded will only see an animated film as a “kids movie” and will fail to see the onscreen ingenuity of the fully-realized universe that is Spirited Away. And this film is not for kids. It’s for everyone. Yes it’s a bit childish at times, but it’s also a bit bloody and intense. The film’s two bad-guys, Yubaba and No-Face are some of the scariest, and most well-rounded, “villains” you’ll find on screen. Moreover, despite the film’s 2001 release date and Japanese subtitles (I chose to watch it with subtitles but an American dubbed version is readily available), the film is utterly timeless. A girl’s search for her parents and a quest to save the boy? It never gets old. And so what if I come off as hypoerbolic? If a Miyazaki film doesn’t leave you with a little child-like euphoria and sense of wonder, then you’re not a person. Fact.

Go watch this movie.

No Face is definitely not a creeper…

And to wash down this profoundly unique cinematic experience? How about a beer brewed with…rice?! That’s right folks. Hitachino Nest’s Red Rice Ale is probably the only rice beer I’ve ever seen. For those of you who regularly frequent craft beer stores, you’ve probably seen Hitachino Nest’s adorable labels. To be honest, that’s what caught my eye about this beer first. Proof that good packaging works! But did the beer hold up to the labeling? In fact, it did. This tasty beer poured a light gold color with a pinkish hue that others have described as “grapefruit.” Despite having been brewed with rice, the nose is distinctively beer-y. When you get a taste, you’ll get some nice, fruity sweetness balanced appropriately with malt. As that fades, you’ll get hit with some unexpected smoothness. The fact that it’s so smooth is almost a bad thing, since it made the beer so easy to drink! I finished my $6 bottle faster than I expected and I wished I had another to hold me over. So yes, the beer is a little pricey but I’d say it’s worth it. Not that I can afford to drink one every night, but on a special occasion (or if you really want to impress your friends), grab one of these and enjoy your evening.

So there you have it, folks. One of the better matched combos we’ve done here recently at beer and a movie. Both Spirited Away and the Red Rice Ale served as beautiful ambassadors from across the Pacific. A uniquely sweet and smooth beer with an unmatched animated tale of love and magic. Separate or together, these two bits of entertainment are sure to make you smile and leave you thinking.

And as always, keep drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes: 
Hitachino Nest’s Red Rice Ale:
-Big, foamy head
-Interesting pinkish hue
-Shockingly smooth & well-balanced

Spirited Away:
-Universal story & themes, despite the subtitles
-Fully & intimately realized magical world
-Animated imagination at its finest. Miyazaki FTW!

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