Tag Archives: Chinatown

Green Flash’s West Coast IPA & Chinatown

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tonight we head to the coast with Green Flash’s West Coast IPA and the classic Los Angeles film Chinatown. Originally, I was planning on watching Once Upon a Time in the West but that “West” is not exactly coastal. Also, three hours is a lot of time to dedicate on a weekday night. But fear not! I did not settle. Today’s combo was as beautiful as the Golden State and if you read below, I’ll tell you why!

The 1974 Roman Polanski neo-noir Chinatown was first introduced to me before I had any real film education or passion for the media. Rather, my dad introduced it to me as his favorite film and, after my first viewing with him, I think I heartily agreed. Flash forward about eight years and eight more viewings and my opinion is largely the same. Though I might contend that The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is ultimately my favorite film, Chinatown is a very (VERY) close second. For the uninitiated, Chinatown is fictionalized history of the birth of modern Los Angeles, as told through a murder mystery. I don’t want to say any more about the plot, as it’s hard not to tread on the hints and clues that are expertly left throughout the film. Instead, let’s just talk about the film as a film, shall we?

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At its most basic level, Chinatown is an engaging story which is gently unfolded through powerhouse performance. Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston are all impeccable and do great service to well-written script. What also is interesting is how Los Angeles, and the area around it, also exists as a character. Or characters. At its core, the film is about the creation of Los Angeles from a conglomeration of disparate geographical locations. What us modern Angelenos accept as a part of our daily lives (and commutes) lies at the heart of Chinatown. As might be obvious from the film’s title, the film is truly about geography. What happens where. What it does to people or what people do to it. How it changes people or people change the land. It’s a fascinating, albeit cynical, look at how cities are made and I say it’s required viewing for any resident of Los Angeles.

Faye Dunaway is the best. As per usual.

Faye Dunaway is the best. As per usual.

Finally, what is arguably most interesting about Chinatown is its take on genre. While these may seem like an esoteric discussions for non-film majors, what Chinatown did for the noir genre was quite revolutionary and stands out as a major cinematic milestone for that reason. While Chinatown embraces many of the tropes we have come to know and expect from noir films (the hard-boiled detective, the femme fatale, the intermingling of politics and passion, etc.), it simultaneously rejects many of the genre’s characteristics. Setting aside the obvious change to color photography, Chinatown is a bright and vibrant film. It rarely uses the harsh shadows and  strict lines of classic noirs and instead embraces the golden sunlight of Southern California. Chinatown also makes its hero Jake Gittes utterly reactionary. Of course he figures out the mystery, but much of what he learns is because he is told or is lucky. Sure he’s a bright, witty guy but he is not always in control of the situation. Also, he’s utterly broken by the end of the film, which is not exactly typical. There’s a lot more to discuss in terms of genre (I spent a few college classes on the subject) but those are the basics. Overall, Chinatown still stands out one of the great American films. It also has one of the most memorable closing lines in all movie history.  And it still remains my father’s favorite movie.

The most "noir" shot of the movie. And maybe the only one.

The most “noir” shot of the movie. And maybe the only one.

And for our LA movie, how about an SD beer? For this BAAM, I had Green Flash Brewing’s West Coast IPA. As to be expected, this IPA made generous use of the famed West Coast hops that define most American IPA’s. Pouring a cloudy copper color with a healthy two-finger head, the West Coast gave off a nice hoppy aroma. Not too powerful, but just enough to give you an idea of what was in store. When you take a sip, you’re pretty much in for a straight-up hoppy ride. It’s light, crisp and deeply flavored with pine and citrus. Probably grapefruit. While the beer is fairly bitter, it is definitely NOT one of the more bitter IPA’s out there, making it surprisingly easy to drink. Even with a 7.3% ABV, I was able to drink this beer pretty quickly. And I’m a notoriously slow drinker. Overall, this is a great, easy-drinking IPA that should satisfy both casual drinkers and hardcore hop-heads.

So there you have it, folks! A little trip down the West Coast from Los Angeles to San Diego. We paired a classic movie with broad appeal with an accessible IPA. Without a doubt, I would recommend either of these separately but when together, they make for a truly special evening.

Thanks for reading, Drinkers! If you haven’t already, be sure to hit that subscribe button on the right hand side, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Untappd.

And as always keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Green Flash Brewing’s West Coast IPA:
-Hazy copper color
-Mild hoppy aroma
-Pine & citrus hop flavor

Chinatown:
-Stunning performances all-around
-A great story beautifully told
-A great twist on the noir genrebotw_westcoastipa_1_t670_t658

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Allagash Dubbel & Double Indemnity

Good Evening Drinkers,

Tonight we’re in for some double (dubbel) trouble with Allagash Dubbel Ale and the 1944 Billy Wilder classic noir Double Indemnity. A duo that makes you sit up, pay attention and appreciate the finer things. So let’s get started.

For those who are unfamiliar with the specifics of Double Indemnity, I wouldn’t worry too much. While the narrative is fascinating and deserves multiples viewings, the film’s  entirety serves as the archetype for all noirs, making it easily recognizable to any viewer. The stark black and white contrast, the slick voiceover, the beautiful femme fatale; Double Indemnity has all the tropes of a good noir because it’s one of the best. To summarize, this film follows an insurance salesman by the name of Walter Neff (“with two F’s, like in Philadelphia, if you know the story”) as he records his confession in helping a sexy (and deranged) woman kill her husband for the insurance money. The entire film is a flashback and the audience is only briefly reminded of this fact as Walter’s confident voice easily carries you from scene to scene, immersing you in the past. Not to mention the dialogue is very sharp and deeply layered with sexual tension as Walter Neff fires off a stream of superb one-liners. Now a lot of people have this sad assumption that older movies (re: black and white) are either dry or boring, in both story and style. However this is not the case for Double Indemnity. I’ve already mentioned the that story is captivating, but I also have to mention that the lighting design of this movie is equally incredible. Without the distraction of color, it is remarkable what one notices in terms of light. Every scene is deftly composed to underscore what the narrative. Neff’s troubled thoughts as to his crime are reflected in the half-shadows that cover frequently his face. Our femme fatale, however, is often shown is complete darkness, revealing her malevolent inner nature. If she is not the darkness, then she is lit gorgeously, projecting that outward air of beauty. Now I don’t mean to bog you down with these film-major details, but these are things worth paying attention too, especially in a classic like Double Indemnity. Oh also, it might be of interest to fellow Angelinos that this movie makes great use of the city’s geography. Without the traffic. And it rains.

These are my Los Angeles murderin' glasses. Do you like them, Mr. Neff?

So let’s talk about the other part of my dubbel-feature. Now for the sake of honesty, I’ll let you know that I will pretty much drink, and enjoy, anything that Allagash brews. I’ve had maybe six or seven of their beers and they have all been stellar. I’d try more of them, as I have with Sam Adams, but the price tag for Allagash beer tends to run a little high. But despite that, I picked up this Dubbel and it did not disappoint. For those unfamiliar with the many different genres of beer, a dubbel is a Belgian style that trends towards a brown ale with an average ABV of about 7%. To that end, Allagash’s Dubbel fits the bill quite neatly. It has a nice, brown color, a mild malty flavor and hints of that easily identifiable Belgian yeast (bananas, remember?). For a beer with a higher-than-average ABV and malty character, I was surprised at how easy it went down. In fact, I ended up finishing it faster than I intended, leaving me to wish I had a second in the fridge to carry me through the rest of the movie (not that the movie needed any help). But alas I only had the one, which means that I’ll be back at the store to pick up another one of these tasty beers. And as a general rule of thumb, if Allagash is the brewery, it’s good.

So that was my double trouble night. If I were feeling like a baller I would have done two movies with two dubbels, but I’m not that awesome. Maybe some other night. But I will say that this was one of the more complimentary combos I have done so far. A strong, thoughtful movie with a smooth but surprising beer. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m really happy with the combination and I would recommend that all of you give it a whirl sometime.

Keep drinking my friends!

 

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Allagash Dubbel:  
Very drinkable despite 7% ABV
Rich, brown color
Hearty, malty aroma and taste

Double Indemnity:
A classic noir by which many others are compared
Sharp writing and beautiful visual style
A great history lesson in LA geography (also watch Chinatown if you’re interested)

 

 

 

 

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