Tag Archives: Mark Wahlberg

MacLeod Ale’s The King’s Taxes & Three Kings

Hey there, Drinkers!

Grab your gold and a beer because today’s BAAM is all about paying bills (or collecting, if you a king I guess). We’re watching the 1999 film Three Kings and sipping on MacLeod’s The King’s Taxes. Kings, gold, taxes and beer: it’s almost like I planned this pairing. So let’s get started.

In 1999, David O’ Russell (of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle fame) released Three Kings, a bizarre humanitarian heist movie set against the closure of First Gulf War (remember when there was only one?). With an impressive cast including, but not limited to, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, (weird, right?), Judy Greer and a young Alia Shawket (weird, right?), we follow four soldiers on their quest to “liberate’ Saddam-stolen Kuwaiti gold. The film quickly tacks away from the simple premise as our heroes stumble into the quagmire of local politics, pitting soldiers against civilians against the American military against Saudi/Iranian interests. Most of the politics are background noise against the human drama, but the film does reserve some time to relay the profound message of ‘what the hell are we doing here?’

America! Fuck yeah!

America! Fuck yeah!

And while the film’s political message is commendable, the most interesting part of the film is its presentation. The writing and acting is very much David O. Russell’s brand of quick-wit/dumb people humor but the visuals of the film are that of someone still figuring out their style. The narrative goes through big, tonal swings from comedy to heartbreak to action and the pacing of those moments varies wildly, as if stitched together. And within sequences, the visual language also varies dramatically. Highly styled, blurred slow-motion combined with the overuse of whip pans is intended to convey the chaos of a gunfight, but mostly I found the formalism to be intrusive and distracting. This visual inconsistency, and stop-start pacing detracts from an otherwise solid film carried by solid performances (is Clooney ever bad?). I also found the film’s ‘where are they now?!’ ending to be a little cheesy but that’s fine, you’re entitled to do that, I guess. But overall I really do like this movie, but you can definitely tell that it was a learning experience for David O. Russell.

Bullion. Not the cubes you put in hot water to make soup.

Bullion. Not the cubes you put in hot water to make soup.

And with our liberated Kuwaiti gold, it’s time to pay our taxes. For tonight’s pairing, I grabbed a bottle of MacLeod Ale Brewing’s The King’s Taxes. Macleod is a LA local beer brewed not too far from where I live. Having had this beer at the brewery several times, I was excited to see bottles appear at my local liquor store. I should note that I drank my bottle straight out of the fridge, whereas at the brewery, beers are served much closer to room temperature.

Pouring a deep brown with a slight reddish hue and a big, off-white head, The King’s Taxes aims to make a statement right off the bat. It’s beautiful to look at and you get the added benefit of picking up notes of malt, caramel and coffee once you get your nose in there. Off your first sip, you might be surprised by how light the body is. Like many British style ales, The King’s Taxes is deceptively light despite its dark color. And with minimal hopping, you’re treated to a nice, big malty kick with a smooth finish which lingers in your mouth. You’ll get notes of malt, caramel, chocolate and coffee with very little carbonation. Moreover, this beer warms quite well and is perfect for sipping slowly over the course of a two hour film like Three Kings. Overall, a fantastic beer and a great change of pace from my usual, bitter IPA’s.

So there you have it, Drinkers. A strong, if not flawed, film and a great companion beer to hold me through the entire experience. I imagine Macleod may not exist outside of Los Angeles, but if you ever see a bottle, I highly recommend you snag a bottle or two.

Thanks for reading and as always keep drinking, my friends!macleod-the-kings-taxes

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Macleod’s The King’s Taxes:
-Super smooth
-Great roasted, malty flavor
-Warms really well

Three Kings:
-Fun, quippy performances
-Visually inconsistent & oddly paced
-Talented and deep cast

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Beer and a Movie’s 21st Birthday!

Hey there Drinkers,

Tonight’s beer and a movie was a little special. It’s the 21st entry which means that we’re finally of age! And like any birthday party, we had some friends over and we drank beer. Since we were watching the 2006 Martin Scorsese Oscar-winning insta-classic The Departed, it felt only right to bring on the Sam Adams. With the “cold” weather rolling into Los Angeles, the Winter Variety 12 pack was not out of place and provided a little something for everyone. Oh and one of my friend’s brought over some Mickey’s, because that sounds Irish.

A little sampling of our evening.

To be honest, it’s hard to watch a movie with a group of people. Conversations fly and important screen moments get missed. Which is fine. This was meant to be a social evening and I like to think that I’m not some crotchety old man just yet, but listen, I just like to watch my movies. But moving on, The Departed is really everything you want out of a good, thoughtful (but not too thoughtful) movie. There’s action, suspense, murder, sex, attractive men, old men, Mark Wahlberg. It’s really got everything. Aside from that though, the movie has some of the strongest characterization and acting of anything mainstream of late. Every character we see in this well-paced 2.5 hour film is three dimensional. All of the actors bring their A-game (would you slack off if Scorsese was in the room?) and truly bring their characters to life. And while the film suffers from a few jarring edits (which I know were done intentionally, I just didn’t  like them), it flows seamlessly from scene to scene. You hardly even notice that they never actually experience Winter in Boston despite the film taking place over more than a year’s time. Hardly. Even. Noticed. And when it comes down to it, this movie is just hilarious. Everything that Mark Wahlberg says is priceless. Jack Nicholson is at the pinnacle of his crazy. And even the violence is so blunt that you can’t help but smile just a tiny bit after you recover from the initial shock. Well played Marty. Well played.

"I am actually from South Boston so don't you pull any of that Good Will Hunting shit with me."

You know who else really brings it every time? Samuel Adams. I don’t think I have ever had a mediocre beer from them. I’ve probably had eight or more of their beers and they are all incredible. Unfortunately, I’m wasn’t man enough to try all of the beers from the Winter Variety pack in one sitting, (more pairings to come!) I did get a chance to sit down with the Old Fezziwig Ale and the Black & Brew. I’ve actually had Old Fezziwig before in last year’s Winter mix so I was particularly excited by the Black & Brew, but we’ll talk about both. Black & Brew, as you can imagine, is a stout beer brewed with coffee. And, simply put, it tastes exactly like what you’d expect. The beer is unmistakably a stout with a deep, black color and rich, almost chocolatey flavor. But the kicker is that you easily identify the coffee in this very drinkable stout and it tastes great. The coffee isn’t overpowering either. Rather, it subtly accentuates what is already happening in the stout and really rounds out this perfect winter-time beer. And Old Fezziwig Ale? Another solid performer. This ale is spicier than the Black & Brew and uses some of the classic winter flavors like cinnamon and relies more on noticeable hoppiness. Not too hoppy mind you, just enough to give this beer more of a body, which is exactly what you want from a winter beer. But since I’m in LA and not layering up to keep out the New England chill, these beers gave a me a little taste of home.

So all in all it was a successful birthday party. Good beers, a good movie, good friends. You can’t really ask for more than that. And a special thank you to my friends who came out and supported this largely asocial activity. Be on the lookout for some more wintry Sam Adams combos (someone’s gotta drink ’em) as well as another classic film paired with another New England beer coming soon in the near future. And, as always, keep drinking my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Old Fezziwig Ale
Classic winter spices  
Strong, full body
Nice, reddish color

Black & Brew
Lives up to its name 
Noticeable, but not overpowering, coffee flavor
Solid new brew from Sam Adams

The Departed                                                                                           
Meticulous characterization and performance
Huge, star-studded male cast
Marky Mark is a true Bostonian

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Birra Moretti & The Italian Job

Hello Drinkers,

It’s beer and a movie #10, which means it’s time for a celebration. And you can’t celebrate without beer, am I right? Well tonight I’m celebrating with the Italian beer Birra Moretti (actually brewed and bottled by the Heineken company) and watching the original 1969 The Italian Job starring a much younger Michael Caine who still sounds old and British.

Initial things to bear in mind about The Italian Job: First, there is no Mark Wahlberg or Ed Norton. So sad. Second, you really have to remind yourself that this movie was made in 1969. I point this out because just looking at visual style and production value (the bang for your buck), this movie seems to rival most other contemporary heist movies. About 5 or 6 very expensive cars get destroyed on camera and entire Italian cities are shut down. No tricks. With broad, sweeping shots the camera literally shows entire sections of the city clogged with staged traffic. Five cars (3 mini coopers, 1 jaguar and one other schmancy lookin’ one) are filmed crashing down cliffsides. No cuts. No computers. Just a car and a cliff and gravity.  But I’m getting away from the actual substance of this movie.

This heist movie is ostensibly about a heist, though the build up is a bit vague and confusing. We’re not given a real explanation as to why they are stealing this money or why they’re financial backer lives like a king inside a British prison. Seriously, the amount of leniency they show this guy in prison makes me want to go to England, commit a crime and go to prison just so I could upgrade my living situation. He’s got a private bathroom, table service at dinner and wears a very fine suit. But again I digress. This movie doesn’t really make much sense but that’s not the point. The point is to watch 3 mini coopers drive through places they should not be driving. That and to see Michael Caine bang about a dozen women in the opening 15 minutes of the movie. Ballin’.

Inconspicuous getaway cars and casually matching jumpsuits.

What The Italian Job did big, Birra Moretti stayed quiet. Not to say that the beer was bad, it just wasn’t all that good. Birra Moretti is a lager, meaning it is lower in alcohol and has a lighter body, but that doesn’t mean it has to taste like nothing. If Moretti had a flavor, I would describe it as light and sweet, but that’s a bit of a stretch. Its more distinguished characteristic was its light and fine carbonation which made a uninspired beer a bit more exciting. All this being said, Birra Moretti claims to be hail all the way back from 1859, which is impressive and for that I give them a small raise of the glass (filled with another beer however.)

So that’s how we ended beer and a movie night #10. There were some disappointments, some surprises but most importantly there were explosions. And that’s all we can really ask for.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Birra Moretti: 
Light, mild flavor.
Fine, refreshing carbonation.
Not actually brewed by an Italian company.

The Italian Job:
British prison really isn’t that bad.
Watching cars get tossed off cliffs is awesome.
Everyone but Michael Caine is a getaway driver. Literally every character in this movie.

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