Tag Archives: movief

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?

chinatown-bd-1326218075
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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Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA & Speed Racer

Start your engines, Drinkers!

Let’s put the pedal to the metal and get ready for an excessive number of racing idioms for tonight’s combo of Speed Racer and Racer 5 IPA. So strap in, buckle up, hop in the driver’s seat, put it into drive and let the rubber hit the road!

That covers most of them, right?

So since we watched a good movie last week, I thought it would be appropriate to watch something equivalently terrible. I must warn you though, if you’re sensitive to bright or flashing colors, this review (or film) may not be for you. Seriously, the film is seizure inducing. In what we’ll assume was a “stylistic choice,” the 2008 movie Speed Racer  is more closely related to rainbow vomit than it is to cinema. Everything in the world of  Speed Racer is bright, flashing and obnoxiously loud. While ostensibly this was meant to capture the cartoon quality of the original cartoon, it mostly just ends up being distracting. I watched this movie with a few friends and between our witty criticisms, we frequently remarked “OOOO LOOK AT THE COLORS!!!!” and “what’s happening again?” But if colors aren’t the type of thing to get your riled up and annoyed, don’t fret! There’s plenty more in the movie that you can upset you!

Shiny

Shiny

There’s things like the rote dialogue, the stiff acting, the obnoxious kid brother/chimp duo, the incomprehensible driving sequences, physics, the talking head dialogue wipes, the purposefully cheap CGI…oh and Christina Ricci’s wardrobe. Who wears knee-high leather boots/heels while flying a helicopter?!  But at the very least, you get to see Korean pop star Rain (full name) kung-fu some people! And Matthew Fox is a ninja. Who knew. Consolation prize?

But seriously, the only thing this film does well is emulate the cacophony of mediocre Japanese animation. But since this is an American film from 2008 and not a Japanese cartoon from the 1960’s, it mostly just feels like an insincere sham as opposed to faithful update to the once-popular TV series/manga. Moreover, most of the stylistic choices in this film, from its odd cross-cutting to its bizarre changing animation styles, end up being more distracting that helpful. The end result is a visually exhausting pile o’ poo laid on top of an entirely predictable and boring plot. Go Go Speed Racer!

So...what's happening again?

So…what’s happening again?

Thank goodness our beer wasn’t garbage! In fact, Bear Republic’s Racer 5 (get the connection?) IPA was quite wonderful. This wheat-colored IPA pours a modest head and gives off some of that classic IPA hoppiness. With your first sip, you’ll find that despite that hoppy smell, the beer itself is not too bitter or piney. Yes, it still has that pine and citrus flavor you find in all IPA’s, but it’s not as strong as you’ll find in some others. And underneath that, you’ll get a little malt backbone and almost no booziness despite the 7% ABV. As a result, you get an IPA that’s well-balanced and easier to drink than most. Actually, I was drinking it with some non hop-heads and they actually managed to enjoy themselves, which I took as a good sign. So if you’re looking for an easy-drinking IPA, maybe you should take Racer 5 for a spin.

So that’s it, drinkers.  We’ve crossed the finished line! Quite the achievement, I have to say. Especially considering that the movie was over 2 hours long and I only had one bomber of Racer 5 to split. But as much as I like to rag on this movie, I did manage to enjoy myself…since I ragging on this movie. But seriously, just being able to share some beers with friends while laughing at a movie is really all you need out of an evening. Don’t you agree?

And as always my friends, keep drinking!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:racer-5
Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA:
-Golden wheat color pour
-Classic IPA flavors but not too bitter
-Great IPA for the uninitiated

Speed Racer
-COLORS!
-Did you know Susan Sarandon is in this? And John Goodman?!
-MORE COLORS!

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Bacchus & The Kid With A Bike

We’re back, Drinkers!

Now that I finally have internet in my new apartment, I thought I’d celebrate in the only way I know how: with a brew in my hand and a movie on my screen. Tonight’s combo brings us across the pond to Beer Heaven: Belgium. The home of some of the best beers in the world, Belgium is also known for occasionally putting out some great films. Who knew? And since we’ve talked about Belgian or Belgian-style beers in the past, I thought it would be appropriate to pay tribute to their other cultural contributions. So let’s hop on that bike and go for a spin!

For starters, The Kid With A Bike is a 2011 Cannes Grand Jury Prize winning Belgian film directed by the prolific and talented Dardenne brothers. This French-language film follows the painful story of Cyril, a young boy who is abandoned by his father and taken in by a hairdresser. Cyril is an enigmatic mix of depression, denial, independence and longing. It’s mix of character traits that makes sense given his abandonment but is still impressive to see. The young actor, Thomas Doret, portrays all of these emotions so naturally and hauntingly. Cyril is desperate for attention and guidance while also constantly shutting out everyone who tries to help him. The only exception to this is a local thief who briefly acts as an older brother ends up just using him to help steal money. At every moment, you feel like Cyril is capable of so much growth but in the end, he always shuts himself down and hurts those around him. It’s frustrating, confusing and most importantly, real.

Definitely not a creepy drug dealer.

That hair definitely means he’s not drug dealer

It doesn’t really do much good to go any further into the plot. First, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Second, there’s not much else to say. This is much less about the story and more about the characters. Yes, the events shape the characters and their relationships, but the moments are short. Catalytic. The majority of the film can be found in the quiet moments in between. At the dinner table with Cyril and Samantha, his guardian. In the long bike rides. In the silences where character’s faces seem to only say “I don’t know how to deal with this situation so I’m just not going to say anything.” Overall, it’s a brave bit of filmmaking. The Dardenne brothers trust in their actors and their visuals so completely that the film really has very little else to fall back on. If what I’m describing sounds like a boring film, that’s only because I’m not doing it justice. It truly is an engaging (and quiet) film that is both painful and rewarding to complete.

It does have a happy ending...sorta

I promise it does have a happy ending…sorta

And our Bacchus Belgian beer? Quite tasty, actually! Bacchus however is not your typical “Belgian” beer. Most Belgians have a distinct banana-y yeast flavor that is immediately recognizable. Instead, this beer falls into the genre of Flanders Oud Bruin (Old Brown Flanders). I’ll admit that I’m not as familiar with Flanders-style beers (except that the three I’ve had in my lifestyle are awesome!) but if I’m not mistaken, the Bacchus is a fair representative of the style. It pours a nice ruby-brown color with a modest head and lots of tiny carbonation. The smell that hits you once you pour is the one you’ll be tasting, so hopefully you enjoy strong notes of cherry and citrus. The beer is a bit on the sweet side but has a hint of a sour bite mixed right in the middle. Yes, the profile is not exactly complex but it is quite tasty. The sweet, fruity flavor combined with a mild ABV of 4.5% makes this beer very easy to drink without becoming a guzzler. Or maybe I’m just a classy fellow.

So there you have it, drinkers! A quick trip to Belgium! We had a strong movie with a modest beer that I think worked out quite well. Where the beer was sweet but one-note, the film was tough but deeply complex. I’d definitely recommend checking out both of these, if only to make yourself feel culturally superior to your friends.

Seriously, when’s the last time they watched a movie in French?

And as always my friends, keep drinking!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:bacchus
Bacchus:
-Ruby/brown pour
-Strong cherry aroma & flavor
-Simple but tasty

The Kid With A Bike:
-Quiet but powerful
-Fantastic performances without much dialogue
-Apparently Belgium makes good movies. The more you know

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Guest Review: Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale & Sleepy Hollow

Tonight’s review comes courtesy of my brother, Jesse. Since he’s a dedicated BAAM reader, he decided to pick a beer I’ve already reviewed…for a second opinion! Enjoy! Or don’t. This really isn’t his thing anyway.

Greetings, drinkers!

Tonight you are in for a treat, as your intrepid, indefatigable author has handed the reins to me, his older, significantly better looking brother.  Will I crash and burn and take down BAAM with me, or will my prose be so enlightening, so utterly indescribably wondrous that you, the faithful BAAM reader, will abandon Gabe for the charms of his senior? 

Ok, probably none of the above.  With that longwinded introduction out of the way, and with my sincerest apologies in advance, tonight’s pairing is in keeping with the traditional October theme of Halloween spooks… and beheadings.  That’s right, tonight we review Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and Rogue Dead Guy Ale.  A fairly obvious pairing, but hey, this is my first BAAM.

You may be familiar with this story from your school years, or have seen Burton’s 1999 adaptation, starring Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, a New York police constable sent to investigate a series of gruesome murders in the town of Sleepy Hollow.  The film also stars a silent yet terrifying Christopher Walken as the Horseless Headsman (in his head-inclusive scenes).

A dentist’s worst nightmare.

The movie certainly does not shy away from gore – Burton revels in the separation of heads from shoulders – yet I found the most cringe-inducing scene to be the bloody tree of death.  Beyond the gore, the scenery, lighting and muted color pallet sets the mood wonderfully for this entertaining thriller that still manages to not take itself too seriously.  As a non sequitur, Harry Potter fans will notice several side characters featured here: Miranda Richardson (Lady Van Tassel/ Rita Skeeter), Richard Griffiths (Magistrate Philipse/ Vernon Dursley) and of course Michael Gambon (Baltus Van Tassel/Professor Dumbledore).

Nearly Headless Nick can suck it!

And what of Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale?  It was a tasty, medium bodied ale.  While it has a strong hops undertone, it did not overpower the other flavors.  Smooth to drink, with a bit of sweetness behind it as well that reminded me of a Magic Hat #9 (though not as fruity).  I’d recommend Dead Guy for anyone seeking a unique beer that doesn’t veer too far away from what you expect out of an ale.  Finally, to those keeping track, yes BAAM has reviewed this beer before, but hey, I’m a guest blogger.  Cut me some slack.

Thanks for reading, BAAMers, and thanks little bro for the guest post!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Rogue Dead Guy Ale:
-Well-balanced combination of malt and hops
-22 ounces for twice the fun
-A bit derivate of a better Dead Guy Ale review (said the editor of the this review)

Sleepy Hollow:
-A fun, non-traditional horror-thriller hybrid
-Classic Burton feel, including the gore
-Fun for the whole family!
(fun blogging for the whole family, the editor additionally stated)

Once again, a special thanks to my brother Jesse for this review. Assuming he didn’t instill violent discontent in you, the readers, maybe we’ll bring him back in the future. Stay tuned later this week for another Halloween special featuring Anne from We Recycle Movies. Keep drinking, my friends!

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