Tag Archives: Paul Giamatti

Irondale’s Bully Maclary’s Mor Barley Wine & Ironclad

Hey there, drinkers!

Tonight we dropped an iron curtain across BAAM with Irondale’s Barley Wine and the enigmatic 2011 film Ironclad. Haven’t heard of either? That’s fine. I’m here to educate you. Remember? Actually, let’s get one thing straight. A large portion of tonight’s education does not come from me or my brain. Rather, it comes from my good friend Anne, who joined me for tonight’s BAAM. Her surprisingly thorough knowledge of 12th century (12th, right?) English history is quite remarkable and serves to only further illuminate her awesome nerdiness. For those interested in all things not related to English history, I suggest you check out her film blog, We Recycle Movies. It’s pretty sweet. Expect a BAAM-WRM crossover in the future. Anyway, let the education commence!

So I just finished watching Ironclad which is about….wait…what…what just happened? Seriously, does anyone know what just happened in this movie? I think I saw Paul Giamatti and a few other famous people whose faces I recognized…But really, can someone help me out with what the hell just happened in this two hour, disappointingly battle-scarce medieval bit of English “history.” And I really do mean “history” with quotation marks because, from what Anne has told me, and from my own working knowledge of history, I’m pretty sure none of this movie is based on facts. As far as I know, King John the Douchebag signed the Magna Carta and happily lived out the rest of his years as a powerless king before dying of dysentery. However, Ironclad contends that post Magna Carta-ing, King John the Crazy Pants decided to hire a bunch of Danish mercenaries (really? Danish?) to help retake his country (with the Pope’s blessing) only to be routed by about 20 dudes in a castle and a French army that seizes the English crown. But those are trivial facts. Let’s talk about this as a movie. Well, for one, this film certainly does love its blood. Despite there not being much fighting, the few scenes of violence certainly do overcompensate. We’re talking about severed limbs, spouting blood, split skulls, intestines laid out for display…it’s all there except for one, crucial aspect of medieval filmmaking. Boobies. I mean, what movie of this historical era doesn’t randomly thrown some breasts on screen? Game of Thrones, anyone?! I mean, come on! Why so much blood if there’s only going to be one (1) pair of boobs on screen for the whole two hours? And they’re not even Kate Mara’s!  By the way, did I mention that Kate Mara is in this movie? Anyway, it seems hardly worth it if you ask me. Also, one other quick gripe I have with this film besides the excessive gore, lack of female nudity, blatant disregard of history and the fact that this movie making no sense whatsoever…what is the film’s obsession with moats? Time and time again, characters in the movie reference the fact that the primary castle in the film lacks a moat. Whoopty do! No moat! Let’s move on with our lives and siege towers!

Okay. That’s enough. Quick synopsis of my feelings of this movie: what just happened? There. You have it. Don’t watch this movie.

"I am Paul Giamatti and I do not understand why I am in this awful movie! I also gesticulate with my fists!"

Okay let’s throw a little sanity into the mix and talk about beer. So, for you avid BAAM readers, you’ll know that this is only the second barley wine that I’ve consumed. And I have to say that the style is very intriguing. I still havent’t really figured out what they’re all about but I’m interested enough to continue trying. So let’s talk about Irondale’s Bull Maclary’s Mor Barley Wine (long name, right?). For a beer with 9% ABV and so rich in flavor, it is remarkably smooth and easy to drink. Its rich, almost chocolatey finish helps calm down the beer’s more excitable early flavors that I found difficult to identify (though, to be honest, that might have just been because I was trying so hard to not pay attention to this movie). It’s actually almost a bit sweet, which is something I didn’t expect but I didn’t really mind either. Overall, it felt like a good beer to have on a chilly winter evening. Hearty, filling and yet not overbearing. The kind of beer that dulls your senses enough to make you not hate yourself for watching a movie like Ironclad.

So, there you have it folks. I’m pretty sure you can intuit my feelings on the movie. The beer I think I would come back to, though I’m compelled to experiment with more barley wines to help me further understand what this style is all about. But, in all, it was quite the educational evening. I learned some more about barley wine. I learned quite a bit about English history from my friend Anne. And I also learned that no self-respecting castle shows up for a fight without a moat.

Happy drinking, friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Irondale’s Barley Wine:
Rich, full-bodied flavor
Chocolately finish
Impressively smooth and drinkable.

Ironclad:
History has no bearing on historical films
Oh yeah, there were Knights Templar in this movie
What just happened again?

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Uinta XVII Anniversay Barley Wine Ale & Sideways

Hey Drinkers!

Tonight we’re stepping into uncharted, enemy territory and talking about wine (gasp!). Well, kind of (phew!). We’re watching the wine-centric 2004 Alexander Payne film Sideways while sipping on Uinta Brewing Company’s XVII Anniversary Barley Wine Ale. To put my cards on the table, I have never had a barley wine, I don’t know anyone that’s had a barley wine and I had zero idea what it would taste like, so this was a bit of an experiment. I also know nothing about wine so I probably snickered inappropriately a few times whenever the film got a bit snooty. So let’s get liquored up and get started with tonight’s combo.

I had a rough idea of what Sideways was all about going into it but most of the personal reviews I had heard were on the negative side, which I understand. Naturally, most of the people I talk to about movies are closer to my age than say, my parents. The film  shines a very harsh, sad light on the male mid-life crisis; its confusion, its legitimacy, its awkwardness and its loneliness. So, understandably, this movie is not going to hit home with a lot of younger viewers such as myself. However, I may have to disagree with my age-bracket and say that this movie is doing and saying a lot (with minimal dialogue, might I add). The characters are all dealing with very real, tangible and relatable issues that give credence to the generally panned masculine mid-life crisis. Sure Thomas Haden Church’s character is suddenly sex-crazed, but there is something lurking behind his sexual appetite that gives his carnal desires a more human and, dare I say, justifiable explanation. I mean, his character is kind of a dick (snicker snicker) but he makes me smile so he can’t be all that bad, right? In a rare instance of having too much to say, I’m just going to briefly mention a few other things that I liked, and disliked, about this movie, before moving on, lest I bore you with my oaky tannins and barrel-aged wisdom.

1) I really enjoyed the dialogue in this film. It’s quiet, slow and, in an unusual cinematic moment, actually reflects how real people speak and interact. Very refreshing.
2) The film has this very subtle, under-the-radar bluesy/jazz soundtrack that just seems to perfect fit the setting and themes.
3) It was very creatively and thoughtful photographed. The audience is not always shown the action but rather the reaction or the aftermath of certain scenes, which adds some humor and creativity into the mix.

Some things I didn’t like?
1) I felt like Paul Giamatti’s performance was the only which had real depth. Sure Thomas Haden Church has a solid delivery, but his character kind of hits the same note throughout the film. He also makes appropriately timed witticisms and sexual comments and he also has a perfectly-timed emotional collapse. It all felt too…expected.
2) The transitions in this movie really bugged me. More often than not, scene changes were denoted by long or awkward cross-fades that made the transition all too noticeable but not in a clever-twist-of-editing type of way. It felt more like the filmmakers weren’t sure how to move from scene to scene so just threw some cross-fades in for kicks.
3) Small gripe: Apparently Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church are sexually desirable? Just asking.

Wine as a parable to human nature. And it gets you drunk too!

Okay, enough of this wine crap. Let’s drink some beer! Which is kind of how I feel about this beer. Generally when I think of wine, as in when I think about how people other than myself enjoy wine, I think of subtly and refinement. Uinta’s XVII Anniversary Barley Wine is not subtle. Refined? Maybe. But this 10.4% ABV bad boy hits you over the head with how strong it is and I mean that in the best of ways. A beautiful, rich copper color gives way to a strong malty aroma and flavor, which is followed by alcohol. Seriously. This beer is quite tasty for those who like strong ales but for those who are used to only 5% beers, this barley wine may be a kick in the pants. However, its heavy, full body segues naturally into  a remarkably simple finish. This body combined with the (much) higher ABV makes it the perfect cold weather beer. I’m sure some people will be put off by its strength (I was a bit taken aback after I first sip, but then I thought it would only be fitting to give it a second chance…) but for those who wanted to get a little buzz off a single beer on a chilly night, I would recommend this barley wine. The other benefit of this beer, and of this whole beer and a movie experiment, is that it encourages me (and hopefully it encourages you) to try new beers. And let me tell you, I’ll be searching for barley wines in the future.

So there you have it, folks. A remarkably thoughtful and rich evening here. This barley wine was strong, comforting and filling while the movie had a balanced mix of comedy, tragedy and classy alcoholism. A winning combination!

And remember, if you think you have a winning combination, let me know and I’ll try to make it happen!

 

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Last year's batch but you get the idea

Uinta’s XVII Anniversary Barley Wine Ale:
Very, very strong
Gorgeous copper color
Strong malty flavor with hints of spice and fruit

Sideways:
Good mix of sad and funny. But mostly sad
Thomas Haden Church is hooooorrrny (and Sandra Oh is a firecracker!)
Easy to relate to as you age, like a fine wine

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