Tag Archives: stop motion animation

Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout & The Nightmare Before Christmas

Hey there, Drinkers!

What’s this?! A nightmare after Christmas? Yes, it’s true. And in true Christmas fashion, I’m giving you a gift after the fact now that the crowds have died down at Target. Though, to be truthful, this review was supposed to be out earlier but life decided that the holidays would be a great time for me not feel so hot. But here we are! With Santa’s Little Helper in hand and The Nightmare Before Christmas on  my screen, we’ve lined up a holiday that will be hard to forget!

…unless you’re Jewish like me and always get confused between the concept of Christmas Eve with Christmas Day with Christmas Eve Day with Christmas Day Eve. It really is confusing…But let’s get started, shall we?

On tonight’s menu is the short-but-sweet 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas. And while most people  (albeit understandably) associate this super stop-motion film with Tim Burton, he is actually not the director. Yes he helped write and produce it, but frequent collaborator Henry Selick is actually credited as the director. Yes, Burton’s fingerprints all over this film but I thought it was an interesting distinction to make. But beyond that technicality, I’m just going to assume  that all of you have seen this movie. I mean, I’ve seen it like 50 times. And Jack Skellington, our protagonist, appears on so many angsty teenaged girls’ clothing and apparel that it’s hard not to be familiar with the film at least in an abstract or artistic sense. And while I still don’t really get why the film has become a fashion statement, I do get why this film is frickin’ awesome. Aside from the impressive technical foundation on which any stop-motion film stands, it’s also a musical! With the exception of maybe two songs, the musical component of this film, expertly crafted by the unparalleled Danny Elfman, is utterly engaging. It drives the plot forward, is playful and fully integrated into the core of the film. And, most importantly, the songs are incredibly catchy! Who knew that the simple phrase “this is Halloween” could play over and over in your head?

Let's all sing along with the living incarnation of Death!

Let’s all sing along with the living incarnation of Death!

All fandom aside, I should point out how utterly dark and creepy this film is. What kind of Halloween’s did Tim Burton experience as a child? These monsters are scary and really sadistic (as good monster are wont to do, I guess). I feel like if this Halloween were based on reality, everyone in Halloween Town would have just been really really slutty. But hey, it’s a movie. Let’s suspend our disbelief for a moment. But aside from the creep-factor, those same monsters do provide a clear perspective on how carefully this film was constructed. The individual detail and characterization of every creature is immaculate and fully-realized. What could have easily been a hammy and cliche Halloween village is instead a fully realized universe inhabited with a plethora of distinct characters . Few live-action movies get even that right, so to see it in a movie with no flesh-and-blood actors is truly remarkable and refreshing. Not to mention that Oogie-Boogie is one of the more entertaining bad guys you’ll find on the silver screen. For the none of you who have not seen this film, don’t wait until next Halloween or Christmas to give it a whirl. Watch it now! Remember, This Is Halloween!

Children welcome

Children welcome

And Santa’s Little Helper? Well, for starters, I think it’s an understatement to call a beer that boasts 10% ABV a “little helper.” This Imperial Stout from Port Brewing is one of the stronger beers I’ve reviewed here on BAAM and, to be honest, I’m still feeling it. The beer wasn’t boozy, mind you, it’s just that it’s a high ABV beer and I drank the whole bomber. By myself. Hurray for Thursday nights! But seriously, this imperial stout poured a classic deep, dark black with a rich chocolate-brown head. Instantly you’re hit with a strong nose of chocolate malt with hints of coffee. And that’s pretty much what it tastes like. In my experience, I find that most imperial stouts, while delicious and perfect for that chilly winter night, all have these same basic characteristics. What it comes down to for me with these beers is the body, the booziness and how it warms. In that regard, Santa’s Little Helper holds up pretty well. It’s got an unexpectedly medium-body without too much booziness. This meant that I had an easy drink that didn’t weigh me down or make me pucker up too much from the alcohol. And as it warmed, I found that these characteristics came out even more. In a sense, the warming smoothed it all out. Where the was a hint of booze right after I poured, once it reached room temperature that small bite mellowed out. Overall, this is a very good Imperial Stout. Perfect for sipping over a long period of time. So chuggers, find another beer!

So that’s it, folks. A holiday classic (that’s not an overstatement, is it?) paired with a very good, hearty winter beer. Not that The Nightmare Before Christmas needs a hand, but it was nice having Santa’s Little Helper at my side tonight. I think we’ll call this Christmas a win!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing in a glass.
Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout:
-Lovely, dark pour
-Rich, chocolate head
-Medium-body & not too boozy

The Nightmare Before Christmas
-A nice change of pace from your other holiday films
-Beautifully realized, even if it is creepy
-Catchiest, darkest lyrics you’ll find

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Anchor Brewing’s Liberty Ale & Chicken Run

Evening, Drinkers!

Tonight we’re back with another beer from Anchor Brewery and continuing with our recent trend of discussing American values in cinema (4th of July slasher, death racing as an American pass-time, Team America: Fuck Yeah!). On tonight’s menu? Chicken. And Liberty.

Get ready.

Tonight’s movie is a bit of a throwback, but I think most of you should remember it. Back in 2000, the incredible creators of Wallace & Gromit took a break from their famous characters to bring us Chicken RunUtilizing their unmistakeable claymation style, Peter Lord and Nick Park recreated the classic film The Great Escape with chickens. It’s a little odd, but that’s kind of what these guys do. In short, the chickens of Tweedy’s Farm work to escape the confines of their farm/prison by enlisting an escaped American circus rooster (improbably voiced by Mel Gibson) to train them to fly. In between the silly setup and the film’s high-flying dramatic conclusion, there’s the usual slew of amusing antics that one would expect of a bunch of British lady-chickens trying to fly. And that’s kind of what this film is. Antics. And it’s great. Sure the plot is a bit predictable and the movie is a bit short (a speedy 82 minutes), but that’s not really why you see this film. If you’re like most viewers, it’s mostly a quick, fun distraction that satisfies both parents and kids. It’s goofy enough for the little ones and has enough sly, British humor for the adults. Not to mention you have Mel Gibson pretending to be funny and carefree. That’s always a hoot. But simplicity or not, you still have to appreciate the creativity and labor that went into this film. As I’ve said with other stop-motion films, just the sheer amount of work that goes into creating one of these feature-length films is alone worthy of praise. But on top of that, you have distinct characters and a plethora of witty chicken-themed puns. What more could you ask for?

You could ask for a chicken dance scene, but they have that already.

Onwords to beer! Now the strangely astute and the hopelessly bored may notice that I’ve actually discussed Anchor’s Liberty Ale in last year’s holiday recap. However, since my review was about three sentences long and my opinions towards IPAs have changed pretty dramatically since then, I figured I owed it to this beer to give it a second shot. And I’m glad I did. This San Francisco IPA is arguably one of the maltier IPA’s I’ve had. It’s actually hard to classify it as an IPA, as the floral bitterness from the hops is very well-balanced caramel-y malts. You also get some fruity hints in there, which takes some of the weight out of the beer, making it perfect for a warm Los Angeles evening. Pouring a hazy gold with a thick, lacy head, this brew is at once easy to drink and multi-faceted in its flavor profile. And while I wasn’t the biggest fan of Anchor’s summer wheat, I have to admit that the Liberty has inspired me to check out some more of this brewery’s creations.

So that’s our evening of Liberty, folks. There were chickens running wild, beer was flowing and I was laughing by myself in my darkened living room. So it was a pretty typical Wednesday for me. Zing!

Remember that if you have any beers or movies that you would like to see here, just leave a comment, hit me up on Facebook or find me on Twitter.

And, as always, keep drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Anchor Brewing’s Liberty Ale:
-Hazy gold color with 2-inch lacy head
-Sweet, floral hoppiness
-Well-balanced maltiness

Chicken Run:
-The Great Escape as performed by clay chickens
-Sharp, British humor
-Mel Gibson plays a douchey American. Shocker.

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New Belgium’s Dig & Fantastic Mr. Fox

Hey there, Drinkers!

I’m having just a fantastic night here with Wes Anderson’s 2009 stop-motion film Fantastic Mr. Fox and New Belgium’s Dig spring seasonal. Though it’s more summer than spring now, I found that both of these lovely escapades were perfect for the warm weather and for the start of a great summer. Let’s get digging.

While many casual viewers may not know Wes Anderson, they almost assuredly know his style. With only a handful of films under his belt, Wes Anderson has built one of the most distinguishable visual and narrative styles in modern, commercial filmmaking. Known best for his 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson is known for his quirky dialogue, hyper-formal visual style and vintage sense of fashion and music. All of his films deal with the anxieties of youth or coming to terms with one’s age in a way that is both hilarious and deeply saddening. Moreover, Wes Anderson likes to constantly remind his audience that they are indeed watching a film. His films almost always begin with a book and many of his sequences are titled. To be honest though, his style is difficult to put in words but is immediately recognizable in every frame in each of his films. The difference with Fantastic Mr. Fox? It’s all stop-motion.

So stylish

Briefly put, stop-motion animation is a series of still photographs with minor changes between each frame. These series of photographs are then sped up to 24 frames-per-second to mimic motion. Remember those flip books you made as kid? Fantastic Mr. Fox is basically a more complicated, expensive and time-consuming version of that. But let’s dig into the substance of this film, shall we? This Roald Dahl adaptation tells the story of a smooth-talking fox who provokes three nasty farmers into a fantastical war that unites the animals of the countryside. Setting aside my personal appreciation for Wes Anderson’s films, I really love this movie.  For the entire 87 minutes, I had a huge grin on my face and, at times, I couldn’t help but bust out laughing altogether. The film is whip-smart in its comedy, heartwarmingly quirky in its drama and simply gorgeous to watch. Every last detail has been accounted for. From tiny name tags to the rustling of Mr. Fox’s hair in the breeze, everything is fully, and lovingly, realized. And while the film has a few odd diversions, including a weird banjo-dancing montage, every frame just puts a smile on your face. And it wouldn’t be a Wes Anderson movie without a stellar cast. The voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and an amazing Willem Dafoe give life to just a few of the many distinct characters that make this film such a pleasure to watch. There are too many tiny details and one-line zingers for me to discuss here but I have to say that this is one of those movies that makes you think “this is why I go to the movies.”

And I’m not sorry for the repetitive hyperbole. This film’s a cussin’ good time.

And since Fantastic Mr. Fox features a significant amount of digging, it seemed only appropriate to try out New Belgium’s Dig spring pale ale. This clear, orange colored ale is what many beer-drinkers like to call a “session” beer. A session beer is, in short, a beer you don’t mind having a few of in a row without running the risk of getting sloshed. This 5.6% ABV pale ale is light, refreshing and has mild hints of pine and sweet fruits/citrus. While those with more defined palates will be able to distinguish the types citrus, I’ll just say that I got some nice fruits in there. Anyway, this is a great easy-drinking beer. It’s fairly light, quite flavorful and should have a broad appeal to drinkers everywhere. And while this beer is probably leaving liquor store shelves now to make room for more summery beers, I’d recommend grabbing that last case and firing up the grill.

Don’t drink too much.

Though I hate people who say this, I’m going to say it anyway: I’m really digging tonight’s combination. The beer was light, refreshing and pretty delicious while the movie was pure fun. Some people may be off-put by Wes Anderson’s quirky writing and his very noticeable visual style, but Fantastic Mr. Fox is such a simple pleasure to behold that one would be hard-pressed to not have a good time. Seriously. If you haven’t picked up on how I feel about this movie, go watch it. Now. Then comment below and tell me how right I was. And enjoy a beer while you’re at it.

Keep drinking, my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

New Belgium’s Dig:
Pours a nice, clear orange color
-Hints of piney hops & citrus
-Easy to drink two or three of these

Fantastic Mr. Fox:
-A real smile-bringer
-Unmistakably Wes Anderson in style & tone
-Willem Dafoe plays a crazy rat. Fantastic

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