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?’
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.
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.
Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Macleod’s The King’s Taxes:
-Great roasted, malty flavor
-Warms really well
-Fun, quippy performances
-Visually inconsistent & oddly paced
-Talented and deep cast