Tag Archives: Willem Dafoe

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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Guinness Stout & The Boondock Saints

Hello Drinkers,

Tonight we’re spending quality time with three things I love: beer, movies and Boston. I’m from Boston and I always love seeing the city on the big screen, even if its depictions are a bit blood soaked. And since we watched an Irish movie with our last Irish beer (Smithwich’s Irish Ale), I figured this time around we’ll stick closer to home. That’s why tonight’s combo is the ever popular Guinness Stout and the 1999 film The Boondock Saints. I’m not talking about the recent remake that looked like crap, so don’t even ask even about it.

First and foremost, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word “fuck” or one of its derivatives so many times in under two hours. According to IMDb, its used precisely 246 times. So if bad language isn’t your cup of tea (or pint of Guinness, as it were) then I suggest you find another movie. Oh and lots of people die, so that’s something else to consider. But in all seriousness, this movie is pretty solid. The story isn’t complex and doesn’t try to be, but the characters are strong, likeable and driven by a higher moral cause: bad people should die. But really the star of this movie isn’t either of the Boondock Saints, it’s Willem Dafoe’s FBI Agent Paul Smecker. Smecker, (or Dafoe, they seem interchangeable really), is a gay-hating gay who listens to classic music while puzzling out crime scenes. He is erratic, morally-confused and totally awesome. Yes he comes off a wee bit crazy, but he absolutely commands every scene he is in and makes the film 100% stronger because of it.

Because sometimes you gotta be a lady to do a man's job.

In all honesty, what hasn’t been said about Guinness Stout? Everyone knows it, most everyone drinks it and I’d imagine that anyone whose tried it has enjoyed it on at least some level. Guinness makes stouts accessible to everyday drinkers. Stouts, which are very dark, almost chocolately beers, can be very heavy, complex and difficult to drink for casual drinkers. If I ever have a stout, I typically struggle to have a whole pint because they can be so intense. But a Guinness Stout is very simple and smooth while retaining that class chocolate flavor and thick, rich body. For those who want to experiment with darker beers, there is no shame in starting out with Guinness as a gateway beer (and I mean that in the best of ways).

So all in all, tonight was all about sitting, relaxing and not thinking too hard. The beer, and the movie, are both very good and entertaining without making you work too hard. While The Boondock Saints may be a bit on the bloody side, and Guinness may be on the dark side, neither is putting on airs or trying too hard. Rather, they simply want you to enjoy yourself.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Guinness Stout:
Deep, rich color.
Smooth, chocolate flavor.
Simple, for a stout.

The Boondock Saints:
Irishmen love their F-bombs.
Boston is a bloody place.
Willem Dafoe is, in fact, crazy.

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