Showing posts from June, 2013

The Big Hit (1998)

Zounds! Were late 90's movies really this bad? It could easily have been filmed in the 80's as far as I can tell, if it weren't for the fact that Marky Mark would still have been with The Funky Bunch. I mean, I just do NOT understand this movie's timeframe. It was released the year after Boogie Nights and the year before Three Kings, yet the hair, clothes, special effects, acting, and pretty much everything else just screams 80's movie. At one point, there is a scene in a video store. A VIDEO STORE; WHERE THEY RENT VIDEOTAPES.

The movie is one of those action-comedy movies where they don't take the action seriously, but the comedy isn't good enough to stand on its own. The problem is that most of this movie isn't capable of standing up on its own. Really, the only thing that stands alone in this movie is Mark Wahlberg's hair, and it is almost scary to look at.
It becomes evident when you see the acting prowess demonstrated by Mark, Lou Diamond Phill…

Innis and Gunn Original


When I tried my first Innis and Gunn beer - which happened to be an Original like the one presented here, I was a bit harsh on them. The beer I had was old, and I was reluctant to give them a review at all, but I took particular offense at their decision to use clear bottles - which increases the likelihood of skunking the beer.

Well, one of the ways I get my articles out there is to send them to my Twitter account. If the manufacturer has an easily found twitter handle, I'll include them in the post. Well, my Tweet was:

Drinking #beer is not always a pleasure. @InnisAndGunn have befouled my mouth with a terrible brew.

They responded about being sorry that I didn't have the optimal experience with my beer, and they wanted to furnish me with a fresh one. I told them I would try the beer again. So, this is a beer I didn't pay for, as furnished to me by the manufacturer. I want to be up front about that. It will not change my opinion (consciously) and I will be as hon…

Magic Hat Elderberry Weiss

Magic Hat. Why do you do these things to me? What's wrong with making a triple? What about maybe a bock? How about a strong APA? A stout? If only there were someone at the Magic Hat brewery who liked beer in its many forms rather than fruit juice and marigolds. Okay, let's get this over with. I swear, this is the last Magic Hat beer I even try. Well, it will probably be. Honestly, who knows what the future holds? I'll probably wind up trying another, but I can't say I'm looking forward to it.

The head is thin, goes away very quickly. Almost nothing is left on the top of the beer. It's like a female character on Game of Thrones; naked and out there - kind of beautiful. A very, very thin ring of bubbles clings to the sides, but there certainly won't be any remnants left on the sides. It's a hazy light copper. The aroma smells faintly of... elderberries. Maybe this is why the knight's father in Monty Python and the Holy Grail smelled of elderberries. M…

Welcome to the Punch (2013)

I wan't sure what to expect with this. It had 50 out or 100 at Rotten Tomatoes, so it will probably suck. But who knows, I mean, it starts with a heist. A heist! And then they introduce The Governor from The Walking Dead as a police chief or commissioner or somesuch for a police department or Interpol or something. So, this thing's got legs.

The running is done by that kid from Wanted who I had never seen before and haven't seen since. You know the kid - the one that you at first think might be Shia LaBeouf, but then he doesn't pronounce stuff the same way. It's like he's British or something and he's trying to do an American accent, but it's not working too well. It turns out, he's from Glasgow, so that would explain it quite a bit, wouldn't it? Anyway, he plays a cop who doesn't play by the rules. We're breaking new ground here.

His main target is Mark Strong playing the care-free rogue who has to go save his son when he gets in trouble…

Snitch (2013)

So, all the posters that I've seen have a big picture of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson looking frazzled. There's not a lot to go on other than the assurance that, because The Rock is involved, there will be fisticuffs and action out the wazoo. I mean, he's the bald, black, native born version of Arnold, isn't he?

So, they don't mention the other big name they got: John Bernthal. That's right, they got Shane from The Walking Dead. I'm glad to see him getting work, and he does a pretty good job as the two-strike ex-con who reluctantly gets pulled into doing bad things for The Rock. I couldn't get over the feeling that Shane was going to stab him in the back and leave him for the zombies to feed on while Shane made his escape, but I kept telling myself that the likelihood of zombies being involved was pretty low. 
Susan Sarandon also lends her supporting acting to this effort. So, I immediately ask myself is she is pulling a Michael Cain and doing sma…

Mama (2013)

This is a film by Executive Producer Guillermo del Toro. Really, that was the main reason I decided to watch this film in the first place. I am not sure I would say that I liked his other films, but I like his art direction quite a bit. Much like Sin City was not a great film, but it looked fantastic, I find del Toro's films to be intriguing in their interpretations.

This sucker stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the duel role as the brothers who are father and uncle to the two little girls who are central to the plot. If there was an actor who would benefit from a stage name, it's someone named Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. But, he's made a name for himself as the Kingslayer in Game of Thrones, so I suspect he's decided to stick with this difficult to remember and difficult to pronounce name.

The movie is about these two little girls who are taken to a remote cabin in the woods by their father who had already killed some people (including their mother) and was planning on killin…

The Invisible War (2012)

Let's start off with a disclaimer: rape is bad. I'm against rape and in favor of the vigorous prosecution of any of those who commit this indefensible act. Furthermore, I am appalled by the military's attitude toward this crime and veterans in general. Additionally, I believe that women are a vital part of our fighting forces and deserve as much respect and opportunities as men.

If at any point you are confusing my critique of the purpose of the movie and the execution of the movie, please refer to the first paragraph. My review is only on the execution of this documentary - not the subject matter. The subject matter requires attention to nuance that my past experience has indicated people tend to ignore. Instead, they pull things out of context or misread them so that my stated opinion fits their own assumptions of what I must believe.

This movie centers around the horrible acts of rape committed by military personnel on other military people. All of the people profiled w…

The Company You Keep (2012)

I will admit it: I thought the 76-year-old Robert Redford was dead. He looks like he's on death's door, so I would think you could cut me a little slack for that. I'll tell you who isn't dead: Shia LaBeouf, much to my chagrin.

Also showing up in this film are Julie Christie, Sam Elliott, Brendan Gleeson, and Susan Sarandon. So, the cast is a mix of some good and some bad, but mostly good. Definitely quite a bit of old going on here, and that serves the storyline well. It does not make for much action when a majority of the cast is in danger of breaking a hip at any point.

The story is about a group of people who were militant anti-war protesters who are being hunted down by the FBI now that they are septuagenarians. Added to the mix is the intrepid reporter who is trying to find out the truth because... yeah, journalism actually still exists, but it's only in movies now.

Through a complicated series of circumstances, we follow Robert Redford as he strives to clear …

Killer Joe (2011)

I wonder how many roles Thomas Haden Church has had where he plays a white trash redneck. I seem to recall him in a similar role many, many times. Well, he plays the role often because he plays it well. It's not like the stink of playing The Sandman in that God-awful Spider-Man 3 movie follows him wherever he goes.

Enter Matthew McConaughey. He arrives into this struggling family's lives as the title character. He's a cop and a killer (not a cop killer, but it's possible he actually did kill a cop, we just know nothing about it. I mean, we get some back story, but it's not like we have his whole life story). This is a very different role than I'm used to seeing shirtless Matt in, and he actually pulls it off well.

The son of the family comes up with the idea of killing the estranged mother for the insurance money. As her beneficiary is the ditsy daughter, the family (complete with immodest stepmother) could pay the hitman (Matt) with the spoils when it's pa…

Ninkasi Spring Reign Ale

This is the final beer in the Ninkasi four pack. I saved it for the last, as I have a fairly well-known fondness for ales, and I thought this might be the best of them. The only thing that makes me hesitant at this point is the fact that it's a spring ale, so it's going to have flowers tossed in for no good reason.

The head is VERY thin, and dissipates quickly. The ring is left around the sides of the glass by some lingering bubbles, though. The color is a slightly cloudy coppery color. The aroma is all ale - hops and hops. There is a noteworthy amount of sediment at the bottom of this beer that would imply a certain amount of bottle conditioning was at play. I like a bottle conditioned beer, as they usually taste a lot more fresh than their clear and thin counterparts.

Even over there on my table next to my chair, I can smell the hops, and it's music to my nose. I'm heading in for a sip - wish me luck. Yup, those are hops. The trick to a good mix is to cut the hops wit…

Ninkasi Oatis Oatmeal Stout

The third in my experience from Eugene, Oregon. Not coincidentally, this is also my third Ninkasi beer. If you want to know the origin of the name, look at my Total Domination review.

The pour is a black abyss of goodness. The foam is a nice, thick, and dark coat on top of that sticky blackness. It slowly goes away until it is a thin layer of demarcation between the beer and the harsh world outside. The aroma is a heavy malt and sweet chocolate with oat goodness. As you may be able to tell, I'm really looking forward to this. While I type, that delightful aroma is wafting its way over to me from the table beside my chair. 
First sip is quite bitter. It's got a bit of a bite at the beginning, has a bitter chocolate center, and then it trails off with that familiar oatmeal stout malt twinge. Sipping a stout, though, is like watching Iron Man up to the point that he puts on the suit and then leaving the theater. So, it's time to drink like a proper Irishman. 
It's better p…

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

Another beverage from my brother in Eugene, OR. So, Ninkasi is an ancient Sumarian goddess of fermentation. I would question how many natives of Eugene are originally from Sumaria, but I'm pretty sure that would be missing the point. Actually, it's not clear what the point is, but I have four of these big bottles to tear through, and I want to enjoy them as much as I can. Fortunately, I've already had one of the Ninkasi beers, and it was pretty good.

It's another cloudy beer with a dark straw color and a sharp hop aroma. And this sucker is sharp. I can almost taste the bitterness on my tongue just from taking a sniff. The head is generally thin and dissipates rapidly leaving a thin veneer of bubbles that grips the sides and steeples as you drink. The aroma is a good one, and it reaches my nose from the table beside my chair with a beckoning I cannot ignore. 
First sip, then. A bit of citrus followed by a kind of mahogany caramel. Then, the malt gives way to the hops, a…

Ninkasi Babylon Double IPA

This was a gift from my brother. It hails from Eugene, Oregon. I'll admit to never having heard of Ninkasi before, but that's not really something to be ashamed of. I bet there are a few thousand little breweries that I've never heard of, and I want to learn all their names and sample all of their beers.

It's cloudy, and it develops a nice, thick head that takes a bit to go away. It grips the sides well, and a ring remains to impress the whole way down. The aroma is delightfully hoppy, but it's not overwhelming. I anticipate that the taste won't be anywhere near something like Heady-Topper levels of hops, though. It's hoppy, but it's mild in its aroma. I'm thinking that some malt is in there to cover it, but I'm only really getting the hops and a bit of a floral smell. The color is just kind of a pale copper.

First sip bodes well. The hops are good, but they are restrained by a citrus taste and a sweetness that is coming from somewhere - probably…

Magic Hat Blind Faith IPA

Okay, I gave Blue Moon a hard time for the lengthy name of their beers. This one is similarly significant. Based solely on the label, it appears to be Magic Hat Brewing Company's IPA On Tour Ale of Enlightenment Limited Engagement Blind Faith. That mouthful definitely rivals Blue Moon's nomenclature.

The beer pours a cloudy copper with a good head. The head reduced to a ring, but it grips the sides of the glass with the fury of a fat guy clutching at a plate of wings. The aroma has a lot of hops with a bit of malt and maybe soured lemon?

First sip - I think you need to have blind faith to jump into this one. The sip was not great. It's got an odd taste to it; whatever it is that gives it that soured lemon (no, not tart, but like the lemon is off) smell is doing something to the taste. There's an added kind of metallic taste as if the beer was from a can, and then there is like gardenia or something unsettling. I used to think I liked Magic Hat beers.

I'm going to de…

K-11 (2012)

Picture the Shawshank Redemption without all the writing, acting, directing, editing, or filming. I only found out after watching this movie that it was Kristin Stewart's mother's directorial debut. I also found out that one of the characters - a mohawk-sporting guy named Sledgehammer - is Kristin's older brother in his first ever role. His role is inconsequential, so he'll probably be able to salvage a career after this crapfest.

The main role that we're following is the hapless Goran Visnjic (you may remember him as Luka from ER) as he comes around from a drug binge in the K-11 section of a prison (I'm sure they said what prison, but it doesn't really matter). This section is exclusively transsexuals and homosexuals. Not just homosexuals, mind you, these are predatory homosexuals. In fact, so are the transsexuals. I'd say 90% of all the people on this floor (including guards) are entirely predatory in almost everything they do.

Our hero has to deal wi…

Cammo's Well-Made Tripel

Cammo is an awesome dude. He takes forever to come out with a beverage, but he pours his heart into it. Not literally, mind you. Really, not particularly figuratively. I mean, if his heart was in it, he would come out with a beer more frequently. I guess that's what the definition of a hobby is - something you do in your spare time, and I am lucky he likes this hobby. This one is a Tripel. It is supposed to be one of the strongest types of ale, and I have confidence that Cammo adhered to the archetype closely.

It isn't as carbonated as the previous Cammo beverages. I mean, I think I almost got killed when I took the tethered cap off of the Watermelon Brew. The head is thick straight from the pour, but it dissipates very quickly. It doesn't leave much more than the ring around the edge for the rest of the drinking. It's a cloudy light iced tea color. The aroma is interesting. I'd say it was malt that was giving it a sweet, floral aroma. Didn't smell like the hop…

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

This is an Indonesian action movie and - contrary to what you might expect from the title - is not a sequel to anything as far as I can tell. In my younger days, I studied a tiny bit of Penjac Silat (or Pencak Silat) and it is represented here in a very fluid manner. I remember thinking that the art was a bit too structured and robotic to be used for realistic defense, but I think that the instructor was just too regimented in its implementation. The moves have more flourish (as you would expect in a movie) and the stances are considerably more open than I was taught.

So, you may have guessed that this is a martial arts film. The premise is that a small group of police enter an apartment complex, and they find themselves needing to fight their way out after the raid fails. The main cop is pretty darn skilled, and he wades through these thugs like Batman. Well, not quite as quickly as Batman, but pretty quick.
The whole premise puts me in mind of the recent re-imagining of Judge Dredd.…

Maniac (2012)

He's a maniac, maniac on the floor.

This is a remake, and I never saw the original. This one stars Frodo as a serial killer, and I assume the previous one either had Bilbo or Sam. Either way, Frodo clearly has mommy issues and that's a darn good excuse to start killing women. It will also get in the way of actual relationships.

The movie is shot from a first person perspective. It gives the movie a very different feel, but it also makes some of the scenes more awkward and difficult to follow. The camera tricks and special effects department was working overtime to try and get the angles right, reflections right, and have the audience seamlessly move from once scene to the next with the belief that they were actually looking through the eyes of the killer. Unfortunately, the special effects weren't 100%, and they couldn't do much for the rest of the movie.

If I could sum this movie up in a word, that word would be: boring. The problem is that we get inside the mind of …

Samuel Adams White Christmas Ale

I do not know from whence this came. Rather, from when. I know my brother bought it and brought it to mom's house, but she doesn't remember when, and I can only assume it was about six months ago. I look at the convenient notch on the side, and it is best enjoyed by April; a month and a bit ago. 
So, it is clearly unfair to do a proper review of this limited edition ale. I can do a review from the hip, but I'm not going to give it an overall rating. Unlike Phineas and Ferb (or whatever they were called) Sam went through the amazingly minor effort of notifying me on the bottle that there was a date at which I would not enjoy this as much as I should. In addition, Sam put their beverage in a brown bottle to try to protect it. 
It has an oddly malty aroma - nothing skunky about it. I don't have a good glass to pour into, so lets just agree that it looks pretty in a glass. I mean, I'm sure it does. Beer usually does - even the crappy ones like HiCu (wow, that one was …

Last Passenger (2013)

So, there are six people trapped on a moving train plus a mysterious driver. The driver is hell-bent on keeping the train going in what we can only assume (at least for most of the movie) is a suicide attempt. One Russian guy, an old woman, an uppity businessman, and a hot chick who forms a relationship with our hero, a doctor with his son.

The people (other than the Russian) are supposed to be British. Honestly, this movie would have been half as long if there had been an American. Maybe HE would have remembered some basic physics and put an end to this quickly. I mean, they had a train full of stuff to pick from, and they decided the best course of action was to use the big metal pole to try and stab at the window of the driver compartment.

Did they try to disconnect the engine and fail? No.
Did they try to get the engine on the other end of the train to start counter-pulling the other direction? No.
Did they try to use the pole as a lever to open the door? No.
Did they even get an …

Magic Hat HiCu (Hibiscus Cucumber) Ale

What was I thinking? I picked up the Magic Hat sampler, and I didn't even bother looking to see what beers were in it. I had enjoyed Magic Hat #9 on so many occasions, that I figured they had enough talent that I should give all the beers they packed a shot. Heck, I toured the brewery in Vermont with my brother-in-law, and we tried every one they had at the time. Few beers taste bad while you're at the brewery.

Well, this label is so hard to read that I probably wouldn't have been able to discern it in the limited time I dedicated to the purpose of picking up some beer. Adding cucumber to a beer sounds too off the wall to be any good, but Cammo's Watermelon Brew demonstrated that an odd ingredient can be added to the positive effect on the beverage. However, the Pistil Dandelion Ale from this same brewer (Magic Hat) was a severe disappointment. 
The beverage has a haze similar to the Pistil ale. The head is thin, but it sticks around and steeples down the glass as it is…

Here Comes the Boom (2012)

Kevin James is kind of hit and miss. He's usually pretty good as kind of a supporting character like in Hitch, but sometimes he falls flat like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Of course, that just might boil down to the writing more than anything, but I assume they get a comedian to try to help out the script with his own comic tweaks.

It was good to see Henry Winkler in a supporting role. The only things I can remember him being in lately were bit roles in Scream and Click. He gets a more substantial role here as the music teacher in danger of losing his job as a result of budget cuts. Kevin is a teacher in the school who decides that something must be done to protect the liberal arts, so he starts an MMA career to try to win enough money to keep the music program alive.

Salma Hayek is the unrealistically attractive woman who works at the school as a nurse and eventually gives into the charm of the lovable, goofy biology teacher who used to love teaching, then got bored with…