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Showing posts from July, 2014

Samuel Adams Belgian Session

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Sam puts together a lot of different beers. So far, they have been pretty good on average. and I'm looking forward to another winner. Those guys are currently one of my favorite breweries, and they are certainly trying really hard with all those different varieties. Belgian ales can be really good, and I expect this one to be good, too.

It's only slightly hazy, and it's a nice, rich gold color. The head isn't much to begin with, and it dissipates very quickly. It leaves a very thin veneer of foam across the top with a ring gripping the walls of the glass. The aroma is spices, citrus, and that Belgian yeast. If there are hops in there, they are hidden under a blanket of spices. I've smelled these spices before, too, but I can't quite place the beverage. It was definitely a Sam Adams beer, but I can't pick out which one.

First sip, and this isn't going to be my favorite beer ever. The spices overwhelm pretty much everything in the beer, and spices really …

Need for Speed (2014)

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Who is the target audience for this movie? It's got to be like 10-year-old boys or something. Here's the thing: I like cars. I like sports cars. I like supercars. I like hypercars. I even like the video game this movie was based on. The problem with liking cars is that I probably know too much about them for this movie to work. I also have a basic understanding of physics.

Movies need to fake stuff in order to heighten tension - I get that. When three identical cars are racing down the same road, and two of them come to a complete stop while the other continues relatively all-out, It seems discontinuous to have the two cars that came to complete stops within a car length 5 seconds after starting back up again.

This movie also suffers from the same issue that the 2007 movie Redline had. See, both movies have races with a bunch of different cars that all seem to perform nearly identically. In this movie we have: 1) A Bugatti Veyron Super Sport - one of my all-time favorite cars,…

Van Steenberge Gulden Draak Ale

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This is a Belgian ale. How do I know? Product of Belgium is written on the front of the label. Speaking of labels, HOLY CRAP! 10.5% ABV? Wow. That's actually pretty impressive. I'm not sure why they decided to coat the bottle in plastic, though. Guinness did it because the nitrogen can leak through the glass, but this is pretty clearly carbonation.

It's very dark for an ale. It's fairly opaque with a brown-maroon tinge. I'm not pulling out the color fan to tell you the exact color, so you'll have to deal with brown-maroon. The head dissipates very quickly, but there's a good quarter of an inch of head that remains on the top, creating a pillow of deliciousness across the beer. The aroma is strong and interesting with its raisins. black licorice, sweet malt, and light hops. I'm thirsty.

First sip is... not like a beer. It's not like any ale I'm used to, and I'm not sure that's a good thing right now, as there is heavy alcohol just kind of…

Samuel Adams Summer Ale

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Sam puts out more beers, I think, than anyone else. Those guys love their beer, and they produce so many damn beers that it's hard to keep up with them. But I usually like their beers, so I'll try to keep up as best I can.

The head disappears like summer love - with nothing left behind but a memory and the impression of something lost. The thin skim of foam left on the top is simply a reminder of what was. The beer presents as a warm straw color with a definite haze. It smells of lemons and light biscuits. I've been looking forward to a beer all day, and the time has come - it better be good.

I have my first sip, and I have to say that it's not a great one. It's watery and the malt is so heavy and the floral notes are so strong that it sets the whole beer up for failure. the floral notes hit in the nose before the mouth even gets a chance to fight it, not that it tries to fight it all that hard. I'm going for a swig.

Tip-in is that distinct floral note mixed wi…

Samuel Adams Porch Rocker

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Sam. Sam makes beer, and I drink it. It's like the perfect combination. I still cannot get over the staggering number of beers that Sam puts out during any given year, and this is just the latest. Sam's average beer is very good, and the exceptional beers are fan-freaking-tastic. Let's all hope that this is in the latter category.
The aroma is lemon and sweet malt. The head goes away so completely that the beer (with its clear orange-tinted gold color) could be mistaken for apple juice were it not for the overpowering aroma of lemon. It's like they decided that the people sitting on the porch should be drinking lemonade, and they were going to make some lemonade for those people to drink, even if it had to be made out of beer. 
A sip is a very light lager. It definitely tastes of beer, with a grainy malt that isn't all that bad, but it's kind of bland when put up against the lemon that permeates the beer. While I'm not on a porch rocker right now, I could …

Erased (2012)

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This movie was called "The Expatriate" outside the US, and that is a MUCH better name for the movie. Erased really reminds me of the Schwarzenegger movie Eraser that has absolutely nothing to do with this movie and was not similar in any way. This is more thriller than mystery, as the real mystery is why this story exists at all, and I'll have more on that later in this review.

Aaron Eckhart plays an ex-CIA agent who specializes in everything you expect CIA agents to specialize in. He seems to specialize in so many different things that he has really specialized in being a generalist. He knows about cameras, dead drops, fighting, shooting, stabbing, intelligence, breaking through pressure locks, biometric locks, stealing cars, different languages, etc. All told, he has a particular set of skills. Skills that make him a nightmare for people like the bad guys in this movie. Through the whole thing, I couldn't help but think that Liam Neeson could just as well have been …

Mr. Jones (2013)

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This movie unsuccessfully tries to marry the found footage style movies with a more traditional horror. They trade off actual scares for things you can't really see and aren't really afraid of. The general concept is... complete crap.

Jon Foster plays just some guy who managed to make enough money to decide that he wasn't going to do anything useful this side of making a wildlife documentary. He has no crew, no plan, a couple of okay cameras, no real understanding of wildlife, no timeline, no funding, and is generally unprepared for life. He is, however, a moderate hipster left-wing refuser of technology that he has grown dependent on, so he's got that going for him.

Sarah Jones plays Jon's hippie wife. You may (although you probably don't) remember her from the short-lived TV series Alcatraz where criminals who were held in the prison were coming back from the dead. Well, that may suck as a story, but it was better than the one here. Sarah never gets completel…

Tim's Vermeer (2013)

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This was produced by Penn Jillette and directed by his partner in magic Teller.  It is a movie about a guy painting a single painting. Seriously, a guy (who is an inventor, not a painter) who decided to paint a painting because the style of the painting enthralled him.

Tim Jenison is the guy who decided to paint a Vermeer, and he says that the reason the paintings of Vermeer were interesting to him is the fact that they appear to be lit like a photograph - subtleties of light and color in connection with details and some odd blurring combine to make Vermeer's art very different from everything that came before it. Additionally, there are no sketch lines that you would normally find on a canvas behind the paint. It was as if Vermeer just walked up to the painting and started to trace what was already there.

So, Tim goes through the process of trying to figure out how exactly it was done. He experiments with a different way that lenses and mirrors could be used to project an image a…

Odd Thomas (2013)

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This movie has a visual style that reminds me very much of the two-season-long TV show, Pushing Daisies. The story itself is about a guy who can get information from the dead and also see bad things coming. He lives in a small town, so not a WHOLE lot happens that he has to worry about, but he does enough that he has a good relationship with the local sheriff.

Anton Yelchin plays the title character whose first name is actually Odd, and he finds himself juggling his strange abilities and the responsibility that comes with them and his relationship with his girlfriend. The last time I saw Anton, he was playing Chekov in the remake of Star Trek, and he was good in it, even if he wasn't completely understandable with that accent. In this movie, he does a good job of making his character relatable and sympathetic. The nature of the story kind of makes him and his hijinks unrealistic, but he still makes him down to Earth enough to make you pull for him.

One of the most significant ways…

Not Safe for Work (2014)

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I'm not even sure what made me watch this movie. I wasn't that huge of a fan of The Purge, and I thought they ran the Paranormal Activity franchise into the cold, cold ground. So, the fact that this movie came from the same producer really isn't much of a draw. But the movie surprised me about as much as the Uwe Boll movie Assault on Wall Street.

This all takes place in a lawyers' office. I've never seen a lawyers' office that looked like a bunch of little cubes next to each other and a few big offices around the windows. The little cubes are populated with paralegals such as Max Minghella, who tries to impress his bosses by thinking outside the box on a case he isn't assigned to. His actions result in him being let go at the end of the day.

JJ Feild is a bad man, and his look and acting mannerisms remind me of Tom Hiddleston. JJ's job is to do bad things in what is supposed to be a deserted office, but he encounters a few setbacks in the form of people …

In the Blood (2014)

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It's a movie about love, disrespect, revenge, anger, violence, peace, travel, clothing, guns, knives, police, criminals, bras, concertina wire, hospitals, cheap cars, trucks, Hispanic children, threats, sex, investigations, zip lines, terrorist threats, punching, kicking, choke holds, bruises, scrapes, dresses, dancing, security cameras, bad shooting, expert shooting, hostages, kisses, and Spanish.

Gina Carano is a genuine MMA fighter whose style is Muay Thai, which isn't odd to see Tony Ja doing in one of his (usually terrible) movies about a guy who comes from a small town and ultimately beats the crap out of everyone who is living uncleanly in the big city. Gina is a pretty enough woman, and she certainly holds her own in the action scenes, but the camera doesn't catch enough of it, and the editing confuses things needlessly. Her acting is wooden, but you can't fault her too much for that - her character is a confused, abused stoic, and that would be hard for a very …

Old Fort Liquor and Wine

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After opening up my most recent purchase from this establishment, I decided to go ahead and write a review of it. The place is located on Cason Lane in Murfreesboro, TN just off Old Fort Parkway (highway 96). The building is separated into the side that serves pretty much just beer and the side that serves mostly liquor and wine.

The image to the left (courtesy of their web site) shows the delineation but not the dispersal. Only the door on the furthest left is for beer. Most of the building is dedicated to hard liquor and wine. As I really only like beer, I was only interested in a small portion of their place.

The fact is, the beer on the shelves are safe enough, and buying a Bud or Coors Light is a damn fresh beer. However, I tend to buy from the build-your-own-six-pack from the cooler. I averaged about 50% skunked beer from there. It seems like they leave beer out for a while, and then they put it in that section when it doesn't sell. I have, decided for all future beer purcha…

13 Sins (2013)

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This is one of those movies where you wonder what the real motivation of someone is as soon as the movie starts. Mark Webber plays a guy who gets a phone call that enrolls him in a game where he must perform 13 actions, with increasing payout for each action. If he stops, he loses everything. He's got debt, and he's looking to get married, so money is the initial motivation. Not being a gambler, I don't agree with many of his choices.

Mark is mystified most of the time and running ragged the rest of the time. He reminds me of Shia LaBeouf in Transformers - always running around without any concept of the big picture and a seemingly endless amount of luck. He blindly does things that would give the average man pause, and (as you might expect) each task is more difficult and dangerous than the last.

Rutina Wesley, Tara from True Blood, is the bride to be, and she doesn't seem to have as good of a grasp of what is motivating Mark as you would think a betrothed woman would …

I Declare War (2012)

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This movie is about a group of kids playing war in the woods. Some of them take it more seriously than others, and at points it gets out of hand. What's interesting is that the director decided to delve into the imagination of the kids involved by having scenes where the sticks and water balloons are replaced with realistic guns and grenades. It raises some questions during the movie when you can't really tell what is real and what isn't.

The story was pretty simple, and parts were pretty clearly lifted from Lord of the Flies. They do a good job of establishing the rules for war right off the bat, so you know that one or more rules are going to get broken along the way. Kids, eh?

Where this movie has its most difficult challenge is finding kids who can deliver performances that are convincing. The problem is that the person in charge of casting was not up to the challenge. Some of the kids do a pretty good job, and others do an absolutely terrible job. As these are kids, I…

Spirit in the Woods (2014)

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There's a point in this movie where it says nothing on screen but, "Real Recording." Well, of course it's a real recording. Even a simulated recording is a real recording. It might not be an unrehearsed recording or an unscripted recording, but if something is being recorded, it is a real recording. This is the kind of completely oblivious editing that comes from this movie. This found footage style movie has breaks in the recordings where they say that something had to be recovered or something, and there are times when it says (as if an error occurred) "Footage Not Found."

If this had been actual found footage, I think I would have preferred that it remain unfound. Imagine a guy turning to another guy and saying, "Hey, why don't we redo The Blair Witch Project, but we will have less of a story, worse camerawork, and (get ready for this) more people!" I assume the response was elation that someone had thought of the original idea of copying s…

The Congress (2013)

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WTF did I just watch?

Seriously, WTF was that?

It starts off as a strange fear of a dystopian future by having Robin Wright play a character named Robin Wright who has been in all of Robin Wright's films who is forced to come to terms with the fact that actors will no longer be necessary in the digital future where people will be scanned in and their acting will be entirely CG - like the young Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy.

Robin has to deal with her son's worsening physiological condition and the realization that she will never be able to act again if she doesn't agree to the contract where she agrees to take a lump sum in exchange for the evil movie studio owning the rights to her in all acting and performing endeavors from then on.

Right in the middle of the film, it degenerates into an inexplicable animation of chemical imagination and insanity where reality and fantasy combine to be... someone else's idea of what reality should be. It is dominated by the megacorpor…

The Art of the Steal (2013)

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This is a popcorn movie. It's not really intended for deep thought or even great acting; it's all about simple characters and transparent plots. Action? Well, Kurt Russell isn't a spring chicken anymore, and he's the one who all the others turn to for physical comedy, so I think that any intense action is out. This movie ostensibly tells the tale of two brothers and their journey through crime.

Kurt Russell plays a guy called "Crunch" for no particular reason. He's the group's wheel-man, even though he seems to mostly ride motorcycles. Kurt is not following Stallone or Bruce Willis into the aging action actor genre of guys who are still surprisingly in good shape and capable of pulling off a movie that requires a very fit lead actor. Instead, he has decided to enjoy food and drink while he eases into his later years, and he will take whatever movie role happens along.

Matt Dillon seems to have found a bit of a resurgence in his career lately. He plays…

I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013)

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Don't watch this movie. Don't watch any of the previous movies, either. It's not that they are (strictly speaking) bad movies, but they are really, really intense and emotionally distressing, as there are so many scenes that are so damn hard to watch. I've seen every Saw movie. I have seen more serial killers, dismemberments, torture, and various abuse in movies than I can remember. I'd say that I've become generally desensitized to depictions of violence on the screen.

I saw the original 1978 I Spit on Your Grave many years ago, and I will admit that I only half-watched it while doing something else. It's been so long, I can't remember much of the movie beyond a vague recollection of violence and revenge.

I watched the remake from 2010, and that movie was very difficult to watch. The depiction of rape, castration, and various other very bad things was conceptually distressing and spiritually draining. However, it has been a few years, so the shock wore …

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

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I just... I... I watched this movie, and it was as if it was specifically written to be as relatably disturbing as possible. Having watched as many movies as I've watched over the years, I've seen lots of bad attempts at being creepy or distressing, and I kind of expected this to be the same. But, this is in a whole different league of dark and anxiety-inducing.

I'm not sure that there is a main character in this movie, but if there is, it's Jared Leto. He plays the young guy who is addicted to various substances and is trying to put something together so that he's not always scrounging for money (by doing things like pawning his mother's TV) and he can provide for himself, his mother, and his girlfriend. Jared recently made headlines in Dallas Buyers Club, and I think he may very well have done a better job in this role.

Ellen Burstyn plays Jared's aging and borderline senile mother. While she initially appears to just be a side character, her own story (e…

Bad Words (2013)

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This is a brand new director. This is his first attempt at directing, so I should be kind (unlike when I reviewed The Den - although I don't think I was that hard on him). This guy ticks three of the four check boxes that virtually guarantee a bad movie - he directs, produces, and stars in this movie. The only thing missing is a writing credit.

Here's the thing, though: this is a great movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it pretty much from beginning to end.

Jason plays a grade-school drop out who uses a loop-hole in the enrollment system to enter himself in a spelling bee competition. His motives are shrouded for most of the movie, but his willingness to not hold back and employ unethical methods to win are absolutely hilarious, and I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. Jason did a great job (as usual) with the role, and his acting did not suffer as a result of his increased responsibilities for the movie. The movie is really all about him, though, and everyone else i…

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

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Aliens invade Earth. They attack major cities. It's up to the US Marines to fight them.

No, this is not ID4.

These guys are stationed outside of Los Angeles, so that's where the battle happens. They are engaging creatures they know nothing about, and the aliens seem to be virtually invulnerable to the M16 rifles that the Marines have... until they find an almost lifeless alien body and figure out where to hit them. From then on, seemingly every shot takes one down. Even the best marksman are going to miss every now and then in the middle of battle, but not these guys.

Our hero, Aaron Eckhart, is a marine with a past that is not well understood by his comrades. As a result, command has a lot of faith in him, and his peers have a misplaced fear and dislike of him. His job in this role is to be freindly enough to like and disciplined enough for you to take him seriously as a soldier and hero. I think he does a good enough job, and that is, unfortunately, what Aaron usually does; g…

Patrick (2013)

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A new nurse starts working in a crappy old, dilapidated hospital of people with traumatic brain injuries who are completely unresponsive. In fact, that is the requirement for being admitted - no response to external stimuli. There is a scary head nurse and a creepy doctor who is doing something in the basement that he doesn't want anyone to know about. So, it's a setup for a scary movie.

Sharni Vinson is the young, fresh face of nursing. When we first meet her, it's at the interview for the job, and she impresses the doctor enough that he decides to hire her on the spot. We are supposed to be sympathetic to her, but she makes some odd decisions (like coming here in the first place) and it's kind of hard to agree with a lot of them. She is pretty (in a general Australian kind of way) so you can still generate some sympathy.

Rachel Griffiths plays the scary, uptight head nurse who is very strict and appears to move in complete silence. She is stern and has a colored past…

3 Days to kill (2014)

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This movie was directed by a guy named "McG." I don't remember it having any kind of tie-in with McDonald's when it came out, but it seems like his movie should be ripe for one. I actually just watched an episode of Supernatural where I saw his name pop up, and I remembered it. If he had gone with his real name of Joseph McGinty Nichol, I would probably have not remembered it, so I guess building a recognizable personal brand has paid off in some respect for McG.

Luc Besson wrote this movie and co-produced it, so that automatically gives me some hope with action scenes. He was elbow-deep in the Transporter series, and they were heavy on action and kind of weak on story. They did a good job of developing some of the characters, though, so I still have pretty high hopes.

Kevin Costner hit a high in his career after Field of Dreams and Dances with Wolves, but then he did Waterworld and The Postman, and he has kind of struggled to find a voice in his career. I very much …

Walk of Shame (2014)

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They call this a comedy, but I'm not sure I actually laughed at any point. Still, it seemed entertaining enough for most of the movie. It IS a comedy, so expect unrealistic situations and reactions and ignoring easy solutions in favor of allowing the crisis to be prolonged at all times.

I like Elizabeth Banks. She's not exactly a household name, but she is well known and respected enough that she should be able to get her hands on a better script. She plays a local LA news anchor who is being courted by a national news network. When she doesn't get the position, she decides to drop her good girl reputation for a wild night with her girlfriends, and if things went well we wouldn't have a movie, would we?

You can kind of think of this movie as a female version of one of the Bachelor Party movies. Gillian Jacobs and Sarah Wright are the friends who take her out to get plastered, and they are so drunk themselves that they lose track of her and have to go back out to try to…

Authors Anonymous (2014)

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This is a bland romance. It is about a group of writers (I know, shock of shocks - a Hollywood movie about writers!) who all have their own take on writing and meet once a week to give each other encouragement and help writing. It is filmed in the mock documentary style of so many Eugene Levy movies (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, etc.).

This is Kaley Cuoco's desperate attempt to leave her character from Big Bang Theory behind in favor of... hmmm. I guess she left it behind so she could essentially play the same character in this movie. I'm not sure if she is just pulling a Goldie Hawn and embracing the ditsy blonde stereotype for her own fame and fortune or if she actually can't play anything else. I suppose it doesn't matter in the context of this single review. In any event, she plays essentially the same very simple character who trades solely on her good looks and spunk. I'm not saying it's a bad character, but she's not breaking any new ground here.

Chr…

Red Hook Long Hammer IPA

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The last Red Hook fell short. I certainly hope that this one does not, as I wound up buying a six pack, and I want to enjoy every bottle. If all works out well (and I really like IPAs, so I expect that it will) I will be enjoying this beer all weekend.

The beer is slightly cloudy with a golden orange color. Not quite amber - definitely more of an orange gold. I'd say it kind of like wet straw. The head takes a bit to dissipate, and it leave a patchwork of lacing along thew sides. The aroma is considerably more malty than I would have expected. It's bready like fresh biscuits with some lemon garnish.

 First sip is not as great as I had hoped. The bread is there, and there is definitely hops, but there is also a bitterness that isn't justified by the minimal hops. I expect more flavor than side effects in my beer, and this beer is presenting a fairly weak taste with a sip.

Time to drink as beer is meant to be imbibed.

Tip-in is lemon and carbonation. There's a bit of the…