Showing posts from February, 2015

The Judge (2014)

At no point in this movie does Robert Downey Jr don the Iron Man suit and shoot someone. I know, I thought that they might just slip one in, but they didn't. Instead, they concentrate on a very heavy story about the strained relationship between a man and his overbearing father. The levels of hate that Robert spews toward his father (played by Robert Duvall) really makes you wonder why he makes some of his questionable choices. I'll explain.

See, we start off with RDJ being shown as a big time, really expensive lawyer with a marriage (to Sarah Lancaster, the sister from Chuck) that is going down the drain. He has to leave the big city to go back to the small town (that he does not like) where he grew up to attend his mother's funeral. It is here that we meet the family. It includes the family man older brother, the mentally challenged younger brother, and the cantankerous father.

The father, a respected local judge, then gets accused of something pretty terrible. Obviously …

Behind Enemy Lines (2001)

This 14-year-old movie is starting to show its age. The special effects are the first and foremost standout for what really dates this movie (aside from a young, fit Owen Wilson). Some of the smoke effects are worse than I saw in video games that I played at the time. But, this movie isn't about effects - it's about a guy who winds up... Behind Enemy Lines!

The story is an echo of the 1980's action movies. There is no real undercurrent of intrigue or complex web of lies that the audience has to wade through. Instead, it's all about a bad boy fighter jet navigator (think of him as the Goose to Tom Cruise's Maverick) who manages to survive being shot down in airspace that he was never supposed to be in and how he then treks his way back to the freely accessible area of... let's say Eastern Europe for simplicity's sake.

His out-of-the-box thinking allows him to do what other, more disciplined navigators fail to do, and that is to discover horrible genocide in …

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Michael Bay hates me. Possibly not me personally, but people like me who had relatively happy beginnings with Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Saturday morning cartoons. He has already ruined Transformers with the rapidly declining series of movies that isn't even done now, when the franchise doesn't have much room to drop.

TMNT was originally designed to be a parody of other comic books, but they have since (much like the Scream series of movies) become part of the normal landscape that it was originally intended to lampoon. Even more than Scream, TMNT has enjoyed several waves of popularity from which to sell lots and lots of merchandise and seemingly squander what little uniqueness they had in the first place. The turtles shift from personality to personality, one more extreme than the last, to try to cater to all comers. By individualizing their personas so dramatically, the effect is to homogenize the team as a whole, as they just seem like another incarna…

The Skeleton Twins (2014)

This has nothing to do with skeletons. Yes, this brother and sister have matching tattoos with skeletons in them, but it's a passing comment, and we pretty much only see them once. Skeletons are how we see these two: stripped down to their bare essence, and it really seems to work pretty well. I'll admit that I've disliked much of SNL for the last couple decades, and these two SNL alum held little interest before they had that epic interview with the guy who never saw the movie.

I'm glad I saw this. It's not my usual movie of choice, as that tends to be either action or thriller or even horror. This drama - well, maybe dark comedy/drama - is a melancholy affair where two siblings trade turns attempting or seriously contemplating suicide. Then, they trade attempts at cheering each other up. On the face of it, it would be a depressing movie that would probably not be worth watching, but this movie seems to pull it off. The question is: how?

Well, it starts with good a…

Rogue Dead Guy Ale

I had one of these many years ago when I was on my way to see a play. The beer was excessively expensive at the bar where I found myself, but I was celebrating a night out. I was disappointed in the choice, as it did not seem substantially better than any of the other beers they had available, and I never had one again until now. I suspect my appreciation for the subtleties has grown quite a bit since then.

The color is a deep amber with an orange and brown hue - the center almost looks red. The sticky head bubbles down to a manageable and thin cap with lacing that covers a small portion of the glass, but it's thick where it sits. The aroma is powerful and reeks of hops and malt. I may be fooling myself, but I think I smell oranges in there, too.

First sip is rich and complex. My previous experience was apparently rushed and left me with the wrong impression. This has too much to discern in a tiny sip, but I know I get a lot more malt than I expected from an ale. It's like bit…

Beck's Sapphire

This is a German pilsner (made in America), and that means that I am not likely to find anything outstanding about it. I've had Beck's and Beck's Dark before (before I started this blog) and they both seemed like middle of the road beers at best. This beer, however, claims to differentiate itself by adding sapphire hops in an attempt to make it better. I like a hoppy beer, so let's give this a chance.

It's a clear, golden beer with a minimal head but quite a bit of carbonation coming from the scant points of nucleation, so I still expect quite a bit of carbonation in the drink. The aroma is very malty. Grains and sweet malt - pretty much what I would expect from a lager or pilsner. I expected to smell some of the sapphire hops that are so proudly extolled on the label, but I can't pick them up.

First sip is a bit sour and very malty. It has a tiny bit of lemon to it, but it tastes like a lot of the other German lagers I've had before - I'm not tasting t…

Shock Top Shockolate Wheat

Shock Top and I have had a past. I generally feel like their beverages are pretty decent, on the whole. They really don't shine that bright, but they are at least better than average in general. This one is a seasonal beer that is hopefully within their wheelhouse.

It is black as midnight. If you handed this to me and told me it was a porter, I would instantly agree with you. If you said it was a stout, I might even believe that. After all, the bubbles on top are really tiny - like the nitrogen bubbles in many a stout. When they float away, they leave the smallest pool of bubbles in the center and a good ring around the sides of the glass. The aroma is chocolate and grainy wheat, so that might hint at its nature.

First sip is a heavy carbonation with synthetic chocolate. Well, I say synthetic chocolate, but that's what the first part tastes like; it evens out into a more natural taste by the end, and the result is a very sweet, chocolaty beverage. It's a bit more acidic th…

Lucy (2014)

The average human uses only 10% of their brain. What would happen if they used 100%? That's what the premise of this movie is based on. This presumption is blatantly false. So, from the start, we're going to have to ignore what we know about science and the human brain just to let this movie move along. It's not a great way to start the movie, though, but Luc Besson has directed some truly enjoyable movies like Léon: The Professional, The Transporter, Taken, Lockout, The Family, 3 Days to Kill, and The Homesman, so I still had high hopes.

Through an unrealistic set of circumstances, Scarlett Johansson winds up being dosed with a drug that unlocks her potential. Strangely, the people who invented this drug see what she can do, and they never think to dose one of their army of thugs to do mental battle with her. But, I'm getting ahead of myself by describing a battle that I didn't setup. You see, Scarlett slowly increases the percentage of brain that she's using, …

Cellular (2004)

Jason Statham is in this movie. This was released two years after Transporter, but I'm betting the actual contracts had been signed and even filming had started before that movie came out and made Statham a hot commodity. As a result, his character in this movie is as a bad guy who is essentially the lead muscle, but he's fairly throw away. Even the characteristic fighting style that he has isn't really let off the chain at any point. He is, however, featured prominently on some of the movie posters.

This movie isn't about Jason or even about fighting. Nope. It's not about fighting even though Chris Evans (you may remember him from Captain America) is running around the whole time, struggling to get help to save the damsel in distress. Kim Basinger is the aforementioned damsel, and she doesn't do much aside from look scared and talk in a quivering voice.

Jason takes the woman as leverage against her husband who has done some bad things. He locks her in an attic,…

New Belgium 2014 La Folie Sour Brown Ale

I had previously made some disparaging remarks about New Belgium's ability to design a label. Fat Tire seems like the only one that doesn't look like it belongs in a small frame hanging in grandma's room, but this one is different. This one looks like it belongs in a 1970's head shop. It's not really an improvement.

The color is a very dark brown with a reddish tint. The head flies away quickly and leaves a few scant bubbles bobbing on the top. The aroma is something different. It's got bruised apple, soured grapes, cider, wine, prunes, and a sourness that is pervasive. I'm not sure what to expect from actually drinking this one, but I know that I really want to try it.

First sip is distressing. This is not what I came here for. It is tart as heck. It is biting into sour cherries that have gone bad and mashed with some prunes and raisins. It is an unpleasantness that I'm not looking for in a beer. I know someone may be looking for this, but it's not…

The Purge (2013) Security System

This review is going to be a little different from my usual movie reviews.

The Purge is a movie about an alternate version of the United States where one night a year they have an annual "purge" where violent people can purge themselves of their desire to hurt other people, and the poor and homeless can be eliminated from public concern; killing homeless people is encouraged. The main character, played by Ethan Hawke, is a salesman for a home security company whose home come under assault by a group of evildoers.

The issue I have with this security system that he installed, and that's what I'm going to be reviewing here. The system was described by Ethan as being 99% effective in testing, but it was not designed for worst case scenario. He casually mentioned that someone could tunnel underneath to get to them. Clearly, it didn't take that much. Let's look at his controls one by one.

Cameras: Cameras are a detective control and a deterrent. In this case, they a…

The Patrol (2013)

This was billed as the UK's answer to The Hurt Locker. I wasn't a huge fan of The Hurt Locker, and I'm not a huge fan of this movie, so I guess they succeeded in that aspect. Aside from that, they pretty much miss the mark on the meager bits that The Hurt Locker got right. There is no action to speak of, and there is little of interest that goes on. I'm unsure if this is supposed to be a true story, but I can't imagine it is.

This patrol of British soldiers starts off already past their 3-day plan. There is no explanation given to the audience or to the soldiers as to why they have to stay out past their normal rotation, and that adds to the tension in the group. Tension is really what they go for in this movie. There is the possibility that someone will attack them, and we never see one of them. I'm not saying there isn't an exchange of gunfire, but we never actually see an enemy.

Instead, we have a group of the most insubordinate and whiny soldiers you hav…

Green Flash Brewing Hop Head Red

The only experience I have with this brewer is that I picked up an IPA from them once, and it was skunked. I don't blame the brewery, and I don't go to that distributor anymore. The fact is, it sat on the floor for too long, and they just didn't care enough to remove old stock. I am still so damn happy that I found City Sliquors.

A sticky, thick head tops this nearly opaque amber/red ale. The aroma is light malt and light hops. It strikes me as stronger than the average red ale, although I think I may have had some stronger red ales recently.

First sip is not bad, but not great. I expect a red ale to be generally malty (for an ale) and watery. This one has a good amount of water about it, and it has the bitterness of the hops without the balance of the malt, so the effect is of weak, unsweetened coffee. It's not that it has a particularly strong coffee taste, but it has that weak bitterness that should be properly malted out of the aftertaste.

A manly drink reveals a t…

Yazoo Sue Imperial Smoked Porter

I understand that this beer shares a lot with the very good Americana Fest Ale that I enjoyed a little while ago. It is for that reason that I decided to try this out. Well, that and the fact that I really like a good porter. But I want to find more good local beers here in Nashville. So far, Cool Springs Brewery is leading the way, but I figure we should give Yazoo a fighting chance.

Black as a moonless night, the thick, semi-sticky head leaves a moderate amount of lacing on the sides while the aroma of scorched oats wafts from my side table to delight my senses. While I'm not a fan of most imperial stouts, I am still really looking forward to this porter. A good porter, in my humble opinion, cannot be beat by anything else. Let's see how good this one is.

It seems almost a shame to sip this beer, but I am trying it anyway. The sip is complex and smokey as heck. It tastes like sitting at a campfire with friends while roasting marshmallows. Okay, I may be exaggerating. In fact…

Stonehearst Asylum (2014)

Foggy evening.
Slight rain.
Scary castle-like insane asylum.
We got us a setting, don't we?

Well, that is what welcomes the young psychology graduate (played by Jim Sturgess) when he comes to the institution to learn how to run one and be the doctor in charge. This particular asylum only has one doctor, and that is Sir Ben Kingsley of A Common Man fame. Ben is a strict doctor who has a very unique way of treating people that is properly summed up when they discuss the first patient they see together. The man in the room thinks he is a horse. When Jim asks Ben what he is doing to try to cure the man, Ben explains that there is no reason to make unhappy man out of a perfectly happy horse.

This movie is based on an Edgar Allen Poe story, "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether." The story is much better than the movie, and it is a whole heck of a lot shorter. It's not uncommon for the book to be better than the movie, but this time in particular it is very much …

Terrapin Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout

I've only had one Terrapin beer before, and it was not spectacular. That doesn't mean that they will all be bad, so I'm giving them a darn good chance by selecting a chocolate milk stout. I've enjoyed pretty much every milk stout I've had so far, and I expect no less from this one.

The color is pitch black. The minimal brown head has teeny tiny little bubbles and leaves a moderate amount of lacing on the sides as it goes down to a fairly minimal ring and a few scattered bubbles bobbing across the oil slick top. The aroma is bitter chocolate and burnt malt.

A sip reveals a bit of a mess. There is the chocolate, a hint of sweetness ensconced in the bitterness, a heap of coffee grounds, and the whole thing is just so compressed and heavy that a sip is just magnifying the incongruities that should be making this beer stand out. It's a good bet that this beer has a better chance of getting a good rating if I drink it in a proper fashion, so I'm going to swig it.

Edge of Tomorrow aka Live, Die, Repeat (2014)

Several people have mentioned this movie to me as "Live. Die. Repeat." That title, which was not the final one, is probably more descriptive than the one they settled on. This movie rubs me the wrong way from the start with its combination Groundhog Day and Timecop with its treatment of time. The basic premise is that Tom Cruise is part of the human fighters who are waging war against some big alien bugs on Earth when he shoots one and gets dripped on - and that gives him the superpower of being able to die and relive the same day over and over.

I know I started this review on a down note, but I actually enjoyed the movie. It has a kind of Starship Troopers vibe to it, but it is almost like they decided to do a gritty reboot. So, it has some of the same flair with a bit more realism. It has some great special effects, and it does a very good job of setting up the story and following through with a romance and a series of complicated steps and processes that Tom has to go thr…

Huyghe Delirium Tremens Belgian Ale

This bottle is odd. It has the feel of ceramic, but I'm pretty sure it's just painted glass. I've heard many people talk in hushed tones about this beer, but if it's anything like Arrogant Bastard, it is a good beer that can't live up to the hype. That said, Chimay certainly lived up to its reputation and then some.

The carbonation is pretty epic. The cork nearly took my head off, and you can see in the picture that the head is more than the beer that made it into the glass from the first pour. Yes, I know how to pour, and I pour the same way with every beer I have. But holy crap, there are a lot of bubbles. The color is a pale yellow with a touch of gold. The aroma is an odd one - it is musty yeast and dark spices. I have heard good things about this beer, but this is a questionable start.

First sip is actually significantly better than the aroma lead me to believe. It is a bit sour and a bit sweet. It's actually pretty impressive - a kind of sourdough sweet b…

New Belgium Lips Of Faith Wild2 Dubbel

What is Schisandra? It's a kind of flowering shrub, and these people made the decision to add it to their beer. These guys have very little idea as to how to make a regular beer, so hopes are not high for this one. However, I really want to try new beers, and this is new to me, so I'm going in.

The color is pretty dark brown with a slight reddish hue. The head is a good one - with small bubbles and a good amount of stickiness that leaves a lot of lacing on the sides and a blanket across the top of the beer. The aroma is a sour malt and floral highlights - which is exactly what I expected. The amount of aroma is pretty intimidating. What seems odd is that the sour smell really travels further than the rest of the aroma. Closer to the beer, the malt is more doughy than just sour.

First sip is strong. It's got clove and flowers and grains and sour mash and lots of other stuff all shoved into a syrup that doesn't really know what it's doing. I'm still not sure what…