Showing posts from May, 2015

Parallel 49 Salty Scot

From Canada, traditional home of the Scots, comes this beer that has too many words on the front to explain what the beer actually is.  It's a "sea salted caramel Scottish style ale." Now, one of the best beers I've ever had was a Scottish style ale produced by Stoudt's Brewing in PA. I'm hoping this is very similar to that one. 
When the voluminous head retreats, it leaves a moderate skin of bubbles that completely covers the top of the beer. The deep amber beer - almost brown, really - smells both sweet and tangy, with rum, toffee, caramel, and wisps of smoke only managing to make it an inch or so above the bubbles. 
First sip is more smoke than the aroma was. The malt is definitely taking the beverage in hand and leading the way. Following behind is fig and raisins with a bit of caramel sweetness. It's actually not bad at all, but it reminds me of a brown ale more than a Scottish style ale. I think maybe it reminds me of the Magnolia Brown Ale. Let…

Project Almanac (2014)

From now on, all "found footage" style movies should have a giant blinking warning on them in the store, online, and pretty much everywhere. In fact, they should be made of something so flammable that they burst into flames all on their own. Well, I didn't know this was a found footage movie until I started watching it, and I figured I would go ahead and review it.

So, about this movie: ever see the original Butterfly Effect? How about the JCVD classic TimeCop? How about that Simpsons episode where Homer goes back to the dinosaur age and randomly and angrily steps on everything he can? Well, this is a very similar movie in which we delve into the dangers of time travel and creation of paradoxes and the terrible, terrible things that can happen when you change things in the past.

So, we have five kids involved. We have the handsome genius who says things that are blatantly obvious, yet other people keep commenting on how smart he is, so we assume he's a genius. Then w…

Ex Machina (2015)

As an art project, this movie shines.
As a movie, it was okay.
As a treatise on artificial intelligence, it was pretty lousy.

The main plot is that there is a bit of an eccentric rich guy who has flown a less worldly underling in so that his underling can run a multiple-day Turing test on the AI that he has developed. They are in a mansion that is very secluded - accessible only by helicopter - and frequent power drops reveal that the whole place has a default of closed. This means that all the doors lock when the power goes out, which keeps the secret AI secure at all times. The AI is in a clearly robotic body with an attractive human female face and voice such that there may be sexual tension at some point.

The movie is shot in a very artistic way, with beautiful long shots of the expansive and modern mansion in the woods. Characters are rarely framed in any way that doesn't give you the impression of openness - which is exactly the opposite of what they are actually feeling mos…

The Loft (2014)

A group of mostly handsome guys with terrible personalities have mostly pretty wives who are sometimes nice and sometimes not nice. These horrible five men buy a loft together so that they can take their various mistresses somewhere that is untraceable - after all, no one in Hollywood understands how tracking people works. Of course, there's no thought to the fact that one person being caught means they all get caught.

As a result of their horrible personalities, I couldn't care less what happens to them. This is an inherent problem with this movie - you are given five people as protagonists who all have blindingly significant personality flaws to the point that they are unrelatable. Which one is responsible for the dead woman that they found in the loft? Who cares? I hope all of their lives degenerate into a swirling chasm of fiery manure.

The idea behind this kind of whodunit is nothing new, but you have to start with characters that the audience can empathize with, and if I…

Rogue Double Chocolate Stout

The Rogue Dead Guy Ale I had was pretty good. I've been looking for a chocolate stout that doesn't try to make up for a poor choice of smoked malts by dumping heaps of chocolate into the beer. I realize that this beer has chocolate added to it, but that doesn't mean that it will be overwhelming with chocolate. I want the chocolate to compliment the malt. Let's see if Rogue can do it.

I know some people would say that this beer is a deep ruby or that it is dark, dark brown. Those people are lying. This beer is black. Black as midnight during the dark months of Alaska while in an unlit house fruitlessly banging on the inside of a closet door screaming to be let out. The head had a bit of a red hue to it before it went away like a puff and left a simple, smooth ring around the top of the glass. The aroma is smokey malt and dark, unsweetened chocolate.

First sip brings a very powerful taste.  It's chocolate malt and smoke. It's simple and bold. Tart and sweet. Sour…

Unbroken (2014)

I saw that this was Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, and I had hope. Yes, the Sony hack released emails that said that she was really hard to work with for the production of this movie, but that just means she's a handful. Fact is, Edward Norton is supposed to be really, really hard to deal with when making a movie, but that doesn't mean that he can't make a good movie. As a bonus, this screenplay was written by the Cohen brothers, so it had that going for it as well. Why didn't it all click?

It's hard to make a Second World War movie that breaks new ground. It's all too easy to fall back on familiar scenes of Japanese prison camps, forced labor, and propaganda. One of the more tired ways of dealing with these camps is to make the protagonist the focal point for all of the impotent rage of the camp commander. I wonder what this movie will do.

Here's the thing, it doesn't break any ground, and it makes the valiant struggle that actually happened i…

Camp X-Ray (2014)

I don't watch movies in the hopes that I won't like them - despite what some of the readers of this blog may suggest. In this particular case, I had added this movie to my list of films to watch based on the aggregate reviews of several other sites. Everything pointed to this movie being very good, despite my reservations about the lead actor, Kristen Stewart.

This movie was written and directed by the same guy, whose directorial debut was the hit movie... wait... no, this is his directorial debut. I'm not saying that the writer also being the director is an automatic death sentence for the movie, but we're not dealing with an exceptional amount of experience.

Experience, however, is in my corner. I have experience with Kristen Stewart from one of the Twilight films - I don't remember which one. I found that her character in those movies was interchangeable with her character in this movie. She's moody, reckless, and self-righteous. See, in this movie, she is a…

Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout

I did a review of the excellent Left Hand Brewing Nitro Milk Stout, but I somehow forgot to do a review of this traditionally carbonated beverage. After having been less impressed with the Wake Up Dead stout, it seemed only right to give this brewer the benefit of what will undoubtedly be a very good review. That said, I'm not going to be pulling any punches or anything.

The pour is a majestic cherry black with a thick head of suspiciously small bubbles that dissipate to a thin veneer stretched across the black abyss of beer. The aroma of coffee and thick, sweet malt overwhelms the nose even from a few feet away. It is a luxuriously thick and tantalizing smell that makes me want it even more.

First sip is like having one Lays. It's a tease to the taste buds that is cruel and inhumane. The sweet malt and dark coffee roast long to be imbibed with more vigor, but the sip itself is still tremendous - and it hints at why may lurk underneath for those who dare quaff their beverage. …

Amen. (2002)

To the Catholic church's eternal shame, this movie is a drama that reflects the actual point in history in which the church purposely ignored the evidence that was presented to them about the holocaust. The movie depicts the struggle of two men to try to get The Holy Sea to understand the magnitude of the evil that was taking place, and they were constantly rebuffed by church officials who sought to isolate The Pope from this information for the protection of the church itself.

Ulrich Tukur plays a man who is fighting for his country - Germany. As a doctor, he has developed a method for purifying water using chemicals so that German troops in the field do not dehydrate. One of the chemicals he uses to kill the nasty things in the water starts being created at a very high rate, and he eventually finds out that it is being used to kill Jews in large numbers. He feels that the German people would never stand for this if they knew what was going on, and he decides that he needs to get…

American Sniper (2014)

I'm going to start off by going directly against what the famed filmmaker Michael Moore said about snipers in relation to this movie. This movie does not glorify snipers or war. Instead, it is a warm look at a cold profession. When I heard that Bradley Cooper was going to play Chris Kyle, I thought that this was really going to suck, but then I remembered the way Marky Mark managed to get out of his own way to play in Lone Survivor.  After seeing the sheer bulk that Bradley put on for the role, I was willing to give him a shot.

Chris Kyle was the deadliest sniper in US history with 160 confirmed kills. His character is portrayed very well by Bradley, and the movie is written to show the depth of character that reflects an actual human who has a lot of stuff to deal with and virtually no tools to actually use to that end. So, you have a manly man from Texas who does man stuff and exudes a kind of charisma and machismo that inspires those around him. Toss him into a war zone, and yo…

Horns (2013)

After raking in millions in Harry Potter money, Daniel Radcliffe pretty much has his pick of movies. Why he picks the strange movies that he does kind of confounds me. The Woman in Black seemed... uninspired. Kill Your Darlings was also a strange and ultimately unpopular movie.  This was another odd decision, and I can't really tell you why he made it; it's not that interesting.

Daniel is a guy who met a girl (played by the very Irish Juno Temple) when he was just a kid. He has dated her since then, and now he has been accused of killing her. As the story unfolds in front of us, we learn more about his past and the events of the night in question, but the more interesting thing is the horns that he grows.

See, these horns are only visible to some people sometimes, and one of them even says that it's hard to remember that the horns are even there when you look away from them. However, it seems that they are the visible sign of the new ability that he manifests of having oth…

A Merry Friggin' Christmas (2014)

Try though he might, Joel McHale just can't break into the big screen. I've seen him try a serious role and a comedic role before, and it's just not taking. I'm sure he looked forward to the opportunity to star alongside the talented and funny Robin Williams, but a quick look at Robin's films show that he wasn't always good at picking big winners to be in. When you pick a Christmas movie about a father and son patching their troubled relationship, you're not aiming for the stars - you're aiming for Lifetime.

In this movie, Joel had a rough childhood as a result of his dad's drinking and emotional inaccessibility. Through that cloudy vision, he over-compensates for his own children, protecting them as much as possible, and shielding them from life's disappointments. This includes protecting them from his father, played by the aforementioned Robin Williams.

The story necessarily creates a situation where Joel and Robin have to solve some problems t…

Nightcrawler (2014)

News happens all the time. If you watch HLN, CNN, Fox News, or pretty much any other 24-hour news channel, you may not know this. Those networks recycle hype about divisive topics or just create divisiveness and then bring on two people who hold somewhat opposing views (or ludicrously opposing views in the best case scenario) and let them duke it out. Now, imagine a local news broadcast is looking to get viewers. What do you do? You hire freelancers to get raw, gritty footage of grizzly crimes and accidents and get it to the public first.

Enter Jake Gyllenhaal. He's a strange bird with no social skills, no real skills, delusions of grandeur, and virtually no filters. He sees how other people interact, and he puts on an act to try to emulate what they are doing to try and be successful in his own right. With his drive, it's actually kind of odd that he hasn't already ascended to CEO of a bank or something. I mean, he's pretty clearly a sociopath, and studies indicate th…

Gone Girl (2014)

I can sum this movie up pretty quick - it's a Lifetime movie where the guy (inexplicably) is actually the victim. While I admit to hating Ben Afflek, I try to give him a chance in every movie. I had preconceptions about Brad Pitt for a while, but I begrudgingly admit that he's actually a very good actor. Ben hasn't been good in anything I've seen him in, and I will never be able to forgive him for Daredevil. If he screws up Batman, I will likely swear off his movies forever.

Even though many people have seen this movie, I'm going to try to not give away any of the secrets. If you haven't seen the movie, it is more likely you are going to read reviews of it, so I'm catering to you.

Ben is an adulterous husband whose wife goes missing under mysterious circumstances. As a result of his infidelity and presumably his bad acting, he is immediately considered a suspect, and he spends quite a bit of his time trying to explain himself and the strange circumstances a…

The Amityville Horror (2005)

Remakes are tricky things. I don't want to give anything away, but this remake was just nowhere near what the original was. This wasn't as bad as the shot-for-shot remake of Psycho with the wooden Vince Vaughn and the questionable Anne Heche, but that doesn't mean it was a rousing success. Instead, this movie failed to capture the sheer horror of the original. And when your movie has "Horror" in the title, you have to bring horror.

Instead, we get a very ripped Ryan Reynolds taking off his shirt as often as he can. I don't know how many Ryan Reynolds' films I have seen, but I remember not liking him in a lot of them. I'm really not looking forward to Deadpool, and I SHOULD be looking forward to it. The problem is that I saw the Wolverine movie that his origin was in, and they seriously messed up that character. The Green Lantern movie? Jeebus. Stop ruining things, Ryan!

I don't remember this house being so huge. Maybe it's the porch that makes…

Miss Meadows (2014)

If you've seen the quirky comedy/action movie Violet and Daisy, you know the kind of thing this was going for. Think of it as Pushing Daisies, but about a substitute teacher with a homicidal streak. Katie Holmes, fresh off her imprisonment in the Scientology headquarters of Tom Cruise, tries to take back the screen after a notable absence in the last two movies of The Dark Knight Trilogy.

Katie plays a prim-and-proper woman who appears to have been transplanted in modern day from the 1950's. She wears floral dresses of that era, long gloves, and carries a handbag wherever she goes. In that handbag, as you can see in the poster here, is a small caliber firearm that is one way Katie dispatches people who don't measure up to what she would expect from interpersonal interaction in the 1950's.

To complete her persona is a house that looks like it should be from that era and a 1956 Nash Metropolitan - which is awesome. In fact, it's probably the thing I like best about t…

Clown (2014)

A series of books that I enjoyed was the Zombie Fallout series. In those books, we follow a bunch of people about the hellscape zombie apocalypse much like The Walking Dead. There is an off-shoot series that is about a guy named Timothy who turns into a zombie, and we see the world from his perspective. He is a terrible human who winds up being an excellent flesh-eating madman. When he turns, he happens to be dressed as a clown for a kid's party, so he's a zombie clown who attacks and eats people. I wanted this movie to be as awesome (possibly not quite as disgusting) as those books.

The premise for this movie is that a guy finds a cursed clown outfit and has to figure out how to get it off before the creature in it takes over and he becomes a mindless killing machine. They toss in an old guy who knows all the lore about it and even has some ideas about getting it off. It's at least a somewhat acceptable premise, and they made it a clown outfit, and who doesn't believe…