I Need a Beer: My Top 10 of 2014

Just another evening of drinking...

Just another evening of drinking…

It’s now a month into 2015 and it’s time to reflect on all the delicious beer that was had in 2014. That’s right people, welcome to my 10 Favorite Beers of the year! Any of these beers would certainly be good enough for me in a moment of brew-neediness.

But before I get to it, I want to at least acknowledge some really great beers that just missed the cut. Some of these are probably better than the beers that made the list but again, these are my favorite beers, not the beers I think are the most well-made or objectively the best. So to these beers, y’all were awesome, you just weren’t my favorites…

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We’re Halfway There: A mid-season look at the new TV offerings

bannerA little delayed but I wanted to take a quick (fair warning, it should be looooooong look with quick touches on each show) look at the halfway point of this season’s TV run. This year, there have been a lot of interesting new options for my television dance card and in case some of you were thinking about adding some new shows to your watchlist, I thought I’d take the opportunity to give you some highlights, lowlights, and general information about each show at the halfway point. Additionally I’ll share my list of things I like and don’t like about this Fall’s run of television for shits and giggles. Disclaimer: I am by no means a critic. As I have shared in the past, I am easily entertained and appreciate most movies and TV shows. I do recognize crap but sometimes, crap is fun. Also, spoilers ahead. Continue reading

REVIEW: American Sniper

Sandstorm

What the best way to portray a controversial figure onscreen? I’m sure that the common answer many will give is to stick to the truth. As admirable as that is, you can’t expect films to be completely factual. Facts are a product of objectivity, which is certainly not a word that applies to any film. At the end of the day, films are films, not history textbooks (this goes for documentaries as well, by the way). A film’s chief goal should be to tell a good story, and that transcends an obligation to portray events and people accurately. When the story is about someone contentious, the best way to deal with that is to make said person human.

Enter Chris Kyle, proclaimed to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills. American Sniper, adapted from Kyle’s autobiography of the same film, depicts his service in Iraq and his struggle to balance his commitments to his country and his family. The man himself is a divisive figure; many see him as a caring and good soldier, others call him a murderer and a pathological liar. What the film should do is to portray him as a human being like everyone else: flawed yet sympathetic. Unfortunately, the picture keeps its distance from its subject, and while it’s a solid film, it ultimately doesn’t give both Kyle’s story and Kyle himself the treatment they need.

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REVIEW: Inherent Vice

StonedNothing will prepare you for Inherent Vice, the latest film to come from the celebrated Paul Thomas Anderson. I tried to prepare myself for it in whatever way I could, but – after watching it – was left scratching my head but also quite engaged in a trippy way. What is Inherent Vice? People will respond to that question with varying answers. Some may say it’s pretentious or self-serving. Some may say it’s an homage to film noir. Some may say it’s overrated. Some may say it’s a love letter to California. Some may say it’s a masterpiece. Me, I say it’s mesmerizing.

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REVIEW: The Imitation Game

ChristopherIncredible stories need the treatment they deserve. It’s not just about telling the story in a way that’s not a paint-by-numbers treatment, nor is it about giving it weight; it’s also about bringing to light certain aspects of the story that are compelling and play a great role, even if they are challenging or uneasy to stomach. In other words, it’s about doing justice to the story.

On a surface level, the Imitation Game possesses an incredible story, and a true one to boot: Alan Turing, a brilliant British mathematician, helped crack the Nazi Germany’s top-secret Enigma Code during World War II, only to be criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality years later. With this story, the film is entertaining enough and at times emotionally affecting, but its disjointed narrative and treatment of compelling material neuter it, thus making the picture itself fall short of memorable.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Revisited

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Blu Ray for Guardians of the Galaxy was released 12/9/2014. I bought and it went home and watched it. And I watched it again after that. I’m reminded why this was my favorite movie this year. Jun described in his review (read it here) that this movie is just fun and I whole heartedly agree. I’m going to liken it to Chocolate Rain by The Bruery, one of my favourite beers. I love Chocolate Rain for it’s strong and pleasant flavor, rich delicious texture, and for having enough depth to be interesting while drinking it. It has all this going on for it, but it doesn’t become a confused mess like many beers that try the same. Likewise, Guardians of the Galaxy is wonderfully balanced. Continue reading

REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Bilbo and ThorinIf it wasn’t clear before, it is now: Peter Jackson has pulled a George Lucas on a trilogy set before another trilogy that’s revered and superior in every way. Just as Thorin (Richard Armitage) becomes blind with greed in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Jackson, New Line Cinema, MGM, and Warner Bros. Pictures – despite whatever good intentions they may have in bringing audiences back to Middle-earth – became greedy themselves, unnecessarily splitting a 350-page novel into three movies to rake in as much money as possible (the franchise will likely gross at least $3 billion worldwide after this one, and that’s not including home media sales). Now, there’s an acceptable way of doing that: simply deliver three good movies. Marvel Studios has consistently been doing that with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and movie #11 is just over the horizon for them.

Instead, Jackson and co. have given us three movies that progress from decent to frustrating to – finally – mindless. Coming off the heels of a disappointing entry in The Desolation of Smaug, The Battle of the Five Armies should have mustered whatever dignity this trilogy had left and charged forward. Instead, it’s an emotionally detached, often cringeworthy entry that never bores, yet ultimately never feels fulfilling.

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