Brew and View 2015 #2

redundancyA coworker said to me yesterday, “So a new Terminator movie and a Jurassic Park sequel are being released in theaters, and Clinton and Bush are running for President.  What year is it?”  That got me thinking about the redundancies that occur right under our nose, and how sometimes we don’t even notice.  This week’s Brew and View follows this same theme.  Summer movie season is upon us and next week is a big one for the movies as it leads into the Independence Day holiday.  Now some people just don’t have time to hit the movies during the holiday week.  They don’t have time to see the humans versus robots conflict in Terminator Genisys, and they don’t have time to see the living teddy bear named Ted’s quest to be deemed a real person in Ted 2.  What if I told you all of this is basically a cinematic redundancy?  That one film from 2001 offers all of this and more, and you can watch it from the comfort of your own couch with a brew in your hand?  That’s right, Steven Spielberg’s first film of his “Running Man” trilogy is that film, and it’s called A.I: Artificial Intelligence.  

Here, instead of Terminators, the robots are called Mechas, but they are still human inventions gone AIwrong.  What about that bear you say?  Well the David, the Mecha played by Haley Joel Osmment has a Mecha teddy bear named Ted.  Oh and don’t worry about that subplot from Ted 2 about something formally thought of as property looking to be called human. A.I. has got that covered too as David is on a quest to find the “Blue Fairy” in the hopes that she can change him from Mecha to a real boy, Pinocchio style!

A film like this needs a carefully paired brew.  One that while familiar, also has an air of “Never too much of a good thing.”  That’s why this week’s brew is Dogfish Head Brewery’s Herbed/Spiced beeMidasTouchr Midas Touch.  Made with ingredients found in drinking vessels over 2000 years ago, this beer fits with the redundancy premise.  It’s a pretty unique beer for having such an old foundation.  You might experience the sensation of drinking mead while drinking Midas Touch, with hints of grape and honey.  King Midas may not be here to turn this summer’s movies into gold, but enjoy the beer named in his honor by watching a better film that has all the same stuff in it!

Check out past Brew and Views on my Brew and View Page.

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Inside Out

inside outDirector: Pete Doctor

Screenwriter: Pete Doctor, Ronoldo Del Carmen

Cast: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, and Mindy Kaling

No one goes to the movie theater during the summer and expects to see something cerebral. Well Inside Out, the latest release from Disney’s Pixar studios, has decided to bring the brain, literally.

Inside Out is the fifteenth feature length film from Pixar and it is easily the best since 2009’s Up. And that makes sense, since writer/director Pete Doctor is responsible for both films. As far as plot goes, Inside Out is like a cleaner version of the final vignette from Woody Allen’s 1972 comedy Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (But Were Afraid to Ask). If that’s too old of a reference for you, then it’s like a smarter version of the 1990’s Fox sitcom Herman’s Head. If you’re like everyone else and you didn’t watch Herman’s Head, then it’s about a young girl named Riley who struggles to cope with her parents’ decision to uproot her from her happy life in Minnesota and move her out to San Francisco. The catch is that Inside Out gives us a glimpse into Riley’s brain, where it is revealed that her emotions are actual beings that interact and conflict in order to form her personality. Joy (Amy Poehler) heads up the team, which consists of Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). When an accident causes Joy and Sadness to be ejected from “headquarters,” it leaves Fear, Anger, and Disgust in charge causing Riley to experience an emotional crisis.

As readers of mine know, when it comes to children’s movies, I ask myself three questions: Is it enjoyable and appropriate for kids? Is it meaningful? Will it at least amuse adults? Pixar Studios has been uniquely successful at balancing these elements for years, and Inside Out is no exception. In fact, this may be the most adult-friendly film the studio has ever produced, and they made a film with a 78-year-old protagonist! Kids will enjoy the animation, fun characters, bright colors, and surface story, but this is a very intelligent allegory on cognitive process and the complexity of emotion – particularly with the role of sadness. It also has a Chinatown joke.

In a summer bound to be full of emotionally shallow films, here is one that will make you think and make you feel. It will also explain why you can never get that annoying TV commercial jingle out of your head.  I’ll admit, I’ve never been an 11-year-old girl, my parents never moved me across the country, and I’ve never met an emotion in person, but I had no trouble relating to every aspect of this film. This is a cleverly executed film that also has a lesson or two to teach about empathy. If only Herman’s Head had seen Inside Out first. A-

Inside Out is rated PG and has a running time of 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Brew and View is Back!

Bells-Uranus-Black-Double-IPAWe’re back!  The Summer Brew and View partnership between The People’s Critic and Pantheon Brewing Co. founder, Michael Kaplan is back for year two!  Summer is a magical time of year, so it’s fitting that Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI has released its sixth brew in their planet series: Uranus, nicknamed “The Magician.”  This double black IPA is out of this world!  Hoppy from the start, this Black IPA deceives you with hints of citrus and chocolate rather than the malty heft usually associated with these styles.  This is a sipping beer that pays off big, but have a bite to eat before tackling this 9.5% ABV brew, or the only disappearing act you’ll see is the memory of your evening.

prestigeAnd what better film to pair with a beer as masked in prestidigitation as “The Magician” than one that combines the magic of the silver screen with that of illusionists.  That’s right, this week’s film pairing is Christopher Nolan’s fifth movie, The Prestige.  Like his film Inception,this film was a follow-up to a Batman film.  After Batman Begins, Nolan and his brother Jonathan wrote this suspenseful movie about two rival magicians who become tangled in a dark battle to pull off the greatest illusion ever performed (much like how I imagine the brewers at Bell’s battled as they set out to create the best Double Black IPA).  Christian Bale stars with Hugh Jackman along with some very strong supporting work from Scarlet Johansson, David Bowie, and of course, Michael Caine.  According to the film, the term “prestige” is one magicians use to describe the final part of a trick where something vanished reappears.  This term will likely also apply to your empty glass the moment you realize you’re out of “The Magician.”  Enjoy and drink responsibly!  See you next week.

Check out past Brew and Views on my Brew and View Page.

San Andreas

san andreasDirector: Brad Peyton

Screenwriter: Carlton Cuse

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti, Alexandra Daddario

I am pleased to say that San Andreas, the new action film from director Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) is by far the director’s finest work but also a really enjoyable film from start to finish. Many action films struggle to find a niche for themselves given their overabundance at the box office, especially in the disaster genre, but San Andreas manages to deliver for the most part.

Dwayne Johnson plays Ray, a California rescue chopper pilot who knows the ropes. Recently divorced, Ray is trying to pick up the pieces and maintain a strong relationship with his teenage daughter, Blake (Alexandrea Daddario). When Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) a Cal Tech Seismology professor discovers tremors in a new fault line under Nevada that allows him to accurately predict upcoming earthquakes, he realizes that San Francisco is in for an earthquake, the magnitude of which the Earth has never seen before. Now, Ray has to risk it all to rescue his family.

I’ll say this once just to get it out of the way and leave it at that. This is not the film from 1996 about the scientists who are trying to invent a way to increase warning systems before a natural disaster hits centralized around a recently divorced protagonist with a tragic past that risks it all to keep his family safe, including his ex-wife. That film was Twister. This is also not the film about a group of heroic men who through strength and determination are able to save various female characters who are depicted as much weaker, until one female character with a masculine name (Jo) proves to be just as tough as the boys. That film was Twister. This is the one from 2015 that has the girl named Blake.  Oh, and did I mention both Jo and Blake spend most of their respective films in tight cotton tank tops?  You know, the ones male action characters often wear with the unfortunate colloquial term, “wife-beater.”

Ok, snarkiness aside, this is a fun movie. Feminists will cringe at the fairly common occurrence of women getting into trouble and requiring men to save them, in some instances costing the male characters their lives. However, screenwriter Carlton Cuse has tread these waters before. Mostly known for his television writing on shows like Lost, The Strain, and Bates Motel (the latter involving a female character named Bradley), Cuse knows how to thrill, pace, and deliver some thrills. Furthermore, director Brad Peyton creates a spectacular scene of San Francisco’s demolition throughout the film. The tension is palpable and tangible regardless of our familiarity with this genre and the formulas that come along with it.

San Andreas is a traditional summer tent pole blockbuster, but as more and more of these types of films are starting to feel stale, this one works. Johnson continues his ascension to being the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, only with more charisma (of course, I am aware that there still is a current Arnold Schwarzenegger, but did you see The Last Stand, Sabotage, or The Expendables 3?). Unoriginality and misogyny do hold the film back slightly and boy oh boy does the final shot reek with clichéd patriotism, but I still recommend the film on its merits and believe audiences are smart enough to not find the film’s shortcomings offensive. B

San Andreas is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 1 hour and 54 minutes.