Beer Review #86: Olde English “800”

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March Reader Mail

So who do you think is going to win the election? – Tamara C. from Boise

I really need to start posting more regularly…

What dinosaur is best? – Anonymous

Do birds count? Fried chicken.

What’s a nice beer for the Winter? – Dale from Albany

I really, really need to start posting more regularly. Try the Anchor Porter.

I’m going to college this coming Fall. Do you have any advice for incoming Freshman? – Reese from Culver City

Join a couple student groups, don’t be afraid to be turned down, get as much free food as possible, find a liquor that you enjoy, don’t schedule classes before nine, and be confident. Most of all, have fun.

What are you the worst at? – Anonymous

Answering the reader mail.

Night Moves” is a song by the American singer-songwriter Bob Seger. It was the lead single from his ninth studio album, Night Moves (1976), released on Capitol Records. Seger wrote the song as a coming of age tale about adolescent love and adult memory of it. It was based on Seger’s own teenaged love affair he experienced in the early 1960s. It took him six months to write and was recorded quickly at Nimbus Nine Studios in Toronto, Ontario, with producer Jack Richardson. As much of Seger’s Silver Bullet Band had returned home by this point, the song was recorded with several local session musicians. – Helen W. from New York City

I don’t understand why someone sent me the Wikipedia article for the song Night Moves, but I’ll try to tackle this question.

Don’t go around digging up dead bodies, wearing them, and stalking prostitutes. They are people too. Just give them a twenty and they’ll probably do whatever. They’re people, but they’re also desperate.

Oh, and use a condom.


We have dishonored all of God’s creation

Appearance: Very carbonated with a pale straw color, slightly opaque body, and a white head that hangs around for a bit.

Smell: Just malt.

Taste: Very, very watery mouthfeel with an indescribably unpleasant taste. I legitimately can’t figure out how to describe this. It’s like if you mom was on the phone with your dad and asking why the child support check was late again and then she starts crying. Also, the aftertaste is awful and won’t go away.

Overall: This was an all around terrible experience. I can’t believe that the homeless man in front of the gas station didn’t have the discerning palate that he claimed to have. This is the last time I give any panhandlers any money unless they can recommend a fortified wine to pair with a microwave burrito or maybe offers to assassinate one of my enemies or something. I’ll give this a 12/100 and that’s only because it didn’t look entirely awful. I seriously hope that homeless man was frozen over the Winter.

Up Next: Schlitz, because there is no god.

Review: Loafing Around

I only gave myself one parameter to measure my status of keeping shit together: making it to the gym. It has been a solid week since I’ve stepped foot in there and I can easily say that I have failed to meet that simple parameter. Going to the gym requires being of sound body and I have not been nurturing myself as I should be. Cooking just hasn’t been something I have been able to bring myself to do so I have just been eating bread and hummus, which has left me feeling drained and weak. That could also be the result of going to the bar every single night and closing the place down each time. The past few days have been the same: napping all day while watching The Simpsons and then going out drinking and talking to strangers all night. I have met more people in the past week than I did in the year that we were together. We’ll see where this goes, but I rate spiraling into self destruction: 93%

Review: Powdered Peanut Butter

As this is my first entry, I feel as though I should let you know what I intend to do with my entries. My therapist said writing would be a great way for me to help boost my sense of self worth and gather together my thoughts on day to day experience. Journaling sucks because I feel like some things just need to be shared. So I decided to talk about the random things I come across in my daily life, whether they be restaurants, new recipes, or life experiences in the hopes that these entries might bring you some additional knowledge of the world around you and maybe every now and then make you laugh.

For example, I recently separated from my partner. I received my invitation to contribute to this website coincidentally on the first day I’ve been sober since things ended. The last two weeks have been a blur of anxiety and depression about what is going to happen to the apartment we share. Sub review: I give living with a partner .316 stars out of 5 and would only recommend it if your only other option is being homeless.

For a few days, I thought I was going to get stuck paying the rent, which I can’t afford on my own. So that lead to thoughts of self harm and disappearing off the face of the Earth. In all fairness, it doesn’t take much for those thoughts to surface rather quickly. Out of desperation, we agreed to continue living together for now and I hope a magical fairy will agree to sublease the place before I throw myself off the balcony. We fight nearly every day and having to look at the face of the person who broke my heart is the gasoline on the fire of my alcoholism.

That being said, I was surprisingly pleased with the powdered peanut butter. I added it to a protein smoothie with frozen bananas, frozen peaches, and almond milk. The couple of bits of peanut butter that didn’t get totally blended up had a surprisingly pleasant peanut butter-like texture and it didn’t leave an impossible-to-clean mess inside my blender. Rating: 74%

What Actually Happens When You Eat Pizza Before It Cools? The Answer May Surprise You

When you eat a slice of pizza before it’s cool, you’ll burn the roof of your mouth. You’ll probably want some orange juice to cool it down, so you’ll drink a nice tall glass. The acid will make the pain worse. Your gums will get real torn up and your teeth will fall out.

You’ll gather your teeth and put them in a jar. You’ll walk outside. You’ll ask the first person you see for help. She’s a woman wearing a nylon jacket. She has soft brown hair and she’s holding the hand of a child. She will turn around and look at you, mouth covered in blood, and then at the jar of teeth. She will be so frightened that her teeth will fall out, and her child will be so frightened from the screams that his teeth will fall out too. They will put their teeth in jars and ask other people for help, and those people will become so frightened that their teeth will fall out and they will put them in jars too.

Within three days, most people on the globe will have lost their teeth. The terror will transcend species. Cows, horses and wolves will wear their teeth in jars around their necks like amulets and they won’t know why. They will be unable to graze or hunt or chew and they will begin to starve. Within four days, there will be no creature with even one tooth left in its mouth. Some of the animals will not mind because they never had teeth. Some of the animals will be happy because their predator used to have teeth. Most will not understand the gravity of what happened and will simply experience the effects, because their brains are not predisposed to understanding the cause.

The tooth fairy will have to deal with an unprecedented financial burden. She will withdraw all her assets at once. She will sell her company to elves. The stock market in the Fairy Kingdom will crash. Millions of fairies will be left homeless on the streets and most of them will starve, not unlike the animals of the Earth.

The mass death of the fairies will cause a shortage in supernatural labor, specifically for the gods who are in charge of maintaining the laws of physics but are too lazy to actually do the work. It will have been so long since they did their job that they will no longer remember how to do it. The task of keeping matter together will not be attended to. The fabric of time will get real torn up and the space will fall out.

You’ll gather up the space and put it into a jar. You’ll walk outside. You’ll ask the first person you see for help.

This public service announcement brought to you by Ann’s Pizza on Bethel Road. We book birthday parties–CALL TODAY!

What I’ve Been Doing These Past Two Years Besides Writing on This Blog (Actually REALLY Cool Stuff)

So yeah, everyone’s asking me all the time like, “Why’d you stop writing for BOT?” and I’m just like, “Girl, can you not?” because I literally have SO. MANY. good reasons that I took a break from all this bullshit. That’s right, it was a break. I didn’t even stop writing completely. I just wasn’t writing on this ONE website so y’all can chill now. STOP FREAKING OUT. It’s not like taking a two year break is unheard of. Lots of people take two year breaks from shit, like when I took a two year break from coke in rehab. That doesn’t mean I’m suddenly not a coke-head after I took a two year break. So it’s not like after two years I’m not Ms. Ann Thrope anymore either. Even though that’s what the media would like you to believe.

I KNOW that all the magazines say I joined a cult to try and battle my inner demons but that’s so not true. I don’t even know what a demon is! How could I join a cult to fight something that I don’t even know about? You want to know the real reason I disappeared for two years? I’ll give it to you in a nice buzzfeed-type list without the gifs to make it nice and easy for you.

  1. The reason I’m famous is because of my looks, not my writing. I have OTHER things to do besides write, like look fucking amazing. It’s hard work, and no, you wouldn’t understand so don’t even start with that shit.
  2. The CEO of Booze and Other Nonsense said that I had to stop selling my products on his site, and said that all my ideas sucked. HE SUCKS.
  3. I’M A CEO NOW. I’m too busy to be writing dumbass articles for some beer review site. I’m now a thriving entrepreneur who sells filters to SNAPCHAT for your dick to make it glamorous. Your dick is already amazing. Imagine it with a cute duck face! What’s more is that the filters only cost 25 cents* each. It’s a great deal, for a great service!
  4. I went to Alaska for a cruise. There isn’t even internet there because it’s so cold. I guess the computers froze! How am I supposed to write on an online blog in ALASKA?
  5. I’ve been managing Trump’s twitter account. Ever wonder how all that depth and insight fits into 140 characters? That’s me, bitch.
  6. I joined a really cool club, that was NOT a cult. They changed my name to Jane and said I shouldn’t wear my hear up anymore because it’s too masculine. They also broke my computer because I was being tempted by false idols, which was super helpful. They were REALLY nice! NOT A CULT.

So I guess the main point of this article would be that you shouldn’t judge me based on what you’ve heard from the media, and should realize that I’m actually a really great person. Maybe even the best person. And if you need any special filters for a special friend, you know who to call.

*25 cents is a REALLY good deal. DON’T PASS THIS UP.

God’s Not Dead 2

Sorry everyone, it has been about a month since I last wrote a review. Life has gotten in the way. However, just like Hillary Clinton after suffering pneumonia, I am back with a vengeance! Yippee-Ki-Yay mother truckers.

With the current political fervor sweeping the nation, it is only fitting that I watch a movie that has as much of a grasp on reality that Trump does on policy…so welcome to God’s Not Dead 2: School Administration Boogaloo.

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A circus car of a moving truck

Is there a rule that Christian movies must be completely awful? That would be the only way to explain the decisions made when making these movies. Maybe your run of the mill evangelical christian just has bad taste in cinema,  and can’t understand the messages of a movie unless it is hammered over their head by a cross. However, this film is better than the first God’s Not Dead. How? The actors are better, there is less domestic abuse, and it seemed like they at least tried a bit.

Anyway, this film stars Melissa Joan Hart as our protagonist Grace Wesley. She is a devout Christian who happens to be a history teacher at a public school. There is Jesse Metcalfe, the inexperienced and rather informal lawyer that is going to defend her. He also happens to be a non-believer. There is Ray Wise from Twin Peaks who is an ACLU lawyer that is fighting to punish Grace for mentioning Jesus in history class, Pat Boone who plays Grace’s grandfather (I think), who is a preachy asshole, Ernie Hudson playing the judge, and more. There are also some returning characters from the first film, most notably the pastor, who is now on the jury, and the Chinese kid, Martin.

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Martin!

The film is about the persecution that Christians face from our legal system, while also trying to make the case for God’s existence. One of Grace’s students Brooke recently lost her brother, and she was struggling to move on. She learned about Jesus by talking to her teacher, Grace, outside of class, and  found out that her brother believed in God. Her household is strictly non-religious it seems, as it is her parents that seem to be the most offended at the teacher. Specifically the class is discussing Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi in the context of nonviolent protests. Brooke asks about Jesus talking about nonviolence, and Grace responds by quoting the bible.

One of the students messages their parents about the teacher preaching in class, and shit goes downhill for Grace in a hurry. The principal, union rep, and the other teachers seem to be against her. She is advised by her lawyer, Tom, to just apologize and never mention Jesus in class again. That would be easy, but she is willing to be courageous and face public scrutiny for her faith. So we go to trial, and the ACLU is sending their A-Team to take down the Christians.

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A gaggle of Christians

 

On the other side we see the point of view of the pastor from the first movie. He is summoned for jury duty, and makes the erroneous claim that you are more likely to be struck by lightning than make it through the selection process for the jury. His old friend who is a pastor too his back and will be studying for his doctorate. Meanwhile the Martin from the first movie has 140+ questions to ask the pastor. Martin gets disowned by his family for pursuing Christianity. He decides to dedicate his life to the Lord and become a pastor, and return to China to spread the word. God’s Not Dead 3? (PLEASE GOD NO)

So then we have the trial. Its a bit weird, though I am not an expert on the format of a trial. The ACLU guy states that Brooke is a minor and therefore has no rights as far as the court is concerned, which isn’t even remotely true. Over the course of the movie there are several arguments presented to argue for Grace. Now, keep in mind that the intended audience of the movie are people who are already believers. They argue that Jesus was a historical person and therefore referencing Jesus in class is acceptable, that makes sense. They argue that she was just asking a question by a student and that she didn’t ever go out of her way to preach, which is true and makes sense. All I want to know is, is this something that would actually go this far today? Or have they created their own world where they are constantly persecuted? I go with the latter and put this movie into the genre of Persecution Porn.

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He’s Surely Alive

Back to Brooke! She decides to be a witness, despite how upset it made her parents. Tom, the defense attorney, is hesitant because he hasn’t talked to Brooke yet about her side of the story. Brooke, being unprepared, gets talked into admitting that if Grace hadn’t mentioned God that she wouldn’t be a Christian (she became a Christian earlier), and because of that Grace was preaching in the classroom. How very sly Mr. ACLU! Everything looks lost for Grace, she is about to be metaphorically crucified for her religion. To make things worse, the pastor falls ill and is unable to continue being a juror. Believing that he would be on her side (and he was) they feared their replacement wouldn’t be so kind to religion, she had dyed hair.

Meanwhile the local government is forcing every pastor to submit their sermons for the last 6 months. Why? I don’t know. Has this ever happened? I don’t know. It was really dumb, but reinforced the persecution porn theme of the movie.

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Help! I have fallen and I cannot get up!

Anyway, all looks lost and then Brooke organizes a group of people to sing christian songs outside of Grace’s house. Her grandfather sings along and is happy. He doesn’t die in the movie, I thought he would.

Well, here we are, the final day of the trial. No, not the Kafka book… Tom the lawyer comes into the court room late, however he has a new suit and shoes on which makes him look more professional. He takes a different approach, calls Grace to the stand, and tries to sort of bully her. The point he was trying to drive home is that if she is found guilty then the repercussions would be dire as it would clearly be being persecuted for faith. Meanwhile outside the courtroom there is a growing protest, and we are treated with some great signage.

The jury comes back, of course she is not guilty, and everyone celebrates. The ACLU people scowl a bit, the main ACLU guy admires Tom’s new shoes, and they leave. Afterwards we are treated to a performance by the Newsboys, an Australian Christian pop rock band,  featuring their song “Guilty” which has the lyrics “God’s Not Dead, He’s Surely Alive!”. This lyric is also a chant that they do at times in the movie. They were also in the first movie.

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Surely

Well, that’s the movie. It is persecution porn for a Christian audience. The film itself, outside of the plot or the writing, is actually better than the first. The characters are slightly more realistic than the first movie as well. Unfortunately, overall, it is only twice as good as God’s Not Dead, but I will add +1 point for the sign (shown below). I won’t be texting my friends, however.

I award this film 7/100 points, and may God have mercy on its soul. 

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Whoever thought of this sign should get paid more

Fun facts…

At the end of the film they take the time to show you a list of court cases that are somewhat related to religious freedom, most (if not all) defended by the Alliance Defending Freedom. Believe it or not, the Freedom the Alliance is Defending protects bigotry.

The film promotes something called The Human Right, which is the right to know Jesus. As with the last film, it encourages everyone who watches to do social media things. This time tweeting “Silence is the enemy of truth! I will make Jesus known. ” Really, just go to twitter and search it. People watch this movie every day.

Last movie review: The Master

Next: Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Beer Review #85: Sam Adams Bonfire Blonde

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Adventures In Monotonous Dining Part Deux

Well the Chipotle rewards thing is over. I’m almost back to normal, but because my diet largely consisted of nothing but burritos and wheat beer I think I may have caused irreparable damage to my colon. Was it worth it? No. Let’s start where we left off!

Meal 14: There’s been an interesting wrinkle in my Chipotle visiting experience. The young lady preparing my chorizo bowl started flirting with me so I engaged in some banter in return. Upon checkout she told the cashier that this one was on her and I wasn’t charged. This also meant my Chiptopia Rewards card wasn’t scanned. I have to visit this awful place again. I’m complaining about free food.

Meal 15: Once again I was given free food, but this time I managed to get my card swiped. I’m not trying to formulate a non-creepy way of asking this woman out for a dinner on me.

Meal 16: Someone ordered a bowl with everything on the side save for the rice. Beans, meat, salsa, lettuce, cheese, and everything all had to go into individual containers. I put this person on my list.

Meal 17: Another earned free entree. I go with double carnitas and guac in a bowl. The staff very clearly knows me at this point and my order has been streamlined. I’m a the point where I know if I see a certain person working the line that my food will be awful. I try to avoid them. I usually fail.

Meal 18: I get another free meal from this woman that is clearly in to me. She comments that I look oddly professional today and I mention that I had a job downtown that day. She asks what I do for a living and I tell her that I work in numbers. She is confused. I make sure my card is swiped.

I start getting hot sauce on the side. I live almost two miles from this Chipotle and I usually walk the food home cause the cheese is perfectly melted when I get it home. Unfortunately the sauce cup opened and it went everywhere. I curse the gods.

Meal 19: Maybe I don’t like chorizo so much. There is no God.

Meal 20: When I was a young man, I once saw a man fall down an up escalator. I thought to myself at the time that (no pun intended) it was all downhill from here. I’d never have a better experience. I was right.

Meal 21: Last free entree of the month so I double up on barbacoa and guac. I get an actual burrito this time instead of a bowl. I take a demented pleasure in watching the staff struggle to roll it up. I guess I was the bad guy all along. I put myself on the list of undesirables I’ve been maintaining since this experiment began.

Meal 22: I’m mad because this should have been my last meal, but I had that debacle with the woman giving me free food. I get carnitas. An old lady behind me mentions that she’s never been to Chee-Poe-Lee-Tay before and doesn’t understand how to order. I tell her how to pronounce Chipotle. She scowled at me and then asked what the difference was between brown rice and white rice.

Meal 23: They were out of carnitas so I got the chicken. The chicken is awful. This month is over though.

2014Meal 24: It’s now September. I’ve hit the max status two months in a row, but I’m certain I can’t do it again.

I’m at a friend’s place and he asks if I want to get food. I say we have to go to Chipotle. When he asks why I tell him it’s because I have a problem. He understands.

Meal 25: I had a two week gap between meals cause I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I got another free meal from the woman that’s been flirting with me. I’ve decided that there’s no reasonable way to exchange personal information. Love at Chipotle isn’t meant to be.

Meal 26: At this point it’s impossible for me to actually get the full rewards so all the pressure is off of me. Someone ordered a quesadilla. I didn’t know they had quesadillas.

Meal 27: My final meal. There are four people in line in front of me, but the first person has requested that they make a full sized quesadilla in the tortilla warmer and then use that to make a burrito. It causes everything else to stop because the staff can’t work around that.

Eventually that abomination is finished and one of the people in front of me has two orders, both of which are being read from a phone. This person is reading item requests out of order and confusing the staff. I am about to cry.

Once I finally order, I am sure to make it quick so that the line behind me doesn’t revolt. The cashier refuses to put the lid on my bowl and demands the sole person preparing food stop with the next customer and out the lid on. Someone in line yells “Fucking hell.”

I leave and write Chipotle an angry letter. They send me coupons for two free entrees. Fuck Chipotle.


 

Sam Adams Bonfire Blonde

Sam Adams Bonfire Blonde

Appearance: Perfectly clear, effervescent for far longer than it had any business being, and topped with a creamy head that sticks around to really slide down the sides of the glass when you go to take a drink.

Smell: Toasted bread and sugar.

Taste: As soon as this hit my tongue I went to spit it out. This tastes like eating charcoal and the mouthfeel was incredibly unpleasant. The aftertaste is like bad scotch.

Overall: This may very well be the worst beer I’ve tasted, but it looked alright so it gets points for that. 23/100

Up Next: Something nice.

The Master

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I started doing movie reviews so I could get free access to movies…but also to become an approved critic on Rotten Tomatoes. I have a long way to go.

Online publications must achieve and maintain a minimum 500,000 unique monthly visitors according to comScore, Inc or Nielsen Net Ratings and reviews must have an average length of at least 300 words. Publications must also show a consistent standard of professionalism, writing quality, and editorial integrity across all reviews and articles. Lastly, site design and layout should also reflect a reasonable level of quality and must have a domain name specific to the property.

I also need to have at least 100 reviews under my belt. I am well on my way to 100 reviews, my average length of reviews is above average, and I would say I have the highest quality reviews on this site. However, getting to 500,000 unique monthly visitors will be a task. So, I challenge all of you to do this. Send a message/text/tweet to everyone in your contacts list with “God’s Not Dead” and a link to BoozeAndOtherNonsense.com

Together we can make my dreams come true. Now, to the review.

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Our bodies are ready

I was afraid to review a movie by Paul Thomas Anderson. In my opinion he is the best film maker currently working. He always maximizes the potential of the talent he is working with. He also alternates between original stories and film adaptations of novels. After hearing the news that PTA is working on a new movie with Daniel Day Lewis, I knew I had to review a film of his. I could have done There Will Be Blood…but instead I want to review a movie I haven’t seen in a while. So that leads me to 2012’s The Master.

The Master stars the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, the L. Ron Hubbard of his culty religion “The Cause”. Joaquin Phoenix makes his return to film after taking a hiatus of sorts. His last movie was 2008’s Two Lovers, though he did make the weird documentary about himself in 2010 titled I’m Still Here. Anyway, he is Freddie Quell, a WW2 veteran with PTSD, alcoholism, and a bit of a temper. Amy Adams is Peggy Dodd, The Master’s life partner. It also features some other notable people, like Laura Dern (Rambling Rose, Wild, Jurassic Park), Rami Malek (Mr. Robot, Until Dawn, Night at the Museum), and Jesse Plemmons (Breaking Bad, Fargo, Black Mass)

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Still not crazy

As an auteur, Paul Thomas Anderson is the director, producer, and writer of this film. However several of the other producers have worked with PTA on prior films. One of the editors of the film, Leslie Jones, also worked with PTA on Punch-Drunk-Love and Inherent Vice. However, much of the staff was working with PTA for the first time, unlike for There Will Be Blood where the editors, cinematographer, and producers all had worked with him on prior projects. However, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame returns to score another PTA film. I will say that Greenwood’s score is probably the best thing about this movie, and that is not meant to diminish the rest of the film.

This film has several themes within it, but largely revolves around the duality of man as both being civilized and being an animal. With Dodd representing the former, Freddie the latter. This theme is emphasized in almost every scene in the movie. We see Freddie’s life as being tumultuous and lonely, while Dodd’s is far more secure and based around family. We have many scenes where we see the calmness of Dodd contrasted with the wildness of Freddie.

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Similar…but different

However, we are reminded that these two are closer than they seem. Both are rather nomadic in their lifestyle, and also for similar reasons. Freddie lives his life going from place to place, usually running because he did something bad (someone died from drinking too much of his booze). Dodd goes from place to place, traveling the country and the world, fleeing those who are persecuting him. While Freddie is always running away from his past, he encounters Dodd who has a philosophy of embracing our past and understanding it. These are the major conflicts and driving forces for these characters.

The Master is a film that is made up of many great scenes and great shots, with outstanding performances by its cast. There are many scenes in the film where you just see Freddie and Dodd in a room, and it is pure magic. The above shot where Freddie breaks a toilet with his foot inside of the jail cell is a great example. He was instructed to be his character, an animal, and the result was him thrashing about and burning out. Dodd stands still, composed, trying his best to bring Freddie back to being human.

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A scene where Amy Adams gives Hoffman a hand job

There is another scene, earlier in the film, where Dodd is auditing Freddie. The instruction is to not blink while answering the questions, or else they start over. Well, PTA places two cameras and films this in one shot because he is a master of his craft (pun intended). The result is perfection, with the unexpected benefit of a vein that begins forming on Phoenix’s forehead as he struggles to keep his eyes open. An image of this is below, but I recommend also just finding this scene on youtube and watching it.

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Seriously, just watch this scene

Now, this is also one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last films, which makes me tear up as I write this. He is an actor who was in his peak, and worked on many films with PTA. I can’t help but think of the work he could have done in the future. Hoffman’s last decade of his life saw him win the Academy Award for best actor in Capote, and nominated three times for best supporting actor in Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt, and The Master. He was able to be funny (Along Came Polly, Twister, Lebowski), he could be a leading man (Capote, Synechdoche, New York, A Most Wanted Man), and he could be a side character (Moneyball, Ides of March, Hunger Games). The man was a pure talent who elevated every movie he was a part of. Don’t do heroin folks, it’s not worth it.

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RIP, Sweet Prince

Now while this movie has a lot going for it, its not perfect. The movie has amazing shots and scenes, and the themes are well represented in both the acting and the staging of the film…but at times the film can seem disjointed. While it mostly follows a linear plot line, there are flashbacks which sortof derail the momentum which impacts the pacing of the film. Meanwhile there are some things which make me wonder whether, in the film, the religion is true, and whether magic is real. For example, Freddie dreams that Dodd calls him which brings Freddie to England where they can discuss what they said in the dream. Is that a coincidence? Can Dodd do this in the reality of the movie? This lends itself more to the comparisons of The Cause (the religion in the film) and the origins of Scientology.

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The look Tom Cruise made when watching this movie

If you liked other PTA films, you understand some of the downfalls. Is The Master a movie that runs too long, slows down as you go, and has a weird ending that involves a confrontation of characters and singing? I might agree with that to an extent, but it doesn’t spoil the movie to me due to the strength of the film as a whole.

To re-emphasize something I mentioned earlier, the music is fantastic and compliments the movie perfectly. The opening of the movie is an excellent example, where the music plays off of the natural sounds being produced in the scene. Not only does the original music work beautifully with the film, but the songs included in the film do as well. From “Get Thee Behind Me Satan” by Ella Fitzgerald, to “Changing Partners” by Helen Forrest, its breathtaking. This is definitely a movie that you could watch and just focus on the music.

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This also happens

 

Overall, this film is another masterpiece by Paul Thomas Anderson, right up there with Magnolia and There Will Be Blood. The performances are spectacular, the staging and cinematography is stellar, and the music is beautiful. However, the film can be a bit slow at times and possibly asserts magic exists. Still, I will watch this movie whenever I get the chance and always notice something new while I do it. 

92/100. I would recommend this movie to anyone that appreciates good cinema. 

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This is good cinema

Weird notes…

In the film they establish that most of it takes place in 1958 and onward. However they say that the second conference of The Cause will take place in 1950, I think they meant 1960…

Hoffman was sober from alcohol for 23 years before this movie took place, he relapsed at the after party. This probably contributed to his eventual relapse and overdose on heroin….

Phoenix improvised several of his lines and his actions, from his first line in the film to the window scene.

Previously: Left Behind (a 9/11 special)

Next: God’s Not Dead 2

Left Behind

Now usually I don’t do this but uh…
I’m going to issue a bit of a content warning. There will be humor that will probably cross a line. If you don’t want to see any 9/11 jokes today, then move along. If you are down to laugh at the expense of the almost 3000 Americans that died on that cold September morning in 2001, then you are a horrible person…but please continue reading.

Welcome back to movie reviews, this time with more Nic Cage

With this being the 15th anniversary of 9/11, or as some call it…11/9, I wanted to watch the 9/11 of movies. Rather than watch a movie about 9/11, such as United 93, Reign Over Me (starring Adam Sandler), World Trade Center (starring Nic Cage), or Loose Change, I decided to watch a movie in the same vein as the September 11 attacks. Left Behind is a story about a plane that makes an unexpected crash landing in New York on a catastrophic day where people question God’s role in the world. Sortof like that movie Sully.

leftbehind

Isn’t this sorta nine-eleveny?

Now, I know that the books for Left Behind were written in the 90s, and that there was already a series of Left Behind movies starting in 2000 starring Kirk Cameron. I also know that the 2014 Left Behind movie is directed by Harrison Ford’s stunt double. Knowledge is power, and knowing is half the battle.

Onward to the movie….

The characters don’t really matter in this movie. It is just a disaster movie with a bit of drama added in. I can hardly remember the people’s names, and I am watching the filmas I write. Captain Rayford Steele (Nic Cage) is a pilot who wants to cheat on his wife with flight attendants. Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) is his daughter who is also a college student. Cameron (Chad Michael Murray) is a journalist who happens to be around disaster. All three of these characters are atheists and think the Christians that believe the rapture is coming are loons. Such as Irene, Chloe’s mother, who recently became bible crazy.

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Nic Cage is never home, so they had to photoshop him into a family photo

Chloe is home to surprise her father on his birthday, but instead her father won’t be in town. She happens to meet up with him at the airport before he left. She infers from context clues that he chose to leave and is probably going to bang the flight attendant. However, she meets Cameron the journalist and tells off a crazy Christian lady who is talking about the end times.

Chloe goes home and has an awkward conversation with her mother about Jesus, God, and how her mother is crazy. The son, however, just wants to play catch with his new baseball glove. He mentions that glove maybe 6 times over the course of a minute. He never does get to play catch…that is his punishment for poor acting.

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Don’t look at the camera…Don’t look at the camera…

She takes her younger brother to the mall. Meanwhile Nic Cage is about to take off for his trip to London. Cameron has a first class ticket, and we get to meet a lot of interesting characters. There is a little person who gambles, a businessman who is greedy, a mother who is terrified of her football playing husband who is with her daughter, an old couple (one of which suffers from dementia), two Muslim men, and the black gentleman who sits next to Cameron. You can probably guess who does and doesn’t get raptured…

Anyway, back to the mall. Chloe is spending some quality time with her brother, and embraces him because they are so happy…I guess. Then, all of a sudden, the ground shakes a bit and the light dims for just a split second. The rapture happened. Now this is where I get confused. God took their souls, right? Does God take your earthly body to heaven? Because in this movie they took the body, but left the clothes. So….everyone is naked in heaven? Let’s roll with that for a bit.

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God took all the children

Just like at Sandy Hook Elementary, in this movie God decided to take all the children to heaven. Which is troubling for three reasons. 1. Children can, and usually are, assholes. 2. Not all children are baptized. 3. God took all of the good Christians AND all of the world’s children AND they are all naked in heaven. Simmer on that for a bit.

The next hour or so of the movie is boring as hell on Earth. I guess that analogy doesn’t quite work…but it is boring. As boring as life was in NYC on 9/10/2001. Everyone on the plane is freaking out because their friends or kids are all of a sudden gone. Nic Cage, who was about to join the Mile High Club, has to run back to the cockpit because his co-pilot was a goody Christian who got himself raptured. What happens next is an incredibly, no, impossibly unlikely near collision between two planes. Nic Cage could have done almost anything else and avoided this.

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Only one of these has a pilot

The planes clipped each other, causing the other one to crash into the Atlantic. Nic Cage’s plane has a hole ripped in its fuel tank, which now means they won’t have enough to make it back to the airport. Meanwhile Chloe is experiencing a lot of trauma. She is nearly robbed at gunpoint, avoids a small plane crashing into her car which causes a huge explosion, witnesses a lot of looting and shattering of windows. Oh yeah, there is a lot of shattering of windows in this movie…

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Probably the 4th time a window is shattered

Chloe goes to the church and talks to the pastor who, surprisingly, didn’t believe in what he was selling. After a lot of thinking, and believing that everyone she loves is dead, she decides to climb up to a really high place with the intent of killing herself. Fortunately, at this exact same time, Cameron tries to call her with a satellite phone. Cameron and her dad (did I mention they were on the same flight?) tell her to go and find a place to land a plane since the airport is out of reach and not cleared off. Of course she does happen to find a mile of roadway which was under construction, and faced in the correct direction, and wasn’t just full of construction equipment.

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I do not know if this is an accurate cockpit for this plane

Nic Cage has to glide the plane in, and find this one road in New York at night. Fortunately there are a lot of tanks of flammable materials around so she can blow it up and point them in the right direction. You can even see the explosion on the above photo.

He lands the plane safely, which we expected since we all have seen CONAIR. Chloe runs to them as another tank explodes for no good reason except to give us this shot…

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Jet fuel can’t melt Nic Cage

Then the movie ends with the possibility of more sequels. Fuck this awful movie

This movie is bad. Everything about it is bad. The acting, the writing, the story, the unnecessary elements of action. It borders the “so bad it’s good” line as most of the movie is just pointless or without any sort of direction. However, the first 30 minutes of the movie are entertaining and you get to see Nic Cage. I might make some people watch this movie in the coming week. 

9.11 out of 100 is what I give this movie. Are you surprised?

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Only black guy gets raptured

Weird notes…

The one black guy in the movie gets raptured. This troubles me. I’m glad that he lived his life well enough to be raptured, but also I don’t much care for killing off the only black guy.

There probably won’t be sequels because no one is giving them money.

I don’t imagine Gene Wilder was a fan of this movie.

This review is worse than I intended, but still better than this movie.

Happy 9/11 everyone, Never Forget

Last Week: American Beauty

Next Week: The Master

American Beauty

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In my last review, the one about Sleepaway Camp, I stated that Paul was a good guy. After receiving a digital metric tonne of hate mail about this, I have come to the realization that Paul is actually  an awful human being that perpetuates rape culture. He probably deserved his beheading, and is largely the reason Angela reacts how she does at the end. Please forgive me….

Now, onwards and upwards to the review.

American Beauty is a film that I have not seen in a long while. Thanks to the power of Netflix we are able to enjoy this classic American Lolita film (no, not the one with Peter Sellers). My first question going into the film was whether or not it would hold up over time. The movie came out in 1999, competing with such juggernauts as Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, The Matrix, Star Wars Episode I, Toy Story 2, Eyes Wide Shut, The Green Mile, American Pie, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Magnolia, Office Space, AND MORE. Jesus Christ, I didn’t realize that 1999 was the best year for movies. I may just review these movies during my good weeks, and create a 16 years later best of 1999 list… (Any good reviewer does end of the year best and worst of lists)

American Beauty, being just one of the great films to come out that year, has definitely aged far more than others. Despite not being very heavy on things like CGI, something about the world of the film just feels ancient compared to the modern society we live in. Maybe its the music, maybe its the cars and technology in the film, maybe its the way society seems to be set up. But it just “feels” 90s, which isn’t bad. It did win the Oscar for best picture. Though I am coming away from 1999 feeling as though some other films were a bit underrated…

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Kevin Spacey jacking off in a shower is the epitome of the 90s

The profound statements that left a younger me pausing the film the reflect on what I am watching, now just leave me looking at the film as though it is trying too hard. That is not to say that the film does not touch on some serious issues. I am also not saying that the problems and dilemmas aren’t present still today. It is just that a movie that at the time felt like so much more has become a largely shallow experience that leaves me wanting. I will elaborate on this more later, however.

This was Sam Mendes’ first feature film as director. He went on to make Road to Perdition, Jarhead, Revolutionary Road, Skyfall, and Spectre. I have not seen all of these films, but I would say that I have had similar feelings about them. I would also say that this is the best film I have seen from Mendes, though I will probably see Road to Perdition in the future. He won the Oscar for best director for American Beauty, which is unfortunate since I felt the film could use some….um…direction.

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The blue and orange means something other than contrast…right?

The cast of American Beauty is arguably a strength. Lester is played by Kevin Spacey at his peak, following The Usual Suspects and LA Confidential. They needed two girls who looked young to play the parts of the daughter, Jane, and the Lolita, Angela, and I feel they succeeded. The mother, Carolyn, is very well performed in my opinion. The only other role I have seen Annette Benning in is in The Kids Are All Right, which I do recommend (it also stars Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo). The awkward boy next door (no, not that Boy Next Door) Ricky is well performed by the guy who dies on the water planet in Interstellar. However, by the end of the movie I just don’t see the same level of performance as the beginning. Especially in the last act where Ricky convinces Jane to leave with him, and tells Angela that she is a vapid ordinary person. It just seems so…unconvincing.

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Oh look, he is staring at Angela creepily, so subtle

It sounds like I am being harsh to American Beauty, and to an extent I am. Call me a fanboy, but I just don’t see how this movie beat out others in 1999 in certain categories. There are good things about the movie, such as the music. While I complain about the piano that is played throughout the film which now just gets on my nerves to hear, I do like the other songs chosen to represent the feeling our characters have. Bali Hai is an excellent piece to use, since it describes a destination in which we can see but never reach. There are other uses of music to describe a character’s mood, but this is the best example.

Now I will discuss probably the best part about this movie, which are those sensual imagination sequences. As with The Big Lebowski which had tremendous trippy scenes to break up the ordinariness of the story, American Beauty follows suit with several scenes that make you uncomfortable to watch. Visually they are still stunning, as the rose petals fly, fall, and float with a stark contrast to the pale white skin of our Lolita. The bath scene specifically stands out as the music and dialogue play off each other, creating a sequence which titillates the senses.

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This also may titillate the senses

Unfortunately, I feel as though this scene is the climax of the film, and is about halfway into it. This leaves us with a long and directionless falling action that supposedly builds to the real climax, the shooting, but I’m not buying it. My attention and focus on the film peaked in that bath tub. The fact that the last 30 minutes feels like an eternity is a big problem I have with the film.

To elaborate more on the direction of the film. Directing a film is hard, especially one that is so artful and symbolic as this one. You can run into several problems, such as the symbolism being either too vague or too blunt. There might be too much art and not enough substance. There might be too many themes competing with one another, and at the end you feel as though you missed something. This movie succumbs to some of these problems. Which definitely doesn’t make it a bad movie, but it leaves me wondering if people think American Beauty is deep just because they want it to be…or because it really is.

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I can’t tell which one is a rose and which one is Carolyn

There are many themes in the movie. The rose petals symbolize something for Lester, either beauty or the fleeting nature of life, or something. Meanwhile Roses symbolize something else for the wife, Carolyn. They mean normalcy or fulfillment or the life she wants to project to the world, or the outward projection of beauty but inward it is decaying. Now, it is definitely fine that things have different meanings for different characters, but at times the movie makes me question if it is about Lester or about the family. To be honest, I think the movie would be most interesting from the perspective of Ricky. The confusion about who is the focus of the movie is irritating at times, to me, and is why I feel the climax was the bathtub scene. It is not as though Lester is absent for much of the second half of the film, but his role is diminished in favor of developing the romance between Ricky and Jane, as well as between Carolyn and The King.

I can’t nail down one thing that this movie is about, or I suppose its thesis if I am to get academic. I can look at Magnolia, Being John Malkovich, and Office Space as incorporating similar thematic elements as American Beauty…but being far more focused on those themes. Magnolia is a story that ultimately is about abuse, Office Space is about the mundanity of modern society, Malkovich is about the nature of self and personal identity. These are all issues that were at the forefront of the American collective psyche in the late 90s, clearly. American Beauty tries to be all of these and more, and that is where it fails. There are only two scenes in which Lester is in his office, and I feel as though it is trying to take a harsh “stick it to the man” concept, Office Space does this better, as just one example.

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Look at this plastic bag, every time I do it makes me laugh

I haven’t even discussed that infamous bag scene which makes me want to puke. The whimsy of a bag floating in the wind sounds deep, maybe it was in 1999, but lets come back to reality. Beauty is subjective, and if that is the point of the movie then it is accomplished in this one home video and we can just go home. Ricky definitely has unique tastes, but that doesn’t make his vaguely philosophical statements any more valid. Other characters feel the need to share their unique philosophical views  at times as well. If we are supposed to think that Angela is “deep” because she says “whatever is meant to be, will happen eventually” when talking about her future as a model, it failed with me. If we were supposed to further understand that she is a person without valuable insight, then it left me confused. I felt as though the scene was meant to try and establish her relative maturity to the other girls her age.

This movie discusses the sensitive subject matter of gay acceptance in upper-middle class american culture in 1999. Perhaps this is what dates this movie so much, as a lot has changed socially between then and now. On the other hand, one could argue that the Orlando massacre is reminiscent of the ideas presented in this movie, and what drove Ricky’s dad to kill Lester after struggling with his own homosexuality while also hating homosexuality. This is a problem which persists in any culture which is homophobic or bigoted towards gay people. The father abuses his son just because he thinks he might be gay, though there is lots of evidence out of context which would point to that conclusion. (see picture below) But he is also hostile, in private, to the gay couple which lives in the neighborhood. You first see him wrestling with this early on, when his son tries to win his father’s approval by expressing bigoted attitudes towards gay people. Later he tries to open up to Lester, unfortunately for him Lester is not gay. Ricky’s dad responds in shame and embarrassment by shooting him in the head at the end of the movie.

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Ha! See! It looks like the son is blowing him

Well, I didn’t expect this going in. I feel as though several films and directors were robbed for not being winning or being nominated for several Academy Awards that year. This movie did not age well, aesthetically or conceptually. Once I get past the artistic elements of the film, and start listening to the messages, I find that it is rather shallow. With better direction this film could have been more focused on one or two themes, rather than trying to be a catch-all for middle America in 1999. The saving grace is Kevin Spacey who makes this role his own, and flies above the rest.

73/100. Maybe in 1999 this movie was what the country needed. But in 2016 I can’t help but think it just doesn’t do anything particularly well, outside of having a good focus on cinematography and artistic elements in the lucid sequences. It is definitely not a bad film, but just overrated. Would I like to watch this movie again? No.

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Apparently Spacey was told to throw it on the ground, he missed

 

Weird notes….

This was Kevin Spacey’s last major role until House of Cards in 2013. I’m not counting Recount in 2008, but he was good in that too.

Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps 2014 show was inspired by the ending soliloquy by Kevin Spacey, and their 2015 show was inspired by the end credits song Because.

This movie was indeed inspired by a floating bag in the wind. I can’t say i’m surprised….

Jane was 17 during the shooting of the film, she also was Dani in Hocus Pocus…so yeah…

This makes two reviews in a row where two main characters are Ricky and Angela.

Fuck this movie for making me write a review that surpasses 2000 words. I really want to get these things down to about 1000.

Last Week: Sleepaway Camp

Next Week, a 9/11 special: Left Behind (the one with Nic Cage)