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Archive | May, 2012

Bonus Weekend Movie: Nosferatu

26 May

The classic silent adaptation of Dracula, this movie is often called a horror masterpiece. Is it? Not really. But hey, see for yourself.

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How to Choose and Enjoy Scotch Whisky

26 May

Scotch Whisky [notice the spelling is distinct from, “Whiskey,” which denotes Irish Whiskey; American spelling varies] is by most accounts the most complex and suitable for whisky aficionados. Malt whiskey is made from malted barley, “Single malt,” is distinguishable from, “blended whisky,” in that it comes from one cask of one specific age, as opposed to being from several casks of varying ages.

Now that we have gone over the basic terminology, let’s move on, shall we?

Whisky is aged for a variety of reasons, in different types of wood barrels, for different periods of time; each barrel and recipe is meant to affect the after-product in its own distinctive fashion.

There is one deciding factor in choosing the greatest whiskey.

Taste.

Whatever be the case, what really matters in the end is, “does this meet your fancy?” If not, move on. If so, then add a bottle to your collection.

Fine whisky is like a fine movie, the more you partake of it, the more you notice about it and the more you realize how much you enjoy it.

It is important before the reader is turned into a complete snob, for him (or her) to understand some basic concepts: A) There is nothing wrong with enjoying inexpensive and even blended whisky. Just like cigars, as your taste matures, you may gravitate toward, “better,” ones. However, even if that never happens, your enjoyment of the product is more important than showing your affluence.

B) Beauty before age. It is what’s on the inside that counts. Your whisky could be older than Keith Richards and taste just as dry as he would and if that is not what you are into, why invest?

C) Converse to what we’ve been saying, there is also no point in being cheap. If you are going to have vices or hobbies, then you must be willing to invest, even if it is never necessary.

Trial and error is a great way to start, because if you have never tried it, then you do not know for what you are looking.

Whisky can be sweet, sharp, bitter, smooth, rough, peaty etc. The main things to look for when trying to appreciate whisky are the, “Nose,” or aroma; colour, palate, and finish. Feel free to use the mnemonic, “NCAPF,” if it helps you to remember these.

The colour is an obvious factor, but one should take adequate time examining it, as it can be very pleasant and add to the experience.

The nose is, to put it basely, smelling the whisky. Otherwise, it is to experience the whisky using one’s olfactory senses. Gently inhale through your nose, do not tense your face or snort quickly inward, move your cup in a circular motion and allow the aroma to travel to your nose, which should be 3-7.5 cm away from the glass.

Let us here note, you may add distilled or spring water to your whiskey if that is your preference, but this is generally done with cask strength whisky, specifically. Not all whiskey. Take care not to drown it, or I will find you.

There are different opinions on how much you sip to properly examine the palate, one medium sip, or quarter mouth-full should be a fine settling point. Gently roll it over your tongue and move it around in your mouth, being careful to remember that it is not Listerine and should not be used thus. Make a mental note of your impressions of the taste and then swallow. This whole process should not take more than 2-4 seconds.

Once swallowed, you are on the last step, the finish. What tastes or impressions has it left? Did it linger or leave an, “after-taste”?

Now that you are educated, time for the fun stuff, yeah?

Let’s go shopping.

“What is this? The Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve Barrel is so inexpensive and 15 years old, I could get it and impress my friends!”

If your friends know anything about whisky, they will not be impressed. If something is cheaper than a, “bottle of Jack,” there is probably a reason. There is nothing wrong with starting with something cheap, but when I see an “affluent” man who pretends to have knowledge of whisky and then starts boasting about his great collection of whisky, only to proceed to pull out a bottle of Grant’s and the aforementioned vintage; (true story) I shudder and feel the need to bite my tongue to keep it from being too honest.

Again, there is nothing wrong with trying those, or even enjoying them; but if you are going to be boastful, if you are going to put yourself and your collection on a pedestal, you had best be better to stand and deliver, so to speak.

Some suggestions, whether you like them or dislike them, (you will likely dislike at least 2) you are making progress in deciding your tastes:
Glenrothes
Laphroaig (I personally enjoy the 10 year old, cask strength* and non-cask)
Glenmorangie
Glenfarclas
and The Bowmore

I do not like all of these, but I do own a few of them, the others are listed for you to expand your horizons, as we have said, all tastes here are subjective.

*Cask strength whiskey is very strong and high in alcohol content. If you drink this straight, be prepared to drink like a Gael.

Great? Horrible? Try anything that you would suggest? Hate the world and want to yell at us for not understanding you? Comment and let us know.

Weekend Movie: Last Man on Earth Starring Vincent Price

25 May

Late Movie Review: Avengers

22 May

A rapid-fire, explosive film, with effects only outdone by the acting; The Avengers fired its way into the superhero genre.

Robert Downey Jr. imbued Tony Stark with the same wise-cracking, come-backing, antics that made fans love Iron Man to begin with. Downey’s brilliant performance and presence, stole the show, as did the fact that his role in the movie was slightly larger than the slightly less popular characters.

Despite Downey’s prodigious importance to the movie however, the rest of the cast was no less talented.

Captain America, Thor, Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Loki, Hulk and Black Widow all contribute greatly in their own ways and prove to be instrumental as the thread that holds together the tapestry of dialogue and onscreen chemistry.

You will, however, be somewhat disappointed as far as authenticity if you are a die-hard fan. Johansson’s acting is terrific as Natalia Romanova or, “Black Widow,” but she makes no attempt to pull off a Russian accent and throughout the film she is referred to as, “Romanov,” the male equivalent of the character’s surname.

The film’s dialogue also occasionally draws on plot points from previous Marvel films, which makes it hard to fully watch if you missed Thor earlier this season or any others along the way.

The characters are of limited depth in the film, going not far past skin-deep, which is understandable in that their are several characters which they have to consolidate into one feature film.

The casting of apparently mild mannered, average sized, every-man, Mark Ruffalo was a far better decision than the initial one of using Eric Bana, who stands more than six foot two and traditionally plays soldiers and gladiators, thereby downsizing the metaphor represented by the Hulk.

Loki was cast well, but for a villain, even an egotistical sociopath; he was too accessible. Loki made his indifference to capture obvious and indisputable, which seemed more like writing in an easy way out, than choosing thought out actions for a character.

Stan Lee has his usual onscreen cameo, which elicited a good-humoured groan from the audience as if to say, “of course.”

Initially one might find apprehension when viewing critic ratings versus those of regular viewers, this much can be said though, the film was not a ten out of ten for writing, the effects did not outdo Avatar, the characters were not better than in previous performances, there was nothing mind-blowing or profound and the movie had its little flaws and errors; but, all-in-all, it is a fun movie to watch, it is very viewer friendly and digestible, viewers will not walk away disappointed nor will they feel as if they are unable to watch the movie again if they need a way to pass the time.

The movie does well for its genre, it is not the Godfather, it is not Citizen Kane. If the audience or critic goes to the theatre expecting the next AFI number one film, then they are stupid going to be disappointed. If, on the other hand, one were to go in expecting an action movie that does not take itself too seriously, without too much gore or pretense, it would prove to be just what they wanted.

The effects are not over the top, there are no giant blue Native Americans, but they are believable and used selectively enough to not overdo them.

This movie will leave the viewer with a desire to break something, build something, blow something up or just hulk and destroy. Or eat pizza, you know, whatever you are into doing on a Saturday night.

TriBeCa Film Festival Afterparty Feature: Doggy Bags

21 May

“Thanks to everyone for coming and enjoy the rest of the party.” This was the first sentence director Ed Burns directed toward the bourgeois at the date-night themed after-party for his film, “Doggy Bags” earlier this week. The first half of the speech and the party itself were spent thanking and jumping through hoops for American Express, the corporate sponsor of the event and addressing those of the crowd who had a reputation for their large wallets and small inhibitions.

Indeed the party was heavy on Amex paraphernalia, the only thing to imply that it was not just an Amex promo was the last television, all the way in the rear of AOA Bar and Grill on which an hour-long film on the making of the 14-minute feature was playing.

There was a very lethargic air to the party, many guests did not see the film and were unable to even identify the actors until pictures were taken. “I don’t really know about it, I just thought it would be fun to come,” says guest Susanne Williams, 23, with a shrug, “I guess those are the film people, they are sitting at a reserved table.”

Matt Bush, 26, was definitely the ideal choice for a, “polite guy.” He is unimposing and shy with a slight build, his words are friendly but soft-spoken and he conveys authenticity and interest when he speaks. “I started with commercials six or seven years ago,” says Bush, “I went to school for business, a small college called Rowan University in Jersey and I just kind of dropped out.”

The cast and crew were apparently not very well associated on a personal level, to the obvious chagrin of actress Daniella Pineda, who was sure to introduce Burns to her boyfriend, mother and father and give a thorough overview and evaluation of each; leading to some impatient foot tapping from Burns’ wife, Christy Turlington.

The screenplay for “Doggy Bags,” is listed on the TribeCa Film Festival’s site as written by director Ed Burns, however, in actuality no name screenwriter , Susan Brennan, supplied the script via a promotional contest held by American Express. “He is very relaxed, very easy going,” Brennan says of Burns, “He is really great.”

Party goer Frank Lincoln, summarized the event thus, “Doggy Bags? Yeah, they are alright, but hey there is free wine and crab cakes here, so who’s complaining?”

*As written for ReviewFix.com, Original Post Date: April 25, 2012

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