February 15th, 2012


Coming to America

As usual, my trans-pacific flight was a chance to watch a bunch o the movies I've missed recently. It had been a while since I've flown Qantas and they haven't really kept up with in-flight entertainment game, at least on this 777. Compared to Virgin, their screens are smaller, selection much more restricted, and interface clunkier and more primitive.

I started with In Time a fun sci-fi movie exploring the logical extension of the capitalist system in a future in which time/lifespan is a commodity. The cinematography, set design and props gave it a strong 70s sci-fi vibe, especially the cars, which was cute. I found the film quite enjoyable, but after a good start, it pretty much turned into a chase movie. It could have done something more interesting at the finish.

Tintin did a great job at capturing the feel of the comics as I remember them, as well as being a great movie and visual spectacle in its own right. I would have liked to have seen it in 3D to get the full effect, but you could certainly tell from the 2D version that certain shots were set up to exploit the technology.

I haven't yet decided whether Inglourious Basterds was intentionally or unintentionally equating Jewish revenge fantasy with the activities of Nazi Germany. The parallelism between the initial farmhouse scene (Lando and the french farmer) and the later forest interrogation scene (Raine and the German officer) was striking in the way it set up Raine and Lando as equivalent but with the American less skilled than the German. The equivalence between the two is reinforced later in two scenes with Bridget von Hammersmark: with Raine in the makeshift infirmary and with Lando in Emmanuelle Mimieux's office. The development of the only two characters to get any was also interesting in this regard: Zoller and Shosanna, and their final scene was one of the best in the film.

While I'm on the fence about the movie's stance in that regard, it was the film's typically Tarrantino moments that killed it for me. At it's best, Tarrantino's dialogue is witty, fast-paced and memorable: here, it felt dull, laboured and indulgent. I remember feeling the same about Kill Bill 2, for which reason, I haven't seen it since its theatrical release. By the same token, Tarratino's love of oblique film references can be clever and delightful, but his touch is too heavy in Inglourious Basterds. Lengthy, indulgent and masturbatory. It was like being beaten about the heat with a encyclopaedia volume entitled What Tarratino Knows About Cinema.

I watched 60-70% of The Ides of March before the archaic Qantas system was turned off for landing. I liked what I saw. Gosling does a pretty good "intense guy on the edge".

New Zealand Craft Beers: Summer Tasting Notes

I tried some beers while I was in New Zealand. For some reason, none of my previous trips home involved much investigation of the craft brew scene. That was well and truely rectified on this visit, and my notes on most of the beers I tried are presented more or less in the order I tasted them.

Matson's Irish Mild
A dark amber brew with a white head. Mild malty nose, caramel a lingering mild bitterness on the palate.

Tuatara Pilsner
A light, crisp pilsner with delicious notes of fruity hops on the nose and palate. This is my go-to NZ session beer.

Green Man Tequilla Beer
A relatively simple lager with lime and teqilla added. Tastes of Roses lime cordial. Refreshing lime/lager on the palate. An excellent (i.e. actually drinkable) example of the beer with lime genre.

Wigram Brewing Company Kortegast Red Sparkling Ale
Intense liquid honey nose, sour palate with much less honey. Aftertaste quickly dissipates into nothing.

Green Man Whisky Bock 2010 Vintage
A Doppelbock matured on Whisky and American Oak, 9.2%. Clover honey on the nose. A quite sour palate with subtle whisky notes. Not much length on the palate at all.

Epic's Flying Nun 30 Year Ale 1981-2011
Touch of hops fruity, crisp, light. For non Kiwi's, Flying Nun is New Zealand's first big indie record label.

Armageddon IPA
Balanced fruit/pine hops with a nice fruity aftertaste. The closest to a Cali IPA I had in NZ.

The second time I tasted it was on tap at The Malthouse in Wellington, I thought it was piney-style with a mellow finish and probably not enough fruit for my taste.

Hallertau Beastwars IPA
A promotional beer for a metal band called Beastwars. Mild hops 70-80 ibu? Delicious nose, a touch of fruit on the palate. Yum! No information of the website, but I did find this blog post.

8 Wired The Big Smoke Smoked Porter
Savoury and caramel nose. Rich, savoury and smoky – definitely reminiscent of grilling. Not particularly hoppy.

Yeastie Boys Pot. Kettle. Black.
Apparently a black IPA, but really a light stout. Lots of malt, not much hops.

Tuatara Hefe
Delicious esters. Crisp and sweet, a nice Bavarian Hefeweisen, slightly dialled back to a session-y level.

Emercon's Weissbeer
A strong banana ester nose with a quite peachy palate. That's peach, the fruit, not the 50s American slang.

Invercargill Breweries, Boysenberry Beer
Crisp, a little sour initially, boysenberry-y, not sweet. Lovly deep red colour. Nice summer beer!

Tuatara Helles
A Helles lager: A little delicate, and a lot refreshing!

Tuatara Ardennes
A Belgian-influenced Golden Ale: crisp with mild Belgian flavours. I usually only enjoy Belgian-style beers in moderation, but I find this unusually more-ish!

Mike's American IPA
Lots of fruity hops on the nose. Palate starts bitter then gets fruity.

Townsend "#9" Stout
Caramel malts with a hint of coffee, but still quite crisp. A bitter hop aftertaste. It wasn't light, but it wasn't a big thick stout either.

There's more about most of these beers on the respective brewery websites. I would have linked to those descriptions, but I'm still a pie post and some game prep in arrears, so... allons-y!