Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Port City" DVD (director: Andy Brown)

This charming, warm-hearted indie comedy succeeds in weaving a tapestry of characters that are likable, sensitive, and very very human. Starring Matt Lutz as the lead character David, "Port City" depicts his friends and acquaintances -- from his outwardly gay neighbor to his sister (who is nagged by both a creepy stalker ex, and an offensively sexist boss).  We also get to see his well-intentioned co-worker Nancy's growing resolve to give her deadbeat husband the boot. And, we meet a mysteriously alluring older woman who works her way into David's life.

In-between all that, there's plot twists involving a pet goat and a troubled hitman. Riotously funny? Not necessarily, but director Brown has assembled a solid cast and a clever storyline for this sleeper. This is what indie films are about -- not glitz nor glamour, but with a genuine human element that seems real, plausible, and possible. I enjoyed this one. (MVD Visual)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Slash - The Cat In The Hat - The Story So Far" DVD/CD

A repackaging of two separate unauthorized titles, this set devoted to the Guns N' Roses guitarist is shallow and rather lacking. The DVD, originally released in 2002, is a weak 60-minute bio of GNR the band (rather then Slash himself), lacking any Guns music, and with only a few brief clips of interviews with actual band members. Instead, we get "experts" like fans, Guitar Center employees, Tower Records employees, and Hollywood tattoo artists. Not necessarily first-hand accounts. Not good, and certainly a weak effort from the sometimes-worthy Pride DVD label.

The CD is a solid 78-minute collection of radio interviews with Slash, some done much more recently (after his Velvet Revolver, Slash's Snakepit, and his first solo album). The modern-day Slash proves to be an articulate and well-grounded fellow. Discussions cover everything from smoking to Jack White to Jack Daniels to Alter Bridge to touring with Metallica and Faith No More. Serious fans would do well to hear these interviews, but this is really a pretty shoddy set, especially as it's only a rehash of stuff available before under different titles. (Pride DVD via MVD Visual)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Craft Beer Roundup, Part 2

As the endless Summer (hopefully) winds itself down, I think it best we clear away some of these warm-weather beer reviews I've been hoarding. Here's another batch. Ratings, as ever, range from a lowly 1 to a stately 5. Drink well, but drink responsibly. And drink indie! Just say "No" to corporate beer monopolies!

This clean golden-amber ale pours with an attractive fine white head of carbonation, and with a light but pleasant lace on the glass. Aroma is fruit-forward. I get nicely-sweet orange. Flavor-wise, this one is citrus-hoppy, but there's no bitterness, as it's all balanced by a prominent sweet malt profile. 

The always-dependable Brooklyn's light summer ale pours a clean golden, with wispy lace. The taste is toasty up front, with a subtle hint of citrus hops in the middle, followed by a bready finish. Enjoyable and quite nice for hot summer days.

This cloudy pale amber ale pours with a minimal head and lace. The aroma is malty and spicy. Upon hitting the palate, this one hits sweet and candy-like, with a hint of ginger spicing it up. Nonetheless, I found this one to be overbearingly sweet, and tough to finish.

This easy-drinking amber ale is now available in 16 oz. cans, and it opens with a rich and malty taste. I get toasty bread, with only a faint hint of hops. Fat Tire remains an easy-drinking session beer, and an American craft beer classic.

"Ecstasy Of Order - The Tetris Masters" DVD (director: Adam Cornelius)

This feature-length documentary examines the 2010 Classic Tetris World Championship, and the personalities behind it. Yes, it's a film about serious video game nerds, to put it bluntly. These are the people who obsess, and even lose sleep over video games. And they are the best in the world.

The World Championship was an anxiously-awaited meeting of some nearly-mythical names in the Tetris world, each with a different explanation for their devotion and obsession. Director Cornelius allows us to meet some of these gaming legends, and using cool 8-bit graphics, he even illustrates the game itself for "newbs". We get to see parts of the actual competition, behind-the-scenes interactions, plenty of interviews, and gobs of bonus footage. "Ecstasy Of Order" is a fascinating experience, even for non-gamers, and that makes this one easily recommendable. (Reclusion FIlms)