Quick & Dirty #4: Meat Wave, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, L.A. Noire (and others)

It’s time for another edition of Quick & Dirty, the random grab bag of mini-reviews I do every few weeks or so. I have noticed a sharp decrease in my movie watching this month, but I did find some time to tackle the few I haven’t wrote full reviews for. Also, there are reviews for a couple of new and exciting video games, and a new release from my favorite local brewery, Half Acre!

BEER
Meat Wave [Half Acre Brewery]
Meat Wave [Half Acre Brewery]
Friday, May 20, saw the release of Half Acre’s latest brew, an English IPA. I can’t say I have ever had this style of beer, but I liked it a lot. Meat Wave is hoppy and bitter, but not overwhelmingly so in either instance. I was shocked to see that it is 6.5% ABV because this went down real easy and felt lighter than it actually is. Another strong effort from these guys. Vegetarians, don’t worry, this beer is actually meat-free.

MOVIES
Ferris Bueller's Day Off [1986, Hughes]
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off [1986, Hughes]
I just watched this for the first time over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised as to how well it holds up today. Perhaps I am biased because I fell in love with the movie’s gorgeous Chicago scenery, but I thought it was a lot of fun throughout. This is a very funny movie, and it makes me wish I had skipped more high school back in the day. 9/10

The Joneses [2009, Borte]
The Joneses [2009, Borte]
This satirical look at consumerism and suburbia slipped under the radar upon its 2010 theatrical release. It has a good cast, with David Duchovny and Demi Moore leading the way, and I enjoyed the movie’s dark humor. It got a little predictable near the end, but I thought it was decent enough overall. 6.5/10

Watchmen
Watchmen [2009, Snyder]
After reading the graphic novel (which was absolutely awesome), I had to watch the movie immediately. I rented the three hour extended Blu-ray from Netflix to get the most out of it. I watched it with two people who had never read the book or had any idea what the general story was about. They were a bit lost throughout, and I can totally see that. I thought the extended edition was very faithful to the novel, and I think it definitely helps to have read it beforehand. This is a dark and gritty movie that captures the bleak and pessimistic nature of the book, and it’s not really for everyone. While the extended edition started to become exhaustive near the end, I still enjoyed it. 8/10

VIDEO GAMES
L.A. Noire [PS3, 2011]
L.A. Noire [PS3, 2011]
This is one of the rare times I bought a game brand new, on release day no less. I am something like 35% complete so far, and I am still only halfway done with the main cases. I was a little concerned at first since the game holds your hand through the early stages, and the first few cases are quick and easy, but now the cases are considerably longer and require more skill to finish. I am eternally grateful that this is not just another GTA spinoff. Instead, this has all of the makings of a good film noir, and it has made me want to watch more movies (and read some novels) in the genre. Once I finish the game, I will have a full review available. Right now I am loving it, and it definitely seems deserving of all its hype.
You Don't Know Jack [Xbox 360, 2011]
You Don’t Know Jack [Xbox 360, 2011]
I played this with some friends over the weekend and had a great time. I used to have a few of the YDKJ computer games back in the day and they were always a blast to play. This is just like the old games, complete with Cookie as the host. I am glad to see a new YDKJ and hopefully it is a sign of more to come.

Quick & Dirty #3

MOVIES

Dog Day Afternoon [1975, Lumet]
After hearing of Lumet’s death, I wanted to visit some of his well-regarded movies that I have missed. This is about a couple of guys (Al Pacino and John Cazale) who attempt to rob a Brooklyn bank but prove to be incredibly inept at doing so. Soon they are locked into the bank with a group of hostages, and a full-blown media circus erupts. Things get even crazier when the police/media find out Pacino’s character is robbing the bank to pay for his gay lover’s sex change operation. Very, very entertaining film, although a little could have been trimmed off the running time. 8/10

It’s Kind of a Funny Story [2010, Boden, Fleck]
A suicidal teenager (Keir Gilchrist) checks himself into a mental hospital. He befriends another patient (Zach Galifianakis) and falls for a teenage girl (Emma Roberts). A bit slow paced, but the acting is strong and the movie balances both comedy and drama with good results. Plus it has one of the better Queen & David Bowie lip sync performances you will ever see. 7/10

Restrepo [2010, Hetherington, Junger]
Powerful documentary that follows a U.S. platoon in Afghanistan. The movie gets its title from an outpost named OP Restrepo, named after PFC Juan Sebastián Restrepo who was killed during the campaign. Part of the film follows the platoon on the extremely dangerous Operation Rock Avalanche mission in which a number of people, both soldiers and civilians, are injured and/or killed. A very emotional movie, although it is a little slow in the early stages. 8/10

The Lady Vanishes [1938, Hitchcock]
The first British Hitchcock film I have seen. I liked it, but not as much as others. The movie starts off a little slow as Hitchcock introduces us to a variety of characters, but it picks up once everyone is aboard the train. This was funnier than I expected, with a lot of witty dialogue and interactions between characters. 7.5/10

The Parking Lot Movie [2010, Eckman]
A documentary focused on a Virginia parking lot and its employees. Basically it is a bunch of guys bitching about people and their cars. Some entertaining banter, but this felt utterly pointless overall. It makes me wish I made a documentary about my pizza delivery days — I had far more interesting encounters doing that. 6/10

VIDEO GAMES

Fallout: New Vegas [Xbox 360, 2010]
I’m not sure what took me so long to pick this up, especially since Fallout 3 remains one of my favorite games on the 360. New Vegas is basically FO3 with a new story and new areas to explore. It’s basically more of the same, but I couldn’t be happier about it. It seems the game-breaking glitches reported upon the game’s launch have been fixed, so that is a relief. I am still working my way through it, but a full review will be coming at some point.

MLB 11: The Show [PS3, 2011]
I am very happy that it is once again baseball season, and I had to pick up the latest edition of MLB The Show. This year introduces new analog pitching/hitting controls, which is quite an interesting change. I love the analog pitching since it makes you feel like you are actually throwing a baseball (well, as close as you can get with a controller in your hand). The hitting has a steep learning curve and I am still getting used to it, but it feels fluid as well. I am loving the game so far, although I am getting frustrated with my “Road to the Show” closer who is dominating AAA but still hasn’t been called up to the majors. Full review will be coming soon.

Out of the Park Baseball 11 [PC, 2010]
On the simulator side of the baseball gaming spectrum, I started playing my old save file from last year’s Out of the Park game. I picked up right where I left off, trying to defend my championship. For whatever reason, my starting lineup got hit with a nasty injury bug near the end of this season. At one point, I only had two of my starting batters healthy! I was still able to hang onto first place thanks to some strong performances from my role players. The new version of OOTP is coming out very soon, and I can’t wait to try it!

BOOKS

The Book of Basketball [Simmons]
Holy hell, this book is huge! Bill Simmons is a basketball nut; I’m not sure many other people could write a 700 page book about the sport (and have it be entertaining, no less!). There have been some pretty fun chapters so far, including a detailed discussion on Chamberlain vs. Russell and a number of interesting “what if?” scenarios. Simmons’ Boston homerisms are a little much at spots, but this has still been a great read.

Watchmen [Moore, Gibbons]
This is my very first graphic novel, a present I received for my birthday last week. I am nearly halfway through and I am loving every page so far. I can’t wait to read what happens, and I could see myself picking up more graphic novels in the future. Does anyone have any recommendations as to what to read next?