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The Discovery is an interesting movie that has found a home in a perfect place - Netflix, where it debuted a week ago. When I call it a perfect home, it is because a little movie like this might get lost in theaters, but here it can find an audience in a more leisurely fashion than a theatrical release would allow. And when I say it is an interesting movie, it is because it is the kind of film that requires thought and discussion after you see it.

Directed by Charlie McDowell (who also made The One I Love, which was a movie I loved) from a screenplay he wrote with Justin Lader, The Discovery has at its core a starting premise - Thomas Harbor, a scientist played by Robert Redford (great in a very un-Redford like performance), has found definitive proof of an afterlife. This discovery has had unintended consequences - an enormously high suicide rate, as people decide that they need not make the best of this life since they now know there is another one.

Harbor's son (Jason Segal) visits his father because he's concerned about the impact the research has had and the cult that seems to have grown up around him; on the way he meets a young woman (Rooney Mara) who seems intent on joining the cult, and who is suffering from a tragedy in her life that seems to be pointing her in the direction of suicide.

From this, the movie becomes a character-driven meditation on science vs. faith, and it seems to play out on a variety of levels. Decisions have consequences, choices are not always what they seem, and when the movie ends, there is enough ambiguity to prompt lots of discussion.

I like movies that do this. The canvas is small, but the ideas are big, which is a lot better than when the canvas is big and the ideas are small. "The Discovery" is worth discovering - not always successful, but always thought-provoking.




I've now watched the first two episodes of "Brockmire," the new comedy series on the IFC cable network. Hank Azaria is Jim Brockmire, a major league play-by-play announcer who has a boozy, profane breakdown in the booth during the middle of a game. (He has good reason ... and the actual breakdown is both funny and sad, a line that Azaria walks with great skill.)

Years later, his career in shambles, Brockmire is hired to announce games for the very, very minor league Morristown Frackers; he's a total burnout, having been reduced to calling cockfights in Manila, but he can't shake his passion for baseball, or at least what passes for baseball in Morristown. So he decides to make a last stand.

Let's be clear. "Brockmire" is alternately depraved, profane and subversive, but it also is surprisingly literate and charming. Azaria is fabulous, funny and just pathetic enough to sell the premise; he's never so funny as when he actually is doing the play-by-play of his real life. And Amanda Peet is utterly, raunchily charming - and really funny - as the Frackers owner who cannot help but believe in her team.

I love the laugh-out-loud funny "Brockmire." Can't wait for more episodes.




This week, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours on the campus of the State University of New York at New Paltz, where I participated in a panel discussion for a Food Marketing Summit put on for both students and area food business executives. It was great fun for me, largely because it is fun hanging out with smart, ambitious students. (It also was fun because I was actually on the panel, rather than serving as moderator ... that rarely happens, but it was hugely enjoyable.)

Kudos to Dr. Russell Zwanka, who is driving the development of a food marketing program on campus; he's doing a great job, and getting lots of regional support.

I also got to meet Tommy Keegan, brewmaster at Keegan Ales, a brewery based in New York's Hudson Valley that supplies a variety of beers up and down the east coast. Which is a long way to get to my next point - that, based on his recommendation, I bought and brought home his Hurricane Kitty ale, which is sort of an IPA crossed with an amber ale.

It was delicious, with lots of hops and not much smooth about it - it has a nice edge that was perfect for a rainy, chilly night. It also made me happy to know that Hurricane Kitty was named after Tommy Keegan's grandmother, who used to get frequent speeding tickets from local policemen.

Making it even better - today, apparently, has been christened National Beer Day, commemorating the signing of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which legalized the sale of beer. (Who knew?)

That's my idea of a holiday worth observing.




That's it for this week.

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Sláinte!!
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