Published on: August 2, 2019
So I went to the Oregon Brewers Festival last weekend, and I followed my usual pattern. I go through the list of beers being sampled, and choose a half-dozen I want to try. Some of it is based on name or origin, and some of it is based on the fact that I’m not big on fruity beers, or ciders, or sours. (No “Marionberry Lavender Sour” for me, I’m afraid.) After I’ve sampled six, I choose the one I like the most, and get myself a full glass of that one.
Here are the ones I tried:
• Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale, from Fort George Brewery, Astoria. (I love oatmeal, so why not?)
• Malted Milkshake IPA, from the Full Sail Brewing Co. in Hood River. (I love milkshakes, and was curious.)
• Brewer’s Breakfast Wheat, from the GoodLife Brewing Co. in Bend. (Beer for breakfast? Count me in.)
• Red on Red Ale, from Klamath Basin Brewing Co. in Klamath Falls. (Red ales are my favorites.)
• Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana? Orange Hefeweizen from the Rusty Truck Brewing Co. in Lincoln City. (Okay, it was a little fruity, but it reminded me of a joke my kids used to tell when they were little, and I couldn’t resist.)
• Rock Out With Your Guac Out, from Scout Beer in Portland. (I wondered if it would taste like guacamole. It didn’t. But it’d probably taste perfect with guacamole.)
The winner - and it sort of surprised me - was the Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale, which was delicious, especially on a warm July day. In second place was the Red on Red, followed by the Brewer’s Breakfast Wheat.
But, as I thought about it, the more I realized that the warmth of the day mattered much to my preferences … on another day, in different circumstances, another beer might’ve been my top choice.
It is a dirty job, but I’m happy to do my part.
I’m not always a fan of Quentin Tarantino movies - some of them, I’m afraid, are just a little too violent for me. I’m probably in minority, but my favorite of his films is Jackie Brown, mostly because it seems to be the most relaxed of the Tarantino oeuvre; there are times that he seems to be trying too hard, and I find that distances me from the work rather than drawing me in. (That said, I do love Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds.)
Which may be why I liked Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood so much - it largely has a relaxed vibe that I found to be enormously appealing.
Hollywood is the story, set in 1969, of a fading actor, Rick Dalton (played as a jumble of actorly insecurities and theatrical bravado by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double, Cliff Booth (laconic in the extreme as played by Brad Pitt, who never has been better). Both men’s careers are on the decline, hurt in part by a Hollywood that itself is in the beginnings of a major transition. Dalton and Booth are loosely based on the real-life friendship of Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham, and the story weaves in a number of real-life characters such as Bruce Lee, Sharon Tate and Charles Manson.
The story’s conceit is that Dalton lives next door to the house where members of the Manson family slaughtered a pregnant Tate and a number of her friends, and the specter of that night hangs over the film, providing a strong measure of dread that serves as a counterpoint to the general mood. There is an extraordinary scene in which Cliff Booth visits the Spahn ranch - a place where westerns used to be shot, and where the Manson family members are holed up, that is about as Hitchcockian as any scene you’ll see in the moves this year, and a reminder of a great a film stylist Tarantino is.
Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood won’t be for everyone - while it is not as violent as a typical Tarantino movie, the writer/director also makes some controversial creative choices that will put some people off. I wasn’t surprised by these moves, and thought they were provocative in terms of evaluating moments of change and choice, and the long term implications of what can happen when you make a right turn instead of a left. I’m okay with that - it is, after all, just a movie … but a thoughtful one with a point of view.
I must admit that much of the reason I liked Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood so much was that I was relatively familiar with the time and place in which it is rooted. I got to Los Angeles to go to school just a few years later, so for me it was like stepping into a time machine. At one point, a character goes to a movie in Westwood, and I instantly recognized it as the theater where I took a girl to see All The President’s Men when it first came out; because I was a film major, I was lucky enough to spend time on the backlots at Universal and Paramount, watching movies and TV shows being shot, and so I loved it when Tarantino’s camera and characters ventured there. (When I was a senior at Loyola Marymount University, a friend of mine was shooting a western for his senior thesis, and he called up Universal cold to ask if he could the western set on the backlot for a day. Universal said yes, and so he directed us all there during a day that was kind of magical. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen today.) Hollywood, it seems to me, gets the place and time and details absolutely right.
The supporting cast is great - especially Margot Robbie as Tate, and Timothy Olyphant, Julia Butters, Bruce Dern and Kurt Russell in smaller roles. Damian Lewis has one quick scene as Steve McQueen - and I have to tell you that he’s scary good in the few moments he has.
One other thing. Longtime MNB readers, if they see the movie, will know during the first half hour or so why I liked it - there is a cultural reference to something dear to my heart, and I’ll always thank Tarantino for making it.
Late Night is a different sort of show business story about a performer on the way down - the amazing Emma Thompson plays a longtime late night talk show host who is on the verge of losing her show, and so hires a character played by Mindy Kaling for the writing staff in the hope that a tiny bit of diversity will improve the comedy. (She’s never had a woman writer before, and she makes the move grudgingly.)
The movie was written by Kaling, and while I won’t say it is hysterically funny, it is knowing and well-observed, with good lessons about the importance of having different points of view in any business. While casting Thompson as the host gives Late Night the patina of science fiction - there’s never been a longtime woman late night host mostly because they don’ t offer women those jobs - she is smart and sharp, with irony coming from every pore. Just so you know, I think someone ought to offer Thompson an actual talk show - I bet she’d kill it.
To be fair, Late Night, which was acquired by Amazon at the Sundance Film Festival and got generally terrific reviews, has been a popular disappointment - audiences just haven’t gone to see it. I’m not sure why, and maybe it’ll do better when it streams on Amazon Prime Video. It deserves to.
Happy to recommend to you today the 2018 Chateau de Campuget Tradition Rosé … and the best thing I can tell you about this wine is that Morgan, the best bartender on the planet, at Etta’s in Seattle, recommended it. Enough said. It was delicious and perfect with oysters and fish and chips and crab cakes and octopus. Yup. Perfect.
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend … I’ll be back on Monday.