2016 Great Nebraska Beerfest Preview

img_0978One of Nebraska’s largest craft beer festivals returns and for the 3rd year in a row Werner Park plays host. Having attended the fest for the past four years, I have to say the ballpark is perfect for outdoor beer sampling and having a baseball field as the backdrop makes this particular beer and baseball fanatic very happy. The venue offers plenty of shade and a comfortable breeze often flows through the concourse.

This year’s festival sees the return of many local and regional favorites bringing their beer for fans to enjoy as well as a slew of new breweries. Recent events certainly cast a shadow for some as the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission stepped in and blocked homebrewers and non-licensed breweries in planning from participating and pouring their beer for thirsty patrons. Upcoming breweries like Marto, Code Beer Co, Jukes Ale Works, Get Lost, Kros Strain, and Vis Major are among the previously announced participants that will now be absent when the doors open at 12:30pm for the VIP session and 2pm for general admission ticket holders. (more…)

Movie Review: I Am Not a Serial Killer

iamnotaserialkiller_posterDan Wells’ John Wayne Cleaver trilogy is certainly not your typical set of YA novels. Not having read them myself and seeing Billy O’Brien’s adaptation I would have to assume the books have more in common with the works of Jeff Lindsay than that of Suzanne Collins. The delineation of course moot as I Am Not a Serial Killer distances itself from either categorization with something of a supernatural twist.

Similarities aside, the film adaptation puts us along the path of the aforementioned John Cleaver (Max Records). A kid who by most indications seems normal; he loves seems to love his mother, he occasionally looks in on his elderly neighbors, and has a crush on a cute girl in school. However, John is a diagnosed sociopath who spends time discussing his violent urges with his psychologist and how to suppress them. For instance, whenever John feels the need to hurt someone, he simply smiles and pays them a compliment- a strategy that to this point has worked. However, a series of murders in his town peaks his interest as the killer takes a new body part with every victim and leaves a puddle of black muck behind. Using his unique instincts John seeks out the culprit, but what he finds might just tear down all the work he’s done to calm the monster dwelling inside of himself.  (more…)

Movie Review: Don’t Breathe

dontbreathe_tgofposterIf there’s ever been an argument for going out of your way to avoid any and all trailers for a movie, Don’t Breathe asserts itself as one of the strongest examples in recent memory. Since that ship has sailed for many (including this reviewer) it at least feels good to report that in spite of being soiled on a couple of solid turns, Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead follow up is a near masterpiece of tension and dread.

The premise is simple; three young thieves (Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto) target a blind man (played Stephen Lang) who may be sitting on a fortune. What was supposed to be the biggest and easiest score of their lives turns into a nightmare as the man proves to be more resourceful than they could have imagined.

Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues script is lean and savage, letting the visuals do most of the heavy lifting. There’s so much happening on the screen from scene to scene it’s nearly impossible to notice how light on dialogue the film is. The use of language and lack thereof makes the depth of character and motivation uncommonly deep. (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Suicide Squad & Bad Moms

On this edition of TGoF Hangover we examine two movies. One I was super pumped for and refused to believe it was anything less than amazing and the other a flick I couldn’t have cared less about before being dragged to it. The result is a dramatic switcharoo that I could never have predicted.

Suicide Squad

Well, here we are. The dust has somewhat settled and comic book nerds and movie critica are poised across from each other ready to have at it in an epic battle. Rotten Tomatoes continues to be an increasingly misunderstood tool in today’s society while the general public refuses to accept not everyone agrees on every movie. So much so that they become so angry and contradict themselves by saying everyone else is wrong and only positive stances are right. Batman Vs. Superman Dawn of Justice lit that fire earlier this year and Suicide Squad doused that dwindling flame in gasoline.

As someone who understands there are two sides to cinematic enjoyment and is not a die hard comic nerd I’m here to say that I can see where people will like Suicide Squad, but for my money it is not a good movie. David Ayer had all the right pieces to make the movie that everyone was hyped for in the trailers, but there seems to be a disconnect as to what the finished puzzle was supposed to be. The result is a jumbled mess with bits and pieces right where they are supposed to be.  (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Fantasia Film Festival (Final Round)

anotherevil_posterThe last batch of Fantasia Reviews is a doozy, so why don’t we just hop right in, shall we?

Another Evil

As a huge fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley I was extremely intrigued to check out one of the show’s sporadic writers, Carson Mell’s, directorial debut. Another Evil explores the uncomfortable world of bringing in an emotionally fragile individual into your vacation home to exorcise ghosts that are cramping your style–we’ve all been there, am I right?

The film is bolstered by a uniquely unsettling performance from Mark Proksch as Os, the socially challenged exorcist on the verge of divorce and a potential midlife crisis. In many ways his work calls to mind the great Mark Duplass and his performance in Creep, except…ya know, there are demons. As the audience we know there’s something supernatural afoot so Os’ intentions at first seem on the level, but after a while it’s unclear if he really has a gift or if he’s a lunatic with a glove that emits radio static. It all culminates with a troubling finale that drives home the ultra dark comedy by transforming into an even darker horror/thriller–with a touch of drama. (more…)

Movie Review: Hell or High Water

hellorhighwater_poster_tgofSmall town USA is rarely captured with the authenticity represented in David Mackenzie’s latest, Hell or High Water. Taylor Sheridan’s masterfully written screenplay certainly drives it all home and spot on performances from Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges are just icing on the dusty cake.

A western in the time of conceal carries, iPhones, and security cameras. Hell or High Water’s contagious aesthetic lends to the timely economic message at the center of the film. Pine stars as Toby a poor rancher with a plan to rob a branch of banks, with the help of his brother Tanner (Foster), before the bank can foreclose on his ranch and seize control. Standing in their way is a grizzled Texas Ranger, Marcus (Jeff Bridges), hot on their trail.

There’s more to the story, but it behooves oneself to let Mackenzie and Sheridan settle you in and experience their story with as few details as possible. If it helps, picture Hell or High Water as the west Texas cousin of Ben Affleck’s, The Town. A handful of small town bank robberies low on gunplay and casualties allow the tension to slowly build. With the help of a wicked sense of humor the last act hits like a ton of bricks. (more…)

Beer Review: Poolside Ale by Bell’s Brewing Company

bellspoolside_tgofI’m not always open to venturing outside of my comfort zone when it comes to beer styles I enjoy on a regular basis. In my efforts to change that fact I’ve discovered a few things about myself while also finding some beers that I had been missing out on. One of the things I found out about myself is that there are few beers as addicting or supremely as a well made Pilsner.

While that has absolutely nothing to do with the beer up for review, it’s at least worth noting at the top here leading in to the review (it is my prerogative after all until someone else starts calling the shots). A second thing I found out is that I might also have a thing for Belgian Wits. Bell’s Poolside Ale fits comfortably in that category and like Avery’s Liliko’i Kepolo, it injects an intense fruit component that’s super refreshing during the summer months.

Now, I have yet to crack one of these bad boys open poolside, but make no mistake, it would taste mighty refreshing floating around on a lazy summer afternoon whether it be in a pool, lake, ocean or just chilling in your tub in the air conditioning. (more…)

Beer Review: Mocha IPA by Stone Brewing Company

stonemochaipa_tgofAs someone who tends not to drink coffee on a regular basis I’ve always been skeptical about the inclusion of them in my beer. Most of the time you will find that it’s predominantly kept to hefty stouts and porters, but every so often breweries like to push the boundaries of what is typically acceptable. Nowadays you can find the occasional coffee blond ale, or the less surprising coffee brown ale- either of those don’t seem quite as out-of-bounds as you might think–although tasting coffee in a beautifully golden beer is a bit off-putting. Blonde ales are conducive to adapting other flavors due to their low bitterness, but what if someone decided to take the world most bitter style of beer and throw some coffee it in? Like Stone Brewing Company’s new Mocha IPA.

Stone is not the first to cross this threshold. It’s also not their first try. Many might remember just before Stone was available almost everywhere you looked they released their Dayman Coffee IPA. I was not fortunate enough to try that one to compare it to the recent release of Mocha IPA, but one can assume that they are not all that dissimilar.  Mocha IPA is of the imperial variety and uses the talents of Cascade, Citra, and Amarillo hops to pair with the cocoa and coffee flavors. Before we get to that though, the beer pours a deep copper with a thin off-white head. Stone’s reputation of adding crazy amounts of hops to their beer generally sets an expectation when it comes to aroma. The super citrus tones are mostly absent on the nose, replaced by a somewhat funky mix of citrus, cocoa, and coffee. None of the aromas come through cleanly and leave a bit to be desired–the dankness of the hops seems muddled by stale coffee and dark chocolate/fudge notes.  (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Fantasia Film Festival (Round 2)

thealchemistcookbook_posterA young man attempting to conjure demons in the forest, a love addicted witch and an abandoned tank of mercenaries waiting to be slaughtered by an unknown enemy. Round 2 of my 2016 Fantasia Film Fest coverage touches some well stomped horror ground, but some in some pretty unexpected and interesting ways. Without further ado here are three hot off the press reviews fresh out of the 20th anniversary of the Fantasia Film Festival!

The Alchemist Cookbook

Perhaps its a sign of the times, or maybe it’s just insanity, but the youth of today–oh hell, let’s face it…we are all slowly losing out minds. So much so that everyone is trying whatever they can for their 15 minutes of fame and fortune. So it’s not surprising to see a film, The Alchemist Cookbook, that finds a young man, Sean (Ty Hickson), running out into the woods hoping to summon a demon to solve his problems.

Sean is seemingly done with civilized society, presumably on hard times so he’s absconded to a trailer in the middle of the woods to mess around with DIY experiments and occult literature. With only Kaspar, his cat, keeping Sean company the young man slowly starts losing his grip on reality as he flirts more and more with the summoning of evil forces.  (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Lights Out & The Fantasia Film Festival (Round 1)

Malevolent light sensitive ghosts, evil beds and invisible dads. This edition of the Tall Glass of Film Hangover touches some interesting points on the genre compass, two of which (Bed of the Dead and The Unseen) were screened as part of the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival. So sit back, relax and enjoy some of TGoF’s thoughts on a few upcoming flicks!

Lights Out

I’ve gotta be honest–I don’t think there was a chance in Hell that a three minute short would translate effectively into an 80 minute feature. Sure 80 minutes is lean and mean, but considering the lack of plot in David F. Sandberg’s original short for Lights Out was non-existent it’s reasonable to assume the feature wouldn’t remedy that to a significant degree. Luckily, I’m wrong a lot. Lights Out takes the smart route by setting up a simple story but hanging its success in the shoulders of a stellar cast and a relentless (but constantly recycled) barrage of scares.

Teresa Palmer stars as Rebecca, a concerned sister that has never had to shoulder real responsibility looking to possibly become the legal guardian of her brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman). Martin hasn’t been sleeping because his mother, Sophie (Maria Bello), is on the verge of a mental break that has invited a dangerous specter, Diana, with deep ties to the family to enter all three of their lives once again. With CPS breathing down her neck Rebecca must find the secret to ridding the threat before it’s too late.  (more…)