I recently had a chance to sample a variety of world class single malt scotches, including a 30-year-old Macallan that sells for about $1200 for a 750ml bottle. (That’s around $50 per oz./30ml.) T’was one of the smoothest single malts I’ve ever tasted. The Macallan 15 I sampled ($130 per bottle) was full of caramel and sherry with a bit of a bite to it. The Macallan 18 ($300 per bottle), aged in sherry casks, not fine oak like the others, removed the bite and added some smoke and cream. The Macallan 21 ($350 per bottle) did more of the same but maltier. The Macallan 30 was nothing but smooth. However, the $1200 for the Macallan 30 might be better spent on ten or twelve bottles of equally exceptional whiskies than on a single bottle I’d be afraid to spill every time I opened it. The difference between the 18 and 30 is negligible. Here’s a review of the Macallan 10:
I’m a lover of the peaty single malt Scotch whiskies, namely the Islay single malts, but having the chance to sample the higher end non-Islay scotches almost converted me. Nearly all the whiskies 18 years and older were magnificent. No peat? No problem — because the depth and the complexity of the scotches did nothing but take me on a pleasure trip. I’m still not sold on Macallan, mainly because it doesn’t get great until about 18 years at $300 a bottle. Whereas the Lagavulin 16 (my go-to single malt) hits the same mark — and even higher for lovers of the peat — for less $100.
Midnight in Paris was the most enjoyable movie I saw in the summer of 2011. A disaffected writer visiting Paris experiences something surreal during a midnight stroll that changes his outlook on life. The movie is funny, smart and full of subtle insights about life, the universe and everything. I can’t say any more without giving away the best parts.
The trailer is careful not reveal any of the key elements of the movie. The linked review is one of the few I’ve found online that discusses the relevant qualities of the movie without giving anything away.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was released 42 years. (That’s going to make some of you feel old.) It may not be a great movie, but it’s a fun and playful western that’s well-directed, well-acted and looks great. Robert Redford and Paul Newman are a couple of wise-cracking train & bank robbers who end up spending half the movie running from a posse, trying not to get killed or arrested. It’s not fast-paced, the soundtrack is dated and the story is pointless, but there’s lots of swashbuckling fist fights, gun fights, explosions and chase scenes on horseback — what the old folks call a delightful entertainment.
The dialogue and chemistry between Newman and Redford is what keeps it all afloat. It’s the kind of movie that’s pleasant to revisit every few years. (And it’s kind of nice to see what Robert Redford looked like before he botched up his face with plastic surgery. What the hell was he thinking?)
Paul is a foolish and fun movie about two British sci-fi geeks who meet up with a little green alien named Paul while on a Winnebago road trip across the US. Paul is on the run from some men in black and needs to hurry up so he can meet with his mother ship that’s scheduled to pick him up in a few days. The movie is plastered with science fiction references (many which I didn’t get), and it’s entertaining trying to spot them even if they don’t all make for hilarious jokes. If you’re a sci-fi geek who doesn’t take any of it too seriously, it’s a good time. The movie isn’t wall-to-wall jokes, and most of the laughs aren’t the laugh out loud kind. But it doesn’t matter because characters are likeable, and every scene is a different adventure and it’s fun.
Hmph. That trailer makes it seem dumber than it is.
I had high hopes for Source Code because it was directed by Duncan Jones whose first movie, Moon, holds up as the most intelligent and engaging science fiction movie I’ve seen so far this century. “Source Code” has a science fiction premise: a guy is repeatedly transported into the last eight minutes of another guy’s life who was on a train that blew up, and the guy getting transported has to figure out who blew up the train. But it’s more like science-fantasy than science fiction once you begin to think about it. For me, it was intriguing up to a point and then I didn’t care because I knew none of it was real. And that’s when I began to step out of the movie and notice all the plots holes, and they’re huge. The movie wants us to think about the nature of existence, but there’s really not much to think about. Then just when the movie should end, it goes on for another five or ten minutes and does something that made me think, “They’re not really doing this, are they? Oh, come on.” But it didn’t really matter by that point because I’d already lost interest. Nevertheless, I didn’t dislike the movie. It’s well directed and well acted and it’s not boring, and it might work for anyone willing to buy into its premise without picking it apart like I did (but I couldn’t help myself). It’s just not in the same league as “Moon,” which is emotionally engaging, thoughtful, hard science fiction. “Source Code” is more science fiction light.