R.I.P. Extra Old Stock

I just heard that Molson has stopped making Extra Old Stock beer. It used to be a favourite of under-age drinkers in Newfoundland because of it’s slightly higher alcohol content (6%). But not any more. Molson had to kill it because it’s no longer profitable. This will be a sad day for many Newfoundlanders. I know how attached some people are to their beer. Whatever remaining stock is likely to be sold out before the end of the month, so get it while you can. The Molson brewery in St. John’s, Newfoundland, was the last place in Canada to brew Extra Old Stock.

“Anvil” Tells a Good Story

Anvil! The Story of Anvil is in the same class as The King of Kong. It’s a documentary that tells an entertaining and touching story about a subject that most viewers probably would never care about but will once they get to know the people in it. I laughed out loud through much of it, but was equally moved as the story unfolded.

From the linked DVD Talk review:

It’s easy to describe “Anvil!” as a real world version of “This is Spinal Tap,” and the comparison is incredibly accurate… While suitably absurd and prone to spotlighting rock cliché humiliation, “Anvil” is a far more reverberating and loving film than it seems at first glance… [It presents the core members of the band] as sensitive, generous, and terrified men nervously facing the rest of their life without the proper career explosion they deserve, and that potent tension turns “Anvil!” from a cheap laugh to a documentary that’s thrillingly heartfelt and extracts a genuine reflection on life that’s downright poetic.

I didn’t think I’d be interested in it, but it’s a good movie. A good story.

A Wild Samurai Movie

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi is one crazy ass Samurai movie. Yojimbo will always be king, but off-beat, whacked-out imitations like this are just fun. It’s got plenty of stylized blood-letting when the swords come out, but it all seems to fit into an odd ballet of actions that play off one another throughout the movie. There’s a scene at the beginning where 4 or 5 guys are digging in a field. The swinging of their hoes creates a rhythm that syncs with the music score. Scenes like that are repeated throughout the movie. Somehow I think rhythm is what the movie is about. Zatoichi might be some kind of masterpiece. I don’t know now. But it was definitely entertaining.

2009 Movie Highlights

I went to my local multiplex movie theatre probably less than 20 times in 2009. Not many interesting movies come to Newfoundland, mostly just blockbusters and dumb movies like Did You Hear About the Morgans, which usually aren’t worth the pain of a trip to the mall. I can pick 5 movies I saw in a theatre in 2009 that were worth the price of a trip to the mall. In alphabetical order:

Alien — Seeing it in a theatre is the best way to appreciate it, even if you’ve seen it 20 times on DVD. The alien will still make you crap your pants.

District 9 — A one-of-a-kind science fiction movie that’s hard to watch at times because it seems so brutally realistic. I’ve never felt so much sympathy for such ugly creatures before.

Pontypool — The best idea movie I saw in 2009 and the most engaging. Language becomes a virus that turns people into zombies. I literally held on to the edge of my seat for half the movie.

Psycho — Another movie that is transformed by a theatrical viewing. Everyone in the theatre knew the shower murder scene was coming and it still made everyone jump. I can understand the criticism that Hitchcock’s movies feel dry, almost academic. Not this one. It goes for the jugular.

Star Trek — A re-imagined, action-packed Star Trek that almost anyone can enjoy. It has good actors (finally), good direction, excellent special effects and a story that respects the best aspects of the original Star Trek while elevating it to a whole new level. Star Trek used to be cheesy, goof ball fun with a message, but it was never this cool. I agree mostly with this review (turn volume down during intro):

I saw more new movies on DVD or through screener copies than in a theatre in 2009. Here’s a list of the highlights:

The Hurt Locker — A nervous movie about a guy working with an American explosive ordnance disposal team in Iraq defusing big bombs that could blow him to bits any second. The bravado is a bit too thick at times, but it’s a powerful movie. Intense.

Moon — A great example of what science fiction can be but hardly ever achieves: intelligent, exciting, empathetic and thoughtful storytelling. You don’t have to be a fan of science fiction to appreciate that.

That’s it. Honourable mentions (because I’m too lazy to write about them): Food, Inc., Milk, Planet Earth, Eagle vs Shark, The 400 Blows, Citizen Kane and The Fly.

Did you see any good movies this year?