Apparently, it is the week for beer-music hybrid posts here on PopMatters. After pondering the accuracy of styling a beer after hardcore’s teetotaling tendencies, I will now link you to NPR’s discussion of Dogfish Head’s newest (limited) craft brew: Bitches Brew, a beer released to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Miles Davis record of the same name. Regrettably, I have not yet had the opportunity to sample Bitches Brew, but if it is anything like the record, it definitely will be one to savor.
What other beer-music pairings can we develop here? And no, PBR and [x] record doesn’t count as a response.
At the start of August I blogged about the new single from Manic Street Preachers, the bouncy, populist rock of “(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love”. Soon afterwards we learned that the song’s video was to feature Michael Sheen—he of playing-Tony-Blair fame—and fellow thespian Anna Friel. Now that video has emerged and turns out to be a typically oblique entry to the Manics video canon, the two stars playing a chess pros locked into an intense match—adjudicated by the band members—during which they suddenly become very, very friendly. Unhelpfully the video itself can’t be embedded but it can be found here.
The Coen brothers’ stable of actors is not to be trifled with. It boasts such enormous matinée idols as George Clooney and Brad Pitt, as well as stunning lights in the cult of the character actor like John Turturro and Steve Buscemi, and certainly not least, Frances McDormand, who, in this writer’s opinion, should be a million times more recognized for her depthless talent than she currently is. What is arguably Nicholas Cage’s finest work is also a Coen brothers film, and though Jeff Bridges had already established a stellar career before being cast in The Big Lebowski, it was that film that embedded him in the ravenous minds of a new generation.
But it is the truth that an actor is only as good as his or her writer. As delightful as any of the “name” actors who appear in Coen brothers films are, one need only watch A Serious Man to see that “faces” in no way restrict the Coen brothers’ ability to plot an intellectually gripping story which is also rife with lip-smacking dialogue. If that were not proof enough, I submit to you this short scene from 1996’s Fargo. The actors in this scene define the term “bit player”—Bain Boehlke, who plays Mr. Mohra, is credited to only one other performance on the IMDB, and it would appear this film is the sole film appearance of Cliff Rakerd (Officer Olsen). Even if Rakerd were to have a hundred more appearances in other films, one would be hard-pressed to recognize him here, as both actors are almost completely obscured by their costumes. This scene is all dialogue: there are no showy camera angles or special effects, and no flashbacks at all, which may have been a more traditional way to convey the plot information in this scene. No, instead the Coens rely solely on dialogue. Fargo is their most dialect-heavy film, but even given the hilarious take on the speech mannerisms of the American Upper Peninsula, this short scene deftly demonstrates that when all the trappings of film are stripped away down to the simple act of writing, it is Ethan and Joel Coen who shine brightest on that silver screen.
When you are 1/4 of the greatest band of all time, not all of your quality tracks earn entry into your group’s repertoire. In early 1969, with the Beatles’ sprawling double LP only months behind, Paul McCartney still had many worthy songs languishing away, including the beautiful tune “Goodbye”. Luckily for the 19-year-old Mary Hopkin, McCartney was in an altruistic mood, lending his songwriting and production skills to the upstart. While Hopkin’s rendition adequately interpreted the song (which reached number 2 in the UK singles chart; the Beatles’ own “Get Back” prevented it from reaching the top spot), it’s still this original McCartney demo that sweetly caresses with its beauty. Imagine how nicely this would fit on the White Album.