This documentary grew out of footage that was shot for the Rare Beer Club that Jackson was affiliated with and that still bears his name today. The movie travels from Philadelphia, to Belgium, to San Diego and the Czech Republic as he talks with brewers and attends numerous sold-out beer dinners and signs many copies of his influential book, The World Guide to Beer, and of course drinks beer.
If this movie was about someone who I didn’t know anything about, I don’t think I would recommend it. It seems rather poorly shot at times and the sound quality is all over the place. You really have to strain to hear what Jackson is saying throughout the film (more subtitles please). At first, I thought it was the acoustics of the brewery space that the audience was in but other talking heads in the film come through clearly. Taking footage from so many sources really makes the look of the movie suffer .
My documentary gold standard is Ken Burns and specifically, his Prohibition series. And this doesn’t have the same solid structure or mixture of interview subjects. It would have been great to have footage from other beer writers like Pete Brown in England or Jay Brooks here on the west coast. More Charlie Papazian wouldn’t have hurt either. And it was odd to see an extended scene with the great Randy Clemens dropped into the end credits and not have had him show up in the main movie.
It was great to see Jackson’s writing and beer lair and his local pub and the tributes after his death were touching but I came away feeling that the definitive Michael Jackson documentary is still out there waiting.