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That Touch of Mink

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That Touch of Mink

Image credit: That Touch of Mink, 1962.

The world lost a shining light of female grace and gumption last week with the passing of Doris Day. Beloved by so many, it’s difficult to pinpoint what captivated us.  Was it her cheerful onscreen persona that could make even the worst day just a little bit better?  Or the way she portrayed working women as real people- driven to succeed but vulnerable enough to desire love?  Or perhaps it was her style- that perfect, not-a-hair-out-of-place style which made us understand how a woman could find pleasure and power in the art of beauty, just for herself.  For me, it was all of these things and more.  I’ve already covered one of my favorite movie characters Jan Morrow in Pillow Talk, but as we celebrate the life of Doris Day, I think it’s important to discuss another important role, Cathy Timberlake in That Touch of Mink (Disc/Download).

When I first saw this film twenty years ago, the only memory I took away was the Automat.  Such a quaint but brilliant concept- a vending machine for hot food!  Genius!  But watching it now, as an adult, and as a fan of the romance genre, I can say That Touch of Mink was ahead of its time.  Within the gorgeous Mad Men-esque world of the 1960s, we see Doris as an unemployed career-gal, meeting cute with Cary Grant over a Manhattan mud puddle.  You expect this film to progress a certain way (secretary falls for her charming, grumpy, billionaire boss, etc. etc.), but instead it ends up in a totally different place.  The rich tycoon doesn’t give her a job (at least not right away).  Rather, he offers her a trip around the world, a new wardrobe, and a lavish penthouse, all in exchange for… being with him.  Because it’s 1962, the sex is only implied, but we know what this arrangement entails.  We assume Doris will slap him in the face, but surprising everyone, she agrees! She jets off to Bermuda, wears his mink coat (in the tropics no less), and lets him parade her around in front of the other tycoons and party girls.  But this being Doris, she comes down with a rash and can’t actually go through with the act.  Cary, in his dopey Mr. Rogers cardigans, is pissed but gentlemanly about it.  She manages to snag him in the end by hatching a jealousy plot with John Astin, but already the damage is done.  The audience sees Doris as a Bad Girl.  A girl who essentially agrees to prostitute herself, who drinks a bottle of scotch, and invites the creepy guy at the Unemployment Office to join her in a weekend motel romp.  And the thing is, I’m still pretty smitten with this version of Doris.

One of my bucket-list items is to stay at Doris Day’s hotel in Carmel, CA, the Cypress Inn.  I’ve already perused their bar menu and picked out the drink I will have in Terry’s Bar (yeah, I’m that much of a planner).  It’s a champagne cocktail which pairs beautifully with this sophisticated, unusual film.  While watching That Touch of Mink, I recommend having a Day Drink.

Day Drink

Sparkling Rosé

Sugar Cube

Angostura Bitters

1/4 oz Peach Schnapps

1/2 oz Bourbon

Place sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute, and soak with a few dashes of bitters.  Top with Peach Schnapps and Bourbon, then Sparkling Rosé.

Day Drink.jpg

It’s incredibly striking to see the threads this movie shares with our modern counterpart, Fifty Shades of Grey.  Handsome, commitment-phobic billionaire seeks smart, pretty, innocent gal for exotic getaways, dress-up sessions, and sex?  Check, check, and check.  We’re missing the BDSM, but I don’t think I can picture Doris with a riding crop.  Unless we’re talking Calamity Jane, in which case she’s a natural.  So this week, let’s raise our glasses to Doris Day, patron saint of love, career, and family. Through her films, through her EPIC eye-rolls, I understand what it is to be a woman.  Cheers!

Juliet, Naked

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juliet naked

Image credit: Juliet, Naked, 2018

I did a horrible thing. When making my Top Five Films of 2018 list a few months ago, I neglected to include the sweetly perfect rom-com Juliet, Naked (Disc/Download). My only excuse is that I simply didn’t get a chance to see it in 2018.   However I seem to be making up for lost time because I’m on viewing #3 so far, and like a fine wine, it just keeps getting better with age.

Speaking of things getting better with age, I can’t watch this movie and not imagine that Tucker Crowe is Troy Dyer all grown up and regretting his younger Reality Bites shenanigans. A slacker alt-rocker who treats women like crap but is soooo beautiful in all the vintage gig photos? I mean, come on.  Did Ethan Hawke choose this part on purpose, as a meta nod to his iconic role? His casting seems to reinforce an important principle of the movie—that, “Art is not for the artist, any more than water is to a plumber.”  Honestly, as a Reality Bites fan, I want to see what became of Troy Dyer.  Is he still stealing Snickers Bars?  Did he ever get a chance to buy everyone a Coke? Maybe, like Chris O’Dowd’s obsessed character Duncan, I’m reading too much into all of this. Maybe Ethan Hawke just wanted a fun part where he got to sing a Kinks song. Maybe he really liked the Nick Hornby novel this movie was based on. But whatever the truth may be, I still consider Juliet, Naked to be a delightful wink to the members of the TroyDyer4Ever club (if this is not yet a fan club, I’m thinking of starting it).

Ethan Hawke’s endurance as an heartthrob aside, the film’s soul truly lies with beautiful, shy Annie, played by the lovely Rose Byrne.  Annie finds herself stuck in a rut, realizing that she let life carry her along without making any big decisions. But then she meets Tucker, comes out of her shell, and realizes that her story is just beginning. Let’s toast this wonderful performance with a Blossoming Rosé cocktail.

Blossoming Rosé

5 oz Rosé cider

1.5 oz Reposado tequila

1.5 oz Grapefruit Juice

.5 oz Lime Juice

.5 oz Mint-infused simple syrup

Grapefruit Wedge for garnish

Combine tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then pour into a glass filled with fresh ice. Top with cider, and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

Blossoming Rose

Ultimately, Juliet, Naked is about taking chances. Taking a chance that you’re going to make the wrong decisions, that you’re going to mess up a little bit, but that nothing good will ever happen if you don’t seize the opportunities life throws at you. If Tucker is my cautionary tale, then Annie is my inspiration. And Duncan, well—he’s just Stevie F*ckin’ Wonder. Cheers!

The Trouble with Angels

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The Trouble with Angels

Image credit: The Trouble with Angels, 1966.

I’ve got the most scathingly brilliant idea. Let’s revisit the wonderful female-centric ’60s film The Trouble with Angels (Disc/Download) while drinking cocktails and worshiping at the altar of Rosalind Russell. I’m not a religious gal myself, but I’d still like to say a prayer of thanks to whoever made this movie happen. Without it, I might never understand the true greatness that occurs when men get the hell out of the way and let women take over.

Starring Hayley Mills and June Harding as precocious teens stuck at an all-girls Catholic boarding school, The Trouble with Angels is a story of friendship and finding one’s place in the world. As a lonely child watching this for the first time, I envied the friendship of Mary and Rachel like nothing else. To have a best friend that would be there for you through thick and thin (even if it means years of scrubbing pots), seemed like an impossible dream. Sure, these girls annoy the heck out of Mother Superior, played by the commanding Rosalind Russell, but it’s such a joy to watch them make mistakes, learn from them, and grow closer. For all the “good girls” out there like Rachel (and me),  we need a “bad girl” to show us that life is meant to be lived, and sometimes, rules are meant to be broken.

This film was one of my first forays into 1960s cinema, and I credit it with triggering a lifelong obsession. I wanted it all- the teased hair, the clothes, the pop culture references, and still do. Rachel’s teen dream is none other than Jack Lemmon, which made me love the actor before I ever saw him strain spaghetti through a tennis racket in The Apartment. Rachel loves Jack Lemmon, so I love Jack Lemmon. I also love this lemon cocktail that’s as fizzy, sweet, and tart as the film itself. While watching The Trouble with Angels, I recommend drinking a glass of Lemmon-ade.

Lemmon-ade

1.5 oz vodka

1.5 oz Gabriello Lemon Cream Liqueur

½ oz simple syrup

½ oz lemon juice

Lemon Italian Soda

Lemon Twist

Combine vodka, lemon liqueur, simple syrup, and lemon juice over ice in a shaker. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Top with Italian soda, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Lemmon-ade

Watching this film as an adult, I’m delighted by how well it still holds up. I attribute this to the fact that it was directed by a woman (the trailblazing Ida Lupino), written by a woman, and starring all women. Their conversations don’t revolve around men, but around friendships, education, and self-discovery. For females of any generation, this is an important film that deserves to be toasted. Mothers, show it to your daughters—they’ll thank you for it someday. Cheers!

Drive Me Crazy

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Drive Me Crazy

Image credit: Drive Me Crazy, 1999.

I confess, this was not a movie I ever planned to write about. In my deep dive through the prom movies of 1999, I always assumed I’d cover American Pie. It was, after all, a box office smash that year, and a defining movie of my generation. Well, I watched it all right. And let me tell you- there is not enough alcohol in the world to make that movie okay. Rather than subject my blog readers to a flaming turd of misogyny, I’ve turned to a quieter, gentler film to round out Prom Month. Drive Me Crazy (Disc/Download) is the kind of movie you put on when you’re sick and not fully aware of your surroundings. There are no loud noises, no quick cuts, no complicated plots. You can fall asleep halfway through and not miss a thing.

Out of all the films I’ve watched this month, this one gives me the most nostalgia. Not because I even saw it back then (I didn’t), but because of the production and costume design. From chokers and belly shirts to inflatable furniture, this movie is basically a Delias catalog. The characters seem fairly normal, if a little boring, and it technically checks all the 90s teen rom-com boxes. Susan May Pratt as the best friend? Check. Leading actor who’s almost too pretty to be real? Check. Angry girl music of the indie rock persuasion? Check. Outdoor scene that exists just to show teens in bathing suits? Check. As a mash-up of all the other teen movies that year, it should have worked. Unfortunately, the pacing is SO SLOW, and Adrian Grenier and Melissa Joan Hart have zero chemistry.  It makes perfect sense when their parents hook up at the end- these kids might as well be siblings already.

The prom theme in Drive Me Crazy is “Centennial”.  This is a very fancy event with laser lights and champagne flutes full of orange liquid. Is it Tang? Is it Sunkist Orange Soda? We may never know. But while I watch Drive Me Crazy, I’ll be showing my school spirit with an Orange Crush

Orange Crush

8 oz Austin Eastciders Blood Orange Cider

1 oz Morey Mandarin Liqueur

Combine cider and mandarin liqueur in a chilled flute.

Orange crush

It’s been a wild ride for me, watching all the prom movies that came out during the time I should have actually been attending prom. But honestly, 1999 was such a great year for movies that it’s no wonder I stayed home. Why would I have wasted time with a real-life loser when I had Heath and Freddie and Adrian to keep me company? Cheers!

The Virgin Suicides

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Virgin Suicides

Image Credit: The Virgin Suicides, 1999.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I watch an adaptation of a work of literary fiction and think, “The book was better.” But The Virgin Suicides (Disc/Download) is one film where this phrase does not apply. Though I loved Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel, Sofia Coppola made me see things within the pages that I missed the first time around. The angst of adolescence, the impulsivity, the dreaminess—I definitely need a cocktail if I’m going to put myself back in the mind of a thirteen-year-old girl.

Starring Kirsten Dunst as the rebel within a family of five beautiful sisters, the film’s narration uses Eugenides’ words as a roadmap, treating us to his gorgeous prose. Set in 1970’s suburban Detroit, we get to know the Lisbon sisters through the eyes of their admirers, a group of hopelessly besotted neighborhood boys. When one of the sisters commits suicide, their overbearing parents (James Woods and Kathleen Turner) place the remaining girls under house arrest, and their only contact with the outside world is through their vinyl collection and a vintage phone. The boys try to rescue them, but that’s the thing about being a teenage girl—nobody can really save you from it.

One of my favorite parts of the film is when the Lisbon sisters attend a homecoming dance. They laugh and drink peach schnapps and make out with inappropriate boys, and it’s such a microcosm of what we expect adolescence to be, but rarely is. For these characters, it was like a dream that couldn’t last. While watching The Virgin Suicides, celebrate the hope of being a teenage girl with a First Blush.

First Blush

1 oz peach schnapps

1 oz grenadine

5 oz champagne

Pour chilled peach schnapps and grenadine into a flute, and top with champagne.

First Blush

What Sofia Coppola does so well as a director is capture a specific time and place with her unique artistic flair. ‘70s suburbia looks like a Formica fantasy filled with patterned wallpaper, female grooming detritus, and records strewn across the floor. It looks like a place where nothing bad could ever happen, until of course, it does. It always does. Cheers!

 

She’s All That

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She's All That

Image credit: She’s All That, 1999.

Although 1999 was the golden year of teen rom-coms, She’s All That (Disc/Download) was considered THE prom movie. It seemingly had it all—the Cinderella story, reality TV references, teenage coffee addicts, even DJ Usher! This was a movie that popular kids and artsy brains alike could enjoy because there was something for everyone.  Well, everyone except me, that is.  I never quite got on the Freddie Prinz Jr. bandwagon.  I was saving myself for Heath Ledger ;-).

I’m unclear on the actual ages of the actors in this film (and I can’t care enough to do the math), but l’m pretty sure they all had mortgages at the time. As the wife of a high school teacher, I can confidently say, teenagers do not look like the “teenagers” in this movie. Even Rachel Leigh Cook, who might have been under 18 at the time, has a world-wise Audrey Hepburn aura. Maybe that’s why big-man-on-campus Freddie Prinz Jr. falls so hard for the tragic nerd. It’s obvious that underneath all those hair extensions and glasses, this is a girl who will soon be studying abroad in Italy and having an affair with her art history professor. He’s gotta make this happen while she’s still naïve enough to think he’s cool. Even still, by the time prom rolls around and she’s got a sleek hairdo and stylish black prom dress, I sit there thinking, “meh, you could do better, sweetie.”

One of the most misunderstood characters in the history of cinema is Taylor Vaughn, aka. The Popular Villain. She’s obviously overcompensating for some serious insecurities, and we need to cut her some slack. The only goal she seems to have is that of Prom Queen, so really—shouldn’t we just let her have it already? She works hard, giving out lattes to the other students in exchange for their vote (I think the only thing prom nominees handed out at my high school were snide comments behind your back). While watching She’s All That, I recommend drinking a Vote for Taylor! Latte.

Vote for Taylor! Latte

2 oz Rumchata

1 oz Vanilla Vodka

1.5 oz Cold Brew Coffee

1.5 oz Vanilla Soy Milk

Coffee Ice Cubes

Freeze coffee concentrate into ice cubes. Once they are frozen, put in a glass and set aside. Pour Rumchata, Vanilla vodka, cold brew, and soy milk into a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake until well mixed and chilled. Strain over prepared glass.

Vote for Taylor Latte

This movie still has a lot of fans, and I think it’s because we like to dream big. We want to believe in unpredictable love and those great movie moments lit by twinkle lights and sequins. And that’s what prom is right? For one night, you get to pretend that you’re the sort of person who goes to balls and kisses the handsome Prinz at the stroke of midnight. Even if you wake up the next day with the same old glasses and paint splatter on your overalls, at least you had the fairy tale. Cheers!

10 Things I Hate About You

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10 Things I Hate About You

Image Credit: 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999.

Picture this: young (but not so young that it’s creepy) Heath Ledger in a bulky jumpsuit that somehow manages to show off his broad shoulders and narrow waist. Long hair pulled back into a rakish ponytail. Beside him, on a bed of hay, lies Julia Stiles, covered in paint. He cups her face with his strong hands, smearing the colors, preparing her for his kiss. Let’s just say, this scene in 10 Things I Hate About You (Disc/Download) DID THINGS to a teenage Liz Locke. Heck, it does things to Adult Liz too. I need a cocktail to cool off.

Adapted from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, this delightful rom-com is a fun mix of cheesy acting and sparkling dialogue. In his American film debut, Heath Ledger plays the bad boy with a heart of gold. His Patrick Verona smolders with a cocky can’t-give-a-fuck attitude until he meets the girl who matches him eyeroll for eyeroll. Although initially paid to take out the prickly Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles), he makes the mistake of falling for her in the process. We all know how this is going to end (the joy, the heartbreak, the reconciliation), but watching it unfold is so darn fun. There are other charming actors and subplots in this, but let’s be clear—I’m here for Heath, his accent, and his incredible smile (and, okay, his tight black tanktops).

Opposites attract is one of my favorite tropes, especially when there’s some great banter involved.  What I love about Patrick is that he can dish it out just as well as the feisty Kat, thus creating oodles of tension.  These two either have to kill each other or kiss.  While watching 10 Things I Hate About You, I recommend drinking a “Prickly Pair” Margarita.

“Prickly Pair” Margarita

1.5 oz Blanco Tequila

1/2 oz Cointreau

1 oz Lime Juice

1 barspoon Prickly Pear Preserves

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Orange Twist (garnish)

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled.  Strain into a glass filled with ice.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Prickly Pear Margarita

Although Heath is delicious and wonderful, let’s not forget about Allison Janney as the  guidance counselor who writes romance novels on the side.  Add to that epic proms, a seaside vista, and Letters to Cleo performing on the roof, and this is basically the greatest high school in the world.  Why would anyone ever want to graduate?  Cheers!