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Rosemary’s Baby

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rosemarys baby

Image credit: Rosemary’s Baby, 1968.

Cute dresses, weird jewelry, and Ruth Gordon’s funky hats- THIS is how you get me to watch a horror film. Like a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down, the costume and production design of Rosemary’s Baby (DVD/Download) make it palatable (dare I say, enjoyable) to a scary-movie neophyte like me. If you haven’t seen this classic film yet, stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now.  You’ll thank me later.

More than a horror film, I consider this picture to be classic suspense. Rosemary, played brilliantly by vintage-pixie Mia Farrow, is married to a handsome, feckless actor when they move into a storied New York City apartment building. Their neighbors, played by Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer, are old, very creepy, and secret occultists. Rosemary is drugged and raped by the devil while a bunch of naked senior citizens (AND HER AWFUL HUSBAND) stand by and watch, then she’s unknowingly forced to carry the spawn of Satan for 9 months. There are not enough words in the English language to fully convey how much I hate Rosemary’s husband, who makes her think he violently raped and clawed her up, instead of the devil in her dream. Because that’s somehow okay??? I’d say Rosemary needs a divorce attorney.

How, you ask, do Rosemary and her husband get pulled into this coven’s orbit? By that great social icebreaker, a cocktail party. Their strange neighbors serve up cocktails and terrible cake made of god-knows-what. Devil’s food? (Sorry, I had to). While you watch Rosemary’s Baby, I recommend drinking this Vodka Blush cocktail, straight from the Castavet’s fabulous apartment.

Vodka Blush

2 1/2 oz Vodka

½ oz Lime juice

½ oz Grenadine

Sprig of Rosemary for garnish

Mix vodka and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until cold, then strain into a chilled flute. Slowly top with grenadine, and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Vodka Blush

While I definitely had one tense night of sleep where I woke up expecting Ruth Gordon to be standing in a corner with too much lipstick and a lime green feather boa, this movie didn’t exactly scare the bejeezus out of me. I attribute this mainly to the relatable performance by Mia Farrow, Roman Polanski’s incredible direction, and an enviable 60’s wardrobe. I can only hope her maternity dresses will come back in style for the rest of us. Not that I’m planning on getting pregnant with the spawn of Satan, but they’re the perfect camouflage for a belly full of cocktails and queso. Cheers!

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Crimson Peak

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Crimson Peak

Image credit: Crimson Peak, 2015.

I’ll admit, I definitely watched Crimson Peak (DVD/Download) expecting a spooky Jane Eyre. While it wasn’t that, I’m still not exactly sure what it hoped to be. Gothic romance? Grisly horror? A cinematic ode to velvet? While this film is certainly beautiful, in the end I was left with the old Gertrude Stein quote rattling around in my brain- there is no there, there.

While I normally eschew horror, I gave this a shot because the visuals promised to be absolutely incredible. And, they are. From a turn-of-the-century American industrialist’s mansion, to a rotting estate in the barren English countryside, Crimson Peak is all about the production design. For me, it was love-at-first-clawfoot tub sighting.  But then there’s all the velvet. SO. MUCH. VELVET. Pants, capes, dresses, and hats in the most beautiful jewel tones. These characters stand out against their decrepit surroundings, not because they’re saying anything interesting (they’re not), but because someone has taken the time to drape and tailor their clothes to perfection. I wish there were more substance to this story of a girl falling victim to a marriage-murder plot, but there’s just not. Will I keep watching for glimpses of her puffed sleeves? Of course. Do I wish I’d just turned the sound off halfway through? Kinda, yeah.

One sinister note Crimson Peak employs is the use of the color red. From a spray of blood to a river of blood, this color saturates everything.  Time to drink a color-coordinated cocktail that references all the poisoned tea being served at Allerdale Hall.  While watching Crimson Peak, I recommend drinking a Bloody Mar-tea-ni.

Bloody Mar-tea-ni

1.5 oz Sweet Tea vodka

1.5 oz Pomegranate juice

1.5 oz Blood Orange juice

½ oz Luxardo Maraschino syrup

To prepare glass, drizzle Luxardo maraschino syrup around the inside. Set aside. Combine vodka, pomegranate juice, and blood orange juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into prepared glass.

Bloody Mar-Tea-Ni

For fans of scary movies, you could do worse than Crimson Peak. There are some genuinely frightening moments when angry ghosts try to get their revenge, and a lot of suspense around the fate of the family papillon (at least for a dog-lover like me). But luckily, the acting and dialogue is so campy that I never really felt that nightmare-inducing grip of fear. Next to the dog, the only other thing I truly cared about in that house was the velvet. Please- no blood splatter on the velvet!!!!! Cheers!

Clue

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Clue Mrs Peacock

Image credit: Clue, 1985

For over twenty-five years, I’ve been terrorized by a film. It haunted me into adolescence and adulthood, through midnight screenings and drunken Halloween parties. Just the mere mention of it caused my body to shudder and shake. When I finally got brave enough to admit my fear of Clue (DVD/Download), I was met with confused stares. “Wait,” people would say, “Are we talking about the same movie? Clue?? That really wacky murder-mystery movie from the 80’s?” Yes, that would be the one.

You see, seven-year old Liz Locke could not handle Clue. The sight of a gloved hand raising a wrench over an unsuspecting victim’s head gave me such tremendous nightmares that I had to sleep with my parents for a week. Even when they made me suck it up and deal with it, I never turned that nightlight off. EVER. When I grew up, and people tried to tell me how funny, how absurd this film is, I still resisted watching it. Why revisit past trauma? But this week, I finally decided to take the plunge. I actually rented Clue, and with trembling fingers, hit play. And you know what? I LOVED IT! I’ve decided I want to be Mrs. Peacock when I grow up, with her weird hats and cat-eye glasses. I’d be BFFs with Mr. Green, but only if he’s played by the brilliant Michael McKean. I’d attend dinner parties in a fabulous old New England mansion and scurry through secret passageways. And I would NOT slurp my soup.

Perhaps I should credit alcohol for being the main reason I now love this movie. With a cocktail (or two), just about anything can be fun. Normally I’d consider Brandy to be a serious spirit for serious films, but mixed with some maraschino and pineapple, it’s a flirty, 1950’s inspired drink fit for Mrs. Peacock. While watching Clue, I recommend drinking a Club Cocktail.

Club Cocktail

2 oz Brandy

½ oz Maraschino Liqueur

½ oz pineapple juice

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Lemon Twist

Maraschino cherry

Mix Brandy, Marschino Liqueur, pineapple juice, and bitters in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon and maraschino cherry.

As a nod to this film’s three separate endings, try switching out the brandy with rum, or silver tequila. If you’re throwing a Halloween party, this could be a great way to mix things up. Like a choose-your-own adventure for booze. Show this film, then give the guests one of the three cocktail variations, or perhaps all three! They won’t know what hit them. Cheers to no more nightmares!

Out of Sight

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out of sight

Image credit: Out of Sight, 1998

I tend to spend a lot of time explaining the romance genre to people.  The books I read (and attempt to write) usually feature intelligent, capable heroines who find love in unexpected places, and never compromise their own integrity for a roll in the hay.  Elmore Leonard and Steven Soderbergh tackled romantic suspense with this week’s film Out of Sight (DVD/Download).  And the weird thing is, they got it SO RIGHT.

I’m going to warn all you ladies who are still mourning the loss of bachelor George Clooney- he is at absolute peak sexiness in this film. As Jack Foley, the bank robber with a heart of gold, he’s charming, a little dangerous, and oh so chivalrous. When he meets-cute with Jennifer Lopez’s federal marshal Karen Sisco, sparks fly along with bullets. They’re trapped in the trunk of a car together, and instead of copping a feel, he banters with her about old movies. Be still my heart! Karen follows him from Miami to Detroit, Jack gets caught up in a burglary gone bad, and even when things get dark (as they always do in an Elmore Leonard novel), Lopez and Clooney still share a crackling chemistry.

One of my favorite scenes is when these two star-crossed lovers pretend to be strangers in a bar, just for one night. With the snow falling outside, they’ve got bourbon and a steamy attraction to keep them warm. Let’s keep this cocktail simple with just a dash of ginger liqueur.

Bourbon & Ginger

2 oz Bourbon

.75 oz Ginger Liqueur

Combine bourbon and ginger liqueur over a large ice cube. Stir to chill.

Out of Sight is smart, sexy, and everything I love about romance. As Jack says, you’d be surprised what you can get when you ask for it the right way. Hollywood- I’d like more films where love is inconvenient, yet unavoidable. I want an intelligent script, and I want the heroine to be a total badass. And if it’s not too much to ask, I would like more Don Cheadle. Is that clear enough?  Cheers!

Grey Gardens

GREY GARDENS

Image credit: Grey Gardens, 1975

I’m ending Documentary Month on a high note, with the film that made wacky headscarves and cat food dinners tres chic. Grey Gardens (DVD/Download) is a story too weird to be true, and yet it is. Think of this as Hoarders O.G.

In telling the saga of Big and Little Edie, the black-sheep relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier-Kennedy-Onassis, filmmakers Albert and David Maysles let the ladies speak for themselves. We see their crumbling mansion on Long Island in all its cat and raccoon-infested glory, their strange, pieced-together clothing, and a co-dependent bond between mother and daughter that’s a little sweet, but mostly disturbing. Like a slow-moving trainwreck, I cannot look away. But despite the horror and revulsion I feel about the  unhygienic living conditions, there’s something freeing in watching these women live their lives without giving a damn what society thinks. It may seem arbitrary to care about fashion and ballet when you’re sharing a bed with a raccoon, but hey- you do you.

It seems appropriate to drink a Long Island Iced Tea while watching this film, but like Little Edie, I’m giving it my own weird twist. Double the rum, splash of cranberry, and of course, a little lemon to make it all right. While watching Grey Gardens, I recommend drinking an East Hamptons Iced Tea.

East Hamptons Iced Tea

1 ½ oz Rum

½ oz Vodka

½ oz Gin

½ oz Silver Tequila

½ oz Cointreau

3 oz Cranberry Soda

1 oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Simple Syrup

Mix all ingredients together in a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled. Pour entire contents in a Collins glass, and garnish with a twist of lemon.

Maybe we’ve all got a little bit of the Ediths in us, and maybe we all struggle at some point to avoid the temptation of staying in bed, of hiding when the world seems too changed and too scary. But then, along comes another voice that says nope- today you’re gonna put on a new leotard and dance around like no one’s watching.  Today you’re gonna be weird, wonderful, and truly original.  And maybe eventually, the whole world will be watching.  Cheers!

Tim’s Vermeer

timsvermeer

Image credit: Tim’s Vermeer, 2013

Documentary Month continues with a film that forever changed the way I view art history and painting. Produced by magicians Penn & Teller, Tim’s Vermeer (DVD/Download) sets out to prove that Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer could have used a system of mirrors in order to paint photo-realistic masterworks. Simply put, it’s a 90-minute explanation of a magic trick. But even more than that, it’s a fascinating look at how technology and art can work together to create something beautiful.

When the film begins, my immediate impression of Tim is that he’s the insufferable party guest who wants to make sure everyone knows he’s the smartest one in the room. And when this non-artist starts the quest to reproduce Vermeer’s The Music Lesson using a camera obscura technique, he doubles down by trying to make the actual things in the painting before he paints it.  That’s great, but you know Vermeer wasn’t off in a corner grinding glass and sanding down chair legs. Tim seems a little showy. But then, once he gets into the painting, all the nonsense falls away. It’s just him, and the tiny details in the window fretwork, or the way the light is hitting a ceramic jug, and that’s when the real magic happens. He starts to see things the way an artist would, and this idea of ability becomes totally irrelevant.  It’s the vision that matters.

By the time Tim is finished painting every little knot in a woven rug, he’s pretty much had it with this painting. I couldn’t help but think that maybe he needed a cocktail to calm his jangled nerves. Let’s celebrate Dutch ingenuity with this simple Genever cocktail. If you’re like Tim, you’ll make your own Genever. I am not like Tim; the liquor store is my friend. While watching Tim’s Vermeer, I recommend drinking a Dutch Mule.

Dutch Mule

1.5 oz Genever

Ginger Beer

3-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Slice of Lime

Build drink in a glass over ice, stirring gently to combine. Top with a few dashes of bitters, and garnish with a slice of lime.

Dutch mule

Sure, Vermeer was incredibly talented, and his compositions and colors were astounding. If he used a camera obscura, it doesn’t make me think less of him as a painter. If anything, I applaud him for using every tool at his disposal to create a magnificent work of art.  Think about that the next time you use an Instagram filter- aren’t we all just trying to communicate an idea in the truest or most interesting way possible?  I admit, my photo of a happy hour cocktail is no Girl With the Pearl Earring, but still-  that Juno filter makes it look pretty amazing.  Cheers!

The Endless Summer

the endless summer

Image credit: The Endless Summer, 1966.

No, this week’s film is not about the Groundhog Day-esque hellscape that is Texas in August/September (although, LORD does this summer feel endless). Rather, it’s a documentary about two surfers in the 1960’s who chased the waves from California to Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific. The Endless Summer (Download) is both an explanation of surf culture, and a meditation on why it endures.

Featuring surf rock by The Sandals, a cheeky narration style, and painterly shots of beautiful beaches, The Endless Summer is instantly transporting. Watching this film, I feel like I’m experiencing the mid-60’s like never before. The hair, the cars, the music, the suits on airplanes—I love it all. For 90 minutes I’m mesmerized watching these men balance on boards that cut through the water like butter; waves rolling over them, pounding, punishing, and still they get up and do it again, all in search of that one perfect ride. When they find it, and the wave goes on forever, it’s a powerful moment. Surfing will never be the same for me.

Another thing I love about this film is that it speaks to the adventurer in all of us.  Who wouldn’t want to imagine themselves on a deserted South African beach, or sitting on Oahu watching death-defying surfers face off against the great waves of Waimea?  Obviously, when I picture myself in these scenarios, I’m enjoying a fabulous cocktail.  While watching The Endless Summer, I recommend drinking a Waimea Sunset.

Waimea Sunset

1 ½ oz Reposado Tequila

¼ oz Aperol

¼ oz Lime Juice

2 oz Grapefruit Juice

¼ oz Grenedine

2 oz club soda

Grapefruit twist

Combine Tequila, Aperol, Lime and Grapefruit juices, and Grenedine in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled. Add club soda, and gently shake back and forth once to combine. Strain into a glass filled with ice, and garnish with a twist of grapefruit.

Waimea Sunset

I’ll be honest, when I think of surfers, I tend to stereotype them all as Spicoli– a long-haired burnout who talks slowly and can’t get a real job. But after watching The Endless Summer, I see how much focus and dedication it takes to participate in this sport, almost to the point of obsession. I don’t know what these guys ended up doing in their lives later on, but I like to think that they’re still out there, searching for that one perfect wave. Cheers!