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Away We Go

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Film Title: Away We Go

Image credit: Away We Go, 2009

Sometimes travel has nothing to do with business or pleasure, and everything to do with searching. Searching for a person, or a place, or maybe just a feeling. In Away We Go (DVD/Download), two soon-to-be parents embark on a quest across North America to find perhaps the most important thing of all- Home. As it turns out, this is one of the hardest destinations to find.

Directed by Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, Away We Go is full of both earnestness and humor. I see myself and so many people I know in these characters, two well-meaning people forced to grapple with this idea of adulthood and finding one’s place in the world. Pregnancy is a catalyst, but don’t mistake this for a She’s Having a Baby type of discourse on parenthood. Instead this is a film about two unique individuals who finally have to grow up and figure out the kind of future they want. Visiting friends and relatives in Phoenix, Madison, Montreal, and Miami, they search for an anchor to tie their boat to. Beautifully shot, with a soundtrack by Alexi Murdoch, this film truly feels like a journey.

Throughout Away We Go, John Krasinski waxes poetic on the allure of the Mighty Mississippi, and wanting to give his child a “Huck Finn” kind of upbringing. It’s a romantic notion, and certainly refreshing in the age of smartphones and videogames. When we finally see the Mississippi in this film, it feels utterly majestic. While watching Away We Go, I recommend drinking a Mighty MissisSip.

Mighty MissisSip

1 ½ oz Light Rum

1 oz Whiskey

3 oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Lemon Twist

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker full of ice, and shake until combined. Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

I was in the very fortunate position to decide where I wanted to build a future before I got tied down with responsibility. I knew I didn’t like where I was living at the time (sorry DC), so I considered all the places I’d ever been that had felt like home. Austin won out, and not for a clear-cut reason. Nobody can explain why a certain place feels like home, it just….does. And as much as we want to tell ourselves that home is a person, I’m not sure I believe that. There’s a unique sense of purpose and hope that one feels when they look around and realize they’ve discovered the place where they belong. Like the characters in Away We Go, I’m grateful to have found mine. Cheers!

A Bigger Splash

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A Bigger Splash

Image credit: A Bigger Splash, 2016

Cinema Sips travel month moves to Italy this week for the stunning psychological thriller A Bigger Splash (DVD/Download). All I can say about this one is #travelgoals. Well, except for the dead body in the swimming pool. But a sun-drenched Sicilian villa overlooking the ocean? Dior resort-wear? Ricotta-making lessons? Sign me up!

A Bigger Splash was one of those lovely little forgotten gems released during a summer full of blockbuster nonsense. Starring Tilda Swinton as a Bowie-esque rockstar recovering from throat surgery, the film delves into her relationship with a handsome, quiet boyfriend (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), her boorish, live-wire ex (played with hilarious aplomb by Ralph Fiennes), and the ex’s estranged daughter(?) played by Dakota Johnson. While we’re meant to be seduced by Johnson and her mysterious beauty, she mostly gives off a creepy Eurotrash vibe with her see-through tops and bored stares. And really, who can compete with Tilda Swinton and her exquisite Dior wardrobe? I become more and more envious with each passing scene. And Ralph Fiennes- he’s manipulative and loud and obnoxious and just SO fun to watch. Somebody, give this man more comedic roles!!

While on vacation, the foursome wander over to the local unmarked restaurant on the side of a cliff. As you do. With no menu, the undoubtedly delectable food is served on folding tables to the ultra-rich and those locals in the know. And daiquiris! Director Luca Guadagnino takes particular joy in filming the cocktail prep. So icy and tart you can almost taste them through the screen. While watching A Bigger Splash, I recommend drinking a Frozen Lime Daiquiri.

Frozen Lime Daiquiri

3 oz light rum

1.5 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz simple syrup

Shaved ice

Pulse rum, lime juice, simple syrup, and ice together in a blender until slushy. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a lime slice.

lime daiquiri

Drinking this cocktail almost makes me feel like I’m laying by that turquoise swimming pool, lazing the day away with the beautiful people, deciding which of them is hiding something. The answer: all of them. Cheers!

Y Tu Mamá También

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Y Tu Mama Tambien

Image credit: Y Tu Mamá También, 2001

Travel Month continues on Cinema Sips with a road trip through Mexico. Full warning, this movie contains a lot of sex. Like, A LOT of sex. However, it also contains enough beautiful scenery, humor, and political discourse to give Y Tu Mamá También (DVD/Download) a sheen of respectability. Plus, a with a pedigreed, Academy Award-winning director like Alfonso Cuarón at the helm, it’s no wonder this was a hit with critics and audiences alike.

I remember a Mexican friend telling me once upon a time that teenagers in his country considered this their American Pie. It was a huge blockbuster, and the film anthem of a generation. I find this absolutely absurd, only because I assume teenagers have zero taste in quality (as evidenced by the popularity of American Pie in the US). But perhaps our southern neighbors are cinephiles in disguise. As a film about randy teenagers on a road trip with a sexy dying woman, Y Tu Mamá También has crude teen jokes galore, but somehow when an English speaker reads them as subtitles, they don’t seem so lowbrow. And a drunken threesome, when set in the backdrop of a sandy paradise, seems artistic and daring.

What do eighteen-year olds do on summer break? Drink of course! Plus, Mexico is home to some truly amazing cocktail delights. I consider this week’s drink a vacation in a glass, so if you need a break from reality, this will transport you. While watching Y Tu Mamá También, I recommend drinking a Charolastra Margarita.

Charolastra Margarita

1 oz silver tequila

2 oz pineapple juice

1 oz Cointreau

½ oz Lime Juice

Lime twist for garnish

In a shaker filled with ice, combine tequila, pineapple and lime juices, and Cointreau. Shake vigorously until chilled. Pour into a glass filled with ice, and garnish with lime twist.

Charolastra Margarita

Making stars out of lead actors Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, Y Tu Mamá También was unlike anything at the multiplex at the time of its release. Sexy, bold, funny, and moving, it’s a film about the journeys we take both as travelers and humans. Eventually, we all end up at La Boca del Cielo. Cheers!

Up in the Air

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up-in-the-air

Image credit: Up in the Air, 2009.

When summer break seems too far away, and spring break is oh so short (and expensive), sometimes you have to turn to the movies.  To sooth my wanderlust, all month long on Cinema Sips I’ll be enjoying some travel-focused films. Kicking things off is the George Clooney tragicomedy Up in the Air (DVD/Download). As an HR exec who spends 322 days on the road, he knows a thing or two about air travel. Let’s prepare for takeoff.

Up in the Air does a great job of showing the perks and pitfalls of business travel, from slow moving senior citizens setting off the airport metal detectors, to quiet, perhaps lonely drinks in a hotel bar. Only Clooney could pull off a character whose main purpose is to be the ultimate jerk. He flies in to Omaha or Tulsa or any other nondescript white-collar business town to lay off employees, but he’s just so charming that they almost thank him for the pleasure. When a young whippersnapper played by Anna Kendrick waltzes in to extol the virtues of firing by videoconference, he has to prove his worth on the road. With an “empty bag” devoid of commitment, attachment, or anything of meaning, he’s free to rack up airline miles and casual sex. But is that really living?

I used to dread airline cocktails, until the magical Carry-on Cocktail Kit was released by the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Although they have many varieties, I like to stay loyal to the Gin & Tonic kit. It truly does make flying much more civilized, with a linen napkin and tiny metal jigger. Sure, I get funny looks when I VERY SPECIFICALLY order a can of club soda, a separate glass of ice, a tiny bottle of gin, and a lime, but I figure my annoying order for the flight attendant is revenge for the miniscule bag of peanuts I’m about to be given. Nobody likes peanuts. While watching Up in the Air, I recommend drinking a Carry On Gin & Tonic.

Carry On Gin & Tonic

1 can club soda

1 mini bottle gin

1/2 oz tonic syrup (from Carry On Cocktail Kit)

Wedge of lime

Glass of ice

Pour gin and tonic syrup over ice, then top with club soda. Stir gently to combine, and squeeze/drop the lime in.

carry-on-cocktail-kit

Honestly, I am extremely jealous of anyone who gets to travel for business. Your company sends you on a free trip, puts you up in a hotel where you don’t have to make your own bed or do your own dishes, you get to eat out every night, AND you can put your accumulated frequent flier miles into your own personal account? All without spending a dime of your own money? What’s not to love? Sure, there are lonely nights on the road, and missing your family, but it’s a sacrifice I’d be willing to make for all those miles. Cheers!

The Hateful Eight

hateful-eight

Image credit: The Hateful Eight, 2015

Thank goodness for Quentin Tarantino. Without him, I would have considerably fewer epic moviegoing memories. My first time seeing this week’s film The Hateful Eight (DVD/Download) was during the “Roadshow” screenings. This included a delightful color program, an opening overture composed by Ennio Morricone, and midway through- a much needed bathroom break (the one time in my life the line for the men’s room was longer than the women’s). Why can’t every movie experience be so civilized?

The Hateful Eight is an interesting Western because most of the action takes place in only one room. Set in a stagecoach stop-over in Wyoming during a blizzard, the “Eight” are various lawmen, bounty hunters, criminals, and Civil War generals all trapped together. A mystery unfolds slowly (who poisoned the coffee???) as we hear more about the characters’ backstories, and realize that not everyone is who he appears to be. As usual, we have a strong Tarantino female played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, and many cast members from previous QT films. Props to Kurt Russell for acting around his Yosemite Sam mustache, and Samuel L. Jackson really gives it his all as the blood-drenched FOAB (Friend of Abraham Lincoln). For a 3 hour film, with very little action and A LOT of dialogue, Tarantino has managed to make a hilarious movie that manages to keep me on my toes as an audience member. No easy feat.

As previously mentioned, the big mystery the inhabitants of Minnie’s Haberdashery are trying to solve is who tampered with the coffee. How appropriate then, to have a hot, caffeine-filled drink to enjoy while you watch the action unfold. When viewing The Hateful Eight, I recommend drinking a Poisoned Coffee.

Poisoned Coffee

4 oz strong brewed coffee

1.5 oz bourbon

1 oz cream

.5 oz maple syrup

Whipped cream topping (optional)

Combine coffee, bourbon, cream, and maple syrup in a heat-proof glass and stir gently to combine. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

poisoned-coffee

Although Westerns are definitely not my preferred genre, when Quentin Tarantino makes a movie I know I’ll watch it and love it. Good writing is good writing whether it’s set in the seedy underbelly of LA or a snowy cabin in Wyoming. Sure there’s blood and gore aplenty, but always in the most humorous way possible. It may look like a western, but as we all know- looks can be deceiving. Cheers!

Blast From the Past

blast-from-the-past

Image credit: Blast From the Past, 1999

Seeing puffy, let-himself-go Brendan Fraser on the most recent season of The Affair has reminded me how much I missed this 90’s beefcake. One of my favorite films in the Fraser canon is this week’s Cinema Sips pick, Blast From the Past (DVD/Download). As a man who’s been raised in an atomic fallout shelter, Fraser pulls off the ludicrous script with so much charm, you almost forget the fact that he has virtually no chemistry with Alicia Silverstone, the Eve to his Adam. It’s just fun to watch him get excited about color TV.

In reality, I’ve always liked the idea of bomb shelters and panic rooms- a place where you can go when the world gets too scary and dangerous. I’d fill mine with romance novels and gin, and maybe some of those big tubs of cheesy puffs from Costco. And certainly, Blast From the Past puts a relatively great spin on the underground shelter concept. I mean, Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek raising their young son in a 1960’s-era bunker modeled after their own home? Complete with vintage modern furniture and cocktails? Sounds like heaven.

One of the best things about this movie is all the cocktails and classic barware. 1962 was a fine time to be alive, style and booze-wise, and this movie brings the nostalgia back in a big way. While watching Blast From the Past, I recommend drinking a Rob Roy.

Rob Roy

1 ½ oz Scotch

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

Dash of Angostura Bitters

Maraschino cherries

Add ingredients into a cocktail shaker and stir vigorously over ice. Strain into a chilled glass, and garnish with 2 maraschino cherries.

rob-roy

In my opinion, the present is very overrated. These days, reruns of I Love Lucy and vacuuming in a house dress and pearls doesn’t look too bad. Just leave the liquor down there and I’ll be all set  (I always was an “indoor girl”). Cheers!

 

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Image credit: Crazy, Stupid, Love,  2011

Now that the world has officially fallen in love with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land, I think it’s high time to revisit their first onscreen meet cute in Crazy, Stupid, Love (DVD/Download).  This was a fantastic ensemble film written by This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman, and fans of the TV show will see a lot of similarities. Humor, family dynamics, and soaring speeches about love abound, with a cast that just exudes greatness. Sound familiar?

Like Cher Horowitz, my main thrill in life is a makeover.  Thus I swoon when Ryan Gosling, playing a stylish, smooth talking womanizer, decides to treat Steve Carell’s dumpy divorcee dad to an image rehab. Eventually, they both realize that better clothes, manly cocktails, and bar hook-ups don’t result in a happier life. Without the women they love, they’re nothing. While Steve Carell goes through the biggest transition, it’s even more fun to watch Ryan Gosling meet his match in Emma Stone. Finally, a woman who doesn’t fall for his pick-up lines and fancy moves. Well, except for his big Dirty Dancing move. Can we blame her??

This is a perfect film to watch with a cocktail because so much of the dating action takes place in a bar.  As part of the bachelor-in-training process, Ryan Gosling impresses upon his student the importance of a manly cocktail, NOT drunk through a straw. And I’m happy to report that not only is Gosling funny, charming, and gorgeous in this, but he also makes a mean Old Fashioned. Be still my heart! While watching Crazy, Stupid, Love, I recommend drinking an Old Fashioned.

Old Fashioned

1 ½ oz Bourbon

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

1 sugar cube

Dash of plain water

Orange twist

Maraschino cherry

Place sugar cube in an old fashioned glass and saturate with bitters, adding a dash of plain water. Muddle until sugar is dissolved. Fill the glass with a large ice cube, and add bourbon. Garnish with an orange twist and maraschino cherry (optional).

old-fashioned

If you’re a sucker for romantic comedies like I am, this movie will remind you of why being in love is so great. It’s messy, and yeah at times crazy and stupid, but when a someone has the courage to go big or go home, it’s a pretty incredible thing to behold. Cheers!