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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

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Dr Strangelove

Image credit: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964.

If you’re like me, when the daily news becomes too depressing, and reality is just a little too real, you retreat into fiction. With this in mind, I recently re-watched the classic Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove (DVD/Download).  Despite the fact that the world may now be on the brink of actual nuclear war, and Russians are still being Russians, somehow Peter Sellers manages make me laugh about all of it.  Better than crying right?

This political satire about a lunatic rogue General setting off a chain reaction of nuclear warfare doesn’t sound like my normal cup of tea. But great writing is something I can always appreciate, and this script zings with double entendres, madcap conspiracy theories, and what I fear is frightfully accurate military defense strategy. The film hinges on the brilliant performances by Peter Sellers (in 3 impressive roles), Slim Pickens as the Texan bomb pilot, and George C. Scott as the bumbling military commander. The way Sellers transforms himself into characters is like nothing I’ve seen before or since his time in pictures (sorry Eddie Murphy). Also, keep an eye out for the scenes onboard the plane carrying the nuclear warhead- I spy some Wes Anderson-esque camera work, AND James Earl Jones.

In a toast to the German Dr. Strangelove, ex-Nazi and all around scary creep, I’ll be drinking a spirit I’ve shied away from for many years, Jägermeister. I’ve heard nothing but horror stories of hangovers and blackouts, but like Major King Kong, I’m gonna strap myself to that bomb and go for it. While watching Dr. Strangelove, I recommend drinking a Jägerbomb.

Jägerbomb

1 shot of Jägermeister

1 can of Red Bull energy drink

Pour can of Red Bull into a glass, and drop the Jagermeister into it. Drink quickly before the doomsday device ends us all!

Jagerbomb

The final scene of atomic bomb detonations set to the tune of Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” is both funny and frightening. After spending the last 90 minutes giggling at Jack D. Ripper’s antics and his rants about precious bodily fluids, my eyes see the bombs, my ears hear the music, and I start to laugh at the irony. But then the screen goes dark, and a grim thought seeps in- maybe Kubrick was right, about all of it. Maybe we’ll meet the bomb again, some sunny day. All I have to say is: drink up while you can. Cheers!

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Footloose

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Footloose

Image credit: Footloose, 1984

I recently got an email from a Cinema Sips reader who politely pointed out that I have zero Kevin Bacon films on this website. I thought surely this can’t be true (six degrees, and all) but she was right! All these years I’ve been ignoring this hunky staple of American cinema and drunken party games. Of all the films in Bacon’s canon, nothing says party quite like Footloose (DVD/Download). After all, the ending is basically one big glitter bomb. Of course it needs a cocktail!

I’ll confess, Footloose has never been one of my favorites. Is it a musical? A teen comedy? A discourse on censorship and the rise of evangelicalism in our country? After watching it again, I’m still not sure what this movie is trying to be. However, Kevin Bacon is a joy to watch in just about anything, and his scenes with Chris Penn always make me smile. As the new kid in town, Bacon’s city-slicker character Ren could have gone the tortured artist route, never connecting with anyone. But immediately, he gets his posse together, and they unite under the goal of overturning the dance ban in backwards, rural Bomont. I couldn’t believe there would ever be a ban on dancing anywhere in America, but research tells me that this was once an actual thing in Oklahoma. Remind me never to go to the midwest Bible Belt- when Beyonce comes on the radio I can’t be held accountable for my actions.

Although the kids in this film are more interested in dancing than drinking, I personally think a little party punch can’t hurt.  While watching Footloose I recommend drinking a Ginger Pop Punch.

Ginger Pop Punch

2 cups apple cider

2 cups ginger beer

2 cups pomegranate juice

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup vodka

2 cups Prosecco

Fresh cranberries

Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl with ice. Garnish with fresh cranberries.

Ginger Punch

Footloose is such a celebration of music and dance that despite its shortcomings, it’s easy to see why this film (and its soundtrack) became so iconic. John Lithgow’s conflicted preacher does his best to drag down the entertainment level, but you just can’t stop that music. I know it makes me want to cut loose. Cheers!

 

The Bodyguard

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The Bodyguard

Image credit: The Bodyguard, 1992

With awards season ramping up, I can’t help but feel a little “can’t care” about the whole dog-and-pony show. Viewership of the Oscar telecast has steadily declined over the years, likely due to its Groundhog Day-level of sameness. If only award shows could be as exciting as they are in the movies. If only they could be like The Bodyguard (DVD/Download).

If you’re a fan of film noir, you might be disappointed with this loose contribution to the genre.  If you’re a fan of cheesy romance (like I am), prepare to be thoroughly entertained. Although Whitney Houston’s mega-pop star has limited chemistry with her strong, silent bodyguard played by Kevin Costner, that doesn’t stop me from cheering when he picks her up in his arms, rescuing her from wild, handsy fans. Or when he jumps in front of her, literally taking a bullet at the Academy Awards as Debbie Reynolds probably swoons from all the excitement backstage. Or during that ending, which is without a doubt one of the best Hollywood endings a viewer could ask for.   Take all the frustration you’ve ever felt when Audrey Hepburn lets Gregory Peck walk away in Roman Holiday, wrap it up, and toss it out in favor of the planeside kiss between Houston and Costner. THAT’S how you do romance.

Because Costner’s Frank Farmer is almost always on duty, he never gets to let his guard down and have a drink. The man imbibes so much plain orange juice, he’s single-handedly keeping the Florida citrus industry in business. This makes me want to drink a cocktail, if only because he can’t. While watching The Bodyguard, I recommend drinking a Screwdriver. Strong and uncomplicated- kind of like Frank.

Screwdriver

1.5 oz Vodka

3 oz Orange Juice

2-3 dashes Grapefruit bitters

Orange Twist

Screwdriver

Build drink over crushed ice, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with an orange twist.

I’ve never been one for remakes, but I’m just going to throw this out there: Beyonce + Solange + Kevin Costner (yes, the age-defying Costner should ALWAYS play The Bodyguard).  Let’s make this happen.   After all, isn’t it time for a new Queen of the Night? No offense, Whitney- I will always love you. Cheers!

The Lord of the Rings

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Lord of the Rings

Image Credit: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003

A recent reader request prompted this week’s pick, and not only was I happy to hear from a Cinema Sips fan, but I was equally excited for an excuse to lay on the couch and take a trip back to Middle Earth. Although I’m typically not a fan of the fantasy genre, I have to admit that the Lord of the Rings trilogy (DVD/Download) is certainly one of the best (and LONGEST!) examples in cinema history.

While I tend to zone out a bit during The Hobbit films (really, was it necessary to show THAT many orc battles??) LOTR has enough intersecting plotlines to keep me engaged. My favorite characters are the hobbits, for not only are they cute and pint-sized, but they also live in adorable houses. Those uppity elves are a little too sterile for my taste, and way too pretty. I’m not going to go into plot specifics here because there’s just too much to unpack. The trilogy is based on the J.R.R. Tolkien books about creatures on an epic quest to destroy a powerful ring before an evil overlord can get his hands on it. There are battles and magic and romance, and even a little comedy from the resident dwarf.  Basically, something for everyone.

This is a great movie trilogy to watch with a drink because A) those Hobbits like to party, and B) you’ll need a little something extra to keep the energy level steady through 11 hours of Middle Earth shenanigans. While watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I recommend drinking a Ginger-Mead Collins.

Ginger-Mead Collins

3 oz Mead (I used Jinja Dragon by Crafted Artisan Meadery)

1 ½ oz Ginger Beer

1 oz Lemon Juice

Topo Chico

Build drink in a glass over ice, stirring gently to combine. 

Ginger Mead collins

As I’ve said, I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy films because personally I think humans are weird and interesting enough already- why make up mythical creatures? But this trilogy makes me understand the appeal of the genre. There’s an opportunity to make a controversial statement about our human reality when hobbits and elves are saying the words. It’s safer somehow; easier to digest. And when the real world starts to seem bleak, and you wonder if neighbor-helping-neighbor is a thing of the past, The Lord of the Rings shows us what amazing things can happen when a guy gets a little help from his friends. Cheers!

Bell, Book and Candle

Bell Book and Candle

Image credit: Bell, Book and Candle, 1958

For all you Vertigo fans out there, consider this my Cinema Sips Christmas gift to you. Maybe you’ve longed for more of Kim Novak’s eyebrows. Or an aging, tan Jimmy Stewart. Or that weird hypnotic lighting. Bell, Book and Candle (DVD) covers all the bases. Plus, there are the added bonuses of a beatnik Jack Lemmon playing the bongo drums, and a very expressive Siamese cat. Happy Holidays to all!

Although the film starts on Dec. 24th and stars Mr. Christmas himself, Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life this is not. Kim Novak plays a witch who falls for a book publisher (Stewart), and she must decide whether to give in to love and become mortal, or keep her powers and lose him. The pair’s onscreen chemistry is every bit as sizzling as it was in Vertigo, and even though this is meant to be a romantic comedy, there’s something dark and powerful between these two actors. They’re sexy without even trying to be, and I am totally under their spell.

The movie takes a strange turn when Jimmy Stewart’s publishing house courts an expert on Mexican witchcraft. While it seems like an unnecessary plot element, I still love Ernie Kovacs in this role. (Let’s face it, I love Ernie Kovacs in any role). While watching Bell, Book and Candle, I recommend drinking a Mexican Séance.

Mexican Séance

1 ½ oz Patron XO Coffee Liqueur

1 ½ oz Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee- Mexican flavor

1 ½ oz Egg Nog

¾ oz Crème de Cacao

2-3 dashes chocolate bitters

Orange twist

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.

Mexican Spell

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the production design and costuming. Bell, Book and Candle is a perfect time capsule of 1960’s Greenwich Village style, from capri pants to mid-century modern furniture. Jimmy Stewart’s office, covered in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and featuring a gorgeous vintage couch, is the stuff of book lovers’ dreams. Witchcraft never looked so appealing. Cheers!

Gremlins

gremlins

Image credit: Gremlins, 1984

Full confession: I was a child of the 80’s, there was a stuffed Mogwai in my house, yet I’d never actually seen Gremlins (DVD/Download). Or if I did see it, I kept my eyes closed through the scary parts. I don’t know what I was picturing before my recent viewing, but WOW- this was not it.

I expected goo, claws, teeth, and big ears. What I didn’t anticipate was the sheer level of camp within this bizarre neo-Pleasantville, where Phoebe Cates plays the youngest bank teller in history, and her cute co-worker looks like he should be studying for his SAT’s next year. His worthless but well-meaning dad gives him a Mogwai for Christmas, because that’s what every kid wants- a strange creature picked up in a Chinatown basement. And dang if “Gizmo” isn’t the cutest thing ever. Those big eyes! The weird singing! The fact that he’s smart enough to turn down a snack after midnight! I’m not even smart enough to turn down a snack after midnight. Of course Corey Feldman has to screw it all up and accidentally dump water on him, causing Gizmo to birth a quintet of demon gremlins, who break all the rules and terrorize the town. The film takes a turn into horror-ville after the gremlins start multiplying, but with the terrible special effects, it’s more funny than scary.

Gremlins is so weird that it deserves a cocktail that’s as unexpected as creepy creatures popping out of a douglas fir. Gizmo and I share a fear of illumination (me due to retinal problems, him because he’s got a lot of strange rules), so while watching Gremlins, treat yourself to a shiny Bright Light.

Bright Light

1.5 oz Pear Vodka

.5 oz Lemon Juice

Sparkling wine

Rosemary Sprig

Shake vodka and lemon juice over ice to chill.  Strain into a flute, and top with sparkling wine.  Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Bright Light.jpeg

This movie spawned countless sequels, and I have to attribute its enduring popularity to the fact that somebody finally made a holiday movie that wasn’t all carol singers and egg nog. It depicts crazy, scary things happening in a small town because yes, even at Christmas, bad things can happen. At least there’s alcohol to get us through. Cheers!

Top Five Holiday Gifts for Movie/Cocktail Aficionados- 2017 edition

Maybe you have a friend who likes movies and cocktails.  Maybe you have no friends and want to drink alone while mainlining Scorsese films.  Either way, Cinema Sips has your back with this handy gift guide.  Cheers!

1. I Lost It at the Video Store: A Filmmakers’ Oral History of a Vanished Era by Tom Roston (forward by Richard Linklater)

Top filmmakers reminisce about the halcyon days of video rental.  Essential reading for anybody who remembers the phrase “Be Kind, Rewind”.

2.  Set of Coupe Glasses

You’ll be styling like Myrna Loy with these vintage-inspired glasses!

3.  Road Soda: Recipes and Techniques for Making Great Cocktails, Anywhere by Kara Newman

If you love to travel like I do, you know that trips can only be improved with the right cocktail. Whether you’re glamping in the desert or just can’t take another mediocre glass of chardonnay at the hotel bar, this book has you covered.

4.  Outdoor Movie Projector

Ever dream of watching Moonrise Kingdom under the stars? Or maybe Cinema Paradiso in a rainstorm? You need this projector (and a date).

5. Ice Ball Mold

Exactly what your old-fashioned has been missing. Cubes are so 2016.