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High Fidelity

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High Fidelity

Image credit: High Fidelity, 2000

True story- the one and only time I’ve ever been carded and turned away from a movie was High Fidelity (DVD/Download) in April 2000. I was 16 years old, a recent transplant to Central Pennsylvania, and stunned to find myself smack dab in the Bible Belt. For months afterward, I waited impatiently to see what erotic, taboo tales awaited me in the R-rated and undoubtedly-risque High Fidelity.  Imagine my surprise and outrage that not only was there nothing “R” about it, but also that I was unnecessarily delayed from seeing what would become one of my all-time favorite films.

My Top 5 lists on Cinema Sips are a direct homage to this comedic gem, so in lieu of a proper plot description I think it’s more appropriate to list off my Top 5 High Fidelity Scenes:

  1. When John Cusack plays the new Beta Band LP in his niche Chicago record shop, causing all the customers fall under its spell. Perfect music moment.
  1. Lisa Bonet sings “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton. I too, always hated that song. And now I too, kinda like it.
  1. Jack Black berating a customer for wanting to buy a copy of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. In answer to his subquestion, it is definitely better to burn out than to fade away.
  1. The making of a Top 5 List of songs about death. This is absolutely a conversation I want to be a part of.
  1. Barry Jive and the Uptown Five singing “Let’s Get it On”. And just like that, Jack Black the Movie Star was born.

Although the Nick Hornby novel this film was based on is set in London, I love the decision to set the movie adaptation in Chicago. The city itself becomes like another character in the film, so to that end we should definitely celebrate this midwestern metropolis with its namesake drink. While watching High Fidelity, I recommend drinking a classic Chicago Cocktail.

Chicago Cocktail

2 oz Brandy

Dash of Triple Sec

Dash of Bitters

1 oz Champagne

Stir Brandy, Triple Sec, and Bitters together in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe, and top with champagne.

If you happen to find yourself celebrating Record Store Day later this month, don’t be too put off by the employees at your local vinyl shop. They actually do know a lot about music, so let them make suggestions. They may not be able to give relationship advice, but if you’re looking to find a band that picks up where Echo and the Bunnymen left off, they’ve got your back. Cheers!

Back to the Future

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Back to the Future

Image credit: Back to the Future, 1985

I was thrilled to get a reader request for this week’s film Back to the Future (DVD/Download) because it’s one of those obvious classics that I have a tendency to overlook on Cinema Sips. It’s such a part of everybody’s shared film experience, and I’m excited to think about it from a cocktail aficionado’s standpoint. As Lorraine says, “Everybody who’s anybody drinks.” Whether it’s 1955, 1985, or 2017, alcohol is always cool. I wish I could say the same for Pepsi.

Watching Michael J. Fox travel back in time to when his parents were teenagers always gets me thinking- would I have been friends with my parents in high school? Would I have been considered cool in 1967? I like to think that my penchant for bold prints and Beatles records would have tipped the scales in my favor, but who knows? I certainly wouldn’t have had the magnetic personality of Michael J. Fox, who is charming as hell in any decade. Teaching his nerdy dad how to woo his mom and fend off school bully Biff (ahem, sorry, President Biff) is no easy feat, but Fox pulls it off and still manages to get to the clock tower in time for the DeLorean to be struck by lightning. This movie is so Hollywood.

Pepsi must have brokered quite the deal with Universal to get such prime placement in not only this film but its subsequent sequels. I’m sure they wish they had a DeLorean right about now, taking them back to a time before tone-deaf ads. Despite the recent bad press and my natural preference for Coca-Cola, I have to make an exception this one time. While watching Back to the Future, I recommend drinking a Hard Pepsi.*

Hard Pepsi

5 oz Pepsi

1.5 oz Amaretto

.5 oz lemon juice

Build drink over ice, stirring gently to combine.

Hard Pepsi

Word of advice, don’t be like George and live it up with some chocolate milk. Be like Lorraine, the closet bad girl/future alcoholic who knows how to have a good time. We’re only young once. Unless of course, your name is Marty McFly. For him, time and age are all relative. Cheers!

*Yes, that’s right, I own this movie on LaserDisc and still have a functioning LaserDisc player. How’s that for going back in time??

Trainspotting

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Trainspotting

Image credit: Trainspotting, 1996

As a film studies student in college, I used to have an incredibly cliche poster of the opening quote from this week’s film Trainspotting (DVD/Download) tacked up to my wall. You know the quote, “Choose life, choose a job, choose a career…” – almost as a warning of the kind of life I didn’t want. Well, let me tell you, enough nights worrying about when your next paycheck was coming, hungover mornings, and cheap microwaved food, and suddenly the stuff on that poster doesn’t seem so bad. I’ll take low cholesterol and dental insurance over gross apartments and toxic relationships any day of the week. Heck yes.

Trainspotting is a rebellious classic that spoke to an entire generation of young people upon its release. It’s selfish people wreaking havoc on the lives around them, and not giving a damn. It’s junkies in a vicious cycle of getting on/getting off heroin, so frequently that you wonder what “normal” even is for them. It’s friends betraying friends, wild nights in clubs, Iggy Pop music, and drug deals gone bad.  Danny Boyle’s wild ride through the seedy underbelly of Edinburgh is deliciously fun to watch. I feel cooler just being in the audience.

As a young skinny heroin addict stumbling toward redemption , this was the movie that put Ewan McGregor on the map. He’s not a bad guy, just….. an addict. He needs help; maybe an antibiotic (or five). So while watching Trainspotting, I recommend drinking a Penicillin cocktail.

Penicillin

2 oz blended Scotch whiskey

¾ oz lemon juice

¾ oz honey syrup (1 part water + 1 part honey, boiled)

¼ oz smoky Islay single malt scotch

Fresh ginger

Muddle ginger at the bottom of a shaker and add blended Scotch, lemon juice, and honey syrup. Add ice cubes, and shake well to chill. Strain into a glass with a large ice cube, and float the single-malt scotch on top.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend seeing this film’s sequel T2 to find out what has become of these iconic characters.  In my opinion, this is one of the best sequels ever made, and such a perfect grace note to original. Thinking back to that poster, I may have chosen DIY and wondering who the f**k I am on a Sunday morning, but still, I chose life. And it’s a damn good one. Cheers!

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!