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Category Archives: Action/Adventure/Heist

Speed

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Speed

Image credit: Speed, 1994

Pop quiz hot shot: You have the option to watch Speed or literally anything else- WHAT DO YOU DO?? Obviously, watch Speed (DVD/Download). When faced with this very predicament recently, I chose Keanu and his never ending bus-ride-of-implausibility. No regrets.

This movie really shouldn’t work as well as it does. The premise of an LA city bus rigged with a bomb that will explode if the bus drops below 50mph sounds dumb as hell and yet… I can’t look away. Maybe it’s the magnetic appeal of nice-guy cop Keanu Reeves, who over-pronounces vowels and calls people Mister and Ma’am. Maybe it’s the feisty young Sandra Bullock, thrust into the role of bus driver after her predecessor gets shot by a passenger. Maybe it’s Dennis Hopper making us all wonder what villainous thing he’s going to do next, and why there’s a mannequin sitting behind him. Or perhaps it’s the flashbacks I get of watching OJ Simpson in a white bronco, tearing down the LA freeway trailed by police cars, kind of (no, EXACTLY) like the bus in Speed. I may be crazy, but here are some facts for you: theatrical release date of Speed– June 10th 1994. Date of the White Bronco chase- June 17th 1994. Coincidence? I think not.

From minute to minute, Keanu Reeves’ character is in some crazy predicaments. He’s on top of an elevator hanging by a thread! Now he’s in a bus hurtling through LA traffic and jumping missing sections of the freeway!  Wait, now he’s UNDER THE BUS, clinging for dear life!  What does he use for fuel? Just coffee.  I, on the other hand, need a little something extra to enjoy this movie to its fullest potential. While watching Speed, I recommend drinking a Wildcat.

Wildcat

3/4 oz Liber & Co fiery ginger syrup

1 oz Añejo tequila

8 oz cold brew coffee

Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice. Mix well, and serve.

Wildcat

When I told people I was watching Speed, the unanimous response I got was “Oh my God I love that movie!!” And, I should point out, I got this response among wildly different demographics. I think we all need a little Speed in our lives right now. While many might find themselves at the whim of a madman (ahem, POTUS), it’s great to see a rag tag group of bus riders pull together, and show this domestic terrorist what real Americans are made of. Cheers!

Face/Off

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Face Off

Image credit: Face/Off, 1997

Man, they don’t make ‘em like they used to. I never thought I’d see the day where I long for a movie like Face/Off (DVD/Download), but I’m officially there. Big-name stars making a high octane thriller with an ORIGINAL script, that’s not a sequel to or reboot of something else? Just doesn’t happen too often in mainstream Hollywood these days. Nicolas Cage keeps throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, but will there ever be another film that showcases his talent for lunacy (and, I admit, pretty good acting) quite like Face/Off? God I hope so.

This movie might not work so well if it weren’t for the combined performances of John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. As the Joker-like domestic terrorist Castor Troy (remember when terrorists were angry American white males?), Nicholas Cage is batsh*t crazy. Parading around in a priest costume, groping choir girls, waving around his golden guns- this is a part Nicholas Cage was born for. But then, THEN he falls into a coma, and family-man FBI agent John Travolta is compelled to have Cage’s face put on his body to foil a bomb plot. AND THEN- Cage wakes up, sees that he has no face, and puts the iced Travolta face on HIS body. I swear, even the best soap opera scribes couldn’t make this stuff up. Now Travolta is forced to turn up the creepy, and Cage has to act like John Travolta doing a bad Nicolas Cage impression. Mistaken identities and slow-motion shootouts ensue.

One little gem that’s always stayed with me from Face/Off is Caster Troy’s claim that he could eat a “peach” for hours. Damn if that line doesn’t run through my head every summer when peach season hits central Texas. Welcome to my nightmare. While watching Face/Off, I recommend drinking a Peach Shandy.

Peach Shandy

1.5 oz Deep Eddy Peach Vodka

1 bottle peach-flavored beer (I used Ballast Point Peach Kolsch)

4 oz sparkling peach soda

Build drink in a pint glass, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with a peach slice.

Peach Shandy

Image by @pop_up_cobra

Where Face/Off falls short for me is the flimsy explanation of how the voices and bodies of the two actors could be manipulated so easily to match the new faces. Sucking the skin off of someone’s head and transplanting it seamlessly with no scarring? Yeah, OK. Lasers. But the idea of Nicholas Cage’s consumption-ridden Leaving Las Vegas body suddenly being able to pass as a beefed up Travolta? Now that’s Hollywood magic. Cheers!

Pearl Harbor

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Pearl Harbor

Image credit: Pearl Harbor, 2001

“It is hard to remember what we came to remember.”

Joan Didion may have been writing about her own experience visiting the Pearl Harbor memorial, however she may as well have been talking about the Bruckheimer/Bay disaster pic Pearl Harbor (DVD/Download). After 3 hours, only one of which was actually about the attack on Pearl Harbor, I struggled to recall why I’d pressed “play” in the first place.

If the filmmakers were trying to capture a Casablanca tone of romance during wartime, I’m not sure they succeeded. Same goes for accurately conveying the story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But if the goal was to create a showcase for pyrotechnics, special effects, and cheesy lines, consider this film a rousing success. I’m not sure that I expected much, given that it stars a very tan, blonde Ben Affleck before he got his sh*t together, but still- his tepid love triangle with Kate Beckinsale and Josh Harnett was pretty disappointing. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing the cavalcade of cameos by actors who are SO much better than this movie. Michael Shannon! Alec Baldwin! Ewen Bremner! Cuba Gooding Jr.! (well, okay maybe Cuba belonged in this).

One thing that makes the long flight to Hawaii worthwhile is the fresh pineapple waiting on the other end. Well, that and all the tiki drinks. I’ve already featured Midori and vodka in another post about a doomed ship, so this week I’m putting a Honolulu spin on it. While watching Pearl Harbor, I recommend drinking a Tiki-tini.

Tiki-tini

1 ½ oz vodka

¾ oz Midori

4 oz chilled Pineapple juice

Pineapple chunk

Shake well over ice to chill, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with pineapple chunk.

I can say without a doubt that this historic tragedy deserves a lot better than a Michael Bay schlock fest. Luckily, we have Tora! Tora! Tora! and that really great pilot episode of The Twilight Zone (“The Time Element”) to fill in the gaps. I encourage you to check out these titles, and if you have the means, go see the Arizona Memorial in person. But, to quote Alec Baldwin, “Leave your goddamn hula shirts at home.” 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??

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!

From Russia With Love

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from-russia-with-love

Image credit: From Russia With Love, 1964

International intrigue! Fighting gypsy women! Venomous shoe daggers! Only in a Bond film, folks. While I appreciate the more recent James Bond films for their sincerity, I can’t help but love the original 60’s variety. The cheese-factor is just unparalleled. This week, I’ll be watching an absolute classic in the Bond oeuvre, From Russia With Love (DVD/Download).

Admittedly, I get a little lost with any Bond film. There are just too many sinister villains, subplots and gorgeous women to keep track of. I mainly watch for the charisma of Sean Connery, the Bond girl clothes, and the clever spy gadgets. And Miss Moneypenny, who is really the Girl Friday of these films, oozing smarts and unconventional sex appeal. As the opening titles appear, and we get to watch the producer’s names projected on the gyrating skin of a belly dancer, you pretty much know what you’re in for with this one. Sure there’s some Cold War-era intrigue that takes us from Istanbul to Venice on the Orient Express, but who are we kidding- we’re all here for the double entendres in James Bond’s bedroom.

Although the film is called From Russia With Love, we never really see Russia. We do however see Russian-accented Bond Girl Daniela Bianchi, who plays double agent Tatiana Romanova. She falls head over heels in love with Bond, because well, he’s Bond. While watching From Russia with Love, I recommend drinking a Moscow Mule.

Moscow Mule

1 ½ oz Russian Vodka

4 oz Ginger Beer

½ oz Lime Juice

Combine ingredients in a copper mug over ice and stir gently to combine. Garnish with a lime slice.

moscow-mule

Everyone has their favorite Bond, but for me it will always be Sean Connery. That furry chest, that light Scottish brogue, and the twinkle in his eye gets me every time. Even in a jaunty sailor cap, he still looks stylish, cool, and definitely a man of mystery. Cheers!

(*For anybody curious, I will absolutely be watching this movie and drinking this cocktail on January 20th, 2017).

The Poseidon Adventure

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poseidon-adventure-winters

Image credit: The Poseidon Adventure, 1972

I love a good disaster flick. The bad acting, women in impractical footwear, explosions, campy special effects- this is the stuff of some great cinematic cheese-fests. One of the best films in the disaster genre is this week’s The Poseidon Adventure (DVD/Download). Although it was remade about ten years ago, I’ll always have a fondness for the 1972 version. Shelley Winters and all those unfortunate 70’s hairstyles make this a classic of epic size.

Aboard the S.S. Poseidon, revelers are toasting the New Year in the ship’s ballroom. Suddenly the captain (Leslie Nielsen- who else?) hears of an underground earthquake that has created a giant wave heading straight for the luxury liner. Soon, the ship flips over, the tables are on the ceiling, bodies are crashing into the chandeliers, and a ragtag group of survivors begins hatching an escape plan through the ship’s hull. As the hip Reverend, Gene Hackman leads them through corridors full of twisted metal, rapidly flooding rooms, and way more fire than one would think possible with so much water around. Ernest Borgnine guides his saucy former prostitute/now wife Linda through the wreckage in her silver lame platform heels and men’s dress shirt, while Shelley Winters and Jack Albertson are the cute old couple you want to be someday. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the hit song “Theme from Poseidon Adventure (The Morning After)” as sung by a band that’s quite a relic from the 70’s. All those sideburns and grooves- yikes.

My cruising experience is limited to one ill-fated trip to Bermuda during hurricane season, but from what I recall the drinks were sugary and bright-hued. In homage to the 70’s vibe and underwater footage in murky green water, while watching The Poseidon Adventure I recommend drinking a Rogue Wave.

Rogue Wave

1 oz Midori

2 oz Vodka

5 oz Fresca

Maraschino Cherry

Build drink in a glass over crushed ice, stirring gently to combine.  Drop Maraschino cherry in and let it sink to the bottom.

rogue-wave

Despite the over-the-top acting and questionable costuming, this movie still pulls me in with its never-ending suspense and peril around every corner. Plus it provides some valuable lessons. Such as, no matter how much weight you gain at the buffet, you’re still light in water.  Also, never leave your stateroom without a bra.  Cheers!