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Category Archives: Action/Adventure/Heist

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!

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The Lost City of Z

Lost City of Z

Image Credit: The Lost City of Z, 2017

I’m going to be totally honest here- this week I really just wanted to make a Pisco Sour. This South American classic cocktail is one of my favorite drinks, but up till now I’d never found a movie that it pairs well with.  After 3 years I’d just about given up hope (as tempting as Fitzcarraldo is, I’m not sure it’s “on brand”), so imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered The Lost City of Z (DVD/Download).  Starring a dreamy Charlie Hunnam, the film could best be described as Downton Abbey-meets-Apocalypse Now.  Sorry Klaus, I’ve got to go with this one.

Based on a true story, The Lost City of Z follows early-20th century British explorer Percy Fawcett as he tries to find an ancient lost city deep in the Amazon, fending off attacks from both hostile natives in Brazil and ignorant skeptics back home in England. He’s joined on the way by Robert Pattinson (who has finally shaken off the stench of Twilight), and together they navigate a dangerous river through the jungle. Despite the harsh, unforgiving climate, the costumes are all very Out of Africa, and I find myself expecting someone to show up with crystal stemware and a portable bar at any moment. Maybe I’m getting as feverish as the Malaria-ridden explorers.

Percy Fawcett became obsessed with a lost civilization in the Amazon after finding artifacts in the jungle. I didn’t see a cocktail shaker in with the broken shards of pottery, but you never know- maybe they had their ways. While watching Percy cut his way through dense shrubbery in the punishing humidity, you can relax in comfort with this South American treat- the Pisco Sour.

Pisco Sour

2 oz Pisco

1 oz Lime Juice

½ oz Simple Syrup

1 Egg White

2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters

1 lime wedge

Combine pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Shake well to combine, then fill with ice. Shake vigorously until frothy. Strain into a glass, and top with bitters. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Pisco Sour

If you’re like me, you’ll really appreciate the lush language of this film’s script (drawn heavily from the book on which it was based), as well as the unspoiled beauty of the unknown. I came to it hoping for some eye candy and an excuse to drink a pisco sour. I left wondering what other mysteries the world still has in store for us. Cheers!

The Fugitive

The Fugitive

Image credit: The Fugitive, 1993

90’s nostalgia seems to be everywhere these days. I’ve recently been combing through my stacks of VHS tapes to find a piece of movie magic that captures the heyday of high-concept action films the decade was known for.  What did I land on? The Harrison Ford/Tommy Lee Jones thinking-man’s thriller The Fugitive (DVD/Download).

Adapted from the 1960’s TV series (my grandpa was a big fan), Ford plays Dr. Richard Kimball, a renowned surgeon falsely convicted of killing his wife (hey Sela Ward! Where ya been?). He knows it was a one-armed-man that did the deed, but proof, and the actual killer, are long gone. While being transported to prison, his bus gets hit by a train, allowing him to escape. Tommy Lee Jones plays the US Marshall tasked with finding him, and thus sets off a manhunt through Chicago as the lawman hunts the doctor, who is simultaneously hunting the one-armed-man. The film manages to condense a 4-season TV show quite well, and Harrison Ford plays the smartest prison escapee since Andy Dufresne.   Tommy Lee Jones might be searching every farm house, hen house, and outhouse in the tri-state area, but he’ll have to be clever if he’s going up against Dr. Richard Kimball.

I love that there are essentially two man hunts going on in this film, and kudos to finding THE SCARIEST looking villain in the history of cinema. Not only does Andreas Katsulas look like the reincarnated Bela Lugosi, but he’s also got an undeniably creepy mechanical arm. Not that all prosthetics are creepy, but combined with a gun and a trench coat, it gives me the shivers. So while you watch the hunted Richard Kimball hunt the one-armed-man, sip on a Manhunt.

Manhunt

2 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey

4 dashes lemon juice

1 tsp granulated sugar

1 splash sparkling water

1 maraschino cherry

Dissolve the sugar in lemon juice and water at the bottom of a Boston shaker. Add the whiskey, and fill halfway with ice. Stir to combine and chill, then pour into a tumbler. Garnish with a cherry.

Manhunt

While watching The Fugitive, keep a look out for blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Julianne Moore, back in the days before anybody realized she could act. This is the movie I’ll always associate with Tommy Lee Jones, and his rugged Texas accent. Even in the big city of Chicago, he’s still the top lawman in town. Cheers!

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??