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Category Archives: Action/Adventure/Heist

Guest Post: The Running Man

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running man

Image credit: The Running Man, 1987

Greetings CinemaSips readers!  This post has been guest-written by the semi-sophisticated gentleman at Splotch!  The opinions expressed herein may not necessarily reflect those of Cinema Sips or its affiliates.

Let me tell you some of the things I love about The Running Man (DVD/Download).

This movie really knows how to get the party started. Arnold Schwarzenegger refuses to blow up some rioters, which leads to a military-grade fistfight in a flying helicopter with no doors!  It’s insane.  And it only gets better.  Arnold (The Butcher of Bakersfield) is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But nobody’s ever built a prison that can hold the Governator.  He stays almost long enough for the opening credits, but there aren’t enough faces to punch.  So he leaves prison, meets the love of his life, goes to the airport, and somehow ends up on a TV game show.  (I know, it sounds too good to be true.)  As it turns out, the game show is the perfect vehicle for Arnold to show off his unparalleled mastery of the one-liner.

Here are some other things I love about The Running Man:

  • Dystopian Hawaiian shirt (Arnold’s second worst look ever)
  • A Danish strongman named Sven plays a strong Danish man named Sven
  • The original host of Family Feud watches an old lady drop the F bomb on live TV
  • Professor Tanaka (AKA the butler from PeeWee’s Big Adventure) plays hockey
  • Cigar-chomping Schwarzenegger in a beard and suspenders (his best look ever)
  • Frank Zappa’s son and the drummer from Fleetwood Mac make a great team
  • A Venezuelan singer squares off against an electrified stalker in tighty whities

There’s so much I can say about this movie, I feel like I’ve just barely scratched the surface.  The deeper you dig, the deeper it goes.  But in the interest of brevity, let’s get to the drink.

The Plain Zero

2 oz silver tequila

1 oz Maraschino Liqueur

1 oz lime juice

Luxardo Maraschino cherries, in syrup

Fill a glass with crushed ice.  Put the boozy stuff in about halfway.  Drizzle cherry syrup on top.  Look into the nearest camera and yell “NOW PLAIN ZERO!”

I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I do.  And if you need more help living the Semi-Sophisticated Life, head over to Splotch!

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Batman

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Joker with cocktail

Image Credit: Batman, 1989

Cinema Sips has always had a bit of a female bias (yes, yes, I like pink drinks and rom-coms- what a crime), but this month, I’ll be shaking things up by watching “Man” movies.  That’s right- the ones I’ve rolled my eyes at, checked my phone during, and thought, God there needs to be more women in this. But maybe with a cocktail, I’ll feel more generous. Kicking things off is the classic superhero film Batman (DVD/Download).

Although my heart actually belongs to Batman Returns (don’t get me started on how much I adore Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman), I think it’s important to go back to where the modern superhero film began. Sure, there were some cheesy caped crusader films and TV shows of the 60’s and 70’s, but Tim Burton’s Batman ushered in a new era of artistry. Suddenly, the audience was seeing dark, mesmerizing cinematography, lavish production design, and genuinely good acting in place of all the onomatopoeias. Michael Keaton brings a level of humanity to an iconic character that has never been matched since, and Jack Nicholson’s manic Joker performance manages to be fun and frightening all at once. And by frightening, I’m referring of course to his purple satin chef’s hat.

Speaking of the Joker, his nefarious plot to poison the citizens of Gotham through make-up and hairstyling products is pretty genius. Funniest scene: news anchors, afraid to use any products, showing up on the air looking like they were just on a 3-day bender. In tribute to the Joker and his crazy style, I recommend drinking a Smilex Surprise.

Smilex Surprise

1 ½ oz Smirnoff Grape Vodka

½ tsp grape Kool-Aid (for color)

½ oz lime juice

Club Soda

Fresh Limes

Build drink over ice, stirring gently to combine and dissolve Kool-Aid powder. Garnish with fresh lime slices.

Smilex

I’ve always found Batman to be the most fascinating of superheroes because at the end of the day, he’s simply a rich guy with gadgets and extensive martial arts training. He’s a human being who struggles with the same dichotomy that most of us feel from time to time, like we’re one person to the world at large, and someone totally different to ourselves and those close to us.  Michael Keaton really makes you feel this struggle, with nary a nipple in sight.  Many Batmen have come and gone, but if you’re like me, you never forget your first. Cheers!

The Pink Panther

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pink panther

Image Credit: The Pink Panther, 1963.

Let me begin by saying I have absolutely no idea what is happening in this movie. Blame the Campari, blame the dazzling beauty of young Robert Wagner, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of Blake Edward’s 1963 comedic caper farce The Pink Panther (DVD/Download).  And yet- I couldn’t look away.

I’ve always been fascinated by the 1960’s Jet Set, even before Don Draper and his bizarre Palm Springs weekend. From the designer clothes, to the exotic travel, to the day-drinking, I love it all. This movie picks up where Slim Aarons’ photography leaves off, adding a healthy dose of Henry Mancini’s delightful jazz to an already-glamorous fever dream. I went into this film thinking Peter Sellers would be the star of the show, and indeed his Inspector Clouseau was the most entertaining character. There just wasn’t nearly enough of him. Instead we’re left watching David Niven romance Claudia Cardinale on a tiger-skin rug, while Robert Wagner attempts some playful sexual assault on Clouseau’s wife (I guess back then rapists were just called “playboys”? Ick.). I *think* there’s a jewel heist at the center of it all, but I have no idea who’s doing the heist, or why, or who the jewel belongs to in the first place. Also, despite the sly pink cartoon we all know and love, the Panther is not the thief, the Panther is the jewel. The Phantom is the thief. Still with me?  Yeah, didn’t think so.

Whether they’re in Paris, Rome, or a glamorous Italian ski resort, these people drink A LOT of champagne. Doesn’t that sound like the life? In my opinion, Campari makes it even better, turning a hum-drum mimosa into a sophisticated brunch cocktail.  While watching the Pink Panther, I recommend drinking a Campari Sparkler.

Campari Sparkler

2 oz Campari

2 oz fresh orange juice

1 ½ cups Pink Champagne

Orange slice for garnish

Combine Campari and orange juice in a shaker with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a flute or wine glass, and top with pink champagne. Garnish with an orange slice.

Campari Sparkler

There are good caper films, and then there is The Pink Panther. Had I not been long-obsessed with 1960’s style, I might have given up halfway through. But instead I poured another drink, accepted the fact that I would never understand the plot of this movie, and just spent the remaining hour admiring Claudia Cardinale’s wardrobe and makeup. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon. Cheers!

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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secret life of walter mitty

Image credit: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, 2013

When I started on my journey with Campari, I had no idea where it would take me. But as is so often the case, when you venture into the unknown, great things can happen. Such was my experience watching this week’s film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (DVD/Download). The classic film fan in me wanted to put this Ben Stiller remake in a large box labeled ‘why???’, but then I sat down and watched it. And loved it.  And wanted to tell everyone I know about it. So here we are.

What The Secret Life of Walter Mitty does so well is incorporate special effects in a way that’s, well, special. Life magazine employee Walter Mitty seems to enjoy a rather mundane existence cataloging negatives, but deep inside his head he’s got the ultimate blockbuster on constant stream. Only within his daydreams do we see buildings blowing up, crazy fight sequences, and luscious Tom Cruise hair. But then slowly, in a way you don’t even notice it’s happening, Walter’s life becomes actually exciting, and magic, and it’s not all a celluloid trick.  It’s real. Ben Stiller does an amazing job both as a director and actor, bringing relatability to this character who has me wondering if maybe I need to take more risks- to see behind walls, to draw closer, to feel.

Taking inspiration from Walter’s mom’s clementine cake, beloved by warlords and Sean Penn alike, this cocktail is the perfect beverage to toast the adventurer’s spirit.  While watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I recommend drinking a Clementine Negroni.

Clementine Negroni

1 clementine, peeled

3 dashes orange bitters

1.5 oz gin

1.5 oz Campari

1.5 oz sweet vermouth

Clementine Twist for Garnish

Place peeled clementine and orange bitters in a shaker and muddle until clementines are broken down and pulpy. Add gin, Campari, vermouth, and ice. Shake vigorously to chill, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a clementine twist.

In a way, I often feel like Cinema Sips is my secret life.  Hum-drum publishing accountant by day, mixologist and cinephile by night, this blog has always felt like an opportunity to reveal more of myself; to find the ‘special’.  And maybe, when my readers take the time to watch these films, and enjoy a well-mixed beverage, they’ll find it too.  Cheers!

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

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steve zissou campari

Image credit: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004.

I’m a big fan of theme months on Cinema Sips, so imagine my surprise when I realized past themes have always centered around a particular film style, but never a cocktail.  To switch things up, this month I’ve chosen a trendy spirit you might not already have in your bar, but probably should.  Gotta have something to offer the hip millennials right?  Campari fits the bill perfectly, and to kick things off, I’ll be watching the film that made this Italian aperitif cool again- Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (DVD/Download).

Inspired by the life and films of Jacques Cousteau, The Life Aquatic is a fairly mixed bag of Wes-isms. There are (slightly cheesy) stop-motion animation sequences, a dollhouse-like ship with incredibly specific room functions, odd but cool fashion choices, and a cast of regulars like Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum, and Willem Dafoe. Although this is essentially a Moby Dick story of an arrogant explorer chasing down the murderous and elusive jaguar shark, the complicated relationships Zissou has with basically everyone on his ship turn this into a heavier film than I might have expected. By the end, I’d laughed, I’d cried, and I’d started to google Italian Riviera vacations.

Steve Zissou is many things- explorer, terrible husband, flirt, friend, but most importantly, lover of Campari. Sophisticated and simple- splash some over an ice cube, add a twist of lemon, and you’ve got a drink fit for a dashing underwater explorer. While watching The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I recommend drinking Campari on the Rocks.

Campari on the Rocks

Campari

Citrus Twist

Ice

Pour a generous amount of Campari over ice, and garnish with a lemon or orange twist. Sip, and think of the one that got away.

campari on the rocks

Being the style geek that I am, I can’t help but admire the Campari bottle itself.  Not only is the label as cool as a Brazilian David Bowie cover artist, but the red liqueur looks fantastic against the mint green walls of The Belafonte.  From Wes Anderson, I would expect nothing less. Cheers!

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Image Credit: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988

Cartoons have all the fun. At least, that’s the impression I get from this week’s film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (DVD/Download). While the human citizens of Los Angeles are busy drinking themselves to death and designing freeways, their animated neighbors get to play patty cake and dance in a Silly Symphony. Who needs Hollywoodland when you’ve got Toontown?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit ushered in a lot of firsts for me. It was the first time I saw Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse in a movie TOGETHER, the first time I learned what “sexy” was supposed to look like (thanks for that impossible bar, Jessica Rabbit), and the first time I had cinema-induced nightmares (again, thanks for that re-inflated, waxy Christopher Lloyd). At 5 years old, my young mind soaked up this picture like a slapstick-starved sponge, delighting in Roger Rabbit and his fellow ‘toons’ antics. As an adult, I gravitate toward gumshoe Eddie Valiant (played by Bob Hoskins), who’s too old for this crap but needs a distraction to keep himself out of the whiskey bottle.   Nevertheless, the kid in me still can’t resist a good “Shave and a Haircut” joke.

If I were an entertainment mogul, the first thing on my agenda would be to build a real life Ink & Paint Club. Seriously- a speakeasy filled with dueling pianos and Betty Boop? Genius. My drink of choice? Something lethal. While watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit, I recommend drinking Dip.

Dip

2 oz Gin

¼ oz Dry Vermouth

¼ oz Absinthe

Lemon Twist

Stir together first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Dip

Side note: I have been waiting YEARS to feel justified in keeping this ugly martini glass in my house. Roger Rabbit just gave me my excuse.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is such a love letter to classic Hollywood and the golden age of animation, that I just want to wrap it up in a bear hug until its eyes pop out. The great thing about this movie is that by mixing cartoons and live actors, the fantastic becomes real. Suddenly, you start to believe that you could get ferried around town in a potty-mouthed taxi, or that the bullets in a gun are actually slow-moving dum-dums with the voice of Yosemite Sam. I know it’s not true, but isn’t it fun to pretend, just for a little bit? Cheers!

Hell or High Water

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Hell or High Water

Image credit: Hell or High Water, 2016

While I was prepping my Top Five Films of 2017 list this year, I took a look back at the 2016 list to see which of those films had the most staying power. I’m definitely guilty of getting swept up in awards season hype, lauding a film then forgetting all about it a month later (cough *Argo* cough). Of any pick from that 2016 list, the one with the best legs is definitely Hell or High Water (DVD/Download). I have watched this movie with a salty Navy vet, several times with my husband, once with my cat-loving mother-in-law, and yet again with my dad (semi-professional “shoot em up” connoisseur). Five stars from everyone, and I’m still not sick of it. I think this one is here to stay.

Hell or High Water is one of those rare films that spans multiple genres, but does it so well that it doesn’t get pigeonholed into any one of them. It could be considered a Western, or a heist film, or even an art-house drama. The story of two brothers robbing small West Texas banks to save the family farm sounds very simplistic, but Taylor Sheridan’s clever script turns this into a complex masterpiece with not a single loose thread left hanging. Chris Pine (sporting the best mustache since Clark Gable swept Vivienne Leigh off her feet) is a revelation as the quiet, thoughtful brother trying to atone for past sins and pull his family out of poverty, and Ben Foster turns in some of his best work as the reckless ex-con who you know right away is too wild to walk away from this unscathed. Jeff Bridges elevates the stereotypical “I’m too old for this shit” Texas Ranger character into an homage to Western cinema heroes- his hotel blanket draped around his shoulders like a serape cape fit for a superhero.

I could get fancy with a Texas-inspired cocktail, but that’s not what this film is about. It’s about average folks and the lengths they’ll go to protect what’s theirs. It’s a movie about sipping a beer on a ramshackle porch, wondering if there’s even such a thing as right and wrong anymore. While watching Hell or High Water, I recommend getting a Shiner Family Reunion 6-pack, maybe a shot of whiskey, and kicking back with a damn good movie.

Shiner beer

I tend to love films about sympathetic criminals because I think there’s a little part of all of us that can relate to good people doing bad things. Like Tom Ripley, I want the Howard brothers to get away with it. Or at the very least, go out in a blaze of glory. The great thing about Hell or High Water is that we get both, but it still leaves you guessing until the very end. Cheers!