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Category Archives: Action/Adventure/Heist

The Mummy

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Image credit: The Mummy, 1999

As we enter the era of the Brendan Fraser comeback, it feels appropriate to watch the blockbuster that put him in every multiplex across the country, spawning several sequels (and several operations) for this workhorse actor. The Mummy (Disc/Download) was not exactly my cup of tea when it was released, and honestly, it still isn’t. But nevertheless, I think it’s fascinating to examine it next to the other big action movie of the year, last week’s The Matrix.

On the surface, these two films have a lot in common. They’re both filled with numerous battle scenes, both rely heavily on special effects, and both feature wafer-thin romances that seem like nothing more than marketing afterthoughts. I know, I know, romance fans have clung to The Mummy‘s feisty librarian heroine Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) like she’s the second coming of Elizabeth Bennet, but in truth she shares precious few swoon-worthy moments with Fraser’s Rick O’Connell. Most of this movie is taken up by gun fights and swirling sand as these adventurers go searching for treasure and instead find a pissed-off mummified priest and flesh-eating scarabs that burrow under the skin. Maybe I’m biased after too many scorching Texas summers, but this just seems like the least romantic setting on earth.

When American adventurer Rick O’Connell is asked about Hamunaptra, the city of the dead, he explains that he and his French Foreign Legion cohorts found nothing there but blood and sand. Coincidentally, this is also the name of a classic cocktail inspired by a 1922 Rudolph Valentino film. While watching this 1999 iteration of The Mummy, I recommend drinking a Blood and Sand cocktail.

Blood and Sand

3/4 oz Scotch

3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth

3/4 oz Blood Orange Juice

3/4 oz Cherry Heering

Orange peel

Dried Blood Orange slice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass. Flame an orange peel over the top to release the oils, then garnish with a dried blood orange slice.

The visual effects of The Mummy seem impressive… until you watch The Matrix. Interestingly, both films handle a bug-under-the-skin rather well, making me lose my dinner (and my drink) in the process. This might be the final 1999 movie in my series, but rest assured, there are plenty of others I’ve already covered on Cinema Sips. Was it the greatest movie year ever? Well, that depends entirely on your tastes. But one thing I can say about this seminal year, there was definitely something for everyone. Cheers!

The Matrix

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Image credit: The Matrix, 1999

I’ll be the first to admit—I am decades late to The Matrix party. When this movie (Disc/Download) came out in 1999, to me it was only a poster on a wall, hanging in the video store where I worked after school. I must have glanced at that picture of Keanu Reeves in a trench coat a thousand times, restocked the tape boxes triple that amount, but never felt tempted to see what all the fuss was about. Well, let’s just say my indifference ended this year thanks to pandemic boredom, a reboot, and one exceptionally good trailer.

The trailer I’m referring to is that of The Matrix: Resurrections, the most recent installment of this franchise which enjoyed a buzzy streaming release last winter. One whiff of a Jefferson Airplane song and the gracefully aging face of Keanu Reeves, and I was hooked. I wanted to see what these red and blue pills were all about. But to do that, I had to watch the original Matrix, a movie I’d successfully avoided for the past twenty-three years. So… I watched it. And I got lost. And then more lost. And then I gave up around the time Joe Pantoliano was gulping his wine. “What the hell is happening in this movie?” I shouted. “What is even real???”

My husband urged me to watch it again, this time with no distractions and my smart phone out of reach. And you know what? He was right. With nothing dividing my focus, I finally understood it. In the world of The Matrix, robots have taken over, sucking energy from humans, placing them in a weird dream state while they power the grid. A few humans have broken out of the Matrix, but then they go back in, but must escape again before either their real version or their Matrix version gets killed. There are also some giant robotic squids attacking a ship at one point??? Oh, hell, maybe I still don’t get it. But the pleather costumes are glorious.

There are a lot of references to Alice in Wonderland in The Matrix, so if you’re having a watch party, it might be fun to make White Rabbits with red and blue rimming sugar. Let your guests decide which one they want!

White Rabbit

1 ½ oz Gin

¾ oz Amaretto

¾ oz Vanilla non-dairy creamer

¼ oz Lemon cream liqueur

Red and blue rimming sugar

Run a lemon around the edge of a glass, then dip in rimming sugar. Add gin, Amaretto, creamer, and lemon cream liqueur to a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled then strain into prepared glass.

This might feel like a slightly heavy cocktail (in truth it tastes like a lemon meringue pie!), but this is a heavy movie in my opinion. It plays on our fears that we are doomed to be cogs in the machine, urging us to rise up and make a change; to be “The One” in our own lives. To believe we have the power to stop bullets and stand up to those who see us as nothing more than an expendable vessel.

I think.

The Goonies

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Image credit: The Goonies, 1985

As a child of the 1980s, I feel a certain responsibility to honor the inexplicable love my generation has for The Goonies (Disc/Download). I may have come along too late to really understand why this movie was and is such a big deal (I was only two when it premiered), but nevertheless, people still go nuts for this group of extremely loud kids and their Pacific Northwest pirate adventure. Let’s pour one out and deconstruct.

Conceived by Steven Spielberg, directed by Richard Donner, and written by Chris Columbus, this movie was practically guaranteed to be a blockbuster. These guys know storytelling. The fact that the plot is 100% ludicrous doesn’t really matter—we must keep watching to see if these kids can find the pirate treasure hidden under an Italian restaurant, escape the criminals trying to murder them, and save their family homes from foreclosure. Where things unfortunately fall apart for me is with the character of Sloth, which seems like a lame excuse for special effects and makeup in a movie that doesn’t really need them. I would even argue that we don’t need the Fratelli family at all—there’s enough action surrounding the booby-trapped treasure hunt to keep things exciting. The whole movie is one giant Rube Goldberg machine full of adventurous production design that makes you feel like you just played a game of chutes and ladders, under a steady PNW drizzle.

Having never seen this before in its entirety (I know, I KNOW!!), I was delighted to find so many tiki influences. The pirate ship, Chunk’s Hawaiian shirt, all the skulls and buried treasure—it’s like Don the Beachcomber died and went to Oregon. On that note, let’s try a cocktail that’s perfect while counting your doubloons, the Pearl Diver.

Pearl Diver

1 ½ oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum

¾ oz Demerara Rum

½ oz Gold Jamaican Rum

1 tsp Falernum

¾ oz Lime Juice

1 oz Orange Juice

¾ oz Gardenia Mix (people with more time on their hands might want to make their own. I am not that person)

1 cup ice

Fresh orchid (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend for about 15 seconds, then strain through a wire mesh into a Pearl Diver glass filled with fresh crushed ice. Garnish with orchid.

Even though I don’t hold an abiding love for The Goonies like a lot of people my age, I recognize its impact. It was a movie that appealed to the youth market, but adults could feel comfortable enjoying it too. Perhaps that’s what’s given it so much staying power— ‘80s kids may have grown up, but we’re still looking for an adventure. Cheers!

The Lost City

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Image credit: The Lost City, 2022

I’m taking a break from my four-in-a-year posts for a special treat- a movie made THIS CENTURY! And not just a new movie, but a great movie, The Lost City (Disc/Download). I would normally wait and put it on my end-of-year Top-5 list, but this action/adventure/rom-com is so fantastic I couldn’t wait another second to pair it with a cocktail.

Starring Sandra Bullock as romance novelist Loretta Sage, and Channing Tatum as her cover model Alan, this movie is so much funnier and more heartfelt than I ever expected it to be. As anyone who knows me is aware, I love romance novels, and to see the genre represented so well here is a breath of fresh air. Loretta may think her own books are “schlock”, but as Alan points out, how could anything that brings so much joy to her readers be a bad thing? The two have fantastic chemistry, and as Loretta gets forced into a treasure hunt through the jungle (yes, this has very strong Romancing the Stone vibes), and Alan shows up to rescue the woman he’s been secretly pining for, these two both learn never to judge a book by its cover. Or its cover model. You get the idea. My swooniest moment? When Alan brings Loretta cheese, water, and comfortable shoes. Talk about a hero!

Just like in Romancing the Stone, watching two people sweat their way through a jungle (one of whom is wearing a purple sequined jumpsuit!) always makes me thirsty. Let’s celebrate the treasure found in The Lost City with this Crown of Fire cocktail.

Crown of Fire

3 oz Navy-strength Rum

1 oz Campari

1 oz Cinnamon Syrup*

1 oz Lime Juice

Mint Sprig and tiki umbrella (for garnish)

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and tiki umbrella.

*Cinnamon Syrup: toast a few cinnamon sticks in a pan for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, let cool, and strain out cinnamon sticks.

It’s so refreshing to see a movie where every performer brings their A-game, from Channing and his dance moves, to Sandra and her impeccable comedic timing, and even all the way to Brad Pitt, who found a new use for his Cliff Booth martial arts training. If you’re searching for a perfect date night, then check out The Lost City, mix a strong rum cocktail, and consider it found. Cheers!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

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Image credit: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Sometimes, you just need a good excuse for a Tiki cocktail. And what better excuse than Walt Disney’s CinemaScope extravaganza 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Disc/Download)? With island names like Volcania, and talk of “grog”, this movie seems like a perfect match for drinks involving fire and rum. Let’s climb aboard the Nautilus and pour one out!

Starring James Mason as Captain Nemo, with Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas, and Kirk Douglas as the men tasked with investigating a mysterious “sea monster”, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is based on the Jules Verne novel about the adventures of a futuristic underwater ship in the 19th century. What makes this such a joy to watch is the sheer opulence of the production design, with pipe organs, circular viewing portals, and grand salons not often found below deck. Additionally, the cinematic practical effects make this a true fantasy experience. You can practically taste the saltwater coming off that giant attacking squid, or feel the warmth of a lush, blue, tropical isle thirty seconds before the natives attack.

Speaking of tropical, with location shooting taking place in the Bahamas and Jamaica, a rum-based drink is practically required. This one is a slight variation of the Sea Serpent’s Embrace, served at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar in Disneyland. In a fun twist, I’m setting it on fire by using a hollowed-out lime filled with overproof rum. When watching 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I recommend drinking this Volcania cocktail.

Volcania

1 ½ oz Dark Rum

1 ½ oz Gold Rum

¾ oz Gin

¾ oz Brandy

¾ oz Falernum

½ oz Passionfruit Syrup

1 oz Lime Juice

1 oz Orange Juice

1 oz Pineapple Juice

16 oz Crushed Ice, divided

½ Hollowed-out lime

½ oz Overproof Rum

Combine all ingredients with a cup of ice in a shaker. Shake until chilled, then strain over a glass filled with a fresh cup of ice. Top with half a hollowed-out lime filled with overproof rum. Light it on fire.

If sexy, bearded James Mason in a tight knit turtleneck does it for you, then you’ll definitely want to give this film a watch. Even if you’re not into sci-fi, there’s enough adventure in this to make 20,000 Leagues worth your time. It is, indeed, a whale of a tale. Cheers!

The World’s Fastest Indian

Image credit: The World’s Fastest Indian, 2005

If you’re looking for a solid feel-good movie this week, then you definitely want to check out the Anthony Hopkins gem The World’s Fastest Indian (Disc/Download), about legendary New Zealand motorcycle racer Burt Munro. For anyone who’s ever had a dream, but worried you’ve missed your chance to make it happen, Burt’s here to prove you wrong.

Watching this movie, I can’t help but draw comparisons to Meryl Streep’s performance in Julie & Julia. Like Julia Child, Burt Munro is here to charm even the most surly American, along with the neighbors back in New Zealand who aren’t exactly thrilled to watch him pee on his lemon tree or torch his backyard. He’s a folk hero with a heart of gold, and it’s this gregariousness that helps him get to the Bonneville Speedway in Utah with very little money, no US connections, and a forty-year-old bike held together with homemade parts and offerings to the gods of speed. They say it takes a village, and in Burt’s case, it takes a trans hotel night clerk, a used car salesman, a Native American, a Vietnam soldier on leave, a police officer, and group of pure-hearted fellow speed demons to get him to the starting line. What he does after that is pure Burt Monroe magic.

My cocktail this week is inspired by some motor oil-themed gin I was gifted recently, cleverly titled “Engine”. Check out that fun container! While watching The World’s Fastest Indian, conjure the flavor of the Bonneville salt flats with this Salted Gin Paloma.

Salted Gin Paloma

2 oz Engine Gin

1 oz Grapefruit Juice

1/2 oz Lime Juice

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

2 oz Club Soda

Lime Wedge

Salt

Prepare a glass by running a wedge of lime around the outside, then dipping in salt. Add ice, and set aside. Combine gin, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into prepared glass. Top with club soda, and stir gently to combine. Garnish with a citrus wedge.

If Burt was the underdog racer at the Bonneville Speedway in 1967, then this movie is also an underdog racing biopic. Although not as flashy as Grand Prix or Ford v. Ferrari, The World’s Fastest Indian is pure heart. Just because something is old, or doesn’t star chiseled Hollywood eye candy, don’t count it out. Bob’s your uncle- it may just win the race after all.

A Knight’s Tale

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Image credit: A Knight’s Tale, 2001

After sitting through Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel (2021), which has been measured and found very wanting, I decided to put on a much more upbeat picture featuring armored men on horseback with sharp objects. A fun addition to Heath Ledger’s tragically short filmography, A Knight’s Tale (Disc/Download) is what happens when a director who is not Baz Luhrmann wants to make a Baz Luhrmann-style movie set at the Renaissance Festival. Is it perfect? No. But the music will remind you of your dad’s favorite classic rock station, and Heath is a great onscreen kisser. This, of course, makes it worth our time.

Closely resembling the feral child in Mad Max for the first chunk of the story, Heath plays William Thacker, a poor squire to a noble jouster. When the nobleman suddenly dies, William decides to take his place in the tournaments. He is aided by his fellow squires and struggling writer Geoffrey Chaucer, who has falsified documents declaring the peasant to be Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland. William cuts those unflattering dreadlocks, gets some fancy armor made by a feisty Scotswoman, and practices his jousting to the tune of War’s “Low Rider”. This is a true rags-to-riches story as William aims to change the stars of destiny that would have him remain a poor servant. He must defeat frequent film villain Rufus Sewell while still holding onto the one thing that has gotten him this far, against all odds- his pure heart.

If you want a drink inspired by the changing of one’s stars, look no further than this classic apple brandy-based cocktail. It feels period-appropriate to me, and after enough of these, you may be line dancing along to David Bowie’s “Golden Years” right along with Heath and Shannyn Sossamon. While watching A Knight’s Tale, I recommend drinking this classic Star cocktail.

Star

1 ½ oz Apple Brandy

1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

¼ oz Simple Syrup

Pinch Edible Glitter

Dried lemon wheel (for garnish)

Combine apple brandy, vermouth, bitters, simple syrup, and glitter in a shaker with ice. Stir until chilled, then strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

While this movie doesn’t quite get me over the hump of actually wanting to attend the Ren Fest, it’s an enjoyable way to experience the time period from the privacy of my own home. And if you needed any more encouragement, let Heath in leather chaps be the thing that tempts you to press Play. Cheers!

Ocean’s 11 (1960)

Image credit: Ocean’s 11, 1960

The list of “New Year’s Eve” movies on my radar has always been depressingly short. Often, the holiday is tacked onto a Christmas flick, where the characters in turmoil have to resolve their issues before the ball drops. So imagine my delight to find one where New Year’s Eve stands alone, actually playing a pivotal role in the plot. The original Ocean’s 11 might not be as engrossing as Steven Soderbergh’s remake (truthfully, the first half of this draaaaaags), but it presents our booziest night of the year in an interesting context, as the perfect time to rob a casino in plain sight.

Despite some bad press Frank, Sammy, and Dino have gotten over the years, I still kind of love The Rat Pack. Sure, they were the epitome of toxic masculinity, but their reign over pop culture coincided with a time when style reigned supreme, and people actually got dressed up to go to Las Vegas. Last I checked, sweatpants now count as couture on the casino floor (ugh). These suit-wearing “rats” seem like the natural fit for a movie about an illegal group project, and indeed, they’re best when they’re all in a scene together. It’s only when they break apart into smaller pairs that the film becomes a snooze. But still, if you enjoy watching Sammy Davis Jr. sing and dance as much as I do, and always wondered what the Vegas strip looked like in 1960, this film is definitely worth a watch. Just, maybe feel free to fast forward to the heist. After an hour and a half of strategizing over highballs, I wish I had.

Part of the gang’s plan to disable four casinos on New Year’s Eve is to cause a blackout. Given the heavy holiday crowds, plunging the gambling floors into darkness is guaranteed to create mass hysteria and distraction. While watching Ocean’s Eleven, toast the birth of cool with this Blackout cocktail.

Blackout

1 ½ oz Gin

¾ oz Blackberry Brandy

½ oz Lime Juice

Champagne

Combine gin, blackberry brandy, and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a martini or coupe glass. Top with champagne.

If you’ve turned to The Apartment as a NYE watch in the past, Ocean’s Eleven might make a good double-feature since Shirley MacLaine has a memorable drunk scene in this with Dean Martin. I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say it feels ultra-appropriate for the personal trash fire that was my 2021. It can only get better from here. Cheers!

The Silent Partner

Image Credit: The Silent Partner, 1978

If you’re burned out by the sentimentality and commercialization of Christmas, have I got a movie for you. The Silent Partner (Disc/Download) is an unexpected holiday find, though a fantastic one. Nothing like a little Santa bank heist to put me in the yuletide spirit!

With a screenplay by Curtis Hanson, I knew I was in for a twisty, suspenseful good time. What I didn’t expect was how dark this movie would ultimately turn out to be, like a mashup between Hitchcock and Argento. Elliott Gould plays a bank teller with a dead-end love life who stumbles onto a mall Santa’s plot to rob his local branch. In an effort to finance his exotic fish collection (yes, you read that right), he starts secretly stashing money from the bank’s till before the impending robbery occurs. When the crime actually happens, St. Nick (Christopher Plummer) walks off with a little bit of money, while Gould ends up with the real fortune. However, this mild-mannered everyman didn’t bet on Santa being a twisted sadist who will stop at nothing to get his rightful share. I won’t spoil all the surprises this movie has to offer, but let’s just say Capt. Von Trapp looks great in panty hose.

Although The Silent Partner is an extremely suspenseful movie, rest assured there are a lot of fun, campy moments too. Boobs abound in this 1970s bra-free wonderland, under everything from cheeky t-shirts (my favorite: “Penalty For Early Withdrawal”), to slinky cocktail dresses. Elliott Gould’s character is perpetually horny, but I really can’t blame him. These bankers like to party, and things get a little loose. This holiday season, let’s toast a bygone era with this Blowfish cocktail.

Blowfish

2 oz Canadian Whiskey

1 oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Crème de Cassis

½ oz Simple Syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into a tumbler with a large ice ball.

I love the Toronto location of this movie because we rarely get to watch a film shot in Canada that’s actually set in Canada. As it turns out, our neighbors to the north have a lot to offer. That list includes (but is not limited to) John Candy, funny Monopoly-looking money, and a really bizarre take on Christmas.  Cheers!

Tremors

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Image Credit: Tremors, 1990

If you follow along with Cinema Sips on social media, then you know the pandemic ushered in a new weekly tradition in my house: Bad Movie Friday. While I may have started out watching disaster movies in an attempt to make myself feel better about the actual disaster happening just outside my door, eventually this evolved into a weekly date with a pepperoni pizza and so-bad-it’s-good cinema, covering everything from Armageddon to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, to The Stuff. To be clear, I actually love most of the movies I’ve watched on BMF, including this week’s blog pick, Tremors (Disc/Download). Just because it’s “bad” doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining.

Believe it or not, I’d never actually seen Tremors before last week. But now… I’m hooked! Thank goodness my library copy came with Tremors I, II, III, AND IV because I absolutely must find out what happens to the residents of Perfection, Nevada and their subterranean killer worms. Had I known Kevin Bacon had a starring role as Valentine McKee, or that Reba McEntire plays a survivalist badass, I probably would have watched this movie a long time ago. Also, with its string of laugh-out-loud lines and Kevin’s hillbilly accent, I was in deep danger of snorting my drink. Standout quote? “I found the ass end!” Cinema gold, I tell you.

Speaking of drinks, a little bit of research yielded the interesting fact that this movie’s original concept title was “Land Sharks” because these worm/snake Graboid creatures behaved like sharks on dry land. Autumn is the perfect time for a beer shandy cocktail, so I’m combining a little Landshark Lager with a twist on the classic Nevada cocktail. While watching Tremors, I recommend drinking a Landshark Bite.

Landshark Bite

6 oz Landshark Beer

2 oz Grapefruit Juice

1 oz Gold Rum

1/2 oz Lime Juice

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Grapefruit Bitters

Gummy Worm (for garnish)

Build drink over ice, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with a gummy worm.

If, like me, you feel like collapsing by the end of the work week, I highly recommend the Bad Movie Friday tradition. It’s nice to shut the brain off for a couple hours, not think about whether a plot or a character makes sense, and just let the special effects and campy acting carry you away. And if you need an excuse to have that extra drink, just know a little more alcohol can only make these movies better. Cheers!