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Category Archives: Action/Adventure/Heist

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

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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!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

last-crusade-sidecar

Image credit: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989

As a rule, I try to avoid film franchises at all costs. However, I have to make an exception with this week’s film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (DVD/Download). Even though it stands on the shoulders of the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark (and on the not-so-classic Temple of Doom) to me this is the best Indiana Jones film of them all. Sean Connery, snappy dialogue, and creative problem solving- what’s not to like?

Perhaps the reason I enjoy this third film in the trilogy so much is that finally Indiana Jones is taken down a peg. For once, he’s not the smooth archeologist who can con a woman into his bed even faster than he outruns a giant boulder. In Last Crusade he’s just Henry Jones “Junior”- an ordinary son trying to repair the relationship with the father who abandoned him. Sure, they have action-packed zeppelin escapes and a tense run-in with Adolph Hitler at a book burning party, but at the end of the day this is all normal family drama. Like a really exciting episode of Parenthood. And let’s face it, watching Indy and his dad solve riddles and outsmart the bad guys in their search for the Holy Grail is a lot more fun than watching people eat monkey brains. Just sayin’.

For me, the banter between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford is what makes this film so enjoyable. And how cute does Connery look in the sidecar of Indy’s vintage motorcycle?? That bucket hat kills me. While watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I recommend drinking a Sidecar.

Sidecar

2 oz cognac

¾ oz lemon juice

¾ oz Cointreau

Granulated sugar

Lemon twist (garnish)

Combine cognac, lemon juice and Cointreau in a shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass that has been rubbed with lemon juice and rimmed with sugar.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

sidecar

When Indy finally reaches the Holy Grail, he must choose which glass offers life, and which death. I can’t say my stakes are quite so high, but it is always a challenge to find the best glassware for a drink.  If only I could find the magic glass that would turn alcohol into something healthy, and not something that will eventually pickle my liver and cause my skin to dry out. Now that’s the Holy Grail. Cheers!

The Italian Job

italian-job

Image credit: The Italian Job, 2003

I would never advocate drinking and driving, but who says you can’t drink and watch other people drive? This week I’m featuring a high-octane heist movie with cute cars, snappy dialogue, and Venetian scenery. The Italian Job (DVD/Download) is essentially the 4th Ocean’s Eleven film, wherein a ragtag group of attractive people steal gold from the bad guy. Although Mark Walburg is certainly no Clooney, those cute Mini Coopers zipping through tunnels and mansions makes up for it.

Although the film is called The Italian Job, precious little of it takes place in Italy. Nevertheless, I love the opening and closing shots of the Venetian canals. In real life I know St. Mark’s Square to be covered in dive-bombing pigeons, however in the movies it always looks so lovely. The bulk of the story takes place in and around LA as the professional bandits try to out-cross a double-crosser. The story isn’t terribly original, but it is a lot of fun. Supporting turns by Mos Def and Seth Green provide a good dose of comedy, and this is the one and only Jason Statham movie I have wanted to watch all the way through. So there’s that.

My cocktail this week is a little obvious, but no less delicious. Strong and smooth, like Charlize Theron cracking open a safe, it will have you dreaming of Venetian sunsets. While watching The Italian Job, I recommend drinking a Negroni.

Negroni

1 oz gin

1 oz Campari

1 oz sweet vermouth

Citrus peel

Stir gin, Campari, and vermouth together gently in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with citrus peel.

negroni

The 2003 version of The Italian Job is one of the few remakes of a classic film that I actually like. I hesitate to even call it a remake of the 1969 version with Michael Caine because it’s really so different. I may have traded in my Mini for the Fiat Pop, but I’ll always have a fondness for Mini Coopers because of this movie. And now, Italian cocktails. Cheers!

The Martian

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the-martian

Image credit: The Martian, 2015

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much over this summer weather. The sun is a relentless flaming ball that scorches me the second I walk outside, and my yard has become a barren wasteland. I’m actually seeing a lot of parallels between Texas weather and life on Mars in this week’s film The Martian (DVD/Download). Those scenes of Matt Damon gasping for breath as his space suit fails and he’s exposed to the atmosphere? Me, on the walk to the car in the morning.

I didn’t expect to like The Martian as much as I did. I thought it would be yet another big budget sci-fi/action film with a ton of special effects and not much real acting. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It turns out that director Ridley Scott made a compelling film about the triumph of the human spirit against terrible odds. In the end, surviving life on Mars isn’t all that different than surviving life on Earth- you just solve one problem at a time. Granted, problems like a lack of water, oxygen, and food are bigger than, say, my Wi-Fi going out, but we all have our struggles. As Matt Damon MacGyver’s his way through farming and rocket engineering on a planet not meant to support human life, it reminds me that if he can do all that, I can handle a power-cycle with a tech support guy from India.

To survive on Mars, you have to get creative with food and beverages. Left with only a limited supply of rations, astronaut Mark Watney is forced to make his own water and grow his own potatoes. If he’d had more time, and if his space station hadn’t blown up, he might have parlayed this into vodka production. I have no doubt he could do it. While watching The Martian, I recommend drinking a Martian Screwdriver.

Martian Screwdriver

4 oz Tang

2 oz Potato Vodka

Build drink over ice, stirring gently to combine.

martian screwdriver

Although it features a strong supporting cast (um… Kristin Wiig what are you doing in this??), The Martian really is Matt Damon’s tour de force. His performance brings laughs and tears, and the fear on his face as he’s about to lift off into space in an open-air space craft gets me all choked up, every time. All I can say is- welcome back to the world of great actors Mr. Damon. There’s nobody else I’d rather be stranded with. Cheers!