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Category Archives: Children’s

Hugo

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Hugo

Image credit: Hugo, 2011

There are few things I love more than movies about movies, so imagine my delight when I first realized Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (DVD/Download) was a love letter to the works of silent cinema artist/pioneer/magician Georges Méliès. I went into this film thinking I’d be watching an Oliver Twist-like tale about an adorable Paris street urchin; I left gutted, and enthralled by the magic of the cinema.

Based on the graphic novel about young orphan Hugo Cabret, this film takes the viewer on a journey from a bustling train station all the way back to the earliest days of silent cinema. Stealing random parts to fix an automaton his deceased father left him, Hugo serendipitously meets the aging Georges Méliès, brought low after interest in his beautiful films like A Trip to the Moon has faded. In fixing the automaton, Hugo finds a connection to his father, to Méliès, and to his dreams. And as this story lovingly points out, that’s what silent cinema was- our dreams come to life.

As a tribute to Georges Méliès and his awe-inspiring A Trip to the Moon, I’ll be mixing up a moon-inspired cocktail. Crème de Violette gives it such a pretty color, almost like the hand-painted celluloid from those early Méliès films . While watching Hugo, I recommend drinking a classic Blue Moon cocktail.

Blue Moon

2 oz gin

½ oz Crème de Violette

½ oz lemon juice

Lemon twist

Mix gin, crème de violette, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Blue Moon

When you get into the business of film criticism (even boozy, lighthearted film criticism), you sometimes forget about what drew you to the medium in the first place. Hugo is the reminder I needed that movies really are magic. In the right hands, they have the ability to delight, inspire, and transport. And sometimes, like this week, they even bring tears to your eyes when you realize just how much they’ve shaped your life. Cheers!

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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!

The Triplets of Belleville

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Triplets of Belleville

Image credit: The Triplets of Belleville, 2003.

This week, I found the rare film that bridges the gap between my Mad Max-loving husband and myself.  By the time we finished The Triplets of Belleville (DVD/Download), we were both humming “Belleville Rendezvous”, and he enthusiastically admitted that this was the best French (mostly silent) cartoon he’s ever seen. Small pool, but I’ll take it!

Similar to The Artist, this film is largely dialogue-free, thus opening it up to a world-wide audience. You don’t need to speak French to laugh at Bruno the dog barking at trains, or the whistle-blowing little old lady with one oversized orthopedic shoe.  It’s ALWAYS going to be funny.  When her grandson gets kidnapped by the French mafia and forced into a simulated Tour de France, Grandma and Bruno travel across stormy seas to Belleville, a strange Metropolis-esque city up to no good. Their rescue operation gets some help from three aging singers with a hearty appetite for frogs, and soon they’re all making some strange, fantastic music. It’s delightful, it’s moving, and it’s a glorious love letter to old-school animation.

I don’t know much about cycling, but I do know that in the Tour, the Lanterne Rouge is the cyclist in last place who refuses to drop out. If that isn’t a metaphor for this whole movie, I don’t know what is. Break out the French aperitifs for a Red Lantern cocktail!

Red Lantern

1 ½ oz vodka

½ oz Cointreau

½ oz Chambord

1 oz cranberry juice

½ oz lime juice

Fresh Blackberry or raspberry

Lime Twist

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake, and then strain into a glass. Garnish with a blackberry and lime twist.

Red Lantern

As I get older, and busier, I regret that I don’t take a chance on foreign cinema or animation the way I used to.  The Triplets of Belleville reminds me that great films come from unexpected places, and in unexpected formats.  And it also reminds me that some things, like the love between a boy and his grandma, or a boy and his dog, are universal. Cheers!

The Sword in the Stone

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the sword in the stone

Image credit: The Sword in the Stone, 1963.

My anticipation and excitement for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs has me itching to watch more animation this month.  I have very strong thoughts on modern animation, having grown up in the days before computers did absolutely everything. Back then, you could go to Disney World’s MGM Studios and actually watch artists use a pencil and paper to draw characters. I know, crazy right? If we’re talking animation, I think it’s essential to begin with Disney- the studio that turned this medium into a true cinematic artform. Although I love so many Disney animated features, my enduring favorite is undoubtedly The Sword in the Stone (DVD/Download).

Some might see this as an odd choice for me, since there is nary a ballgown or princess in sight.  However what it lacks in unrealistic romantic ideals, The Sword in the Stone more than makes up for it in visual sumptuousness. When I watch this story of young Arthur toiling away in poverty, learning about science from Merlin the Wizard and Archimedes the Owl, I feel like I can actually see the blood, sweat, and tears that went into drawing each frame. Every line and color cell is visible to the naked eye, with the ultimate effect being a moving painting. This is something I don’t get today with the Pixar films, where everything looks a bit like a plastic toy, regardless of whether it’s a Toy Story sequel or not.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the magnificent, marvelous, mad Madam Mim. She pits good old-fashioned sorcery against Merlin’s scientific approach, but gosh what a delightful villain! Of any character in this film, she seems the most likely to relax with a cocktail after a day of wreaking havoc. While watching The Sword in the Stone, I recommend drinking a Mad Madam Mim Martini.

Mad Madam Mim Martini

1.5 oz vodka

1.5 oz cranberry juice

Dash of Grenadine

1 oz Blue Curacao

Raspberry Cocktail Caviar for garnish (slightly chilled)

Mix vodka, cranberry juice, and grenadine in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a martini glass, then slowly layer blue curacao. Garnish with Cocktail Caviar balls (aka- the pox!)

madam mim martini

1960’s Disney films have such a unique, gritty style that got lost in the Beauty and the Beast-era films of the 1990’s. Somewhere along the way, it became trendy to take the human element out of the equation. Maybe one day we’ll cycle back, but for now, watch this vintage gem and geek out on Merlin’s science lessons. After all, knowledge is true power. Cheers!

 

 

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

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Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Image credit: Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971.

No matter how many sexy pirate or sexy nurse costumes flood the market in October, to me Halloween will always be a holiday for kids. Sure, I may still put on a funky hat or a fake moustache and eat my weight in fun-sized Heath bars, but I know I’ll never recapture the anticipatory magic of slipping a coat over my Little Mermaid seashell bra and heading out into a chilly Pennsylvania evening, empty plastic pumpkin in hand. Therefore this week on Cinema Sips, I’m closing out a month of witch movies with a childhood favorite, Bedknobs and Broomsticks (DVD/Download).

Many people tend to compare this movie to Mary Poppins, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Both feature beloved British actresses, catchy songs, a bit of magic, dirty London streets, and an unfortunate live action/cartoon interlude. However, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is slightly grittier than Mary and her penguins. This film follows a trio of homeless orphaned children sent to live in the village of Pepperinge Eye during the WWII bombing of London. They wind up in the care of Angela Lansbury, a secret witch-in-training with a surly disposition and an endless supply of tweed skirts, who feeds them grain bowls and can’t ride a broom to save her life. But in the end, they all work together on magic spells to defeat the Nazi’s, and live happily ever after. Because Disney!

Lansbury’s Eglantine Price is a buttoned up lady, whose one indulgence (I like to imagine), is a small glass of sherry and a good book.  Actually, that sounds kind of perfect to me as well.  Let’s celebrate this unlikeliest of witches with a classic EGG-white cocktail, the Sherry Flip.

Sherry Flip

2 oz dry Sherry

1 oz simple syrup

1 egg white

Pinch of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake well to combine. Then add ice, and shake vigorously to chill. Strain into a small wine glass. Dust with nutmeg.

Although many witches in cinema use their powers for romantic love, I applaud Eglantine on using hers for the good of her country. You see, witches don’t have to be scary. They can be intriguing, intelligent, kind, and pragmatic. They can have a thirst for knowledge that takes them from the bookshops on Portobello Road to a magical undersea dance hall. It’s all in your perception. Cheers!

Hocus Pocus

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Hocus Pocus

Image credit: Hocus Pocus, 1993

I feel an unusual amount of pressure in writing about this week’s film Hocus Pocus (DVD/Download). What was once a charming (and admittedly scary) movie to 10-year old Liz Locke has since morphed into a cult classic that people my age are REALLY nostalgic for. Is it simply because Hocus Pocus was always “on” when we were kids? Is it the enduring appeal of a talking cat? Sarah Jessica Parker’s cleavage?   After a recent re-watch, I’m still not sure I’m a member of the H.P. cult, but it sure does bring back memories.

Hocus Pocus is an unusually dark movie in the Disney canon. Not only does it feature a trio of Salem witches who suck the life out of small children and bury the bones under their house, but there are also frightening graveyard chase scenes and an oddly critical view of virginity. Honestly, I didn’t even know what a virgin was when this movie came out, thinking it was probably a euphemism for ‘stupid’. What other excuse is there for lighting a black-flame candle made from the fat of a hanged-man (kid’s movie here folks!), knowing it might bring some evil witches back from the dead? Total virgin move. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy are the ideal level of fun and creepy in their portrayal of the Sanderson Sisters, and in terms of cinema witches, it’s great to see the evil variety for a change, instead of the charming seductress. Not since Margaret Hamilton painted her skin green and summoned her monkeys have I been so terrified to see a woman fly through the air.

Because I consider this a somewhat adult movie, it deserves an adult beverage to go along with it. I didn’t get this recipe from a book of spells, but it does make me feel a little more youthful. Maybe that’s just the alcohol buzz. While watching Hocus Pocus, I recommend drinking a Glorious Morning Mule.

Glorious Morning Mule

3 oz Green Chartreuse

1 oz Lemon Juice

10 oz Ginger Beer

Optional: Salt Rim

Fill copper mule mug with ice, then top with green chartreuse, lemon juice, and ginger beer. Stir gently to combine. Optional- to ward off zombies, witches, and old boyfriends, rim the mug with salt.

Glorious Morning Mule

One thing I really love about Hocus Pocus is the book of spells with the blinking eye. Say what you want about witches, but they tend to be very well read. I may not approve of the rest of their shenanigans (like child genocide), but I do approve of reading. Cheers!

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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willy-wonka

Image Credit: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1970.

Happy Halloween to my Cinema Sips readers! I think we can all agree that the best part of this holiday is the candy.  I’ve never been a big fan of scary movies, so this year I plan on stuffing my face full of KitKats and watching the Holy Grail of candy movies, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (DVD/Download). (And of course I’ll be enjoying a chocolate cocktail, but we’ll get to that).

With the passing of legendary actor Gene Wilder, this movie has once again been thrust into the spotlight due to his timeless performance as imaginative candy mogul Willy Wonka. As the enigmatic Wonka, Wilder twirls and softshoe’s his way through a technicolor dreamland filled with rivers of chocolate, Oompa Loompas, and lickable wallpaper. The movie is a visual feast for both children and adults alike, and through the eyes of young Charlie Bucket, we can’t help but feel awed and delighted by literally every frame.

As an adult, I can’t watch this film and not wonder what kind of magical candy cocktails Willy Wonka would have created. Would there be some chocolate liqueur in that river? Perhaps a snozzberry champagne fizzy lifting drink? The possibilities are endless, and as Wonka himself says, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.”  So true.  In the end, I always come back to the chocolate. Plain, simple, delicious. While watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I recommend drinking a Candy Bar Hot Chocolate.

Candy Bar Hot Chocolate

1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps

1 oz Patron XO Coffee Liqueur

Caramel Hot Chocolate (I use World Market brand)

Sweetened Whipped Cream

Caramel syrup

Prepare hot chocolate according to package directions. Pour into glass mug, then add the coffee liqueur and schnapps, stirring gently. Top with whipped cream and caramel syrup.

candy-bar-hot-chocolate

Although I’d like to think of myself as an optimistic Charlie Bucket, in reality I’m really more of a Veruca Salt (hey- she’s misunderstood!).  And after a bag of Halloween candy, I fall squarely into Augustus Gloop territory.  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite films, and not just because it promotes sugary treats and pure imagination.  Really, I’m just a sucker for happily ever after. Cheers!