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Category Archives: TV Movies

Switched for Christmas

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Image credit: Switched for Christmas, 2017

Whether you consider it a Christmas miracle or pandering gimmick, you can’t deny Hallmark set the bar high with a film featuring not just one, but TWO Candace Cameron Bures. Back when she was D.J. on Full House, crimping her hair and developing a one-day eating disorder before Kimmy’s pool party, this actress made me feel seen.  And now that she’s starring in all these Christmas movies, making cookies and wearing cute outfits, I feel seen all over again. I love planning parties, hanging with my nieces, and petting my rescue dog, so naturally I had to check out this week’s Cinema Sips pick, Switched for Christmas (Disc/Download).

I went into this expecting a standard brain-swap plot a la Freaky Friday, but was pleasantly surprised to find that no, it was just twin sisters who enjoy deceiving their friends and family. One sister likes fancy, fussy parties, while the other likes homey, sentimental parties. Each thinks the other has it easier, so they decide to switch places for the Christmas season. Because it wouldn’t be a Hallmark movie without a bland romance, the twins each find love interests, and there’s a confusing bit of name explaining at the end. I admit, I had difficulty keeping the characters straight, especially when both Candaces started dressing well and wearing their hair long and loose. Would a ponytail or side bun have been so hard??

One of the main plots involves Schlubby Candace planning a Christmas party for Fancy Candace’s real estate development firm. She enlists the help of a hunky architect (who is WAY too excited about Christmas parties), and together they make an intricate gingerbread village. Let’s enjoy a little taste of the Hallmark holidays with this Gingerbread White Russian. 

Gingerbread White Russian

2 oz Whole milk

2 oz Vanilla Vodka

2 oz Kahlua

1 1/2 tsp. Molasses

1/8 tsp Ground Ginger



Gingerbread Man Garnish

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together, and pour onto a plate. Wet the rim of a glass and dip in cinnamon/sugar. Fill with ice, and set aside.  Combine milk, vodka, Kahlua, molasses, and ginger in a shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into prepared glass.  Top with gingerbread man.

Ultimately, I liked this extended Balsam Hill ornament commercial a whole heck of a lot.  It wasn’t too sweet or sentimental, Candace looked great (as always), and we got the added casting bonus of a Center Stage alum. I call that a win, win, win.  Cheers!

Pirates of Silicon Valley

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Image credit TNT, Pirates of Silicon Valley, 1999

Image credit TNT, Pirates of Silicon Valley, 1999

I had to laugh when I read the recent reports of the Sony e-mail hack. Apparently mega-producer Scott Rudin was in a tizzy over who would direct his new biopic about Steve Jobs. I wondered- doesn’t he know that an AMAZING biopic of Steve Jobs already exists? No, not the 2013 snooze-fest starring Ashton Kutcher. I’m talking about the 1999 TNT original movie Pirates of Silicon Valley (DVD). It’s got everything: hilarious wooden computers, mock turtlenecks galore, atrocious hair extensions, and even Anthony Michael Hall as a CREEPY Bill Gates. If you’re a nerd who enjoys learning about the evolution of home computers and doesn’t mind some laughably bad acting, look no further- this is your movie.

Pirates of Silicon Valley tells the story of how Steve Jobs and Bill Gates got their starts in the computer industry, and how they became fast rivals in the high stakes race of consumer technology. Noah Wyle is actually pretty good as innovator and master salesman Steve Jobs, and Anthony Michael Hall plays Bill Gates as a jealous sociopath. Of course, the script doesn’t exactly pull any punches when it comes to Jobs either, portraying him as a demanding, sadistic boss who terrifies all of his employees. If it sounds like the movie is intense, it is- but in a good way. It’s obvious that the filmmakers were trying desperately to turn a boring story about corporate espionage and computer programming into something entertaining for the general public, and for the most part they succeeded. I walked away knowing a little bit more about these two visionaries (like politicians, they’re all crooks!) and felt wildly entertained by the terrible hairpieces most of the actors endure. All in all- I’d call it a made-for-TV success.

My cocktail this week is a play off the title of the movie. While no actual pirates sail across the screen, there are still wicked, unwashed men attempting to steal vast fortunes from one another. What do pirates drink? Rum of course! While watching Pirates of Silicon Valley, I recommend drinking that classic rum tiki cocktail Planter’s Punch, which for this movie I’m re-naming Programmer’s Punch.

Programmer’s Punch

1 ½ oz dark rum

½ oz lime juice

¼ oz simple syrup

2 oz pineapple orange juice

Dash- Angostura Bitters

Seasonal Fruit (for garnish)

Pour all ingredients except bitters into a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Pour into a highball glass filled with shaved ice, then top with bitters and seasonal fruit.


It’s astonishing to me that Steve Jobs had enough life material to fill a made-for-TV movie long before the invention of the Ipod. As much as I love Noah Wyle and his denim jorts, I do look forward to a follow-up movie about Jobs’ amazing second act. In fact, how great would it be to hire Noah Wyle to play him again?? But pretty please- leave Anthony Michael Hall out of it. I’ve seen enough of his creepy eyes to give me nightmares for weeks. Cheers!


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This was a hard post to write.  Over the past weekend, I found myself in the horrible situation of losing my beloved pet.  It was a sudden illness, with absolutely no warning, and the loss has rocked me to my core.  Thursday there was a dog lying warm in her bed, and by Saturday it was cold and empty.  I feel uncomfortable even using the word “dog” because she felt like so much more than just an average member of her species.  To me and to my husband, she was our child with fur.  Intelligent beyond belief, sweet, funny, full of personality- she made me excited to get up every morning, if only to see that smiling face and wagging tail.

When we lost her, I felt like (and still feel like) an empty shell.  Sleeping that night was out of the question- every time I closed my eyes I saw her face, and the tears would start to fall all over again.  At loose ends, I found myself awake on the couch at 3am.  The movie I found some small comfort in was my old VHS copy of Danielle Steel’s Jewels (DVD).  At four hours long, I hoped it would carry me through to sunrise, and it did.  For those four hours, I sat curled up in a blanket, tissues in hand, and watched this melodramatic story of a Wallace Simpson-type American woman who meets a British duke, gets swept off her feet, endures the ravages of World War II, creates a dynasty and a thriving jewelry business, and does it all while wearing the very best fashions of the day.  It was pure escapist fantasy, and exactly the comfort I needed.

If you find yourself in the mood to watch Jewels, I recommend doing it with a champagne cocktail.  In particular, I would choose the French ’77.  In true Danielle Steel fashion, the characters drink a lot of champagne throughout the movie, and most of it takes place at a chateau in France.  This is one of my favorite drinks, and I think it goes perfectly with this frothy made-for-TV movie:

French ’77

1 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

1/4 oz lemon Juice

3 oz champagne

Pour St. Germain and lemon juice into a champagne flute.  Top with champagne, and garnish with a lemon twist.

(sorry, no photo this week)

Grief is a horrible thing, and all a person can do is ride it out.  They say time heals all wounds, and I truly believe that.  In the mean time, the only thing that is getting me through these initial dark days is the escapism of cinema.  Sure, Jewels isn’t great cinema, but sometimes watching beautiful people with gobs of money having trashy affairs is the only thing that gets me through the night.  Tomorrow I’ll go back to watching wonderful, high-brow movies like Boyhood and The Theory of Everything (my 2 favorites for 2014).  For now though, I have to let myself cry rivers of tears over the loss of our cherished girl Pickles Marie Hasselhoff, put on a comforting movie, and raise a glass of something bubbly in her memory.  Cheers.

Liz Pickles Box

*Feel free to use the comments section below to tell me what some of your favorite “comfort food” films are.  I need all the suggestions I can get.

Anne of Green Gables

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Image credit Sullivan Entertainment, Anne of Green Gables, 1985

Image credit Sullivan Entertainment, Anne of Green Gables, 1985

Now that it’s January, it’s time for me to give up some of my holiday excesses. These would include dozens of Christmas cookies consumed, far too many glasses of champagne drunk, and more imported cheeses than I’m willing to admit to. However, there is one thing I got hooked on during December that I refuse to give up:  made-for-TV movies. The Hallmark Channel reeled me in, with their dozens of original Christmas movies featuring C-list actors, impossibly fake snow, and hilariously bad dialogue. By the time Dec. 25th rolled around, I was in a haze of trashy holiday cheer. Now that it’s January, I may be willing to part with the Christmas sentimentality, but not the so-bad-it’s-good entertainment. Therefore all this month on Cinema Sips, I’ll be highlighting my favorite made-for-TV movies. If you have any favorites, be sure to leave a comment- I’m curious to know if there are any other readers who occasionally go to the dark side…..

To kick things off, I advise cancelling all plans for the upcoming weekend in order to properly settle in with the Anne of Green Gables trilogy (DVD). This will include watching Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and if you can stomach seeing Gilbert Blythe with greying hair and wrinkles, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. If that’s too much for you, just the first one will suffice, but I personally find it impossible to watch just one. This Canadian mini-series was based on one of my favorite childhood book series by Lucy Maud Montgomery. How lucky for us Americans that PBS started airing it any time they did a pledge drive in the early 1990’s. Megan Follows is perfect as Anne Shirley, the plucky orphan who loves literature, poetry, and writing, and who was basically my teenage idol before Angela Chase came on the scene. And there are no words to describe my undying crush on her love interest Gilbert Blythe. I still attribute my 5-year period as a redhead on a secret wish to be called “carrots”.

My cocktail this week is based on the great scene where Anne accidentally gets her “bosom friend” Diana drunk. What they think is raspberry cordial is actually currant wine, and Diana has three tumblers of it before barfing in the rose bushes. Currant wine sounds a bit god-awful, but I do like the sound of raspberries. This week, I’m using some leftover champagne and a tasty bottle of flavored vodka to make this Sparkling Raspberry Elixir.

Sparkling Raspberry Elixir

1.25 oz Smirnoff Raspberry-Pomegranate Vodka

.5 oz lemon juice

.5 oz simple syrup

Prosecco or other sparkling wine

Fresh raspberries

Mix vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker over ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a martini glass or champagne flute. Top with Prosecco and garnish with fresh raspberries.


Watching this movie again is like seeing an old friend. When I was younger, it was such a comfort to me that there was someone else out there (fictional or no) who enjoyed using her imagination as much as I did. Green Gables always seemed like such a magical place, filled with flowering orchards, wooden rowboats, puffed sleeves, horse drawn carriages, and poetry. But really, Anne was the one who made it magical- turning a simple pond into the “Lake of Shining Waters”, a petal-strewn road into the “White Way of Delight”, and a red-headed orphan girl into a kindred spirit for all of us dreamers. Cheers!