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Moonrise Kingdom

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Moonrise Kingdom

Image credit: Moonrise Kingdom, 2012

There’s nothing like young lovers and a vintage New England setting to get me excited for summer. Of course my all-time favorite example of this is A Summer Place, but with his 2012 film Moonrise Kingdom (DVD/Download), Wes Anderson created a modern summertime masterpiece. It may not have Troy Donahue in short-shorts, but Bill Murray does sport some nifty madras pants.

Set in the fictional town of New Penzance, Moonrise Kingdom features wainscotted homes full of sturdy antiques, a picturesque lighthouse, rocky beach coves, and pine forests. I can almost smell the salt air, and the vintage postcard-style cinematography is truly transporting. Like any Anderson film this one is full of bizarrely perfect casting, like Bruce Willis as a lovelorn sheriff, Edward Norton as an Eagle Scout troop leader, and Tilda Swinton as a comically severe social worker. The pre-teen lovers are both disaffected to the outside world yet earnest with one another, and as they dance in their underwear to the music coming from a portable record player, I find myself longing to be even half as cool.

There’s nothing like a freshly pressed scout uniform to make you think of summertime cookouts, the open air, and wilderness lodges. This film deserves a drink that’s crisp, refreshing, and easy to make indoors as well as out. While watching Moonrise Kingdom, I recommend drinking a Khaki Scout Cooler.

Khaki Scout Cooler

1 ½ oz Gin

2-3 dashes celery bitters

½ oz Maraschino liqueur

4-5 mint leaves

1 slice of cucumber

1 lime wedge

Topo Chico sparkling water

Muddle mint leaves and cucumber with the maraschino liqueur at the bottom of a Collins glass. Add gin, bitters, and ice. Top with Topo Chico (or sparkling water) and squeeze the lime wedge, dropping into the glass.

Khaki Scout Cooler

photo by @pop_up_cobra

I may be stuck in the fiery pit of hell that is Texas in the summer, but this movie just begs to be watched outdoors. Luckily I’ve got a refreshing cocktail on tap, a pair of madras shorts, and a portable fan. Record player optional. Cheers!

Blue Hawaii

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Blue Hawaii

Image credit: Blue Hawaii, 1961

I’ve watched a lot of Hawaiian films this month, so I’m confident in my opinion that I saved the best for last. If there’s any cinematic Hawaii I wish I could transport myself to, it’s the version seen in the classic Elvis Presley picture Blue Hawaii (DVD/Download). Some might call the film dated, but to me it’s a celluloid paradise.

I’ve never considered myself an Elvis fan, and despite my obsession with this movie, I’m still not one. Honestly, Elvis is the least interesting thing about Blue Hawaii. As the heir to a pineapple fortune, he’s somewhat of a jerk to his parents and his long-suffering girlfriend. He gets bonus points for bringing her a cute bikini from Paris, but it doesn’t make up for the time he kissed a flight attendant right in front her. Not cool. If you can stand to look past Elvis Presley The Phenomenon, you’ll see that Blue Hawaii is filled with picture-postcard-perfect Oahu scenery, vintage sundresses designed by Edith Head, and stylish classic cars. And inexplicably, a corgi frolicking in the surf. It’s bizarre, it’s gorgeous, and I can’t look away.

Adding to my love of this movie is a southern accented-Angela Lansbury, who spends most of her time ordering mai tais from her man servant Ping Pong. I’ll be taking my cue from Ms. Lansbury with this “tummy-warmer”. While watching Blue Hawaii, I recommend drinking a classic Mai Tai.

Mai Tai

1 oz white rum

½ oz Orgeat syrup

½ oz Cointreau

2 oz pineapple juice

1 oz orange juice

Dark Rum float (such as Koloa dark rum)

Pineapple spear and lime (for garnish)

Mix white rum, Orgeat, Cointreau, pineapple and orange juices in a shaker filled with ice. Pour drink into a glass with the ice, and float the dark rum on top. Top with pineapple spear and lime wedge.

 

This film gave us two great Elvis songs, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Blue Hawaii”. The iconic singer is certainly charming enough, but even Elvis Presley can’t compete with the beauty that is Hawaii. I may not be able to transport myself back to 1961, but the great thing about cocktails is that they taste the same now as they did then. All I need is that Edith Head sundress and my fantasy will be complete. Cheers!

Pearl Harbor

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Pearl Harbor

Image credit: Pearl Harbor, 2001

“It is hard to remember what we came to remember.”

Joan Didion may have been writing about her own experience visiting the Pearl Harbor memorial, however she may as well have been talking about the Bruckheimer/Bay disaster pic Pearl Harbor (DVD/Download). After 3 hours, only one of which was actually about the attack on Pearl Harbor, I struggled to recall why I’d pressed “play” in the first place.

If the filmmakers were trying to capture a Casablanca tone of romance during wartime, I’m not sure they succeeded. Same goes for accurately conveying the story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But if the goal was to create a showcase for pyrotechnics, special effects, and cheesy lines, consider this film a rousing success. I’m not sure that I expected much, given that it stars a very tan, blonde Ben Affleck before he got his sh*t together, but still- his tepid love triangle with Kate Beckinsale and Josh Harnett was pretty disappointing. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing the cavalcade of cameos by actors who are SO much better than this movie. Michael Shannon! Alec Baldwin! Ewen Bremner! Cuba Gooding Jr.! (well, okay maybe Cuba belonged in this).

One thing that makes the long flight to Hawaii worthwhile is the fresh pineapple waiting on the other end. Well, that and all the tiki drinks. I’ve already featured Midori and vodka in another post about a doomed ship, so this week I’m putting a Honolulu spin on it. While watching Pearl Harbor, I recommend drinking a Tiki-tini.

Tiki-tini

1 ½ oz vodka

¾ oz Midori

4 oz chilled Pineapple juice

Pineapple chunk

Shake well over ice to chill, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with pineapple chunk.

I can say without a doubt that this historic tragedy deserves a lot better than a Michael Bay schlock fest. Luckily, we have Tora! Tora! Tora! and that really great pilot episode of The Twilight Zone (“The Time Element”) to fill in the gaps. I encourage you to check out these titles, and if you have the means, go see the Arizona Memorial in person. But, to quote Alec Baldwin, “Leave your goddamn hula shirts at home.” Cheers!

The Descendants

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the descendants

Image credit: The Descendants, 2011

Hawaii Month continues with a modern look at island culture, the 2011 Alexander Payne film The Descendants (DVD/Download). Shot on Oahu and Kauai, and starring George Clooney as a man trying to hold his family together, this film leaves you with a sense that you just saw Real Hawaii, and not the postcard version.

Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants weaves a tale about family drama past and present. Matt King is a descendant of Hawaii’s Royal Family, and just as he and his cousins prepare to sell off the last of their ancestral land for major profits, his estranged wife slips into a coma following a boating accident. Through it all, Clooney is a simmering cauldron in Hawaiian shirts, and I spend the movie waiting for him to blow. Nobody does a withering take-down like Clooney, and his skewering of his wife’s lover, played by Matthew Lillard, (*side note: HOW did Matthew Lillard land an Alexander Payne film??) is classic. Also, I’m not sure what to think about a woman who cheats on George Clooney with Matthew Lillard. While I buy a lot of the “real Hawaii” in this film, I don’t buy that.

As we all know by now (or maybe just those of us who read People magazine), George Clooney has gone from Hollywood actor to tequila mogul. He and his BFF Randy Gerber make one hell of a spirit, so I think it’s high time we feature it on Cinema Sips. While watching The Descendants, I recommend drinking an Añejo Old Fashioned*.

Añejo Old Fashioned

3 oz Casamigos Añejo tequila

1/8 oz agave nectar

4-5 dashes Mole bitters (I used Fee Bros. Aztec Chocolate bitters)

Orange peel

Combine liquid ingredients in a glass over ice and stir gently to chill. Strain into a glass with a large ice cube.  Run a flame over the peel of an orange to release the oils, and drop into the glass.

*Recipe adapted from the fabulous book, Tequila Cocktails.

Anejo Old Fashioned

While I don’t love this movie as much as Payne’s other films such as Sideways and Election, it definitely grows on me with repeat viewings. I notice the subtlety of Clooney’s performance, and the beautiful way in which the script celebrates old and new Hawaii. So many of the islands’ traditions have been lost in the face of progress, but the bond of family isn’t one of them. In The Descendants, we’re reminded of what ties us to a place, and to each other. Cheers!

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Image credit: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 2008.

Aloha from Cinema Sips! As I prepare to jet off to Kauai for a much-needed vacation, I’m doing my homework in the form of a Hawaiian film binge.  First up- a comedy postcard from Oahu, Forgetting Sarah Marshall (DVD/Download).

Like every Judd Apatow-associated project, this film is about thirty minutes too long (the man should really stick to television). But I am happy to see Freaks & Geeks alum Jason Segal in the lead role as recently dumped composer Peter, and Apatow regular Paul Rudd as the not-all-there surf instructor. As Peter tries to forget about his ex-girlfriend Sarah Marshall (played by Kristen Bell), he drinks a lot of frozen cocktails, flirts with Mila Kunis, and performs hilarious ballads from his vampire puppet rock opera. Yes that’s right- vampire puppet rock opera. First, this needs to be a real thing, and second- why is this not a real thing???

Nothing says getting over a breakup like planting yourself at a bar, and if that bar is in Hawaii, you’ve got to start with a Piña Colada. Bonus- imbibe more than one of these, and even Russell Brand is funny. While watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I recommend drinking a Piña Colada.

Piña Colada

3 oz pineapple juice

1.5 oz white rum

1 oz dark rum

1 oz coconut cream

Crushed ice

Pineapple, cherry, and umbrella (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until you reach a smooth consistency. Pour into a glass, and garnish with a slice of fresh pineapple, maraschino cherry, and umbrella.

As this movie proves, break ups are tough, but Hawaii makes everything better. I can’t wait to see if the water is really that blue, and if the drinks are as fantastic as they look. Fingers crossed I’m right on both accounts. Cheers!

Weekend at Bernie’s II

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Weekend at Bernies 2

Image credit: Weekend at Bernie’s II, 1993.

I harbor a secret (or not-so-secret) love for most of the terrible sequels I’ve featured this month. A lot of them were favorites from my childhood that still bring me a certain amount of glee. I went into this week thinking that Weekend at Bernie’s II (DVD/Download) was actually pretty good, based on my memory from 20 years ago. Welllllll……. I admit. I was wrong. Go ahead, put in me in movie jail and make me watch Ingmar Bergman films as punishment. I deserve it.

I get a shocking amount of traffic on Cinema Sips from my original Weekend at Bernie’s post, so I know there are a lot of Terry Kiser fans out there. The first movie was ridiculous, but it was FUN! You kind of believed that it was possible for a self-centered group of one-percenters to not notice an actual human corpse in their midst. But in the sequel, all believability goes out the window with a trio of asinine plots. #1- Bernie is raised from the dead by a voodoo priestess working for mobsters. #2- the people who actually perform the voodoo ceremony are two random dudes with no connection to anything, yet they spend the whole movie following a shuffling Bernie around in search of the mob’s money. #3- Rich and Larry are back, and decide to look for the money Bernie embezzled in the first movie. They’re being trailed by Barry Bostwick, who is hired to prove that the two doofuses were in on the embezzlement. Essentially, all these people are following Bernie, I can’t keep anything straight, and I eventually throw my hands in the air and accept that this movie MAKES NO SENSE.

The one thing Weekend at Bernie’s II has going for it is a gorgeous tropical locale in the Virgin Islands. Richard and Larry spend most of their time at the hotel bar, avoiding the stench of a rotting corpse in their mini fridge (don’t ask). If you’re like me, you’ll need a lot of rum to make this funny. While watching Weekend at Bernie’s II, I recommend drinking a Voodoo cocktail.

Voodoo

2 oz aged rum

¾ oz Martini Rosso Vermouth

2 ½ oz pressed apple juice

½ oz lime juice

¼ oz simple syrup.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks filled Collins glass.

I’d like to think I’ve always had impeccable taste in movies, but this one proves that there are a few missteps in my past. It also proves that not all sequels are created equal. For every Before Sunset, there’s a Weekend at Bernie’s II, which (like Bernie himself), is long past its sell-by date. But if you must watch, by all means please- do it with a cocktail. Cheers!

*Side note-  Pretty, pretty please do not judge Andrew McCarthy for participating in this film.  I like to think that he financed his later career as an AMAZING travel writer with the money he got from this schlock.  In my opinion- totally worth it.  I highly recommend his book The Longest Way Home.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

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Dirty Dancing Havana Nights

Image credit: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, 2004

I’m not going to pretend that this sequel holds a candle to the original Dirty Dancing. I don’t care what re-makes or sequels come down the pipeline, there will never be another Patrick Swayze. However- if you’re looking for a fun film with fabulous vintage clothes, gorgeous Cuban aesthetic, and the ever-adorable Diego Luna, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (DVD/Download) has you covered. Plus- bonus Swayze cameo!

In the same spirit of the original, Havana Nights follows a “good girl” who falls in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Katey can’t stand the entitled American jerks of her own social set, so when a cute Cuban waiter rescues her from the mean streets of Havana, she jumps at the chance to befriend him and spice up her ballroom dancing with some Latin moves. Even Patrick Swayze pops up as the hotel’s dance instructor, in a strange Johnny Castle time-warp. But even 17 years later, he’s still got the moves.

I’ve already featured the recipe for a classic mojito with the much-more-authentic revolution film I Am Cuba, as well as a watermelon sandia with the original Dirty Dancing. So why not combine the two? While watching Dirty Dancing Havana Nights, I recommend drinking a Watermelon Mojito.

Watermelon Mojito

2-3 Fresh watermelon cubes

2 oz white rum

Fresh mint leaves

2 tsp sugar

1 oz lime juice

Club Soda

Muddle watermelon, sugar, lime juice, and mint in the bottom of a glass. Add rum, then top with club soda. Stir gently to combine.

Watermelon Mojito

I’ll admit, this movie is mainly just a great excuse to ogle Diego Luna and drink mojitos. And damn if that Wyclef Jean song isn’t just as catchy as “Time of My Life”. Now that Americans can finally visit Cuba again, it might be time to dust off my Spanish and figure out the visa situation. But only if I can dance like a gringa and yell “Cooba!”  Cheers!