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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

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steve zissou campari

Image credit: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004.

I’m a big fan of theme months on Cinema Sips, so imagine my surprise when I realized past themes have always centered around a particular film style, but never a cocktail.  To switch things up, this month I’ve chosen a trendy spirit you might not already have in your bar, but probably should.  Gotta have something to offer the hip millennials right?  Campari fits the bill perfectly, and to kick things off, I’ll be watching the film that made this Italian aperitif cool again- Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (DVD/Download).

Inspired by the life and films of Jacques Cousteau, The Life Aquatic is a fairly mixed bag of Wes-isms. There are (slightly cheesy) stop-motion animation sequences, a dollhouse-like ship with incredibly specific room functions, odd but cool fashion choices, and a cast of regulars like Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum, and Willem Dafoe. Although this is essentially a Moby Dick story of an arrogant explorer chasing down the murderous and elusive jaguar shark, the complicated relationships Zissou has with basically everyone on his ship turn this into a heavier film than I might have expected. By the end, I’d laughed, I’d cried, and I’d started to google Italian Riviera vacations.

Steve Zissou is many things- explorer, terrible husband, flirt, friend, but most importantly, lover of Campari. Sophisticated and simple- splash some over an ice cube, add a twist of lemon, and you’ve got a drink fit for a dashing underwater explorer. While watching The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I recommend drinking Campari on the Rocks.

Campari on the Rocks

Campari

Citrus Twist

Ice

Pour a generous amount of Campari over ice, and garnish with a lemon or orange twist. Sip, and think of the one that got away.

campari on the rocks

Being the style geek that I am, I can’t help but admire the Campari bottle itself.  Not only is the label as cool as a Brazilian David Bowie cover artist, but the red liqueur looks fantastic against the mint green walls of The Belafonte.  From Wes Anderson, I would expect nothing less. 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!

Waking Life

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Waking Life

Image credit: Waking Life, 2001

Living in Austin, it’s hard not to be a fan of Richard Linklater. So many of his films capture that unique brand of relatable intellectualism  that made me fall in love with my adopted home town. As my husband would say, “It’s just a bunch of people walking and talking.” Yep- and I love it! High up on my list of favorite films is this week’s animation pick Waking Life (DVD/Download).

Although Linklater didn’t invent the concept of rotoscoping (the process of animating over film footage), this was the first computer-aided version I’d ever seen. Waking Life felt so fresh in 2001, and still does today. Even though we’ve come a long way with ambitious animation projects (ie. Loving Vincent), the way Linklater uses all these different visual styles to describe a series of dreams is incredibly unique.  The picturesque realism used for Jesse and Celine’s pillow talk is so different from the crude lines of the angry guy in the bar, which is so different than the Picasso-esque tango orchestra, that you really feel the emotion in every scene.

What I love most about rotoscoped films is the interplay between light and shadow.  Particularly in the scene with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (giving us a little tease of their Before Sunrise characters’ fates), the light coming through their window gives the whole scene such a romantic glow.  Wouldn’t it be great to capture this same feeling with a classic cocktail?  While watching Waking Life, I recommend drinking a Golden Dream.

Golden Dream

1 ½ oz Galliano

1 ½ oz Cointreau

1 ½ oz Orange Juice

¾ oz cream

Orange twist for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Golden Dream

If someone were to make a movie of my dreams, it would no doubt feature me walking up an endless set of stairs while simultaneously fretting that I’ve forgotten my locker combination.  Riveting, no?  Thank heavens Richard Linklater has enough interesting dreams in his arsenal to make up for all of my mundane ones. 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!

 

 

Top Five Oscar Party Ideas- 2018 edition

Oscar is turning 90 this year, we’ve just witnessed an incredible year of films and I, for one, am ready to celebrate!  Here are my top five suggestions to make this year’s party the best one yet.  Cheers!

1. Gold drinkware

Flutes, highballs, stemless wine glasses- go crazy! It’s Oscar night!

 

2.  Red Felt Coasters

Give your drink the red carpet treatment.

 

3. Deviled Egg Tray

Share an egg with a friend, a la The Shape of Water.

 

4. Henry Mancini- The Classic Soundtrack Collection

You know why The Party is still the coolest movie about a party that was ever made? Henry Mancini.

 

5. Peach gummy candy

Make your guests blush with this Call Me By Your Name-inspired snack.

 

And what will I be drinking on Oscar night?  I plan on toasting Call Me By Your Name with this sparkling peach cocktail.  Saluti!

la pesca

La Pesca

1 oz Peach Liqueur

1/2 oz Orgeat syrup

2-3 dashes Grapefruit Bitters

Prosecco

Combine peach liqueur, orgeat, and bitters in a chilled flute.  Stir gently, then top with prosecco.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Image credit: Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, 2008

You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m totally obsessed with Frances McDormand. The front-runner for this year’s Academy Award for Best Actress (for her unforgettable role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), she’s long been a favorite of mine in films like Friends With Money, and this week’s Cinema Sips pick Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (DVD/Download).  No matter what happens on Oscar night, I think we should all bow down to the woman who has made “telling it like it is” into an artform.

As Guinevere Pettigrew, McDormand speaks simple truths softly. She’s the guiding force ditzy American singer/actress Delysia Lefosse (a campy Amy Adams) desperately needs as she juggles three competing bachelors in 1930’s London. Poor Miss Pettigrew just wants a meal, but she’s too busy playing caretaker and maid to this scatterbrained screwball. The art deco sets and costumes are completely transporting, and understated romance makes this script sparkle like a diamond brooch. Will Miss Pettigrew get her happy ending with Joe the lingerie designer? Have a cocktail and find out.

Although Miss Pettigrew doesn’t drink, she finds it difficult to refuse Delysia’s offer of a cocktail.  It’s different, you know.  Enjoy this classic libation and see if you can guess which bachelor will win Delysia’s heart in this wacky horserace. While watching Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, I recommend drinking a Silver Screen Gin Fizz.

Silver Screen Gin Fizz

2 oz Gin

1 oz simple syrup

¾ oz Lemon Juice

4-5 dashes grapefruit bitters

1 egg white

Club Soda

Combine first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice first, and shake until frothy. Add ice, then shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a glass, and top with club soda.

Gin Fizz

This film reminds me so much of wonderful screwball comedies by Preston Sturgess and Howard Hawkes. The dialogue is rapid, the actors look like they’re having the time of their lives, and the costumes make me want to give up my job so I can walk around in satin and fur all day without being ridiculed. I guess I’ll just have to save it for the weekend. Cheers!