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Tag Archives: 1990s

Meet Joe Black

Image credit: Meet Joe Black, 1998

They say nothing is certain in life but death and taxes. Having dealt with the loss of my father over the past few weeks, only to come home to a slew of W-2 and 1099 forms piled up in the mail, I can affirm this is true. After struggling to find a film that represents the impact my dad has had on my movie-going life, I wound up back here– in 1998, with a fully-highlighted, fully bonkers Brad Pitt, in this week’s pick Meet Joe Black (Disc/Download).

The thing about my dad was that he was up for anything as long as it meant he got to spend time with me. After I turned full “surly teenager”, he saw the writing on the wall. The late ’90s would be one of Lilith Fair concerts, swing dance classes (because Swingers), and movies. Dozens and dozens of movies. Without fail, every other Friday night we had a date to watch whatever celluloid scraps the film gods dumped upon middle-America. Meet Joe Black was such a scrap. At three hours long, this drama about a New York media tycoon (Anthony Hopkins) playing host to the grim reaper (Pitt) feels a bit like that long march to the grave. And yet… when the end finally comes, I’m not ready. I want more of the Brad we see in his first scene, before he gets clobbered (twice!) by a car. The Brad who knows how to sit in a goddamn chair and not look like a lost, mentally disabled twelve-year old at every turn. The Brad who is SO DAMN CHARMING in his meet-cute with Claire Forlani that I’ve moved my VHS copy of this movie through five households because I can’t bear to say goodbye to that scene. And reader, it was a two-tape movie.

Once Death decides to inhabit the body of Brad Pitt (because why not pick our finest living specimen?), all training goes out the window. The thing is, Brad is currently one of my favorite working character actors. But knowing what he’s capable of now only makes the scenes of him eating peanut butter that much worse. This week, let’s drown our sorrows in a cocktail Joe would thoroughly approve of. While watching Meet Joe Black, I recommend drinking this Peanut Butter Man cocktail.

Peanut Butter Man

1.5 oz Peanut Butter Whiskey

.75 oz Rye

3-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Luxardo Maraschino Cherry

Orange twist

Combine peanut butter whiskey, rye, and bitters in a glass over ice. Stir until chilled, then garnish with a cherry and orange twist.

Brad’s acting aside, the main problem with this film is pacing. Many parts seem to drag on for an eternity, however this is actually a good thing when it comes to the few love scenes we’re given. You see, Death falls for the daughter of the man he’s come to claim, and before his vacation is over, he wants to have one final roll in the luxury high-rise hay. This scene is incredibly well shot, and could be a lesson to future romance films (not that these are even being made anymore, but I digress). The simple fact that my dad and I watched this together without a troubling amount of awkwardness speaks to its tastefulness. There’s a lot to mock about Meet Joe Black, but beneath the highlights, beneath the funny accents, lies a movie with a strong heartbeat. It’s a love story between man and woman, and father and daughter. It’s a story of Death yes, but also a celebration of life. And it’s the reminder I need that someday, “Everyting gwarn be iree.” Cheers!

Swingers

swingers

Image credit: Swingers, 1996

As a teenager, I must have watched Swingers (Disc/Download) at least a hundred times.  The poster graced the walls of dorm rooms and crappy apartments, and I even made my dad take swing dance lessons with me.  Ordering my first drink in a bar went something like this, “One of the Glen’s, please.  Any Glen.” I’ll admit, the phrase ‘beautiful babies’ makes me cringe in a way it didn’t used to, but dang if the rest of this movie doesn’t still hold up.

Written by and starring Jon Favreau, this was the indie film darling of the 1990s.  Made on a shoestring budget, Swingers launched the careers of Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingston, and director Doug Liman, and made big-band music and speakeasy bars cool again.  As an adolescent girl, I viewed the film as valuable insight into the male psyche.  But how to meet a Michael in a world full of Trents?  How to make sure the guy who just asked for your number doesn’t tear it up on the way out the door?  These are still questions I’m not sure I have the answer to, other than to say relationships are a crap shoot, and sometimes, even when it might feel like you’re just the guy behind the guy behind the guy, you can get lucky and the right person will come along and see you.

There is so much alcohol in this film, from martini’s to Budweiser and back again, but the best way to celebrate a “money” guy like Michael is by drinking my preferred Glen, Glenlivet.  Simple, on the rocks, with a pancake chaser after midnight.

Scotch

A quote I always come back to when I’m feeling blue about not being where I thought I’d be by now in my career is Ron Livingston’s classic line, “You don’t look at the things you have, you only look at the stuff that you don’t have.”  I may not have that lucrative book deal or the master bathroom of my dreams, but I’ve got a guy who’ll always call me back, and a blog that brings me joy.  And that’s pretty money if you ask me. Cheers!

The Bodyguard

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The Bodyguard

Image credit: The Bodyguard, 1992

With awards season ramping up, I can’t help but feel a little “can’t care” about the whole dog-and-pony show. Viewership of the Oscar telecast has steadily declined over the years, likely due to its Groundhog Day-level of sameness. If only award shows could be as exciting as they are in the movies. If only they could be like The Bodyguard (DVD/Download).

If you’re a fan of film noir, you might be disappointed with this loose contribution to the genre.  If you’re a fan of cheesy romance (like I am), prepare to be thoroughly entertained. Although Whitney Houston’s mega-pop star has limited chemistry with her strong, silent bodyguard played by Kevin Costner, that doesn’t stop me from cheering when he picks her up in his arms, rescuing her from wild, handsy fans. Or when he jumps in front of her, literally taking a bullet at the Academy Awards as Debbie Reynolds probably swoons from all the excitement backstage. Or during that ending, which is without a doubt one of the best Hollywood endings a viewer could ask for.   Take all the frustration you’ve ever felt when Audrey Hepburn lets Gregory Peck walk away in Roman Holiday, wrap it up, and toss it out in favor of the planeside kiss between Houston and Costner. THAT’S how you do romance.

Because Costner’s Frank Farmer is almost always on duty, he never gets to let his guard down and have a drink. The man imbibes so much plain orange juice, he’s single-handedly keeping the Florida citrus industry in business. This makes me want to drink a cocktail, if only because he can’t. While watching The Bodyguard, I recommend drinking a Screwdriver. Strong and uncomplicated- kind of like Frank.

Screwdriver

1.5 oz Vodka

3 oz Orange Juice

2-3 dashes Grapefruit bitters

Orange Twist

Screwdriver

Build drink over crushed ice, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with an orange twist.

I’ve never been one for remakes, but I’m just going to throw this out there: Beyonce + Solange + Kevin Costner (yes, the age-defying Costner should ALWAYS play The Bodyguard).  Let’s make this happen.   After all, isn’t it time for a new Queen of the Night? No offense, Whitney- I will always love you. Cheers!