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Tag Archives: Anthony Hopkins

The World’s Fastest Indian

Image credit: The World’s Fastest Indian, 2005

If you’re looking for a solid feel-good movie this week, then you definitely want to check out the Anthony Hopkins gem The World’s Fastest Indian (Disc/Download), about legendary New Zealand motorcycle racer Burt Munro. For anyone who’s ever had a dream, but worried you’ve missed your chance to make it happen, Burt’s here to prove you wrong.

Watching this movie, I can’t help but draw comparisons to Meryl Streep’s performance in Julie & Julia. Like Julia Child, Burt Munro is here to charm even the most surly American, along with the neighbors back in New Zealand who aren’t exactly thrilled to watch him pee on his lemon tree or torch his backyard. He’s a folk hero with a heart of gold, and it’s this gregariousness that helps him get to the Bonneville Speedway in Utah with very little money, no US connections, and a forty-year-old bike held together with homemade parts and offerings to the gods of speed. They say it takes a village, and in Burt’s case, it takes a trans hotel night clerk, a used car salesman, a Native American, a Vietnam soldier on leave, a police officer, and group of pure-hearted fellow speed demons to get him to the starting line. What he does after that is pure Burt Monroe magic.

My cocktail this week is inspired by some motor oil-themed gin I was gifted recently, cleverly titled “Engine”. Check out that fun container! While watching The World’s Fastest Indian, conjure the flavor of the Bonneville salt flats with this Salted Gin Paloma.

Salted Gin Paloma

2 oz Engine Gin

1 oz Grapefruit Juice

1/2 oz Lime Juice

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

2 oz Club Soda

Lime Wedge

Salt

Prepare a glass by running a wedge of lime around the outside, then dipping in salt. Add ice, and set aside. Combine gin, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into prepared glass. Top with club soda, and stir gently to combine. Garnish with a citrus wedge.

If Burt was the underdog racer at the Bonneville Speedway in 1967, then this movie is also an underdog racing biopic. Although not as flashy as Grand Prix or Ford v. Ferrari, The World’s Fastest Indian is pure heart. Just because something is old, or doesn’t star chiseled Hollywood eye candy, don’t count it out. Bob’s your uncle- it may just win the race after all.

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!