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Tag Archives: Brad Pitt

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!

Inglourious Basterds

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inglourious basterds

Image credit: Inglourious Basterds, 2009

Personally, with where I’m at with American current events, I really need to see a Jewish refugee and her Afro-French boyfriend burn a theater full of Nazis alive. Inglourious Basterds (DVD/Download), while not necessarily factually accurate, is incredibly satisfying to watch. I know Hitler didn’t die in a hail of gunfire and flames, but this film begs the question… what if he had?

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds is by far my favorite of his films. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had a thing for charming villains, or maybe I just enjoy watching Brad Pitt go full-on character actor. This Nazi-scalper looks like he’s having the best time ever, and it’s contagious. His counterpoint is the witty Col. Hans Landa, played by Christoph Waltz in an Academy Award-winning performance that is both evil and intriguing.   His masterful handling of Tarantino’s script is particularly impressive, especially considering he does it in multiple languages. I adore Mélanie Laurent as the projectionist/rebel fighter Shosanna, and her scenes of fending off the advances of Daniel Brühl are sadly relatable. Sometimes, a girl just wants to be left alone with her book, not make small talk with a Nazi.

There’s a pivotal bar scene that’s straight-up Tarantino, down to the blood spatter, humor, and fast-moving dialogue. Since we’re dealing with a bunch of Germans (faux and otherwise), it seems appropriate to join in their party with a Schnapps cocktail. While watching Inglourious Basterds, I recommend drinking an SS Fireball.

SS Fireball

1 1/2 oz Fireball Whiskey

1 oz Butterscotch Schnapps

6 oz Apple Cider

1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Fireball candy

Build drink over ice, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with a Fireball candy.

Fireball

More than anything, Inglourious Basterds is a film about the disenfranchised fighting back against their oppressors. When that match is lit, and Shosanna’s face fills the movie screen like something from a 1930’s horror film, it’s a battle cry for all of us who have ever felt powerless against our leaders. It’s about time a woman comes out on top, even if only in our celluloid dreams. Cheers.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

benjamin-button

Image credit: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008

Greetings from New Orleans! I’m off on a little sojourn in the Big Easy, taking in the sights and doing some much-needed cocktail research (very important business). To prepare for my trip I’ve been watching some New Orleans-set films, including this week’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (DVD/Download). Some star-crossed romance and beautiful Garden District scenes are just what I need to kick off this week of bon temps.

Based on the story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button stars Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse. Fate intervenes and brings him together periodically with his true love Daisy, played by Cate Blanchett. We know going in that this can’t be a story with a happy ending, though there are some beautiful scenes of the two lovers “meeting in the middle” of their lives. What Benjamin’s tale teaches us is that backwards or forwards, life is a long journey that we’ve just got to make the best of. Also, we learn that Brad Pitt will one day be a very adorable old man.

Part of my excitement over a trip to New Orleans is that this was the city that launched SO MANY cocktails. The Hurricane, the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Vieux Carré- I could go on and on. But for this film, I’ll be drinking perhaps the most iconic NOLA cocktail- the Sazerac.

Sazerac

Absinthe

1 sugar cube

2 ½ oz Cognac or rye whiskey

3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

Lemon twist

Rinse an old-fashioned glass with absinthe, discard, then fill the glass with crushed ice. Muddle the sugar cube with a few drops of water in another old-fashioned glass, and add a few large ice cubes.  Add in the cognac or rye, and bitters, and stir gently to combine.  Discard the ice in the first glass, then strain the cocktail into this prepared glass. Add a twist of lemon.

sazerac

Although the concept of reverse aging is something the beauty industry has been chasing for decades, Benjamin Button shows us how futile it all is. Eventually we all end up in diapers. Until then, I plan on making the most of every day that I find myself in the middle, and appreciating this random collision course that we call life. Cheers!

Ocean’s Eleven

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Ocean's Eleven (2001)

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Lately, I’ve found myself longing for a fun-filled, ridiculously overpriced trip to Las Vegas. Not having the time or funds to take said trip, I opted for the next best thing- watching 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven. This is one of the few films in existence that my husband and I both equally enjoy, and we never get tired of watching it. I’m hard-pressed to think of another film that combines such a great cast (not a single weak link in the bunch), a hilarious script, beautiful scenery (who doesn’t want to stand and gaze at the Bellagio fountains after seeing this movie?), and masterful editing. This is the heist movie that you want to watch again and again because even though you know how the robbery takes place, you love to see it happening.

Although this film is chock-full of incredible actors, the member of Ocean’s Eleven who stands out the most for me is Brad Pitt’s character Rusty Ryan. I have to admit, I was not a huge fan of Pitt’s before this movie. I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. After seeing him in this, I am converted. Although the title of this film suggests that it’s George Clooney’s Danny Ocean who holds it all together, in fact it’s Rusty Ryan. He is instrumental in finding the right talent to pull off the biggest robbery in the history of Las Vegas, and he keeps the wheels spinning at all times. While Danny is off trying to woo back his ex-wife (played by Julia Roberts), it’s Rusty who keeps the plans churning. And his cameo (if we can call it that) as a badly-toupee’d doctor during the robbery is priceless. He makes the job look fun, which in turn makes the audience have fun.

I knew from seeing the movie previously that this week’s cocktail should be whiskey-based. How fortuitous that one of the great whiskey drinks in cocktail history happens to share the same name as my favorite character in this film. Therefore, this week’s cocktail is The Rusty (Ryan) Nail:

1 ½ oz Scotch whiskey

½ oz Drambuie

1 twist lemon

Combine the scotch and Drambuie in an old-fashioned glass nearly filled with ice cubes. Stir well. Garnish with a lemon twist.

rusty-nail

I like a Rusty Nail with this film because it makes me feel like one of the guys. I don’t know what role I would play in this group (sadly, I fear I’d be hanging out with the Mormon twins) but it’s fun to imagine being a part of this effortlessly cool gang of criminals who look great, are smart enough to pull off a $150 million casino heist, and have a hell of a fun time doing it. Also, I applaud them for their ability to drink whiskey and keep a clear head. I don’t know if it works the same for you or me, but here’s to at least joining the party. Cheers!