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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!