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Being John Malkovich

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Being John Malkovich

Image Credit: Being John Malkovich, 1999

If you could crawl into the mind of a celebrity, who would it be? For me, the answer is easy- Nicholas Cage. Not only would it likely be a weird and wacky ride, but I might be able to save him (and the rest of humanity) from some truly terrible films. In this week’s film Being John Malkovich (DVD/Download), one of the great American actors of the 20th century becomes the host du jour. Why did screenwriter Charlie Kaufman choose actor John Malkovich? Because it’s just fun to say Malkovich.

Directed by Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich has all the movie elements I love. Unusual sets (7 ½ floor, anyone?), puppets, good-looking celebrities going ugly (YIKES Cameron Diaz), and famous actors playing themselves. As greasy-haired puppeteer Craig Schwartz, John Cusack slides through the portal into John Malkovich’s mind and eventually opens the actor up to a slew of other people taking possession.  As the film progresses, we start to examine what makes a person uniquely themselves, and how much of our minds are controlled by outside influences.

Although many people try to inhabit the mind of Malkovich, the 105-years-young Dr. Lester has perhaps the biggest claim to this coveted mental real estate. It’s his building where the portal on the 7 ½ floor exists, and he’s spent his life drinking carrot juice to stay vital. Wouldn’t it be great to find a cocktail that reverses the aging process? I’m willing to try if you are. While watching Being John Malkovich, I recommend drinking a Carrot Collins.

Carrot Collins

3 oz carrot juice

¾ oz lime juice

1.5 oz spiced rum

¾ cup ginger beer

1 oz mint simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a collins glass over ice. Stir gently, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Carrot Collins

One of the most interesting scenes in the film is when John Malkovich goes through his own portal, landing inside his own mind. What he encounters is a collection of Malkovich clones, who can speak only his surname; or as he puts it, “a world no man should see.” I can empathize. A room full of Liz Locke’s? TERRIFYING. Cheers!

In Her Shoes

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in-her-shoes

Image credit: In Her Shoes, 2005

I was so saddened to hear about the passing of director Curtis Hanson last month. I’ve featured his films LA Confidential and Wonder Boys on Cinema Sips in the past, but this week I’m excited to write about one of his less frequently lauded films In Her Shoes (DVD/Download). An unconventional choice for Hanson, this quasi-rom com could have veered off into Hallmark Channel territory. But with his skilled hand it became a beautiful film about the relationship between sisters, the joy and pathos of aging, and the quest we’re all on to find professional fulfillment. The fact that it features sugary pink drinks and designer shoes- well, that’s just icing on the cupcake.

Adapted from the wonderfully fun novel by Jennifer Weiner (one of my personal favorite writers), In Her Shoes is about two sisters (Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz) who have a falling out, and struggle to find their way back to each other.  Along the way they reunite with a long-lost grandmother (played by Shirley MacLaine), and discover the love and self-confidence both had always lacked. Sure there’s some romance, a lot of cute shoes, and bikini shots of Cameron Diaz after she moves into her grandma’s retirement community. But there are also some great scenes about the struggles many of us face in life, and that really triumphant moment when finally, at last, you figure out what you’re meant to do. Watching this movie just makes me hopeful.

In an effort to bond with her too-cool-for-school adult granddaughter, Shirley MacLaine spends an evening watching Sex and the City and drinking cosmos. It’s a cliche, but I’m sorry, cosmos are delicious!  And for this movie, the drink fits. While watching In Her Shoes, I recommend drinking a Cosmopolitan.

Cosmopolitan

1 ½ oz Vodka

1 oz Cranberry juice

½ oz Cointreau

½ oz fresh lime juice

Lime wedge

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime.

cosmopolitan

What always delighted me about this film was the spot-on depiction of Florida retirement communities. As a child of Florida snow-birds, I’ve always daydreamed about just running away to the land of early bird specials, white pants, water aerobics, and cocktail hour. It’s only the lack of decent Tex-Mex there that stops me (and okay, my really great life back in Texas). Lucky for me, I’ve got In Her Shoes, and that really great Florida-set episode of Seinfeld to remind me of what I’m missing. Cheers!

The Holiday

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Columbia Pictures 2006

Image credit: Columbia Pictures, The Holiday,  2006

Welcome to Cinema Sips: Holiday Version! During each week of December, I’ll be featuring a holiday-themed movie and festive accompanying cocktail. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this should be an enjoyable time because there are some truly great holiday movies out there, and who doesn’t like an excuse to eat and drink more than usual? For my first choice, I went with a no-brainer: The Holiday. I think this is a great film to ease into the Christmas spirit because it’s not overtly about Christmas. It does take place during the end of December, but there aren’t any of mentions of Santa and his elves. Rather, this movie gets me excited for the main reason I enjoy Christmas- VACATION TIME!

The Holiday is really two movies in one. It follows Kate Winslet’s lovesick character Iris and Cameron Diaz’s jaded character Amanda as they trade houses with one another for the Christmas holidays. Iris journeys to Amanda’s gorgeous mansion in Los Angeles, and Amanda travels to Iris’ charming cottage in Surrey, England. I should have prefaced all of this by pointing out that this is a Nancy Meyers film, which means that the interior design of each of these homes is to-die-for. Iris and Amanda each find romance on their vacations with Jack Black and Jude Law, respectively, and they learn how to be happy again in their lives. It’s a truly enjoyable film, and really the only weak link in the bunch is Cameron Diaz. I would fast-forward through her scenes, if not for Jude Law (aka Mr. Napkin-Head), his adorable British children, and the gorgeous shots of Iris’ cottage that I want to go live in right now. For me, the heart of the movie rests with Kate Winslet, her hilarious and charming relationship with Jack Black, and the scroo-di-li-doo next door Arthur (played by Eli Wallach). When screenwriter Arthur tells her, “You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend,” it is so profound, and I want to scream at the television- Yes! Now get Cameron Diaz out of there and re-make this movie as Iris’ Holiday!

For my cocktail pairing, I’m using a delightful find from my local liquor store, Smirnoff Peppermint Twist vodka. It’s so good, you don’t even need a mixer.  Just a big ball of ice, and hearty splash, and you’ve got a festive cocktail.  While watching The Holiday, I recommend drinking a Snowball.

Snowball

3 oz Smirnoff Peppermint Twist Vodka

1 large ice sphere

Pop an ice sphere out of the mold, drop into a martini glass, and pour vodka over it.  Enjoy!

I’m lucky to have found my one true love already (and yes he does bear a striking resemblance looks-and-personality-wise to Jack Black’s character in this movie) so during the holidays I get to focus on the fun stuff- reading books, eating junk food, watching movies, and laughing with friends. Even if you don’t have a long break from work or a trip planned, watch this movie, have a cocktail, and for 2 hours pretend that you do. Cheers!