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Mad Max: Fury Road

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Mad Max: Fury Road

Image credit: Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015.

Chris Locke, for Splotch! here, guest correspondent for Cinema Sips (and husband of Liz Locke).

On the surface, Mad Max: Fury Road (Disc/Download) is a two-hour car chase, with a heavy dose of shoot-em-up, which makes it easy to see why my wife skipped seeing it in favor of some Jane Austen / Currer Bell movie with lots of stuffy accents and wooden buttons.  But Proust and Joyce don’t really fit the Splotchlife Criteria for Good Movies.

Three ingredients indicate huge potential for a high-quality movie.  Dust, dried blood, and fast cars.  It’s not that all good movies have these things, or that all movies with these things are good.  It’s just that in the Venn Diagram of Good Movies, there is a huge overlap between the circles that contain them.*

The problem is, my wife judged this movie based on the trailer, which doesn’t serve it justice.  Mad Max: Fury Road is a wild ride filled with themes of redemption, reluctant commitment, survival of the underdog, and once the viewer realizes it’s really not about Max, the whole thing changes.  This is the story of Furiosa, a tough-as-nails woman risking her life to save other more vulnerable women.  And where does she take them?  To the land of women, of course!  It’s an authentic feminist dream wrapped in an action burrito of explosions and motorcycles, and when you look for the parallel romance stories (between Nux and Capable, but also the classic “enemies-to-lovers” pairing of Max and Furiosa), there is certainly enough to entertain any open-minded person.

Still not convinced? Look at it as an allegory of our current times. The whole story revolves around a bunch of warmongering starving diseased sycophants blindly following a sadistic obese tyrannical maniac who causes their hardships, hoards the resources, holds the power to save the people, and convinces the less fortunate to blame themselves.  “Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!” he says, as he dumps their most precious resource down the side of a dirty rock cliff, then shuts it off before they can get what they need.  This guy is a real piece of work.

The main characters try to escape their situation and then (SPOILER ALERT) realize the best thing they can do is not to escape, but to go back to where they live and fix it.  They overthrow the tyrannical government and give the people what they need.  It’s a real breath of fresh air, especially given the situation we are currently suffering through.  The greatest thing that comes from this movie: the message that you don’t have to escape.  You can stay and fight for change.

My wife has come around on this movie, but she needed a frozen beverage to do it. She said all the dust and heat made her uncomfortable. Even while we were sitting in air conditioning. Whatever. So if you’re a ninny, watch Mad Max: Fury Road with this Frozen Milk Punch. If you’re a real man, sprinkle some dirt in a rusty can of warm water and call it a day.

Frozen Milk Punch

1 cup Whole Milk

1/2 cup Bourbon

1 cup Crushed Ice

1 tsp Vanilla extract

2 Tbsp Simple syrup

1 cup Vanilla Ice Cream

Grated Nutmeg

Blend together first six ingredients until creamy. Garnish with a pinch of grated nutmeg.

Frozen Milk Punch

*Footnote: Secondary indicators include (but not limited to) apocalypse, kidnapping, homemade weapons.  Tertiary indicators include amateur surgery and a scene where the protagonist hangs upside-down from a moving vehicle with their face inches off the ground.  Unfortunately, this movie does not contain any of the following: a cop close to retirement, a vendetta, a briefcase full of unmarked bills, Nicholas Cage, double cross, horses (as transportation, never as pets), a time bomb, or a heist.  The salvation of the harem may be interpreted as a caper for academic purposes.

Long Shot

Long Shot

Image credit: Long Shot, 2019

I’ll take any excuse to watch Long Shot again, and this week my justification happens to be Valentine’s Day. Gone from theaters before anyone knew it had arrived, Long Shot (Disc/Download) was the 2019 gift to rom-com obsessives like myself (and to jaded people like my husband who just didn’t know what they were missing). I’ve made it my personal goal to get the word out about this whip smart, endearing ode to unexpected romance and Boyz II Men, and if Motown Philly doesn’t entice you, maybe a cocktail will.

When one hears the name Charlize Theron, the phrase “Seth Rogen movie” probably doesn’t come to mind. This is the tough-as-nails actress who takes on Immortan Joe and misogynist pigs. The woman who sashays across our television screens in Dior, looking like a glamorous gazelle. This woman does not belong in a comedy with a teddy bear-shaped funnyman and weed jokes, right? WRONG. Long Shot proves definitively that Charlize can do it all. As the U.S. Secretary of State vying for the job of President, she’s calm and collected. But underneath the polished facade, she’s a sleep-deprived woman who stopped noticing how lonely her life has become. That is, until speechwriter Fred Flarsky  comes along to remind her that politics isn’t everything; love is. Sure, the script has some of that infantile bro humor typically found in a Rogen movie, but I beg you to look past that. Focus on sweet moments like when they’re dancing in an empty kitchen to the Pretty Woman soundtrack, or Seth’s face when he realizes this beautiful, impressive woman actually wants him. The guy with the goofy jacket and big heart, who everyone makes fun of; he’s the one who finally gets the girl of his dreams. Not since Lloyd Dobbler called up Diane Court have I felt so hopeful about life.

As Secretary of State, Charlotte Field spends a lot of time traveling the world. Thus, the official cocktail of the DC Beltway (the Gin Rickey) needs to be tweaked just a bit for her. With the addition of lychee syrup, you’ll feel like you’re right there in that Manila hotel room, watching two people fall in love over their laptops. When viewing Long Shot, I recommend drinking this Traveling Rickey.

Traveling Rickey

2 oz Gin

½ oz Key Lime Juice

½ oz Lychee Syrup

Club Soda

Lime Slice

Combine gin, key lime juice, and lychee syrup over ice in a Collins glass. Stir well to combine. Top with club soda, and garnish with a lime slice.

Traveling Rickey

While the film is obviously meant to be a parody of our current political dumpster fire, at the center of it all is a love story that gives me so much joy. To see the chemistry of this unlikely pair is to witness pure cinema magic. Charlize, I beg you to run for president in 2020- but only if you bring your First Mister with you. Cheers!

Monster

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Monster

Image credit: Monster, 2003

It’s Halloween this week, and perhaps you were expecting a monster movie—the kind with Boris Karloff in heavy makeup, maybe some weird lighting and a spooky soundtrack.  But I’ve got something even scarier for you: Charlize Theron, sans eyebrows, in a film about a woman on the edge.  Monster (Disc/Download) isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you can handle the intense drama, it offers a rare glimpse into the fear and violence of life on the streets.

Newscasters love to talk about how rare the female serial killer is, like a strange unicorn in a world of Dahmer’s and Gacy’s.  But similar to some of these higher-profile men, Aileen Wuornos has been abused most of her life, driven to a kind of madness that makes her actions almost inevitable. Her first killing is in self-defense, but the rest are portrayed by Theron as a sort of PTSD.  Like the collective trauma of being a woman in a world dominated by depraved men is simply too much to handle.  In contrast to all the other films of prostitute-as-“Party Girl/Model/Call Girl”, with their impeccable grooming and charming romantic subplots, Monster takes a hard look at the reality of prostitution.   Maybe she was always a cold-blooded killer, maybe she became one out of necessity. But when Aileen snaps, she SNAPS. Honestly, I wish she’d snapped a little more and killed her annoying, lazy girlfriend (played by Christina Ricci), but that’s a complaint for another day.

Before the blood spatter, the film showcases the tender romance between Aileen and Selby, two women both looking for a little comfort in a cold, hard world.  All they want is some beer, maybe a little whiskey, and a warm place to sleep that’s free of judgement.  While you’re watching Monster, pretend it’s ladies night at the local dive bar and cozy up with this Blood Orange Shandy.

Blood Orange Shandy

6 oz Budweiser beer

2 oz Ginger beer

1 oz Pomegranate juice

1 oz Blood Orange juice

Orange Twist

Combine ingredients in a chilled glass.  Stir gently to combine, and garnish with an orange twist.

Blood Orange Shandy

The thing that makes Monster so scary is that this story could conceivably happen to anyone.  Maybe I have some devastating medical expenses, my husband dies, parents are gone, I lose my house, my job, my skin cream, and I’m on the streets.  What would I do to survive?  It’s this thought sending shivers up my spine because the simple answer is: I don’t know (cue spooky music).  Cheers!

Sweet November

Sweet November

Image credit: Sweet November, 2001.

Is there honestly a better month than November?  Finally, the heat of the summer has broken, the fire pit gets used again, and as Americans, we get several days off to do nothing but eat, drink, and watch movies. This week’s film Sweet November (DVD/Download) couldn’t take place at any other time because the rest of our months aren’t nearly as perfect. Sweet January? I don’t think so.

Sweet November is the Lifetime-movie-with-actual-celebrities that made a star of Charlize Theron and fueled my decades-long crush on Keanu Reeves. So, points for that.  However, what self-respecting woman takes in loser men as a 30-day pet project, sleeps with them, turns them into reasonably dateable human beings, then sends them on their way? I know Charlize’s character is supposed to be a “free spirit”, but….. it’s a little gross. However I’m prepared to ignore all the other randos she’s shacked up with in the past because the one currently occupying her love nest is Keanu. Brash ad exec (it’s a HOT. DOG.) turned dreamy boyfriend who rescues puppies and croons “Time After Time” (badly), Keanu is proof that the love of a good woman can fix anyone. Without it, he could end up like super-villain Frank Langella. Frank kinda makes me cry here, along with the waitress. Damn he’s good.

To celebrate November and the sweetness of Keanu, I’ll be mixing up a drink with all the fall flavors. While watching Sweet November, I recommend drinking an Autumn Leaf.

Autumn Leaf

6 oz Austin Eastciders Spiced Cider

1.5 oz Pumpkin liqueur

Cinnamon stick for garnish

Build drink over crushed ice, stirring well to combine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Autumn Leaf

For those looking for a rom-com with a happy ending, you may be disappointed with Sweet November. But to me, a tragic ending seems appropriate for a film heavily scored by Enya and featuring a plethora of knit shawls. It just… works. Like November, perfection never lasts. My advice: drink it up while you can! Cheers!

The Italian Job

italian-job

Image credit: The Italian Job, 2003

I would never advocate drinking and driving, but who says you can’t drink and watch other people drive? This week I’m featuring a high-octane heist movie with cute cars, snappy dialogue, and Venetian scenery. The Italian Job (DVD/Download) is essentially the 4th Ocean’s Eleven film, wherein a ragtag group of attractive people steal gold from the bad guy. Although Mark Walburg is certainly no Clooney, those cute Mini Coopers zipping through tunnels and mansions makes up for it.

Although the film is called The Italian Job, precious little of it takes place in Italy. Nevertheless, I love the opening and closing shots of the Venetian canals. In real life I know St. Mark’s Square to be covered in dive-bombing pigeons, however in the movies it always looks so lovely. The bulk of the story takes place in and around LA as the professional bandits try to out-cross a double-crosser. The story isn’t terribly original, but it is a lot of fun. Supporting turns by Mos Def and Seth Green provide a good dose of comedy, and this is the one and only Jason Statham movie I have wanted to watch all the way through. So there’s that.

My cocktail this week is a little obvious, but no less delicious. Strong and smooth, like Charlize Theron cracking open a safe, it will have you dreaming of Venetian sunsets. While watching The Italian Job, I recommend drinking a Negroni.

Negroni

1 oz gin

1 oz Campari

1 oz sweet vermouth

Citrus peel

Stir gin, Campari, and vermouth together gently in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with citrus peel.

negroni

The 2003 version of The Italian Job is one of the few remakes of a classic film that I actually like. I hesitate to even call it a remake of the 1969 version with Michael Caine because it’s really so different. I may have traded in my Mini for the Fiat Pop, but I’ll always have a fondness for Mini Coopers because of this movie. And now, Italian cocktails. Cheers!

Young Adult

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"Young Adult"

Image credit: Young Adult, 2011

Sometimes you watch a movie, and a character feels so familiar that you fear the screenwriter has set up a secret camera monitoring your every move. This week’s film Young Adult (DVD/Download) is one such film for me. However, instead of shining a light on what my life is actually like, it shows me what my life would be like if I hadn’t made some vital good choices along the way. Essentially, Clarence the Angel paid me a visit, in the form of Diablo Cody.

The similarities between lead character Mavis Gary (played by Charlize Theron) and myself are almost too numerous to count. We’re both writers, we both share a passion for YA lit (oh how I devoured Sweet Valley High books as a teenager), the Kardashians are somehow always on in our homes as white noise, we both drive Mini Coopers (or at least I did at the time this film was released), and we both come from small towns populated by KenTacoHuts and big box stores. Oh, and of course there’s the drinking. The scenes of Charlize Theron viewing herself in the mirror after a night of heavy drinking? Been there. Luckily that’s where the similarities end. I don’t have a high school boyfriend I’m currently stalking and trying to woo away from his wife and baby, and I’m not having a strange, sad relationship with the former “Hate Crime Guy”. Though, I don’t blame her for that one because Patton Oswalt is pretty awesome in this. And he makes his own bourbon. Score!

Young Adult is a fantastic film for Cinema Sips because Mavis loves her bourbon, specifically Maker’s Mark. To go with her sour attitude on life, while watching Young Adult I recommend drinking a Maker’s Mark ® Sour (recipe from MakersMark.com).

Makers Mark® Sour

2 parts Maker’s Mark Bourbon

1 part simple syrup

½ part lemon juice

Lemon or Cherry for garnish

Shake Maker’s Mark ® Bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup with ice and strain into a rock’s glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon and/or cherry, and serve.

Makers Mark Sour

*Note: My drink includes an enormous ice ball that I made with these molds. Perfect for when you want a cocktail on the rocks that isn’t too watered down.

I don’t know what becomes of Mavis after the credits roll, but in my fantasy she and Dolce are still in the Minneapple, having upgraded to a penthouse apartment after she has written a bestselling YA vampire series. And maybe Patton Oswalt stops by with his small-batch bourbon from time to time. Cheers!