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The Witches of Eastwick

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witches of eastwick

Image credit: Witches of Eastwick, 1987

You know that feeling you get when the end credits are rolling on a particularly bizarre film, and you just sit, unblinking, trying to make sense of the last two hours? Such was my experience with The Witches of Eastwick (DVD/Download). Not having read any Updike before, including the novel this film was based on, I was wholly unprepared. What started out as a promising rom-com slowly morphed into a special-effects laden horror-fest, with a dash of surrealism. This one definitely needs some unpacking.

For the first twenty minutes, my take on The Witches of Eastwick was, “where has this movie been all my life???” Cher, Michelle Pheiffer, and Susan Sarandon sitting around, drinking martini’s, complaining about how there are no good men anymore- let’s just call this my ideal Saturday night.   They wish hard for the man of their dreams, not knowing that they’re actually a coven of witches.  Soon after, this mysterious stranger actually appears in the form of Jack Nicholson. And he’s a creep. And he has a teeny-tiny ponytail that’s distracting as hell. And he may or may not be the devil. But he has a mansion with an indoor pool, a healthy sexual appetite, and bowls of fresh cherries (we’ll get to that in a minute). So the three women do what dozens of Playboy Bunnies have done before and move in with the morally bankrupt old charmer. Despite a meandering plot and lack of character development, the performances of these three powerhouse actresses and the great Jack Nicholson basically playing Jack Nicholson, keep me watching long after the movie has gone down the proverbial drain.

One of the spells cast by the witches is a strange revenge on the local town prude. Instead of just poisoning her outright, Jack Nicholson urges his three girlfriends to eat pounds of cherries. Somehow this sanctimonious woman ends up with the cherry guts in HER stomach and well- things get messy. You’d think this would turn me off cherries for good, but I can’t resist that tart, sweet taste. Even better with some activated charcoal to make this the perfect Halloween cocktail. While watching The Witches of Eastwick, I recommend drinking a Black Cherry Martini.

Black Cherry Martini

1 ½ oz Vodka

½ oz Maraschino Liqueur

1 1/2 oz POM Cherry Juice

1/4 oz Lime Juice

1/4 tsp Activated Charcoal Powder

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

There’s definitely a lot to like about The Witches of Eastwick, and if you’re looking for a fun adult Halloween movie this year, this one is close to the top of my list. Despite the truly weird final act, it’s still fun to watch three women take a dance with the devil in the pale moonlight*. Cheers!

*wrong movie, still applies!

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Mermaids

Image Credit Orion Pictures, 1990, Mermaids

Image Credit Orion Pictures, 1990, Mermaids

Over the summer, I received a request from one ardent Cinema Sips reader for more movies starring Cher. This is somewhat of a tall order, considering that the queen diva rarely does film work. I was actually a bit shocked about how few films were on her resume, the count being only 13. That’s impossible, I thought. She’s Cher!!! I suppose it is a testament to her larger-than-life persona that she’s left such an indelible mark as an actress given the limited film work she’s done. Perhaps no movie epitomizes that persona better than this week’s Cinema Sips selection, Mermaids (DVD). This was always a favorite of mine growing up, for many reasons. A mother who serves only appetizers! Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles! Polka dot dresses! I could go on and on. Plus, Cher plays a woman who definitely likes a cocktail, so what better movie to watch with a drink?

Mermaids is about a single mother named Mrs. Flax (played by Cher) who moves her two daughters to a small town in Massachusetts (played by Winona Ryder and a very young Christina Ricci) in 1963. Mrs. Flax is hip, scandalous, and fun- basically a lady who’s been around the block a few times. Of course her elder daughter Charlotte is a conservative prude who dreams of being a nun, while simultaneously harboring a fierce crush on the town handyman (played by Michael Schoeffling, aka Jake Ryan of Sixteen Candles fame). Charlotte is constantly embarrassed by her mother, as all teenage girls are, before realizing that maybe her mother is pretty great after all. Rounding out the cast is Bob Hoskins as shoe salesman Lou, who is so charming and kind that Cher can’t help but fall for the loveable galoot. Heck, I kind of fall for him, bald head and love handles be-damned. This is definitely a coming-of-age story, but I love that it’s told from a girl’s perspective, a rarity in Hollywood.

My cocktail this week was inspired by Mrs. Flax’s culinary skills. As her daughter puts it, “Fun Finger Foods is her main source book and it’s all the woman cooks…. Entrees are too much of a commitment.” I couldn’t agree more, and frankly I wish I could get away with pizza bagels and soft pretzel bites every night. But, you know, health. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t turn a drink into a fun finger food. I’m loving the recent Bloody Mary craze going on right now, wherein the more food you can stuff on the top of the glass, the better. Did y’all see the one with the whole roast chicken on it?? Mine isn’t that elaborate, but it does involve small foods on a toothpick. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Flax would approve. When watching Mermaids, I recommend drinking Mother’s Bloody Mary.

Mother’s Bloody Mary

2 oz vodka

4 oz tomato juice

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

3 dashes Tabasco

Salt and pepper to taste

Random small foods- eg. Celery Stalk, andouille sausage, olives, peppers, lemon wedges, etc.

In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine the vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously and then strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with your small foods on toothpicks- get creative!

bloody-mary

The beauty of this drink is that it’s all in the garnish. Whatever you have laying around in your kitchen, if it fits on a toothpick, throw it in! The more the merrier! This is for ladies on the go who don’t have time to prepare a full meal and would rather drink it than eat it, kinda like Mrs. Flax. Was she a bad mother who neglected to serve her children nutritious meals? Perhaps. But did she truly love her daughters and try to do the best she could? Absolutely. I think the same can be said about many mothers out there. I was raised by a single mother who maybe took culinary shortcuts now and again (hello Steak-umm’s!) but she did the best she could and that counts for a lot. This movie makes me appreciate all the mothers out there, who maybe want to fly free and wear sexy clothes and be outrageous, but instead stay home and make peanut butter sandwiches in the shape of a star, and show their kids that they are loved more than anything. Cheers!