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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!

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!

The Ice Storm

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1997. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

1997. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

After seeing American Hustle recently, I got nostalgic for another film set in the 1970’s that made me a lover of mod furniture and sweater ponchos. This week, I’m watching The Ice Storm (DVD / Download), based on the wonderful novel by Rick Moody. This is one of the rare instances where I actually like the film adaptation of a novel, something director Ang Lee seems to have a knack for. The costumes and production design have a lot to do with why I love this film, not to mention the copious amounts of vodka being consumed, but the acting is stellar as well. I don’t think I’d want to take up permanent residence in the 70’s, however this movie does make me want to visit it for a few days.

The Ice Storm tells the story of two families in Connecticut whose lives intersect over a Thanksgiving weekend. Not only do the adults trade spouses as easily as they would recipes, but their children develop relationships with one another as well. The cast features acting heavyweights such as Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and Joan Allen, along with teenage versions of Katie Holmes, Tobey Maguire, Elijah Wood, and Christina Ricci. There is a great deal of tension built up throughout the movie, sexual and otherwise, which seems to find its outlet when an ice storm freezes every molecule around them. Finally, they are stuck with having to confront their dysfunction. Of course the film features a lot of 70’s-era gags (Waterbeds! Nixon! Key parties!) but the relationships and character struggles could exist during any time period. It’s definitely a great film to curl up with and sink your teeth into on a cold day.

In regards to my cocktail pairing, no drink says 1970’s quite like the Harvey Wallbanger. It may have dated itself into obscurity, but my father has been trying to make these cool again for several years, and I support him fully in this endeavor. I really don’t care for screwdrivers at all, but float a little Galliano on top and we’re in business. Plus, I don’t even have to change the name to make it appropriate for the film. Well, maybe Harvey “Carbanger,” but that just seems silly.

Harvey Wallbanger

1.5 oz Vodka

4 oz Orange Juice

.75 oz Galliano L’Autentico

Combine the vodka and orange juice in a glass over ice. Float the Galliano on top.

Harvey-Wallbanger

Feel free to break out the Jim Croce records and any polyester you may still own and make this a real party (NOT a key party- gross, just gross). I love watching how dysfunctional these families are because it makes me feel so much better about my own life. I don’t have to worry about having a weird daughter whose idea of foreplay is wearing a Nixon mask, or a cheating husband who wears ascots and corduroy blazers (let’s face it- the real crime here is the ascot). No, the only fearful thing I see in this movie is the ice storm itself, which sadly found me last week even down in sunny Texas. So drink up, bundle up, and be grateful that even if you live in an icy climate like the one in the movie, at least you’re smart enough to stay indoors. Cheers!