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A Single Man

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Image credit: A Single Man, 2009

I don’t know what type of movie Tom Ford might have up his tailored sleeve in the future, but consider this my official RSVP. It’s rare to find a filmmaker who can so expertly merge style with substance, but with this fashion designer-turned-director at the helm, I find myself connecting with the the visuals just as much as the drama. He may have shocked and terrified me (in a good way) with Nocturnal Animals, but he truly made me feel with A Single Man (Disc/Download).

Set in my favorite era (the 1960s), this adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s fantastic novel follows Stanford English professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) over the course of a single day as he grieves his deceased lover Jim (Matthew Goode) and contemplates his own suicide. Through flashbacks, we witness George and Jim’s love story, from meeting in a crowded bar, to buying a beautiful mid-century modern home together, to adopting dogs, and all the way to that horrible call with the news that Jim has been in an automobile accident. Deprived of even the smallest dignity of attending the funeral, George’s life has suddenly lost all meaning, and even a sarcastic, gin-swilling Julianne Moore can’t pull him out of his despair. It takes a brazen student (played by Nicholas Hoult in a fuzzy mohair sweater), a midnight skinny dip in the ocean, and several important revelations to make him realize there may be more in store for him than a lifetime of sadness.

Something I particularly love about this film is its use of color. George’s life looks normal at first, until the first time he feels a strong emotion. Suddenly, it’s as if the celluloid gets dunked in a warm Instagram filter, and the hues burst from the screen. As soon as the memory, or sexual desire, or happiness fades, we go back to the original muted tones, and George’s grief is all the more obvious. I thought about joining Julianne Moore in a few Tanqueray & Tonic’s, but that just doesn’t seem bright enough. Let’s bring this drink into full color with the addition of Blood Orange. While watching A Single Man, I recommend drinking a Sunset Tonic.

Sunset Tonic

2 oz Malfy Con Arancia Gin

1 bottle Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic

Slice of blood orange

Build drink over ice, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with a slice of blood orange.

A Single Man is the kind of movie that stays with you for days after you watch it. Not only does it make you think about the ones you’ve lost, but it makes you contemplate what kind of future you’ll have now that they’re gone. Is it to be one of sadness and longing, or one of moonlight swims and dancing? What would they have wanted for you? It’s a question a lot of us will ask ourselves one day, and maybe Tom Ford just got me a little closer toward the answer. Cheers!

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Image credit Miramax Films, 2001, Bridget Jones's Diary

Image credit Miramax Films, 2001, Bridget Jones’s Diary

Last weekend I was invited to an ugly sweater Christmas party, and to get inspiration for my costume, I decided to watch a film featuring the ugliest of Christmas sweaters, Bridget Jones’s Diary (DVD/Download). While Bridget Jones isn’t totally a Christmas movie throughout, it does feature Colin Firth in some very festive holiday sweaters and ties. Plus, a movie starring Colin Firth AND Hugh Grant- well, Merry Christmas to me!

Bridget Jones’s Diary was adapted from the entertaining book by Helen Fielding, which loosely borrows the plot from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This was the novel that launched a thousand Chick Lit ships (my own book included), wherein smart but insecure 30-something women live in a city, date inappropriate men, go out drinking with their friends, have fabulous careers, and worry about dieting and finally finding “the one”. I have to say, this is one of the better books (and films) in the genre, and although there was a great deal of outcry over American Renee Zellweger playing beloved Londoner Bridget Jones, I think she did a great job. Plus, she’s never looked better than she did in this film, causing me to wonder what other stick-figure actresses would look like with a little meat on their bones. Probably, greatly improved.

One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Colin Firth and Hugh Grant get into a fist fight outside Bridget’s apartment. Thus my cocktail this week is inspired by Colin Firth’s fists-o-fury, and is a great addition to any holiday party. While watching Bridget Jones’s Diary, I recommend drinking Darcy’s Milk Punch.

Darcy’s Milk Punch

1 oz brandy

1 oz dark rum

½ oz simple syrup

4 oz whole milk

Dash of vanilla extract

Whipped Cream

Grated Nutmeg

Combine brandy, rum, simple syrup, milk, and vanilla extract in a glass with ice.  Stir to combine, and top with whipped cream and nutmeg.

milk-punch

I love to watch this movie around the holidays because, like Bridget, it’s around this time of year that I tend to take stock of my life and figure out what my resolutions should be for the New Year. Like her, my list usually includes dropping a few pounds and cutting back on alcohol units. At least I don’t have to worry about pressure to find a nice, sensible boyfriend- I already have a nice, sensible husband to sport that tacky Christmas tie I’m making him wear. Cheers!

Love Actually

Image Credit Universal 2003

Image Credit Universal 2003

Moving on from the hijinks of the Griswolds, this week’s holiday movie is my personal favorite, Love Actually. It’s the movie I always watch while wrapping gifts, and if it takes me longer than the film’s running time, I know I’m being very generous with the presents this year. To me, it’s not Christmas yet until I’ve seen Bill Nighy butcher the song ‘Love is All Around’, or Hugh Grant shaking his hips to the Pointer Sisters’ ‘Jump For My Love’. There are so many great things about this movie that it’s impossible to list them all. I love every single one of the actors and actresses, the stories are both hilarious and heartbreaking, and it truly illustrates the many kinds of love that a person will experience in their lifetime.

Love Actually crisscrosses back and forth among the stories of over a dozen or so Londoners during the month of December. We see unrequited love, forbidden love, love’s betrayal, new love, the love between siblings, between a father and a son, and between longtime friends. A lot for one movie! Director Richard Curtis manages to make it all come together seamlessly, and he’s done an absolutely brilliant job of casting. Remember when I said I wanted to cut Cameron Diaz out of The Holiday? Well, there are no Cameron Diaz’s in this movie. It’s difficult to pinpoint which of the stories are my favorite, but the girlie girl in me has to go with Colin Firth falling in love with his Portuguese cleaning lady, even though neither of them speak the same language. He learns Portuguese so he can talk to her, while she learns English so she can talk to him- talk about a meet cute!

For my cocktail this week, I’m utilizing a liqueur that I didn’t have in my bar already, but I thought it was a worthwhile purchase for the holidays- Sloe Gin. This is a traditional British liqueur that is made with sloe berries that grow wild throughout England. The berries are soaked in high-proof gin, along with a little bit of sugar, resulting in a tart liqueur. I’m told that it does make a difference which brand you buy, as the less expensive varieties have a tendency to taste like cough syrup. I suggest Plymouth, if you can find it. I’m mixing it with a few other simple ingredients to make a Sloe Dance, in reference to Laura Linney’s sweetly hopeful dance scene with her hot Brazilian co-worker midway through the movie.

Sloe Dance

2oz sloe gin

1oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Club Soda

Mix together sloe gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake until cold, then strain into a glass. Top with club soda, and enjoy!

sloe-dance

This drink is sweet and bitter at the same time, which could also be said about love. Emma Thompson proves this toward the end of the movie when she realizes her husband bought a gold locket for another woman. Her private tears as she listens to the smoke-addled voice of Joni Mitchell just breaks my heart every time. I think that’s what makes this movie so great- it doesn’t sugar-coat things. Yes, there are wonderful, uplifting, magical love stories, but there are also sad love stories too. Love Actually really reminds me to appreciate the many kinds of love I have in my life, because at Christmas it really is all around. Cheers!