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Tag Archives: dark comedy

In Bruges

Image Credit: In Bruges, 2008

Since 2022 is officially the year of “The Christmas That Wasn’t” (or as it’s sometimes called in my house, “Christ-maybe next year“), I’m officially making the switch to movies that take place around the holiday season but have very little to do with Christmas. In other words, I want to see my current life situation reflected back at me. Sure, there are twinkle lights as I’m driving down the street, but my house remains as dark and unfestive as this week’s pick In Bruges (Disc/Download).

Featuring the acting team of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, and directed by Martin McDonagh, In Bruges is about two hit men on assignment in the medieval Belgian city of Bruges over the holidays. Sent by their boss (Ralph Fiennes) to murder a priest, things go awry when gunman Ray (Farrell) accidentally shoots someone he’s not supposed to. His mentor Ken (Gleeson) is then tasked with killing Ray, but he wrestles with questions of morality and the concept of redemption. Does Ray really deserve to die because of an accident? It’s a question that propels this dark comedy forward through strange encounters, strange accents, and a lot of Belgian beer.

Speaking of Belgian beer, I cracked open a bottle for this week’s drink and ended up pleasantly surprised by its versatility. I haven’t had a Lindemans Framboise lambic in ages, but as a cocktail topper, it’s aces. Think of it as a tart alternative to Prosecco or champagne. While watching In Bruges, I recommend drinking an Alcove.

Alcove

4 1/2 oz Lindemans Framboise

1 1/4 oz Gin

3/4 oz Cointreau

3/4 oz Ginger Liqueur

3/4 oz Lime Juice

Lime Wheel Garnish

Combine gin, Cointreau, ginger liqueur, and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Top with Lindemans Framboise and stir gently.

Coincidentally, the Farrell/Gleeson/McDonagh team is back this year with The Banshees of Inisherin, a film I sadly did not enjoy. Maybe the bar was set too high with In Bruges, or maybe I just prefer movies that have a plot. I’m thrilled Colin Farrell is back on everyone’s radar, yet I can’t help but be puzzled by how he ever left. He’s always been great! He was great in Tigerland, he was great in A Home at the End of the World, and he was great in In Bruges. Can we all just forget about Phone Booth and give this man, and his eyebrows, their well-deserved Oscar? Cheers!

To Die For

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To Die For

Image credit: To Die For, 1995.

This story is the type of salacious true-crime stuff I live for. Local weather girl hires her sixteen-year-old lover to kill her husband so she can pursue a career in television? It’s a dark, twisted soap opera, and I am HERE FOR IT. To Die For (Disc/Download) is a great example of a ‘90s indie film with a pedigreed cast, many of whom would go on to win multiple Oscars and accolades in the coming decades. But let’s be clear—it’s still a soap opera.

To Die For came back on my radar after the recent death of screenwriter Buck Henry. He wrote one of my all-time favorite scripts, The Graduate, but this later film is equally brilliant. It was a mockumentary before every TV sitcom adopted the format, and through these faux interviews we see a Hard Copy-style tale of a power-hungry woman who would stop at nothing to achieve her dreams. Is it weird that I feel a strong kinship with Nicole Kidman’s Suzanne Stone? I too am a fan of the alliterated name, and I’ve chosen a career that’s next to impossible to break into. I haven’t gone to the lengths of prostituting myself, but anyone who’s ever done a Twitter Pitch event for writers knows it’s not all that different. You feel pretty cheap and debased by the end. I wouldn’t murder for my art, but I would rock a Donna Karan knock-off suit and French twist at my next writer’s conference.

The thing that really sells me on this movie is the torrid affair Nicole Kidman has with the much younger Joaquin Phoenix. And we’re talking yooooooung Joaquin, with a mullet and sad little stutter. It’s an icky relationship for sure, but I can’t help but feel for this horny kid who just wants attention from a beautiful woman. And Nicole is stuck in a lame marriage to Matt Dillon—need I say more? While watching To Die For, I recommend drinking this Forbidden Fruit cocktail:

Forbidden Fruit

1 ½ oz Frankly® Apple/Ginger vodka

½ oz Hofland Meesterbitter liqueur

½ oz Lemon Juice

4 oz Ginger Beer

Apple garnish

Combine vodka, liqueur, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with ginger beer, and stir gently to combine. Garnish with an apple slice.

Forbidden Fruit

Finally, I’d like to give props to adorable Pomeranian Walter (after Walter Cronkite), who is the unsung hero of To Die For. I genuinely feel his distaste for his mom’s actions, but also his narcissistic need to look cute in his little outfits. Out of anyone in this film, Walter is the only character deserving of a happy ending. Cheers!