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Fight Club

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Image credit: Fight Club, 1999

You can tell a lot about a person by the kind of movie art they hang on their walls. Back when I was in college, the girls (and a few sensitive guys) tended to have Audrey Tautou’s precocious Amélie face holding court over their dorm rooms, while the “bros” opted for a variety of Tarantino titles. If you walked into a room and saw Adam Sandler’s Waterboy hanging over the bed, you knew to run. Oh, but then there were the Fight Club (Disc/Download) posters. As a female, they made me think, okay, this guy is probably not my soulmate. But do I really want to turn my back on Brad Pitt’s face right now? Women have stayed for a lot less. And, at least it wasn’t Boondock Saints (*shudder*).

I’ll be honest, it’s still not a love match between Fight Club and I. While I appreciate the taste of Chuck Palahniuk’s prose, it tends to get buried within the presentation. David Fincher is a master craftsman of mental illness and anarchy on celluloid, but once again I can’t help feeling (as I do with most of his films) that the editor took a lunch break one day and never came back. I love the hook of a man so dissatisfied with his consumer-driven life that his mind takes a sledgehammer to it, but do we really need so many stomach-turning scenes of violence, filth, and decay? That house on Paper Street may contain the incredibly ripped bodies of Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, but it’s so dirty I can’t even appreciate the hot men. And so then what’s the point??

Watching this movie again through the lens of a cocktail connoisseur, I can confirm that beautiful, complex drinks have no place in Fincher’s wasteland. This is a beer picture, through and through. Playing off the theme of dudes who enjoy a good toxic masculinity break, while watching Fight Club I recommend drinking this Paper Street Punch.

Paper Street Punch

3 cups Beer (I used a Mexican lager)

2 cups Lemon Soda

1 cup Ginger Beer

Lemon Wedge

Ice

Combine Beer, Lemon Soda, and Ginger Beer in a pitcher, stirring gently to combine. Pour into glasses filled with ice, and garnish with a fresh lemon wedge.

Although it might seem like I really dislike this film, rest assured that I don’t. I love the performances, especially Brad Pitt (and not just his abs, though they are quite spectacular). Plus, any cast that includes Meatloaf gets my seal of approval, forever and always. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go scrub myself down with a very astringent soap, while trying not to think about how it was made. Cheers!

Moonrise Kingdom

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Moonrise Kingdom

Image credit: Moonrise Kingdom, 2012

There’s nothing like young lovers and a vintage New England setting to get me excited for summer. Of course my all-time favorite example of this is A Summer Place, but with his 2012 film Moonrise Kingdom (DVD/Download), Wes Anderson created a modern summertime masterpiece. It may not have Troy Donahue in short-shorts, but Bill Murray does sport some nifty madras pants.

Set in the fictional town of New Penzance, Moonrise Kingdom features wainscotted homes full of sturdy antiques, a picturesque lighthouse, rocky beach coves, and pine forests. I can almost smell the salt air, and the vintage postcard-style cinematography is truly transporting. Like any Anderson film this one is full of bizarrely perfect casting, like Bruce Willis as a lovelorn sheriff, Edward Norton as an Eagle Scout troop leader, and Tilda Swinton as a comically severe social worker. The pre-teen lovers are both disaffected to the outside world yet earnest with one another, and as they dance in their underwear to the music coming from a portable record player, I find myself longing to be even half as cool.

There’s nothing like a freshly pressed scout uniform to make you think of summertime cookouts, the open air, and wilderness lodges. This film deserves a drink that’s crisp, refreshing, and easy to make indoors as well as out. While watching Moonrise Kingdom, I recommend drinking a Khaki Scout Cooler.

Khaki Scout Cooler

1 ½ oz Gin

2-3 dashes celery bitters

½ oz Maraschino liqueur

4-5 mint leaves

1 slice of cucumber

1 lime wedge

Topo Chico sparkling water

Muddle mint leaves and cucumber with the maraschino liqueur at the bottom of a Collins glass. Add gin, bitters, and ice. Top with Topo Chico (or sparkling water) and squeeze the lime wedge, dropping into the glass.

Khaki Scout Cooler

photo by @pop_up_cobra

I may be stuck in the fiery pit of hell that is Texas in the summer, but this movie just begs to be watched outdoors. Luckily I’ve got a refreshing cocktail on tap, a pair of madras shorts, and a portable fan. Record player optional. Cheers!

Frida

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Image copyright Miramax films, 2002, Frida

Image copyright Miramax films, 2002, Frida

In the dog days of summer, the only question I really want to hear is a bartender asking me, “Salt or no salt?”   I admit, this week’s film is mainly just an excuse for me to drink margaritas in pretty Mexican glassware. However, it is still one that I enjoy watching time and again, and not just because I’m married to a charismatic artist whom I might call Panzón when I’ve had too many drinks. Frida (DVD/Download) is genuinely one of my favorite artist bio films, mainly because of the creativity director Julie Taymor brings to the project.

Frida is of course the story of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, who rose to fame in the 1930’s and gained even greater posthumous recognition during the 1980’s and 1990’s. This film tells the story of her debilitating accident that occurred in her young adulthood, her early paintings, her marriage to artist Diego Rivera, and her activism in later years. Frida is played by actress Salma Hayek, who does a phenomenal job of capturing the artist’s passion and intelligence. Diego Rivera is played by wonderful character actor Alfred Molina, and he’s absolutely phenomenal as the fiery politico artist who causes so much happiness and pain in Frida’s life. Several actors make cameos as famous figures, such as Geoffrey Rush as Leo Trotsky and Edward Norton as a young Nelson Rockefeller, but it’s really Hayek and Molina who carry the film. I love watching them fall in love, fight, inspire each other, and champion each other’s work. The best of their marriage is what I feel that I have now with my sculptor/illustrator husband. The worst of it- well, we haven’t gotten to the worst of it and I hope we never do. By worst I mean uni-brow.

You’ve heard me wax poetic above about margaritas in summertime, so I won’t bore you with much more, other than to say that if you’re looking for really great margarita recipes, I urge you to check out Viva Tequila by Lucinda Hutson. This is my margarita bible, and I love trying the different variations she lists while reading about the history of the agave plant and Mexican culture. I can almost picture Frida Kahlo holding up a cobalt blue glass filled with ice and lime juice and tequila while she studies her latest canvas. Or perhaps throwing one in Diego’s face in the middle of a fight.  To that end, when watching Frida, I recommend drinking a Caliente Margarita.

Caliente Margarita

2 parts tequila

1 part Cointreau

1 part fresh squeezed key lime juice

Chile salt (here’s a link to a brand I like)

Lime wedge

Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, allowing the ice to melt and dilute the strength of the alcohol a bit. Rub a wedge of lime around the rim of your glass, then dip it in a saucer-full of chile salt, just so the salt coats the rim of the glass. Pour the contents of the shaker into the glass, and garnish with a lime wedge.

Frida-Margarita

Obviously, the chile salt is what makes this margarita “caliente”, mirroring the fiery passion between Frida and Diego. If you’re not into spicy things, you can use a regular salt rim, or no salt at all, but I’m pretty partial to my chile salt after enjoying it on a few margaritas this summer. This recipe is actually adapted from the one Guero’s Taco Bar uses for their tasty house margarita, my favorite in Austin. The ice is key here because it allows the flavors to mellow out. So be liberal with the cold stuff (it is summer after all) and enjoy your spicy margarita while you watch Frida and Diego make love, make war, and most importantly, make art. Cheers!