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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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Image Credit Focus Features, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004

Image Credit Focus Features, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004

“Valentine’s Day is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to sell more cards.” And so begins my absolute favorite movie about February 14th, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (DVD/Download). The opening line says it all.  This is not a ‘sunshine and roses’ romantic comedy. However, it is funny, it is romantic, and it is truly daring and original filmmaking by director Michel Gondry.

Eternal Sunshine asks the question- what if a bad break-up could be erased from our minds? What are the consequences? If you erase the memory, do the same patterns just repeat themselves? The two lead characters are Joel (played by Jim Carrey), and Clementine (played by Kate Winslet). Unusual casting for sure, but these two actors are surprisingly perfect together. The film’s story, written by Charlie Kaufman, is told in non-linear sequence. We think we’re seeing two people meeting on a train for the first time, until gradually it becomes clear that they’ve already dated, fell in love, broken up, then paid a doctor to erase their memories of one another. With no memory of the bad relationship, they are just two people finding each other by chance, and falling in love the same way they did before. Because this is a Michel Gondry film, there are analog special effects during the scenes where memories are being erased, and the results are visually spectacular. A terrific supporting cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, David Cross, and Tom Wilkinson as the helpful memory-erasing doctor with secrets of his own.

My cocktail this week is an easy one to make, giving you more time to spend paying close attention to the plot of the film (trust me, you need to pay attention). I love the name Clementine, and it’s such a refreshing flavor in the middle of winter, so this week I’m making a Darlin’ Clementine.

Darlin’ Clementine

2 oz vodka

2 oz fresh clementine juice

1 oz simple syrup

Mix all ingredients in a shaker over ice, then strain into a chilled glass. Rub clementine peel around the rim of the glass, then discard.

Darlin-Clementine

This movie will always be special to me because I bought it right before my husband and I started dating. I was obsessed with everything Kate Winslet (and still am) so upon saying goodbye on February 13th, 2005, I told him to call me the next day to wish me a happy Valentine’s Day (just as Clementine says to Joel). He still chides me about it, claiming that was his plan all along. He did call, and that memory is one I don’t ever want to be erased. 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!