RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Emma Thompson

Much Ado About Nothing

Posted on
Much Ado About Nothing

Image credit: Much Ado About Nothing, 1993.

I am in full Summer Vacation-mode this week, and while my plans are a little less glamorous than a villa in Tuscany (sorry, Cape Cod, I still love ya), I’m still primed for a cinematic escape.  Kenneth Branaugh’s Much Ado About Nothing (DVD/Download) is just the sun-drenched romp we all need this week.

The film opens with a radiant Emma Thompson in minimal makeup, sporting a golden tan and free-flowing hair. She and I share a similar vacation look, though in my case it usually involves a sunburnt scalp and last night’s mascara. Hey- we don’t all get to wear corseted linen gowns and eat grapes on a swing (I’m thinking this is a Tuscany-only thing).  Branaugh directs this Shakespearean tale of slick word battles, lovers’ quarrels, and mistaken identity with infectious glee, to the point where I can’t help but get swept up in the merriness. And Denzel Washington truly shines as Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon. He’s charming and intelligent, and his connection with Emma Thompson’s Beatrice breaks your heart just a little. He’s the odd man out at the party, and lord, haven’t we all been there?

This film deserves a sparkling, effervescent drink that’s just as complex and delightful as Shakespeare’s text. Since this is set in Tuscany, I must use Aperol- that great Italian aperitif that practically screams summer vacay. While watching Much Ado About Nothing, I recommend drinking a Florentine Spritz.

Florentine Spritz

2 oz Gin

1 oz lime juice

¾ oz Aperol

½ oz Honey Syrup (equal parts honey and water, boiled)

2-3 dashes angostura bitters

Sparkling Wine

Lime Wheel

Combine first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine, and garnish with a lime wheel.

I love films based on Shakespearean plays because they help me to understand his work in a new light. Even though this film isn’t as modern as say Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet, or even Joss Wheden’s more recent version of Much Ado, it still draws me in to the story in a way that live theatre fails to do. Plus, Tuscany and Denzel in sexy leather pants. I’ll suffer through a sonnet or two for that. Cheers!

Advertisements

Sense and Sensibility

Image credit: Sense and Sensibility, 1995

Image credit: Sense and Sensibility, 1995

Before there were films, there were books. And in fact, before there were good films, good books usually proceeded them. Throughout the month of September, I’ll be paying tribute to my favorite literary adaptations in cinema. I know my readers must think I spend most of my time watching movies and drinking cocktails, and while those activities are certainly a part of my weekly routine, most of my spare time is actually spent reading. Because I consider myself first and foremost a lover of books, it pains me to see filmmakers get a literary adaptation wrong (I’m looking at you Simon Birch!). Conversely, when they get it right, it can be pretty magical (hip hip hooray The Door in the Floor!). Although there have been a lot of contemporary adaptations lately, I’m adhering to the classics this month. School just started again, so if you’re stuck explaining Jane Austen or Charles Dickens to your middle or high-school age child, don’t worry- Cinema Sips to the rescue!

This week I’ll be watching my favorite Jane Austen adaptation, Sense and Sensibility (DVD/Download). I am a functioning, breathing female, so yes, I love all things Austen. I even love all things about loving all things Austen (ie. the wonderfully charming film Austenland). By far I think Sense & Sensibility does the best job of depicting a classic Austen tale featuring two unlucky-in-love sisters- one pragmatic, the other a dreamer. Emma Thompson’s screenplay perfectly captures the rich language of Austen’s novel, while making it understandable to modern audiences. The cast is superb, featuring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, and Hugh Laurie, along with the usual cavalcade of minor British character actors who seem to be in every film coming out of the UK. It was an unusual choice to hire Ang Lee as the director, but he fills the movie with so many simple, quiet moments and beautiful costumes and scenery that one feels almost transported to Austen’s world.

Because the Dashwood sisters are forced into simple country living upon the death of their father, I decided to choose a British cocktail that evokes summertime country flavors. I can almost picture one of the Dashwood sisters getting her dress caught in a bramble bush, relying on Willoughby or Edward to come rescue her. While watching Sense and Sensibility, I recommend drinking a Gin Bramble.

Gin Bramble

2 oz Gin

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

Drizzle of Blackberry Liqueur (crème de Mure)

Fresh Blackberries

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker, shake until well mixed, then pour into a tumbler or mason jar filled with crushed ice. Drizzle blackberry liqueur over the top, and garnish with a fresh blackberry.

Gin Bramble

My favorite part in Sense and Sensibility is when Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) sees Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet) for the first time as she’s singing a song at the piano. He enters the room, and you can just see the waves of attraction and obsession wash over him. It’s moments like this that make the film a wonderful complement to the words on the page, and a rare case of a screen reality being even better than my imagination. Cheers!

Saving Mr. Banks

Posted on
Image Credit Walt Disney Pictures, Saving Mr. Banks, 2013

Image Credit Walt Disney Pictures, Saving Mr. Banks, 2013

Pop quiz- what film seamlessly merges a favorite childhood movie with the style and jet-set look of Mad Men? Answer: Saving Mr. Banks (DVD/Download). This was one of my favorite films of 2013, and it’s my personal opinion that Emma Thompson was robbed by not getting an Academy Award nomination- ROBBED. Since it’s maybe a little weird to be pairing a cocktail with a kid’s movie (though Disney World is selling alcohol in the Magic Kingdom now), I’ll forgo my fantasies of getting drunk and singing along with Burt the chimney sweep in favor of a cocktail pairing with a more adult movie about the making of Mary Poppins (DVD/Download). Showbiz movies are my favorite Netflix niche genre, and this particular film is one of the greats.

Saving Mr. Banks offers a behind-the-scenes look at the process of bringing Mary Poppins to the big screen. Based on the books by P.L. Travers, this was a property highly coveted by Mr. Disney, and highly protected by the author. She finally agreed to consider selling him the rights to the stories, only after making sure she had script approval. So, the cranky Englishwoman journeys to Los Angeles circa 1961 and wreaks havoc on the smiley, giddy, happy-to-be-alive Disney employees working on the film. Tom Hanks does a fine job of playing Walt Disney, and particular kudos go to B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman for playing the Sherman brothers, who wrote the music and lyrics for so many classic Disney songs. Hearing the songs I know so well being crafted in Saving Mr. Banks gives me a new appreciation for the artistry behind them, and I give credit to these men for strengthening my childhood vocabulary with words like fiduciary and precocious. The movie veers off periodically to discuss Travers’ childhood trauma and how Mary Poppins came to be, and yes Colin Farrell is magnetic as her father, but it’s the adult scenes with Emma Thompson where the movie really shines. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to get up and dance to “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”. I call that a cinematic success.

My cocktail today references the medicinal flavor-of-choice for Mary Poppins. As she says, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and while this drink is never actually consumed in Saving Mr. Banks, I couldn’t help referencing that wonderful scene in the original film. Thus, when you’re watching Saving Mr. Banks, follow Mary Poppins’ lead and drink some Rrrrrum Punch.

Rrrrrum Punch

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup grenadine syrup

1 cup white rum

½ cup dark rum

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup orange juice

1 pinch nutmeg

Orange slice

Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher, punch bowl, or bottle. Chill in the refrigerator at least an hour before serving over ice. Garnish with nutmeg and orange slice.

rrrum-punch

I’m not sure what kind of “medicine” this is, but it does certainly make me happy to drink it. Even if Saving Mr. Banks was really just one big Disney propaganda film to make you want to go out and buy Mary Poppins and visit Disneyland, all I can say is- sign me up! Walt Disney had a knack for making people see the magic in our world, and I think he would have been pleased with this film- for even though we’re seeing the real story behind the magic, it doesn’t make it any less delightful. Cheers!