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Emma.

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Image credit: Emma. 2020

As any frequent moviegoer will tell you, 2020 was pretty much our worst nightmare. While theaters began to shut their doors last March, we saw our hopes for carefree, popcorn-scented afternoons dashed as quickly as that animated roller coaster flings itself around a cartoon soda in the opening pre-show. Perhaps you spent some time thinking about the last movie you saw before lockdowns, wondering if you made the right call. In my case, I could rest easy knowing I went out on a high note with Emma. (Disc/Download).

Though any Jane Austen scholar will likely critique this film’s deviation from its source material, to me it captures the spirit, whimsy, and fun of the book. Plus, in contrast to Clueless (my other favorite Emma adaptation), we get to enjoy the sumptuous costumes and polite society of the Regency era. I’ll always have a fondness for “Rollin’ With the Homies,” but there’s something about a choreographed quadrille that just makes me grin from ear-to-ear. Autumn de Wilde’s directorial style shows similarities to that of Wes Anderson or Sofia Coppola- heavy on style and symmetry, light on melodrama and manic performances. Anya Taylor-Joy is perfection as our meddlesome title character, and of course I adore Bill Nighy as her lovable, hypochondriac father whose greatest foe is a chill draft. It’s a pastel world of manners and manipulation, and in a year when literally everything seemed beyond our control, it was comforting to think of another character who had to abandon her controlling ways to find happiness. I was not alone in the struggle.

In the dark days of the pandemic, I often thought about the candy-coated costumes and production design of this film. Even down to the tiniest stitch or ribbon of paint, every element was an important piece of the visual tableau. In my beverage choice, I wanted to celebrate Emma’s love of flowers and bold pastel colors. While watching Emma., I recommend drinking this Night Bloom cocktail.

Night Bloom

1 1/2 oz Gin

1/2 oz Creme de Violette

1 Egg White

1/2 oz Lemon Juice

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

2 dashes Orange Bitters

Flower Garnish

Combine Gin, creme de violette, egg white, lemon juice, bitters, and simple syrup in a shaker. Shake vigorously for ten seconds, then add ice. Continue shaking until chilled and frothy, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a flower.

As I write this, I’m about to head back to the movie theater after sixteen months away. The flick: To Catch a Thief. Hollywood still has a long way to go before it lures me back with new material, so until then I’ll be enjoying some old favorites and savoring the memory of watching Emma Woodhouse dance with Mr. Knightley for the very first time (*sigh*). Cheers!

Clueless

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clueless_9

Image credit Clueless, Paramount Pictures, 1995

Will I ever get tired of watching this movie? As if! This week on Cinema Sips, I’m excited to pair one of my favorite high school movies of the 90’s with a cocktail that is appropriately girly and tart. Truly, it was impossible to grow up in that decade without seeing Clueless, and unfortunately it was also impossible to be a teenage girl and not compare yourself to the physical perfection that was Alicia Silverstone. Did I hike up the hem on my plaid skirts and constantly wonder why my hair wasn’t as silken and shiny as hers? Of course! Did I often eat “two bowls of Special K, 3 pieces of turkey bacon, a handful of popcorn, 5 peanut butter M&M’s and like 3 pieces of licorice,” and also feel like a heifer? Absolutely.

Clueless (DVD/Download) was that rare movie that captured teen angst and pop culture so perfectly (see also Mean Girls, and Pretty in Pink), and it was tailor made for the MTV generation. Amy Heckerling’s film is an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Emma. Popular main character Cher schemes and plays matchmaker to those around her, before finally realizing that her own life is in need of a makeover. Alicia Silverstone does an amazing job of playing the character as shallow and ditzy on the outside, but secretly smart and caring on the inside. Of course most of the supporting cast has gone on to have long and varied careers (not least of which is the adorable Paul Rudd), and the movie even spun off a pretty terrible television show that was never able to live up to the brilliance of the film’s script. Clueless is full of pop culture references from the era- (ie. The Cranberries, Marky Mark, Ren & Stimpy, etc.) but it also references classic cinema, art history, and Shakespeare. In short, Clueless was the movie I could unabashedly like along with all of my peers, while still feeling good about myself for actually understanding the highbrow references.

This week’s cocktail is a nod to the ladies of Bronson Alcott High School, who are equal parts sweet and acid-tongued. Calling out a classmate’s designer-imposter perfume? Ouch! This drink recipe was adapted from one I enjoyed recently at the Raines Law Room in New York City. I’m guessing on the proportions, but the ingredients remain basically the same. When watching Clueless, I recommend drinking a Duchess.

1 ½ oz White Rum

1 oz Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

1 oz lemon juice

¼ cup fresh raspberries

Muddle raspberries in cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, and add the rum, lemon juice, and white chocolate liqueur. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass ¾ filled with crushed ice. Top with an additional mound of crushed ice, and one fresh raspberry.

Duchess

This cocktail is upscale enough to fit in with Cher and Dionne’s Beverly Hills lifestyle, and definitely on the girly side!  Just be careful not to spill this drink on anyone’s satin pumps while you’re dancing to “Rollin’ With the Homies”. So not fixable. So this week, have fun, invite your friends over to join you in watching this film, and remember- it does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty. Cheers!