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Waking Life

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Waking Life

Image credit: Waking Life, 2001

Living in Austin, it’s hard not to be a fan of Richard Linklater. So many of his films capture that unique brand of relatable intellectualism  that made me fall in love with my adopted home town. As my husband would say, “It’s just a bunch of people walking and talking.” Yep- and I love it! High up on my list of favorite films is this week’s animation pick Waking Life (DVD/Download).

Although Linklater didn’t invent the concept of rotoscoping (the process of animating over film footage), this was the first computer-aided version I’d ever seen. Waking Life felt so fresh in 2001, and still does today. Even though we’ve come a long way with ambitious animation projects (ie. Loving Vincent), the way Linklater uses all these different visual styles to describe a series of dreams is incredibly unique.  The picturesque realism used for Jesse and Celine’s pillow talk is so different from the crude lines of the angry guy in the bar, which is so different than the Picasso-esque tango orchestra, that you really feel the emotion in every scene.

What I love most about rotoscoped films is the interplay between light and shadow.  Particularly in the scene with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (giving us a little tease of their Before Sunrise characters’ fates), the light coming through their window gives the whole scene such a romantic glow.  Wouldn’t it be great to capture this same feeling with a classic cocktail?  While watching Waking Life, I recommend drinking a Golden Dream.

Golden Dream

1 ½ oz Galliano

1 ½ oz Cointreau

1 ½ oz Orange Juice

¾ oz cream

Orange twist for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Golden Dream

If someone were to make a movie of my dreams, it would no doubt feature me walking up an endless set of stairs while simultaneously fretting that I’ve forgotten my locker combination.  Riveting, no?  Thank heavens Richard Linklater has enough interesting dreams in his arsenal to make up for all of my mundane ones. Cheers!

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Gattaca

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gattaca

Image credit: Gattaca, 1997

I am well aware that Cinema Sips is severely lacking in the sci-fi genre, but this is largely because so few good ones get made. Robots, hovercrafts, bad makeup- ugh. However this week, I’m excited to watch a futuristic film that is one of my long time favorites.  Gattaca (DVD/Download) features rockets, gadgets, and gene selection, yet somehow manages to remain an intelligent, thought-provoking drama.  Finally- sci-fi I can get behind!

In addition to beautiful art deco-meets-postmodernist sets, lead actors Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, and a vacant Uma Thurman round out the eye candy quota. It’s actually no coincidence that this film stars two ridiculously good looking men. Hawke’s character Vincent buys the identity of Jude Law’s character Jerome, in an effort to qualify as a genetically superior candidate for the space program. This entitles him to blood, urine, skin samples, hair samples, and endless pithy quips from a drunken, wheelchair bound Law. In essence, it’s the inVALid with the INvalid, in a hot Odd Couple-esque pairing.

In Gattaca, Hawke and Law are like vodka and gin. They look the same, but beneath the surface are wildly different. Therefore my cocktail this week combines these two spirits, with a dash of Lillet thrown in to balance it out (the Thurman of the drink, if you will). While watching Gattaca, I recommend drinking a Vesper.

Vesper

½ oz Vodka

2 oz Gin

¼ oz Lillet Blonde

Lemon twist (for garnish)

Shake vodka, gin, and Lillet over ice until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

vesper

While the Vesper is more well-known for being the drink of James Bond, I think this classic cocktail is equally at home in Gattaca. While certain parts are very futuristic, there are many stylistic elements which make the viewer feel transported to the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. Is Gattaca a sci-fi film masquerading as chic poetic drama? Or the other way around? Either way, it’s even better with a cocktail. Cheers!

Great Expectations

great expecatations dinsmore

Image credit: Great Expectations, 1998

I’ve thus far featured a couple of films during Literary Adaptation Month that have stayed pretty close to the source material.  This week however, I’ll be watching an adaptation that uses the original book as inspiration, but then veers wildly, excitingly off course.  A long-time favorite film of mine is Alfonso Cuarón’s 1998 version of Great Expectations (DVD/Download). Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, this film captures the classic Dickensian struggles of wealth vs. poverty and good vs. evil, while updating it for the modern era.

In the Cuarón version of Great Expectations, Pip is renamed Finn, and played by Ethan Hawke. A very bored Gwyneth Paltrow plays Estella, the focus of his unrequited love. Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of convict Lustig (Magwitch) is still a career highlight to me, and Anne Bancroft shines as Ms. Dinsmoor (aka Miss Havisham). I absolutely want to be Ms. Dinsmoor when I get old, sitting in a Florida mansion, drinking martinis, wearing crazy wigs and listening to Bossa Nova records. Strike that- can I just start that life now?? In this version, Finn becomes an artist (side note: I’m madly in love with the Francesco Clemente paintings and drawings done for the film), and Lustig’s secret patronage lures him to New York, and Estella. Great Expectations relies on visuals a great deal, and it’s this beauty (and the lovely words written by David Mamet in the voiceover narrations) that keep me coming back time and again.

A common visual motif in several of Alfonso Cuarón’s films is the color green. It’s been characterized as the color of hope, and in this film that could not be more true. Finn is always hopeful, even when he shouldn’t be. Cuarón seamlessly weaves the color into nearly every scene, through the lush tropical backdrops, Finn’s paintings, the costumes, and most notably in Gwyneth Paltrow’s TO DIE FOR Donna Karan dress. It’s so fabulous, I just have to share:

Great Expecations donna karan

For my drink this week, I’m picking up on that green motif and mixing up a martini that Ms. Dinsmore would surely be sipping in her gilded bedroom. While watching Great Expectations, I recommend drinking a Paradiso Perduto.

Paradiso Perduto

1 oz Midori

1 oz vodka

1 oz lemon juice

¼ oz simple syrup

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass. 

Paradiso Perduto

I’m not usually one for radioactive-looking cocktails, but this one is actually quite tasty.  And with such a visually-focused film, why not match it?  There have been other Great Expectations adaptations, and I expect there will be several more in the future, but this one will always be special to me.  Modern art, martinis, and Donna Karan-  what’s not to love?  Chicka-boom!

Reality Bites

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Image Credit: Reality Bites, 1994

Image Credit: Reality Bites, 1994

Because my day job involves working at a major university, I am naturally attuned to seasonal student population shifts. Today marks the first week of final exams, which in turn means that I can actually find parking on campus again. Not that I don’t love students (there wouldn’t be a university, or a job for me, without them) but oh how happy I am to see them graduate and go away each year. I hope they move on to bigger and better things, things that don’t involve fast food or basement living, but I’m sure many of them will fall victim to a mild case of Reality Bites depression. This is of course in reference to the film Reality Bites (DVD/Download), an incredibly accurate portrait of post-college life. Even 20 years (!!!) later, the same stereotypes still hold true- the smart, creative superstar of academia who fails to find actual real-world employment, her friend who “temporarily” works at The Gap (maybe forever), the gorgeous slacker who uses his charm to mooch off everyone around him, and the “yuppie head cheese ball” who means well, but is still a sell-out to The Man and unabashedly listens to Peter Frampton. I definitely fell into the Winona Ryder subgenre, astounded that nobody in the real world cared that I aced my Genres of Film final 3 years prior. I didn’t make a psychic friend, but it was close.

Reality Bites follows four friends in Houston as they navigate the tricky waters of adulthood. Winona Ryder plays Lelaina Pierce, valedictorian of her college class, and struggling television producer. After failed attempts at finding a job in her field, she resorts to scamming her dad’s gas card (a GENIUS move) before finally meeting a corporate big-wig (played by the film’s director Ben Stiller), who wants to turn her short film about her friends into a Real World-esque TV show. The movie’s supporting cast is incredible, with hilarious and heartfelt performances by Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, and above all Ethan Hawke, who plays the sexiest slacker in the history of slackers. I don’t care how much acclaim he receives for Boyhood and Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight, to me he’ll always be Troy Dyer 4EVER.

My beverage pairing this week is a tribute to anyone who’s ever been hungover, late to class, and just needs a sugar rush to get through the day. Enter- the Big Gulp. Winona Ryder extolls the virtue of this 7-Eleven beverage on a first date, while sipping from a container that is about 4 times the circumference of her arm. While watching Reality Bites, I recommend drinking an Adult Slurpee.

Adult Slurpee

2 cups cold club soda

½ cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cherry extract

1/2 teaspoon cherry Kool-Aid

3/4 cup vodka

3 cups crushed ice

Pour 1 cup of the club soda into a blender. Add the sugar, cherry extract, and Kool-Aid and blend until the sugar is dissolved. Add the crushed ice and blend on high speed until the drink becomes slushy with a smooth consistency. Add the vodka and remaining club soda and blend briefly until mixed. Pour into glasses and drink with a straw, or spoon straw if you feel like raiding your nearest 7-Eleven. (Note:  It’s easy to make this one non-alcoholic-  just leave out the vodka.  Still delicious!)

big gulp

My favorite quote from this movie is when Ethan Hawke says, “All you have to be by the time you’re 23 is yourself.” I wish I had paid more attention to that line when I was 23, instead of freaking out that I wasn’t “living up to my potential”, or worrying that I’d be asked to define irony at a job interview. So what if the only thing I really learned in college was my social security number? (TRUTH). I still managed to land on my feet, without having to sell fruit at an intersection. Cheers!