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Tag Archives: French cinema

Purple Noon

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Image Credit: Purple Noon, 1960

We’re traveling back to good ole’ Mongibello this week with the original Tom Ripley, 1960s French sex symbol Alain Delon. Purple Noon (Disc/Download), née Plein Soleil, is a striking adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, which was adapted once again by Anthony Minghella in 1999 to become one of my top ten films of all time. I’m a sucker for beautiful people in beautiful places, and it doesn’t get much more beautiful than these two movies.

If you’ve seen The Talented Mr. Ripley, much of Purple Noon will appear familiar. Tom and “Philippe” cavorting around Rome while Marge sits at home and waits for her man to get his act together. Tom forging signatures, impersonating voices, acting almost too agreeable, too charming. Brash American Freddie Miles showing up to ruin all of Tom’s fun, before meeting his doom at the butt end of an ugly sculpture. Gorgeous Italian vistas, sailboats, and the sparkling Mediterranean. If you like Minghella’s Ripley because of the visuals, then I can guarantee you’ll love Purple Noon even more. The film is a little more poetic, lingering longer on the beauty of the coastline as well as the beauty of Delon. Like a young Jared Leto who actually cares about how he looks on-screen, Delon is all suntan, six-pack, and cheekbones, and director René Clément certainly knew what he had in this then-unknown actor, giving him ample opportunity to strut around shirtless. Thank you René. Thank you very much.

A lot of what I love about this story hinges on the idea of American decadence, so it seems like the perfect opportunity to indulge in a beautiful niche liqueur, Creme de Violette. Let’s be clear- this stuff exists only so we can have purple cocktails. Like Midori or Blue Curacao, you’re buying this for the color. But hey- nothing wrong with that! Sometimes it’s all about the visuals. While watching Purple Noon, I recommend drinking this Twilight Martini.

Twilight Martini

2 oz Gin

1/2 oz Dry Vermouth

1/2 oz Creme de Violette

1/4 oz St. Germain

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a slice of dried blood orange.

Ultimately, I think I still prefer the 1999 version of The Talented Mr. Ripley to the 1960 version. A lot of that has to do with the ending, and without spoiling Purple Noon too much, I’ll just say that I like a world where Tom Ripley gets away with it. We never see him hauled away in handcuffs in either adaptation, but Purple Noon gives him a more limited chance of escape. If you ask me, that pretty face just doesn’t belong in prison. Cheers!

The Dreamers

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The Dreamers

Image credit: The Dreamers, 2003

Prone to expressing themselves through movie quotes, cinephiles are easy to spot. Even when they get into a contest over who has seen which obscure film, you know it’s only due to pure enthusiasm for the medium. Thus when I saw The Dreamers (DVD/Download), these characters instantly felt like kindred spirits. Sure, director Bernardo Bertolucci takes things a little too far with his sexually explicit style, but at the core of the film there is a deep love for all things cinema.

Starring Michael Pitt, Eva Green, and Louis Garrel, The Dreamers is set in Paris during the 1968 student riots. It was this era of turmoil, artistic expression, and youthful energy that fueled a cultish devotion to the Cinémathèque Française, the organization upon which all modern film criticism and preservation is based. Seen through the eyes of an American student, Paris seems exciting, revolutionary, and slightly dangerous. By connecting with two French twin cinephiles, his love of film is fostered even further. There are lengthy debates about Chaplin vs. Keaton, a recreation of the Louvre scene in Godard’s Bande à part, and a rather disturbing interaction with Marlene Dietrich’s Blonde Venus. By the time they start chanting “One of us!” (Freaks), I feel drawn in and consumed every bit as much as the naïve protagonist onscreen. These are my people, too.

For a dangerous, intruiguing, sexy film, only a similar sort of cocktail will do. The Sidecar is one of my favorite classic cocktails, the kind of thing that I could picture Dietrich drinking after a night at the Blue Angel. French liqueur Chambord pairs perfectly with the cognac in this drink, bringing it a lovely raspberry subtlety. While watching The Dreamers, I recommend drinking a Chambord Sidecar.

Chambord Sidecar

1 ½ oz Peach Brandy

¾ oz lemon juice

¾ oz Chambord

¼ oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

It’s hard not be creeped out by the sexual tension between the two siblings in The Dreamers, and the film’s disappointing second half veers wildly off the rails.  But despite these flaws, the wild, anarchist feeling of Paris in the 60’s remains a constant drumbeat, reminding us that once upon a time, cinema had the power to start a revolution.  Maybe it still does. Cheers!

Amélie

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Image Credit: Amélie, 2001

Image Credit: Amélie, 2001

Cinema Sips is traveling to Paris this week, for a romp around the Montmartre district. French cinema has a long and storied history, beginning with the films of the Lumière Bros., George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, and continuing on with those sexy intellectual films of The New Wave. However, in my lifetime, the one film that has made me truly excited about French cinema is the adorable, whimsical Amélie (DVD/Download). Like an Anthropologie catalog mixed with a dash of Audrey Hepburn and a pinch of Wes Anderson on crystal meth, Amélie depicts Parisians as wonderful, cynical, stylish, romantic creatures. Additionally, it highlights fabulous French haircuts that as an average American I will never be able to pull off (despite a misguided attempt in 2002).

Amélie is about a kind-hearted, but lonely young woman played by Audrey Tautou (obviously channeling another famous Audrey) who decides to devote her life to helping the people around her. Playing match-maker, comedienne, seeing-eye waif, and companion to a brittle-boned painter, she flits in and out of the lives of her Montmartre compatriots like a French Tinkerbell. She lives in a world of imagination, eventually realizing that her fear and insecurities have prevented her from finding her own true love and happiness. Amélie is romantic, funny, sentimental, and crowd-pleasing (so… not your typical French film). But it also celebrates the minutia of everyday life, and the interconnectedness of human existence.

In celebration of all things French, and my favorite Amélie character, I’ll be mixing a Kir.  A simple cocktail,  Amélie serves it with a smile to the tragic Hipolito, who has embraced his destiny as a failed writer.  If the future that awaits me as an unpublished author involves a cute waitress bringing me cocktails in a charming Parisian cafe, consider me lucky.  While watching Amélie, I recommend drinking a Kir.

Kir

1 1/2 oz Dry White Wine

1/4 oz Crème de Cassis

Pour white wine into a glass, then top with Crème de Cassis.

Kir 

There was a bit of Amélie overload 10 years ago (what girl didn’t have the movie poster on her college dorm room wall?), but now that I’ve spent time away, I can appreciate what I loved about this film in the first place. Yes Amélie finds romance and quite possibly her soulmate, but more importantly she finds friendship and connection with the people who orbit her world. She’s a reminder that even the smallest act can brighten someone’s day, or change the course of destiny forever. Also, she’s a reminder that I should never try short bangs again. Cheers!