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Broadcast News

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Broadcast News

Image credit: Broadcast News, 1987.

I just finished the stellar new season of one of my favorite podcasts, You Must Remember This, which takes listeners on a journey through the career of one of the great unsung heroes of Hollywood, Production Designer/Screenwriter/Producer Polly Platt. I knew of Polly before Karina Longworth’s deep dive, having seen her name in the credits of so many of my favorite films, but the show has opened me up to even more great flicks, like this week’s Cinema Sips pick, Broadcast News (Disc/Download).

I’ve seen Broadcast News classified as a rom-com before, but I have to say, I disagree with that label. Yes, there’s a love triangle set within the world of television news, and there’s certainly comedy (thanks in large part to scene stealer Albert Brooks), but I wouldn’t say the film leaves me with a happy, buoyant feeling. Perhaps that’s because so much of the script is a warning of what’s to come in the world of journalism; a doomsday prediction that has actually come true. It warns of a distrust of information, brought about by flashy salesmen instead of real, credible journalists. The news as entertainment instead of vital public service. Albert Brooks’ character Aaron has the smarts and dedication for the job of newscaster, but lacks the right packaging. And then there’s William Hurt’s Tom, who has the looks but not the brains, or any shred of journalistic ethics. Naturally, he’s given prime screen time. Placed in the middle is Holly Hunter’s Jane, a thinly-veiled Polly Platt stand-in, the producer who’s smarter than all the men in her life, but will never get the recognition or personal happiness she deserves. To be a woman in this industry is to make sacrifices, and nobody knew that better than Polly. If you’ve ever allowed yourself the five-minute cry (*raises hand*) you get it. So much of this film is funny and relatable, but sadly it’s all things you wish you didn‘t relate to.

My favorite scene in Broadcast News is one where Albert Brooks is home alone on his day off, drinking and haunting the sofa in a ragged pair of sweats. He’s slightly inebriated, yelling at the news, wondering when the hell everyone got so stupid. Been there, buddy. Let’s join Aaron in his ennui with this Journalist cocktail!

Journalist

2 oz Gin

¼ oz Cointreau

½ oz Dry Vermouth

½ oz Sweet Vermouth

¼ oz Lemon Juice

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Luxardo Cherry and citrus wheel for garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a chilled coupe glass. Drop in a Luxardo Maraschino cherry and garnish with a dried citrus wheel.

Journalist

If you’re looking for answers as to how we got where we’re at right now in America, look no further than Broadcast News. The question now is, where do we go from here? Can journalism be saved? It’s a question the film fails to answer definitively, and maybe it’s because the answer is up to us. It’s up to all of us to demand that substance win out over style. Cheers!

A Life Less Ordinary

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A Life Less Ordinary

Image Credit: A Life Less Ordinary, 1997

Exactly as advertised by the title, forgotten ’90s romantic thriller A Life Less Ordinary (Disc/Download) is truly anything but ordinary. If you like your love stories with a dash of kidnapping, attempted murder, black comedy, and a pair of cursing angels, then this one’s for you.

Directed by Danny Boyle and starring Ewan McGregor, this film initially fell victim to high expectations. People went in hoping for another Trainspotting, and came out wondering what the hell just happened. Yes, the soundtrack is as superb as their previous film together, but that’s where the similarities end. In A Life Less Ordinary, Ewan McGregor plays a janitor and aspiring romance novelist (!!!) who falls on hard times. He takes his boss’s daughter hostage (Cameron Diaz), not realizing she’s a feisty badass who wants to piss off Daddy. The two scheme to get the ransom money, while falling deeper in lust with one another. Meanwhile, they get some help from a couple of potty-mouthed angels (Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo) who are on a mission to unite two humans in true love. The plot meanders at times, but McGregor and Diaz have such great chemistry that you keep on rooting for them, especially when he serenades her at a karaoke bar. I cannot resist Ewan McGregor singing. Ever. Also, given the stir that Stanley Tucci’s arms have created during quarantine, I feel it’s important to mention his shirtless scenes in this film. Do with that information what you will.

When we first meet Cameron Diaz’s character Celine, she’s playing a game of William Tell with her butler, a gun, and an apple. Let’s honor her marksmanship with this cocktail that combines apple cider, fiery tequila, and scotch- the Poco Loco.

Poco Loco

1 oz Habenero-infused Añejo tequila (Infuse tequila with a few slices of habanero pepper for 1 hr, then strain)

½ oz Scotch

1 ½ oz Apple Cider

½ oz Lime Juice

½ oz Simple Syrup

Dried Apple Slice for garnish

Pour all liquid ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with apple slice.

Poco Loco

There are a lot of strange elements to this film, but A Life Less Ordinary is still one of my favorite romances. It posits the theory that love isn’t just two people randomly meeting and making it work, but a supernatural occurrence as well. Call it destiny, call it divine intervention, call it the work of two fallen angels who just want to get off this garbage dump we call Earth, but Perfect Love is out there, even if it looks a little crazy sometimes. Cheers!

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Image Credit: Home for the Holidays, 1995

After a stressful month at work, I am VERY ready to relax with a bounty of food and a pile of movies. I always look forward to Thanksgiving because it means I get to stay home, in the city I love, with my husband and my dog and do absolutely nothing. Christmas can get a little crazy, but Thanksgiving- that’s just for me. Of course it wasn’t always like that. I’ve had my share of awkward relatives and inedible meals, which is why I have such an appreciation for this week’s film Home for the Holidays (DVD). When you find yourself laughing and nodding along, saying, “YES! This is what it’s like!!” you know you’ve found a great movie.

Home for the Holidays was directed by Jodie Foster and tells the story of the Larson family as they come together for one grand Thanksgiving meal. Holly Hunter is as charming as I’ve ever seen her, fleeing her recent unemployment and sexually active teenage daughter to go get criticized by her mother in a big puffy coat. Robert Downey Jr. shines as her younger gay brother Tommy, and together they team up against their bigoted uptight sister Joanna. Anne Bancroft is amazing as the matriarch, and the scenes of her flirting and arguing with her onscreen husband played by the late, great Charles Durning are forever endearing (see my earlier post about 5 Times Anne Bancroft was EVERYTHING). Of course I’m a sucker for a spinster aunt, and it doesn’t get better than Geraldine Chaplin’s Aunt Glady. She hates orange lipstick, she likes to get drunk and tell inappropriate stories, and she keeps her bathroom as clean as a whistle. In short, she’s me in 40 years. Dylan McDermott pops up as a dreamy love interest for Holly Hunter, but really it’s the family dynamics that make this such a joy to watch. As Hunter’s Claudia says, “We’re family- we don’t have to like each other”.

If you want to be as toasted as Aunt Glady on the big T-Day, you’re going to need a tasty cocktail. This year I’ll be making a drink the same color as Claudia’s stylish puffy coat. It pairs nicely with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and snarky comments at the dinner table. While watching Home for the Holidays, I recommend drinking a Cranberry Mule.

Cranberry Mule

3 oz Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka

1/2 oz Lime Juice

8 oz Ginger Beer

Lime and fresh cranberries for garnish

Build drink in a glass over ice.  Garnish with a lime slice and fresh cranberries.

Cranberry Mule

I don’t want to sound like I don’t look forward to seeing my family. I do, of course. But often people get so tied up in making the holiday great that they forget what’s really important. By important, I of course mean Pillsbury crescent rolls, and the relief one feels at realizing your life isn’t as bad as sad sack Russell Terziak’s. That’s always something I’m thankful for. Cheers!