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Tropic Thunder

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TROPIC THUNDER

Image Credit: Tropic Thunder, 2008.

I’m ending Campari Month on a fun note this week, with a tiki cocktail and a film so hilarious it might cause you to shoot rum out your nose. Tropic Thunder (DVD/Download) is full of un-PC moments and plenty of Hollywood digs, which makes it perfect for this negroni-imprisonned aperitif. Movies shouldn’t take themselves too seriously- and neither should Campari.

Directed by Ben Stiller, Tropic Thunder spoofs the making of a Vietnam War film, in all its Creedence-soundtracked glory.  The production takes a strange turn when the actors find themselves in a real-life jungle hostage situation, with nary a craft services table in sight. Starring Stiller as a Tom Cruise-esque washed-up action hero, Jack Black as a drug-addled king of flatulence and prosthetic body suits, and Robert Downey Jr. as a lily-white Australian playing an African-American (he’s the dude who’s playing a dude disguised as another dude), this film skewers everything we’ve come to love and hate about Hollywood blockbusters. Even Tom Cruise himself gets in on the action, nearly unrecognizable as heartless studio boss Les Grossman. And I do mean Gross. Man.

I was lucky enough to tour the ranch on Kaua’i where Tropic Thunder was filmed, and let me tell you- after traipsing through the jungle, covered in red dirt and booty sweat, I was ready for a tiki cocktail back at the hotel. While watching Tropic Thunder, I recommend drinking a Jungle Bird.

Jungle Bird

1 ½ oz dark rum

¾ oz Campari

½ oz simple syrup

1 ½ oz pineapple juice

½ oz lime juice

Pineapple wedge and cherry for garnish

Combine rum, Campari, simple syrup, and juices in a shaker filled with crushed ice. Shake vigorously until chilled, then pour entire mixture into a tumbler. Garnish with pineapple and cherry.

Jungle Bird

I’d like to give a special mention to the fantastically good fake trailers before this film, a sub-genre in cinema that we need more of (see also Kentucky Fried Movie and Grindhouse).  Is the world ready for a Scorcher franchise?  This tipsy lady says HELL YES.  Cheers!

High Fidelity

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High Fidelity

Image credit: High Fidelity, 2000

True story- the one and only time I’ve ever been carded and turned away from a movie was High Fidelity (DVD/Download) in April 2000. I was 16 years old, a recent transplant to Central Pennsylvania, and stunned to find myself smack dab in the Bible Belt. For months afterward, I waited impatiently to see what erotic, taboo tales awaited me in the R-rated and undoubtedly-risque High Fidelity.  Imagine my surprise and outrage that not only was there nothing “R” about it, but also that I was unnecessarily delayed from seeing what would become one of my all-time favorite films.

My Top 5 lists on Cinema Sips are a direct homage to this comedic gem, so in lieu of a proper plot description I think it’s more appropriate to list off my Top 5 High Fidelity Scenes:

  1. When John Cusack plays the new Beta Band LP in his niche Chicago record shop, causing all the customers fall under its spell. Perfect music moment.
  1. Lisa Bonet sings “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton. I too, always hated that song. And now I too, kinda like it.
  1. Jack Black berating a customer for wanting to buy a copy of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. In answer to his subquestion, it is definitely better to burn out than to fade away.
  1. The making of a Top 5 List of songs about death. This is absolutely a conversation I want to be a part of.
  1. Barry Jive and the Uptown Five singing “Let’s Get it On”. And just like that, Jack Black the Movie Star was born.

Although the Nick Hornby novel this film was based on is set in London, I love the decision to set the movie adaptation in Chicago. The city itself becomes like another character in the film, so to that end we should definitely celebrate this midwestern metropolis with its namesake drink. While watching High Fidelity, I recommend drinking a classic Chicago Cocktail.

Chicago Cocktail

2 oz Brandy

Dash of Triple Sec

Dash of Bitters

1 oz Champagne

Stir Brandy, Triple Sec, and Bitters together in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe, and top with champagne.

If you happen to find yourself celebrating Record Store Day later this month, don’t be too put off by the employees at your local vinyl shop. They actually do know a lot about music, so let them make suggestions. They may not be able to give relationship advice, but if you’re looking to find a band that picks up where Echo and the Bunnymen left off, they’ve got your back. Cheers!

The Holiday

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Columbia Pictures 2006

Image credit: Columbia Pictures, The Holiday,  2006

Welcome to Cinema Sips: Holiday Version! During each week of December, I’ll be featuring a holiday-themed movie and festive accompanying cocktail. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this should be an enjoyable time because there are some truly great holiday movies out there, and who doesn’t like an excuse to eat and drink more than usual? For my first choice, I went with a no-brainer: The Holiday. I think this is a great film to ease into the Christmas spirit because it’s not overtly about Christmas. It does take place during the end of December, but there aren’t any of mentions of Santa and his elves. Rather, this movie gets me excited for the main reason I enjoy Christmas- VACATION TIME!

The Holiday is really two movies in one. It follows Kate Winslet’s lovesick character Iris and Cameron Diaz’s jaded character Amanda as they trade houses with one another for the Christmas holidays. Iris journeys to Amanda’s gorgeous mansion in Los Angeles, and Amanda travels to Iris’ charming cottage in Surrey, England. I should have prefaced all of this by pointing out that this is a Nancy Meyers film, which means that the interior design of each of these homes is to-die-for. Iris and Amanda each find romance on their vacations with Jack Black and Jude Law, respectively, and they learn how to be happy again in their lives. It’s a truly enjoyable film, and really the only weak link in the bunch is Cameron Diaz. I would fast-forward through her scenes, if not for Jude Law (aka Mr. Napkin-Head), his adorable British children, and the gorgeous shots of Iris’ cottage that I want to go live in right now. For me, the heart of the movie rests with Kate Winslet, her hilarious and charming relationship with Jack Black, and the scroo-di-li-doo next door Arthur (played by Eli Wallach). When screenwriter Arthur tells her, “You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend,” it is so profound, and I want to scream at the television- Yes! Now get Cameron Diaz out of there and re-make this movie as Iris’ Holiday!

For my cocktail pairing, I’m using a delightful find from my local liquor store, Smirnoff Peppermint Twist vodka. It’s so good, you don’t even need a mixer.  Just a big ball of ice, and hearty splash, and you’ve got a festive cocktail.  While watching The Holiday, I recommend drinking a Snowball.

Snowball

3 oz Smirnoff Peppermint Twist Vodka

1 large ice sphere

Pop an ice sphere out of the mold, drop into a martini glass, and pour vodka over it.  Enjoy!

I’m lucky to have found my one true love already (and yes he does bear a striking resemblance looks-and-personality-wise to Jack Black’s character in this movie) so during the holidays I get to focus on the fun stuff- reading books, eating junk food, watching movies, and laughing with friends. Even if you don’t have a long break from work or a trip planned, watch this movie, have a cocktail, and for 2 hours pretend that you do. Cheers!