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Nocturnal Animals

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Nocturnal Animals

Image credit: Nocturnal Animals, 2015

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

I can think of no better phrase to sum up the stunning Tom Ford film Nocturnal Animals (DVD/Download). From the shocking opening credits to the final drink in a hip Los Angeles restaurant, I found myself mesmerized by the visual storytelling. Sometimes hard to watch, but nevertheless hypnotic, this is a film that stays with the viewer long after it’s over.

My confusion and revulsion over the opening sequence (to quote my husband, “What the f*ck are you watching??”) made me wonder what I’d gotten myself into. But then, all became clear as the beautiful people wearing beautiful Tom Ford clothes came on the screen. Amy Adams is cold and distant as the wealthy art gallery owner, startled by a ghost from her past in the form of a manuscript written by her ex-husband Edward. The film simultaneously tells the story of their doomed young marriage, and Edward’s reactionary revenge manuscript.  Jake Gyllenhaal is quickly becoming an actor I will watch in just about anything, and he’s perfect as both the fragile writer, and tortured subject of his own story. Aaron Taylor Johnson and cinema MVP Michael Shannon round out the cast in Nocturnal Animals’ movie-within-a-movie, in which every scene of West Texas hell looks like a painting.

Texas is such a strong presence in this film, simultaneously the dangerous setting of Edward’s story and also the real-life setting of his failed marriage. Watching Michael Shannon’s character step over dusty scrub brush is like watching the sheriff in an old John Wayne film. While viewing Nocturnal Animals, I recommend drinking an Old Fashioned Texan.

Old Fashioned Texan

2 oz Red Handed Bourbon (from Treaty Oak distillery in Dripping Springs, TX)

½ oz simple syrup

2-3 dashes angostura bitters

Orange peel

Pour bourbon over large ice cubes in a rocks glass, and add the simple syrup and bitters. Stir gently to combine. Run the orange peel over the rim of the glass, and drop in the drink.

Old Fashioned Texan

This film spoke to me not only as a lover of cinema, but as a writer. As Edward says, “If I write it down, it will last forever.” With his manuscript, he’s expelled all of his love and pain and anger onto his alter ego in the story. It’s a very personal tale and also…. not.  I can’t wait to see what Tom Ford has up his perfectly tailored sleeve next because whatever it is, I’ll be there.  Cheers!

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Brokeback Mountain

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Image Credit: Brokeback Mountain, 2005

During the Heath-A-Thon I held on New Year’s Eve, I had the pleasure of watching the critically acclaimed drama, Brokeback Mountain (DVD/Download). The tale of two cowboys and the forbidden attraction they share is an unexpected love story, but absolutely essential viewing.

Directed by Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain is full of quiet moments that pull the viewer in. The Wyoming (or Canada?) scenery is gorgeous, as are the two lead characters played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. I love that the story isn’t so much about their sexuality as it is about the difficulty of finding happiness in one’s life. The only place Ennis Del Mar is truly happy is on Brokeback Mountain with Jack Twist, but he can’t see a way to make that happiness last. Work, family, and fear of the unknown gets in the way, until he becomes trapped in a life he hates. Too late he realizes all that he’s lost, and the final scene has me weeping every time. At the end of the 2.5 hours, I feel like my heart has been ripped out right along with Ennis’.

To get through this tearjerker, I need a good cocktail to cheer me up. One of my favorite scenes is when Ennis’ wife Alma, played by Michelle Williams, confronts her husband about his “fishing trips” with Jack Twist. “Jack Twist? Jack NASTY” she spits. It’s not supposed to be funny, but something about her accent makes me giggle every time. While watching Brokeback Mountain, I recommend drinking a Jack Nasty.

Jack Nasty

2 oz Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey

1 ½ oz Apple Cider

¾ oz Lemon Juice

Lemon Twist

Mix whiskey, apple cider, and lemon juice in a shaker (dry shake). Pour into a rocks filled glass, and garnish with a twist of lemon.

Jack Nasty

Contrary to the name, this cocktail is amazingly tasty, and allows me to use one of the 52 mini bottles of liquor I found in my Christmas stocking this year. Win-win! Watching Brokeback Mountain makes me feel incredibly lucky that I was able to build exactly the kind of life I want with the person I love. For so many people in the world, it isn’t that easy. Also, I can be glad that ranching was never a career path laid at my feet. I’ve never been a fan of beans. Cheers!