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Dead Poets Society

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Image credit: Dead Poets Society, 1989

If nothing else, the horror-show that is 2020 has proven once and for all that teachers are goddamn heroes. Often putting their lives and personal sanity at risk, they’ve had to work three times as hard this year to ensure that kids are not only educated, but comforted during these unprecedented, uncertain times. Even when faced with a laptop screen full of tiny faces, it’s up to them to make every child feel safe, and above all, seen. No movie has communicated the truth of this better than Dead Poet’s Society (Disc/Download).

A perfect pick for Fall viewing, Peter Weir’s film opens on a bucolic New England boarding school just as the leaves are starting to change. The boys who inhabit these drafty buildings want so badly to be men, and it isn’t until they meet their new English professor Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) that they start to learn what that truly means. You see, Mr. Keating doesn’t just teach them poetry. He teaches them to be brave, to inhabit the world with honor, and that feelings and emotions matter. To me, this shows what an important role a great teacher can play in one’s life. At the end of it all, you might not remember what a quadratic equation is, or who wrote the words, “O Captain! My Captain!” but you’re damn sure going to remember the person who encouraged you to be curious about the world, and fearless in the face of adversity.

Because this movie gives me all the cozy New England vibes, I’ll be drinking a nice, warming apple brandy cocktail, perfect for poetry readings in caves. While watching Dead Poet’s Society, I recommend drinking this Captain’s Mule.

Captain’s Mule

1 ½ oz Calvados Apple Brandy

½ oz Lime Juice

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

6 oz Ginger Beer

Dried Apple for garnish

Place first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a copper mug filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer, and garnish with dried apple.

There have been a lot of great teachers in cinema, but out of all of them, John Keating is the one I most wish I’d had the pleasure of knowing. Someone to tell me that words are important, and to not be so afraid that my thoughts are worthless or embarrassing. If Cinema Sips is my barbaric YAWP!, then let it be heard. Cheers!

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead

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Image Credit:  Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, 1991

Image Credit: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, 1991

Now that Foreign Cinema month is over, I feel the need to cleanse the palate with a 90’s teen cult classic. Nothing subtitled or black-and-white here, folks. Just some good old-fashioned Working Girl-meets-Risky Business hijinks. This week, I’ll be watching Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (DVD), and basking in early-90’s nostalgia. Chunky jewelry, shoulder pads, Married With Children-era Christina Applegate- what more does one need?

Because of the ridiculous title, many people would probably write this off as forgettable Hollywood fluff. Oh how wrong they would be. Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead features early performances by soon-to-be famous actors like David Duchovny, Josh Charles, and the aforementioned Ms. Applegate. In fact, it’s worth watching just to see David Duchovny’s slick ponytail. I love that the absence of adult supervision actually forces the teenagers in this film to grow up, instead of just throwing a raging party and rolling credits.  As a young girl seeing this for the first time, Sue Ellen “Swell” Crandell’s foray into the corporate fashion industry was actually kind of inspiring to me. Petty cash, confusing fax machines, QED reports- it all sounded so exciting! (side note: I still have no idea how to use my office fax machine). Joanna Cassidy’s character Rose was always my dream boss- supportive, trusting, and just crazy enough to eat M&M’s off the floor.

Another aspect of the corporate world that I always found intriguing was the concept of a long lunch with cocktails and cigarettes. Like, in the actual restaurant. People were crazy back then! I’ll never forget the horrified look of the waiter as Sue Ellen orders a martini that is both sweet and dry (“just a little bit of both”). I didn’t know what it meant as a child, but I learned to never order a martini like that when I grew up. I do find it funny that her sleazy co-worker Gus orders a white wine spritzer. Perhaps he’s tapping into his feminine side? Regardless, I happen to love that drink, so while watching Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, I recommend drinking a White Wine Spritzer.

White Wine Spritzer

3 parts Sauvignon Blanc

1 part club soda

Lime wedge

Pour wine into an ice filled wine glass. Top with club soda, and garnish with a lime wedge.

White Wine Spritzer

This movie still has quite the following, as evidenced by a recent screening I attended at the Alamo Drafthouse. We were all there to revel in our love of this weird little slice of 90’s cinema, and marvel at how Kenny “Dishes Are Done Man” Crandell (actor Keith Coogan, in attendance) had aged. One great piece of trivia from his Q&A session was that his horrible haircut was actually a wig. I’m not sure I can say the same for David Duchovny. That ponytail looked too real. Cheers!