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Pearl Harbor

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Pearl Harbor

Image credit: Pearl Harbor, 2001

“It is hard to remember what we came to remember.”

Joan Didion may have been writing about her own experience visiting the Pearl Harbor memorial, however she may as well have been talking about the Bruckheimer/Bay disaster pic Pearl Harbor (DVD/Download). After 3 hours, only one of which was actually about the attack on Pearl Harbor, I struggled to recall why I’d pressed “play” in the first place.

If the filmmakers were trying to capture a Casablanca tone of romance during wartime, I’m not sure they succeeded. Same goes for accurately conveying the story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But if the goal was to create a showcase for pyrotechnics, special effects, and cheesy lines, consider this film a rousing success. I’m not sure that I expected much, given that it stars a very tan, blonde Ben Affleck before he got his sh*t together, but still- his tepid love triangle with Kate Beckinsale and Josh Harnett was pretty disappointing. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing the cavalcade of cameos by actors who are SO much better than this movie. Michael Shannon! Alec Baldwin! Ewen Bremner! Cuba Gooding Jr.! (well, okay maybe Cuba belonged in this).

One thing that makes the long flight to Hawaii worthwhile is the fresh pineapple waiting on the other end. Well, that and all the tiki drinks. I’ve already featured Midori and vodka in another post about a doomed ship, so this week I’m putting a Honolulu spin on it. While watching Pearl Harbor, I recommend drinking a Tiki-tini.

Tiki-tini

1 ½ oz vodka

¾ oz Midori

4 oz chilled Pineapple juice

Pineapple chunk

Shake well over ice to chill, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with pineapple chunk.

I can say without a doubt that this historic tragedy deserves a lot better than a Michael Bay schlock fest. Luckily, we have Tora! Tora! Tora! and that really great pilot episode of The Twilight Zone (“The Time Element”) to fill in the gaps. I encourage you to check out these titles, and if you have the means, go see the Arizona Memorial in person. But, to quote Alec Baldwin, “Leave your goddamn hula shirts at home.” Cheers!

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The Aviator

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Image credit: The Aviator, 2004

Image credit: The Aviator, 2004

I’m sure I’ve previously mentioned that I adore movies about old Hollywood. The glamour, the scandals- I can’t get enough. This week I’ll be watching Scorsese’s The Aviator (DVD/Download), one of the best films to feature re-imagined classic film stars. Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn; Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow; Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner- the list goes on and on. And yes, there is Leonardo DiCaprio as mogul Howard Hughes, but who are we kidding here- the ladies are the stars of this show.

The Aviator follows Howard Hughes’ career as a movie producer and aviation pioneer, his success overshadowed by a raging case of OCD. Hughes’ money and charm attract a cavalcade of beautiful starlets, but it’s Hepburn who really connects with him. I know, I know, she was meant to be with Spencer Tracy, but a part of me wanted her to end up with Howard Hughes. Cate Blanchett does Hepburn like nobody’s business, completely nailing the WASP-y New England accent and athletic stride. I was less impressed by Kate Beckinsale’s breathy portrayal of Ava Gardner, though of course I loved her costumes! Really though, the best part for me is the fabulous wallpaper in the bathroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel. That iconic giant palm-leaf design is a welcome distraction from DiCaprio’s sweaty overacting mess below it.

The 1930’s must have been an amazing time to be in Hollywood. Not just for the films (though those were good too), but also for the cocktails! Imagine sipping a gin cocktail at the Cocoanut Grove, a drunken Errol Flynn at the next table over, hitting on starlets left and right. Paying tribute to classic drinks and Hughes’ obsession with flying, while watching The Aviator I recommend drinking an Aviation cocktail.

Aviation

1 ½ oz gin

½ oz lemon juice

¾ oz maraschino liqueur

¼ oz crème de violette

Maraschino cherry (optional)

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice, shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry (optional).

Aviator

Obviously, The Aviator focuses a great deal on Hughes’ aviation experience (including one harrowing plane crash over Beverly Hills), but it’s also a love letter to cinema. Watching the filming of Hell’s Angels is pure fun, and I love seeing how the coloration and technology of cinema changes over time. In short, come for the glitz and action, but continue watching for the style and history. Cheers!