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Titanic

Titanic rose beer

Image credit: Titanic, 1997

Here’s a little history lesson for you. Nearly 18 years ago, in December of 1997, an enormous box office behemoth sailed into movie theaters. Yes that’s right, Titanic (DVD/Download) will soon be an entire adult person old. This makes me feel as geriatric as Gloria Stuart on the bow of that ship. I can still remember the buzz at the lunch table in middle school. Girls making plans to see it at least 5 times over the Christmas holidays, while simultaneously plotting their future lives as Mrs. Leonardo DiCaprio. It was madness. Eighteen years later, I still find the movie entertaining, but I also appreciate a good Titanic parody as much as the next person. I mean, could anybody ever keep a straight face when Billy Zane was onscreen?

As the two leads in the film, Jack and Rose, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet share a unique onscreen chemistry. I witnessed it again in the fabulously underrated film Revolutionary Road, and it makes me wish they’d co-star more often (it’s my secret fantasy that Leo is madly in love with Kate in real life, yet he’s never been able to win her heart. Thus he overcompensates with yachts and supermodels). Titanic is really just Romeo and Juliet meets historical tragedy, with a little saucy Kathy Bates thrown in for good measure. I can’t attest to historical accuracies or inaccuracies, but if the point of the movie is to keep me entertained for 3+ hours, mission accomplished Mr. Cameron.

My cocktail this week is a bit of a no-brainer. In celebrating that great cinematic love story between Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater (seriously, who came up with that name?), while watching Titanic I recommend drinking a classic Jack Rose.*

Jack Rose

4 oz Applejack

2 oz Lemon Juice

1 oz Grenedine

Lime twist (for garnish)

Shake ingredients over ice until chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.

jack rose

*Fun drinking game:  take a drink every time someone says the name Rose.  You’ll be hammered within the first hour.  Then you’ll wonder why people keep saying her name, even when she’s the only other person in the room.

My grandmother used to tell us stories of how she and her girlfriends cut school and drove for hours to go see Gone With the Wind when it was released. That desperation is the only thing I can compare Christmas of 1997 to. We’ll see if Star Wars: The Force Awakens becomes a similar cultural touchstone in the coming weeks. No matter what your feelings are on the schmaltzy Hollywood blockbuster that is Titanic, no one can deny that it brought millions of people together in cinematic viewership. In a world where moviegoing is slowly dying off in favor of at-home options, it’s nice to think about a time when everybody just shut up, put their real lives aside for 3 hours, and got lost together in a little Hollywood magic. Cheers!

Sense and Sensibility

Image credit: Sense and Sensibility, 1995

Image credit: Sense and Sensibility, 1995

Before there were films, there were books. And in fact, before there were good films, good books usually proceeded them. Throughout the month of September, I’ll be paying tribute to my favorite literary adaptations in cinema. I know my readers must think I spend most of my time watching movies and drinking cocktails, and while those activities are certainly a part of my weekly routine, most of my spare time is actually spent reading. Because I consider myself first and foremost a lover of books, it pains me to see filmmakers get a literary adaptation wrong (I’m looking at you Simon Birch!). Conversely, when they get it right, it can be pretty magical (hip hip hooray The Door in the Floor!). Although there have been a lot of contemporary adaptations lately, I’m adhering to the classics this month. School just started again, so if you’re stuck explaining Jane Austen or Charles Dickens to your middle or high-school age child, don’t worry- Cinema Sips to the rescue!

This week I’ll be watching my favorite Jane Austen adaptation, Sense and Sensibility (DVD/Download). I am a functioning, breathing female, so yes, I love all things Austen. I even love all things about loving all things Austen (ie. the wonderfully charming film Austenland). By far I think Sense & Sensibility does the best job of depicting a classic Austen tale featuring two unlucky-in-love sisters- one pragmatic, the other a dreamer. Emma Thompson’s screenplay perfectly captures the rich language of Austen’s novel, while making it understandable to modern audiences. The cast is superb, featuring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, and Hugh Laurie, along with the usual cavalcade of minor British character actors who seem to be in every film coming out of the UK. It was an unusual choice to hire Ang Lee as the director, but he fills the movie with so many simple, quiet moments and beautiful costumes and scenery that one feels almost transported to Austen’s world.

Because the Dashwood sisters are forced into simple country living upon the death of their father, I decided to choose a British cocktail that evokes summertime country flavors. I can almost picture one of the Dashwood sisters getting her dress caught in a bramble bush, relying on Willoughby or Edward to come rescue her. While watching Sense and Sensibility, I recommend drinking a Gin Bramble.

Gin Bramble

2 oz Gin

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

Drizzle of Blackberry Liqueur (crème de Mure)

Fresh Blackberries

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker, shake until well mixed, then pour into a tumbler or mason jar filled with crushed ice. Drizzle blackberry liqueur over the top, and garnish with a fresh blackberry.

Gin Bramble

My favorite part in Sense and Sensibility is when Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) sees Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet) for the first time as she’s singing a song at the piano. He enters the room, and you can just see the waves of attraction and obsession wash over him. It’s moments like this that make the film a wonderful complement to the words on the page, and a rare case of a screen reality being even better than my imagination. Cheers!

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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Image Credit Focus Features, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004

Image Credit Focus Features, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004

“Valentine’s Day is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to sell more cards.” And so begins my absolute favorite movie about February 14th, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (DVD/Download). The opening line says it all.  This is not a ‘sunshine and roses’ romantic comedy. However, it is funny, it is romantic, and it is truly daring and original filmmaking by director Michel Gondry.

Eternal Sunshine asks the question- what if a bad break-up could be erased from our minds? What are the consequences? If you erase the memory, do the same patterns just repeat themselves? The two lead characters are Joel (played by Jim Carrey), and Clementine (played by Kate Winslet). Unusual casting for sure, but these two actors are surprisingly perfect together. The film’s story, written by Charlie Kaufman, is told in non-linear sequence. We think we’re seeing two people meeting on a train for the first time, until gradually it becomes clear that they’ve already dated, fell in love, broken up, then paid a doctor to erase their memories of one another. With no memory of the bad relationship, they are just two people finding each other by chance, and falling in love the same way they did before. Because this is a Michel Gondry film, there are analog special effects during the scenes where memories are being erased, and the results are visually spectacular. A terrific supporting cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, David Cross, and Tom Wilkinson as the helpful memory-erasing doctor with secrets of his own.

My cocktail this week is an easy one to make, giving you more time to spend paying close attention to the plot of the film (trust me, you need to pay attention). I love the name Clementine, and it’s such a refreshing flavor in the middle of winter, so this week I’m making a Darlin’ Clementine.

Darlin’ Clementine

2 oz vodka

2 oz fresh clementine juice

1 oz simple syrup

Mix all ingredients in a shaker over ice, then strain into a chilled glass. Rub clementine peel around the rim of the glass, then discard.

Darlin-Clementine

This movie will always be special to me because I bought it right before my husband and I started dating. I was obsessed with everything Kate Winslet (and still am) so upon saying goodbye on February 13th, 2005, I told him to call me the next day to wish me a happy Valentine’s Day (just as Clementine says to Joel). He still chides me about it, claiming that was his plan all along. He did call, and that memory is one I don’t ever want to be erased. 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!