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Magic Mike

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Image credit: Magic Mike, 2012

Living in Austin, it’s hard to escape the name Matthew McConaughey. Our local celebrity keeps popping up everywhere from University of Texas classrooms to the New York Times Bestseller list, and now there’s even talk about seeing him on the ballot one day. This former Dazed & Confused burnout has come a long way, but there is one particular stop along his long and winding journey that was truly unforgettable: the role of Dallas in Magic Mike (Disc/Download).

Say what you want about this crazy Texan, but it takes guts to strut around onstage in nothing but a g-string and cowboy hat. This Steven Soderbergh film about a Tampa male revue club could have easily been swallowed up by campy dance numbers and too many penis jokes (See: Magic Mike XXL). Don’t get me wrong, it still has those. But it also shows us the gritty underbelly of this sex and drug-fueled world. The odd thing about Magic Mike is that for a movie about sexual desire, there’s very little about it that’s sexy to me. So what are we left with? Raw performances, surprisingly beautiful cinematography, and the magnetic screen presence of McConaughey. Like a greasier version of Cabaret‘s Joel Grey, the Master of Ceremonies keeps us engaged, even when we think we’ve reached our limit of screaming women and wet one-dollar bills. Sure, there’s a lot to make fun of in this movie (Channing Tatum’s “furniture line” comes to mind), but this flashy scene-stealer is not one of them.

Now, I have a theory that Dallas is the original “Florida Man”, giving rise to a whole subgenre of trashy urban legends. Can’t you just see him pulling a gun on a McDonald’s employee because the McFlurry machine was broken? Let’s channel some of that Florida energy with a cocktail fit for your girlfriend’s bachelorette party at Xquisite, the Strawberry Mojito.

Strawberry Mojito

3 Fresh Strawberries

1 oz Simple Syrup

2-3 sprigs Fresh Mint

1 oz Lime juice

2 oz Light Rum

3-4 oz Club Soda

Muddle strawberries and mint with simple syrup and lime juice. Add Rum and ice to the shaker, and shake until chilled. Double strain into a glass filled with ice, and top with club soda. Stir gently to combine, and garnish with mint and lime twist.

As someone who has been to an all-male revue exactly one time (shout out to Thunder From Down Under!!!), I can say that the real thing is every bit as cringe-inducing as it looks in this movie. If your friends try and convince you it’ll be fun, just politely sit them down and suggest watching Magic Mike instead. You’ll save your eardrums, and your dignity. Cheers!

Dazed and Confused

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Dazed and Confused

Image credit: Dazed and Confused, 1993.

It’s time to talk about a movie I’ve snoozed on for too long with this blog.  As any Austinite can attest, you really can’t go two feet without bumping into Dazed and Confused (Disc/Download) at the end of May.  Maybe part of my reluctance is that it’s more of a beer movie than a cocktail movie, but nevertheless, nothing says IT’S FINALLY SUMMER!!! like this wild ride through the last day of school, circa 1976.

Something director Richard Linklater excels at is showing us how one single, ordinary day can be life changing.  He did it with the Before movies, he did it in Slacker, and he does it so well with Dazed and Confused.  Following a group of students on the cusp of summer vacation, the movie feels intimate and big at the same time.  There are important philosophies up for debate (Ginger or Mary Ann), words like “Neo-McCarthyism” batted around, and deep discussions about George and Martha Washington’s colonial weed business. We’re observers to this moment in time when everything seems possible for these kids; to a night when social cliques and freshmen hazing are temporarily cast aside under the light of a moontower. This is American Graffiti for the 1970s, and like that masterpiece, made twenty years after the time period it depicts.  I guess we’re overdue for a version taking place in the ’90s.

As I’ve said, this is really a beer movie.  If you want to be authentic, head to your local convenience store and grab a sixer. Bonus points if it’s a Texas beer. While I watch Dazed and Confused, I’ll be working my way through a favorite local brew, Zilker Brewing Parks & Rec.  It really brings back memories of the Zilker Park moontower, grackles in the trees, and that distinctly Austin eau de Dillo Dirt.

Sixer

Although this is the movie that enabled drunk frat guys to quote Matthew “Alright alright alright” McConnahey until the end of time, it’s also a movie full of sweet, subtle moments like the exhilaration of a girl’s first kiss, or the excitement/terror of sitting in the backseat of a popular kid’s car, wondering how the hell you got there. It’s a film that encourages us to look around and give a hand to the people who might need a little help socially.  And (most importantly) it encourages us to just keep L-I-V-I-N. Cheers!