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Kate & Leopold

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Kate and Leopold

Image credit: Kate & Leopold, 2001

I’ve discussed how great hair can turn a movie into a hit (see Sliding Doors) but now it’s time to talk about when bad hair does the opposite. There is no obvious reason why Kate & Leopold (Disc/Download) shouldn’t be a major success. It’s got all the elements of a rom-com classic: charming Hugh Jackman, interesting time travel premise, sparkling script, Breakfast at Tiffany’s nod, and even the quintessential dinner-on-a-NYC-rooftop scene (with twinkle lights and a violin for god’s sake!). If I had to sum up its one failure, it would be this: Meg Ryan’s hair.

Rom-Com audiences know Meg as the adorable sweetheart Tom Hanks just can’t get enough of. She’s got curly, wavy, soft hair in all of her films. Until… Kate. Kate has flat-ironed hair styled at a gravity-defying angle, like a mop or one of those dogs that looks like a mop. There is no excuse for this hair. I maintain that if she’d had soft waves, this movie about a nineteenth-century duke who time travels to modern-day New York and falls for a brash ad exec, would have been a massive hit. Hugh Jackman is absolutely irresistible as the duke, and even Breckin Meyer turns in a fun performance as Kate’s brother. But when Meg walks in with that coif and an unflattering leather button-up vest, I just cringe. You can’t have chemistry with that situation.

One of my favorite scenes is when Leopold makes Kate breakfast in the morning, bringing her perfectly prepared toast (because he fixed the broken toaster himself!!!) covered in mascarpone and strawberries. And he does the dishes.

Swoon. Major Swoon.

While watching Kate & Leopold, toast this ultimate romance hero with a Strawberry Gimlet.

Strawberry Gimlet

2 oz Strawberry Vodka (I use Frankly®)

½ oz simple syrup

½ oz lime juice

Lime Twist/Fresh Strawberry for garnish

Combine vodka, simple syrup, and lime juice over ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lime and strawberry.

Strawberry Gimlet

If you can get past the hair, this is an utterly charming romance. Hugh Jackman could have played this campy, but instead his duke is funny, intelligent, and principled. I guess sometimes you have to go back in time to find a hero deserving of a modern woman. Cheers!

When Harry Met Sally


Image credit: When Harry Met Sally, 1989

There are very few New Year’s Eve scenes in cinema as satisfying as the one in this week’s film, When Harry Met Sally (DVD/Download). That grand speech at the end about wanting the rest of your life to start right now just gets me every time. Sure Meg Ryan has a bad perm and ridiculous long blue gloves, but I can overlook it all for that speech. Harry Burns is a heck of a guy.

The film begins by asking the age old question, “Can men and women ever really be just friends?” Billy Crystal as Harry says no, Meg Ryan as Sally says yes. They bicker, then meet again 5 years later and bicker about it some more, then meet again 5 years after that and decide that the bickering is silly, become the best of friends, then lovers, then nothing. It sounds like a saga of a movie, but Rob Reiner’s skillful direction and Nora Ephron’s genius script keep things moving along quickly. What results is a clever, sharp film about the relationships between men and women, and the pitfalls that await us all. And oh yeah, Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm in Katz’s deli and the whole world freaks out. Quel scandale.

It wouldn’t be New Year’s without a glass of something fizzy in my hand. In homage to Meg Ryan’s big scene, and Rob Reiner’s adorable mother, while watching When Harry Met Sally, I’ll have What She’s Having.

What She’s Having

1 ½ oz gin

¾ oz Cointreau

½ oz Maraschino Liqueur

½ oz lemon juice


Mix gin, Contreau, Maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a champagne flute. Top with Prosecco.

what shes having

In my experience, it’s totally possible to have a friendly acquaintance of the opposite sex, but extremely rare for that person to be a best friend. I definitely think there’s some truth to what Harry’s saying. I did have one very close male friend once upon a time…. and then I married him. And with any luck I’ll never have to be “out there” again. After all, nobody else could ever tolerate my inability to order anything as-is from a restaurant menu. Sally, you’re not alone. Happy New Year, and Cheers!

You’ve Got Mail

Photo credit: Warner Bros, 1998

Photo credit: Warner Bros, 1998

Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan week comes to a close with my personal favorite of their collaborations, You’ve Got Mail. Based on the wonderful Jimmy Stewart film The Shop Around the Corner, this film replaces the letters of olden days with emails and instant messaging. Back when this film was released, AOL instant messaging was new and trendy, though now it seems quaint (in the same way we look back curiously on party lines and wonder- what were they thinking?). Of course now, texting and Facebook have replaced instant messaging, but back in the day this was cutting edge dating technology. Whether or not you look at this film and laugh at that old AOL email alert declaring “You’ve Got Mail!” or yearn for the days when people could get to know each other without seeing photos and your entire life story flashed upon your Facebook page, the chemistry between Hanks and Ryan and the witty Nora Ephron script make this movie definitely worth watching.

In this film, Tom Hanks’s character Joe Fox meets cute with Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly when his large Barnes & Noble-esque book store opens in New York City and threatens to drive her small independent children’s book store out of business. They become fast enemies in person, but little do they know, they’ve already fallen for each other online after meeting in a chat room (now THERE’S a blast from the past) and exchanging emails. I’ve come to love everything about this movie- the beautiful shots of New York’s West Village, Meg Ryan’s adorable haircut, Tom Hanks’ dog Brinkley, and lines like, “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” It’s classic Nora Ephron, and I love watching as she both romanticizes and satirizes the life of the upper class intellectual New Yorker.

For my cocktail pairing, I’m making a festive, holiday-appropriate drink that I think captures the feistiness and sweetness of Kathleen Kelly. This is a great way to use up some of that leftover cranberry juice or cranberries from your holiday gatherings, and very easy to make (for those of you who are totally over measuring and mixing and dirtying your kitchen).

The Shopgirl Spritz

1.5 oz gin

1 oz cranberry juice

1 oz lime juice

.5 oz simple syrup

Club Soda

Fresh Cranberries for garnish

Fill a collins glass with crushed ice, pour in the gin, cranberry, and lime juices and stir well. Top with Club Soda and cranberries.

I like to imagine Kathleen Kelly would drink this while listening to Joni Mitchell and reading Pride and Prejudice for the one millionth time. Or maybe that’s just what I want to do. At any rate, if this is the last movie that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan ever make together, at least they went out on a high note. I’ll always laugh as Tom Hanks flirts with the cashier at Zabar’s, and get misty when Meg Ryan says tearfully, “I wanted it to be you so bad.” Watch it with a box of Kleenex (and a drink). Cheers!

Sleepless in Seattle

Photo by TriStar Pictures

Photo by TriStar Pictures

Today, I’m helping my mother celebrate her birthday by providing a cocktail pairing for one of her favorite movies, Sleepless in Seattle. It really doesn’t get much more romantic, or much more 90’s than this movie. What I love about this particular Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan combo is that we get to see the two sides of Tom Hanks- the dramatic (lonely, grieving widower) and the comedic (a single father trying to re-enter the dating scene). After this film, Hanks would begin his string of dramatic roles that would win him his much-deserved Oscars (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, etc.), so it’s with that in mind that I relish the opportunity to see him debate drinks vs. dinner with his young son, get misty over the end of The Dirty Dozen, and fidget helplessly on a first date. And yet, his speech to “Dr. Marcia” about coping with the loss of his wife, and remembering to “breathe in and out every morning” always makes me a little misty.

Sleepless in Seattle tells the story of Annie (played by Meg Ryan) and Sam (played by Tom Hanks). Sam is recently widowed, and Annie is engaged to be married to dorky, allergic-to-everything Walter (hilariously portrayed by Bill Pullman). She hears Sam telling his story to a call-in radio psychiatrist one night, and is inexplicably drawn to him. She writes a letter, throws it out, her friend sends it anyway, asking Sam to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. The film borrows heavily from An Affair to Remember, and really it turns into a celebration of all romance movies, so-called “chick flicks”.  Sleepless in Seattle can get a little cheesy at times, but it’s got heart.

Midway through the film, Tom Hanks is schooled in the ways of modern dating by his friend, played by Rob Reiner. He’s told that his future date will want tiramisu. In reference to this, and to Seattle’s booming coffee culture, I’m preparing a coffee-inspired drink.

Tom’s Tiramisu Martini

2 oz White Chocolate Godiva Liqueur

1 oz Patron XO Coffee Liqueur

1 oz Vanilla Vodka

Chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder

Mix alcohol ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Swirl chocolate syrup around a martini glass. Pour cocktail into prepped glass, and sprinkle cocoa powder and espresso powder on top.


Sleepless in Seattle is really the comfort food of movies. I know many people will be sitting down to eat their mashed potatoes and stuffing on Thanksgiving (myself included), and I suggest popping in this film after you’ve gorged yourself and need to rest on the couch. Instead of coffee with your pie, pour yourself this tiramisu martini and watch the magic happen. Because if you haven’t figured it out by now, when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan get together, it is definitely magic. Cheers!

Joe Versus the Volcano

Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

Welcome to the first Cinema Sips theme week! Over this Thanksgiving holiday, I’m showcasing a week of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan films. Their movies are perfect for lazy afternoons spent digesting in front of the television, particularly with a post-dinner cocktail. Today, I’m screening the first of their collaborations- the totally underrated Joe Versus The Volcano.

I have to say, as much as I love Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan together in this, I didn’t fully appreciate the movie until I had entered the workforce and found myself in a depressing, entry level job. My situation was nothing as bad as Joe and his monotonous job sending out catalogs for surgical devices in a windowless, grey basement office with flickering florescent lights, but still it wasn’t a picnic. I liken this film to Office Space mixed with Castaway, with a dash of Metropolis.

Perpetually sick, Joe visits a doctor who tells him that he has a “Brain Cloud”. It has no symptoms, but he’s told that it will definitely kill him in a few months. Shortly after, he’s visited by a wealthy businessman who tells Joe that he’ll give him unlimited funds and travel arrangements to the South Pacific, if Joe will agree to jump into a volcano as a sacrifice to the gods for the people of Waponi Woo (who as luck would have it, have a rare mineral on their island that the businessman wants access to). Joe is urged to “live like a king, die like a man”, and that’s exactly what he decides to do.

The plot is admittedly ludicrous, but I adore the actors and the script, and the art deco sets are fabulous. Meg Ryan actually gets to play three characters, bouncing between a Betty Boop accent, a Valley Girl accent, and her own normal one. At each stage of Joe’s journey she is there in some form or another, and each time he meets her he tells her he’s sure they’ve met before. This theme of fate between the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is something that will carry through to their other films, but in this one it helps us see that everything that has happened on Joe’s journey has led to her.

For my cocktail pairing, I’m making a “Brain Cloud”. This features orange soda in tribute to the Waponis, and it’s a tropical, rum-based drink. Just a warning though, Joe’s “Brain Cloud” made him tired and puffy, and frankly I can’t promise that this won’t do the same depending on how many you consume. You’ve been warned!

Brain Cloud

1oz light rum

2oz pineapple juice

1oz Orange Soda

Pineapple slice for garnish

Mix the rum and pineapple juice together over ice in a shaker. Pour into a chilled martini glass, top with orange soda. Garnish with pineapple.


My hope today is that you watch this film and either realize how lucky you are that your life is nothing like Joe’s, or you realize that it is and now it’s time to “live like a king”. I love that this film celebrates taking control of your life, making brave choices, and buying fabulous luggage. So happy watching, happy drinking, and may you live to be a thousand years old. Cheers!