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Coal Miner’s Daughter

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Coal Miner's Daughter

Image credit: Coal Miner’s Daughter, 1980.

When I first thought about watching the Loretta Lynn biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter (Disc/Download), I’ll admit to being a little turned off. A teenager marries an abusive  older man, pops out a bunch of babies, then magically becomes a country music star ? This sounds like a movie-of-the-week that’s too depressing and bonkers even for me. But then I started looking at it as a great excuse to drink Moonshine and swiftly came around.

Deep in the coal mining counties of Kentucky, Loretta (Sissy Spacek) grows up in a tiny house with so many siblings I lose track. She marries Doolittle Lynn, played by the very charismatic Tommy Lee Jones, however it’s clear she doesn’t really know what marriage is. Because she’s, you know, A TEENAGER. This whole part is pretty gross, particularly when her husband rapes her on her wedding night, then slaps her around for good measure. Loretta and Doolittle eventually make it out of that Kentucky holler and move to Washington state, where she gets a guitar. She teaches herself to play, gets on the radio, hooks up with the lovely Patsy Cline, sells a ton of records, and becomes the first lady of Country Music. And somehow during all of this, her deadbeat husband is transformed into a supportive guy who expertly manages her burgeoning career, then stays at home with the kids while she goes on tour. The first and second halves of the film don’t quite match up, but it’s still a joy to watch Spacek and Jones spar in their charming hillbilly accents  while the hair gets higher and the sequins more plentiful.

Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn’s other nickname is Mooney, after the moonshine he sells.  Because when you’re living in coal country, you need to use every tool at your disposal to get through the day. Certainly, moonshine helps me get through the troubling first half of this film. While watching Coal Miner’s Daughter, I recommend drinking a Kentucky Holler.

Kentucky Holler

1.5 oz Moonshine

¾ oz Lemon Juice

¾ oz Blueberry Drink Syrup (I use IKEA brand—they’re more than just cheap couches and meatballs!)

1 Egg White

Lemon Twist

Combine moonshine, lemon juice, blueberry syrup, and egg white in a shaker. Do a dry shake to combine ingredients, then fill the shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled and frothy. Strain into a mason jar filled with crushed ice, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Kentucky Holler

One of the standout characters in Coal Miner’s Daughter is Patsy Cline, played by a delightful Beverly D’Angelo. Honestly, I think I’d rather just watch a movie about Patsy. She’s the kind of friend we all wish we had, and the kind of friend we should all aspire to be. One of the great things I love about women in creative fields is that they tend to lift each other up, not compete and tear each other down. I see this with writing, and also music and filmmaking. So while this film may not show men in the best light, it sure does make me glad to be a woman. Cheers!

Leap of Faith

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Leap of Faith

Image Credit: Leap of Faith, 1992

I feel a healing coming on– of the cocktail variety!  Get ready for a 90’s blast from the past as Cinema Sips watches Leap of Faith (Download), that gospel-heavy movie where Steve Martin jogs in a belly shirt and cowboy hat, with zero irony. There is a God!

Faith is an important aspect of life for many people, but unfortunately, organized religion can also be a breeding ground for con artists and predators. Jonas Nightingale is of the con artist variety, a slick-tongued preacher promising prosperity to the downtrodden. He travels the Midwest with a bus load of accomplices, setting up a game of smoke and mirrors for people who have a lot of faith, but not much else.  Giving them a good show, he makes them believe in the power of the Lord, then lines his pockets with their hard-earned cash. One could say he’s not unlike certain politicians, feeding off the economic hardships of their constituents, but that’s an argument for another time. As Jonas, Steve Martin is charismatic, dark, and one hell of a showman. Liam Neeson’s well-meaning sheriff doesn’t stand a chance.

The reason these poor townspeople are ready and eager to believe in Nightingale’s “healing power” is the ongoing drought that threatens to ruin their corn crops. Living in Texas, I know the feeling of praying for rain (and I also know the feeling of praying for it to stop… ahem ATX water contamination 2018). Plus, corn is pretty important, if for no other reason than moonshine. While watching Leap of Faith, I recommend drinking a Sunday School Collins.

Sunday School Collins

1 oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

1 ½ oz corn whiskey

4 oz club soda

Combine whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a rocks filled glass. Top with club soda, stir gently to combine.

sunday school

“Our Lady of Immaculate Queso” by Heartless Machine (heartless machine.com)

The real standout element in this film is the music. From the opening notes of Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” to rousing gospel numbers, it’s no wonder it later received the Broadway treatment. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, this film will make you want to get up and dance. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll start to believe in the impossible.  Cheers!

Tammy and the Bachelor

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tammyandthebachelor

Image credit: Tammy and the Bachelor, 1957

The world lost one of its brightest stars last month when Debbie Reynolds passed away, following the tragic death of daughter Carrie Fisher. Although best known for Singin’ in the Rain, I’ll always have a fondness for her 1950’s rom-coms. One of my favorites is this week’s film Tammy and the Bachelor (DVD), a film equally famous for Reynolds’ rendition of the theme song. Sweet, dreamy, Tammy’s in love. And so am I.

When country cutie Tammy rescues wealthy farmer Peter Brent from the wreckage of a plane crash, I couldn’t help but be shocked when the lifeless face pulled out of the swamp is that of 80’s comedy star Leslie Nielsen. I’m of the generation who only knew him as the deadpan comedy star from Airplane! and the Naked Gun film series. Seeing him as a sexy leading man with brown (not stark white!) hair is certainly a trip. Add to that an aged Fay Wray as the wacky spinster aunt at his Antebellum mansion, and you’ve got a cast that has to be seen to be believed.

Tammy’s journey is set in motion when her grandfather gets arrested for making moonshine, forcing her to turn to Peter and his family for sanctuary. This makes me appreciate what a wonderful time we live in, where homebrew is as easy and legal as ordering the kit from a catalog. Back on a bayou river in the 1950’s, things were tougher. If you’re watching Tammy and the Bachelor and you care to wet your whistle, I recommend drinking Riverwater*.

Riverwater

1.5 oz white moonshine

4 oz sweet tea

1 oz lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together in a mason jar, and stir until combined. Fill jar with crushed ice, and garnish with a lemon twist.

riverwater

(*Good for your constitution!)

Reynolds’ star was formed in the golden age of the Hollywood studio system, and lucky for us it resulted in so many endearing performances. It’s hard to watch her and not smile. Her sweetness and joy were infectious, and Tammy was no exception. As she sings her signature song in the moonlight, we realize that nothing in that sky outside her window could ever shine as brightly as her. Cheers!

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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obrother

Image Credit: O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000

For a great movie soundtrack, sharp wit, and the screwball comedy genius of George Clooney, look no further than this week’s film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (DVD/Download). One of the top films in the Coen Bros. canon, the plot is loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey. Except here we have a hair tonic-obsessed Clooney standing in for Ulysses.  He’s a Dapper Dan man, dammit!

Upon its release, the bluegrass-inspired soundtrack sold like gangbusters, even surpassing the film’s box office. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, this film perfectly captures the look and sound of the Mississippi Delta. Of course, it wasn’t all banjo riffs and sepia tinted landscapes. Chain gangs and KKK rallies also find their way into the journey of Ulysses Everett McGill and his two prison buddies. It’s an epic tale that must be seen (and heard) to be believed.

One of my favorite scenes involves a group of beautiful sirens calling to the three travelers along the banks of a stream. They feed the men moonshine and lure them into a trap. I’m not advocating getting black-out drunk (there are still a lot of good scenes to watch!) but moonshine can be a fun spirit to experiment with. While watching O Brother, Where Art Thou?, I recommend drinking a Siren Song.

Siren Song

1 ½ oz white moonshine

¾ oz fresh lemon juice

¾ oz pineapple juice

½ oz honey syrup (1 part honey, 1 part water, boiled)

1 dash angostura bitters

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled. Strain and serve in a mason jar filled with shaved ice.  Garnish with lemon peel, if desired.

siren song

The big hit song from this film is “Man of Constant Sorrow”, but there are also so many other great examples of Appalachian music. With this flawless soundtrack, and the silver screen charm of Clooney, it’s no wonder that O Brother became an instant classic. To me, it will always be bona fide. Cheers!

Cry-Baby

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Image Credit: Universal Pictures, Cry-Baby, 1990

Image Credit: Universal Pictures, Cry-Baby, 1990

I recently finished reading John Waters’ latest book Carsick, detailing his experiences hitchhiking across the US. It was difficult to finish even one page of the book without laughing, and it reminded me of what a brilliant comic mind this man has. To that end, I’m featuring one of my favorite John Waters films this week, Cry-Baby (DVD/Download).

Cry-Baby is a spoof of 1950’s greaser movies, wherein the “Drapes” face off against the “Squares”. Johnny Depp plays Cry-Baby Walker, the hot young leader of the Drapes, who falls for Allison Vernon-Williams, a good girl yearning to be bad. In a great meet-cute scene, they lock eyes over polio vaccinations in the school gym. Imagine! People got immunized and it was no big deal! (I digress). Cry-Baby is populated by B-and C-list stars galore- Traci Lords! Patty Hearst! Troy Donahue! Iggy Pop! Ricki Lake!

Johnny Depp reportedly took the role of Cry-Baby (one of his first film roles following 21 Jump Street) in order to poke fun at his teen-idol image. Well, mission accomplished. As Cry-Baby he’s sexy and funny and just the right amount of campy. It’s so refreshing to see him without weird facial hair or feathers or a Colleen Atwood costume. Watching Cry-Baby has reminded me that not only do I want John Waters to make another film, but I want Johnny Depp to be in it playing an actual human being. A stretch at this point, I know.

My drink this week has to be equal parts hillbilly and 50’s fabulous in order to truly do the film justice. I’m sure Uncle Belvedere makes his own moonshine, but I have to get by with the store-bought stuff. Of course this has to be served in a mason jar (which I assume was the stemware-of-choice at Turkey Point). While watching Cry-Baby, I recommend drinking a Lonely Teardrop.

Lonely Teardrop

½ oz Vodka

½ oz Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine

¾ oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz Limoncello

2 oz Sprite

3 oz club soda

Fresh rosemary sprigs

Lemon slice

Mix together the spirits and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a mason jar filled with ice. Top with Sprite and club soda. Garnish with rosemary and lemon.

lonely teardrop

Not only does Cry-Baby have a fantastic cast and script, but the costumes are stellar as well. I admit to having quite a few “square” dresses currently hanging in my closet (thanks Mod Cloth!). But when Allison Vernon-Williams puts on those tight “hysterectomy pants” and makes out with Cry-Baby, I find myself wanting my own bad-girl beauty makeover. Just please don’t let Hatchet Face do my make-up. There are…. no words to describe that face. Cheers!

Arthur

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Image Credit Orion Pictures, Arthur, 1981

Image Credit Orion Pictures, Arthur, 1981

I recently discovered a great web series on YouTube called Yacht Rock, a fictional account of 70’s and 80’s-era easy listening titans (yes it came out 10 years ago, and yes I am severely behind the times). If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out- I died laughing. One of the soft-rockers featured is Christopher Cross, who had a major hit singing “Arthur’s Theme” from the Dudley Moore classic film Arthur (DVD/Download). I’ve featured this movie once before on my Top 5 Drunken Movie Performances list, but I think it deserves a mention again, along with a cocktail pairing.

Arthur is the story of millionaire playboy Arthur Bach, who spends most of his days and nights intoxicated, verbally sparring with his deliciously sarcastic butler Hobson. He is pressured by his family to propose to the beautiful but boring Susan, however just before he does, he meets a firecracker from the wrong side of the tracks, played by a very young Liza Minnelli. Even setting aside my excitement at seeing “Lucille 2”, this movie delights me to no end with its witty script, and superb drunk acting by Dudley Moore. He’s just the right amounts of happy and pathetic, and I find myself rooting for him to continue living his carefree, liquor-tinged life, only with the right girl by his side. And by “right girl”, I do not mean the hooker with the Olivia Newton John spandex pants.

Now, when you get caught between the moon and New York City, the best that you can do (in my opinion) is pour a drink! This week I’m adding a new bottle to my liquor cabinet in the form of moonshine. Specifically Texas Moonshine, as a nod to the cowboy hat that Liza Minnelli inexplicably sports on the streets of Manhattan. While watching Arthur, I recommend drinking a White Manhattan.

White Manhattan

2 ½ oz Moonshine

½ oz Dry Vermouth

½ oz Cointreau

Orange twist

Add liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker over ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with an orange twist.

White Manhattan

If I met Arthur in real life, I’d probably be annoyed-slash-jealous at his life situation. But as a movie character, he’s my hero. Someone who can drink that much and still come up with hilarious, brilliant one-liners deserves to be applauded. And as for the Christopher Cross song- well, good luck getting that out of your head for the next week. Cheers!