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Guest Post: The Running Man

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running man

Image credit: The Running Man, 1987

Greetings CinemaSips readers!  This post has been guest-written by the semi-sophisticated gentleman at Splotch!  The opinions expressed herein may not necessarily reflect those of Cinema Sips or its affiliates.

Let me tell you some of the things I love about The Running Man (DVD/Download).

This movie really knows how to get the party started. Arnold Schwarzenegger refuses to blow up some rioters, which leads to a military-grade fistfight in a flying helicopter with no doors!  It’s insane.  And it only gets better.  Arnold (The Butcher of Bakersfield) is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But nobody’s ever built a prison that can hold the Governator.  He stays almost long enough for the opening credits, but there aren’t enough faces to punch.  So he leaves prison, meets the love of his life, goes to the airport, and somehow ends up on a TV game show.  (I know, it sounds too good to be true.)  As it turns out, the game show is the perfect vehicle for Arnold to show off his unparalleled mastery of the one-liner.

Here are some other things I love about The Running Man:

  • Dystopian Hawaiian shirt (Arnold’s second worst look ever)
  • A Danish strongman named Sven plays a strong Danish man named Sven
  • The original host of Family Feud watches an old lady drop the F bomb on live TV
  • Professor Tanaka (AKA the butler from PeeWee’s Big Adventure) plays hockey
  • Cigar-chomping Schwarzenegger in a beard and suspenders (his best look ever)
  • Frank Zappa’s son and the drummer from Fleetwood Mac make a great team
  • A Venezuelan singer squares off against an electrified stalker in tighty whities

There’s so much I can say about this movie, I feel like I’ve just barely scratched the surface.  The deeper you dig, the deeper it goes.  But in the interest of brevity, let’s get to the drink.

The Plain Zero

2 oz silver tequila

1 oz Maraschino Liqueur

1 oz lime juice

Luxardo Maraschino cherries, in syrup

Fill a glass with crushed ice.  Put the boozy stuff in about halfway.  Drizzle cherry syrup on top.  Look into the nearest camera and yell “NOW PLAIN ZERO!”

I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I do.  And if you need more help living the Semi-Sophisticated Life, head over to Splotch!

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Batman

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Joker with cocktail

Image Credit: Batman, 1989

Cinema Sips has always had a bit of a female bias (yes, yes, I like pink drinks and rom-coms- what a crime), but this month, I’ll be shaking things up by watching “Man” movies.  That’s right- the ones I’ve rolled my eyes at, checked my phone during, and thought, God there needs to be more women in this. But maybe with a cocktail, I’ll feel more generous. Kicking things off is the classic superhero film Batman (DVD/Download).

Although my heart actually belongs to Batman Returns (don’t get me started on how much I adore Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman), I think it’s important to go back to where the modern superhero film began. Sure, there were some cheesy caped crusader films and TV shows of the 60’s and 70’s, but Tim Burton’s Batman ushered in a new era of artistry. Suddenly, the audience was seeing dark, mesmerizing cinematography, lavish production design, and genuinely good acting in place of all the onomatopoeias. Michael Keaton brings a level of humanity to an iconic character that has never been matched since, and Jack Nicholson’s manic Joker performance manages to be fun and frightening all at once. And by frightening, I’m referring of course to his purple satin chef’s hat.

Speaking of the Joker, his nefarious plot to poison the citizens of Gotham through make-up and hairstyling products is pretty genius. Funniest scene: news anchors, afraid to use any products, showing up on the air looking like they were just on a 3-day bender. In tribute to the Joker and his crazy style, I recommend drinking a Smilex Surprise.

Smilex Surprise

1 ½ oz Smirnoff Grape Vodka

½ tsp grape Kool-Aid (for color)

½ oz lime juice

Club Soda

Fresh Limes

Build drink over ice, stirring gently to combine and dissolve Kool-Aid powder. Garnish with fresh lime slices.

Smilex

I’ve always found Batman to be the most fascinating of superheroes because at the end of the day, he’s simply a rich guy with gadgets and extensive martial arts training. He’s a human being who struggles with the same dichotomy that most of us feel from time to time, like we’re one person to the world at large, and someone totally different to ourselves and those close to us.  Michael Keaton really makes you feel this struggle, with nary a nipple in sight.  Many Batmen have come and gone, but if you’re like me, you never forget your first. Cheers!

Tropic Thunder

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TROPIC THUNDER

Image Credit: Tropic Thunder, 2008.

I’m ending Campari Month on a fun note this week, with a tiki cocktail and a film so hilarious it might cause you to shoot rum out your nose. Tropic Thunder (DVD/Download) is full of un-PC moments and plenty of Hollywood digs, which makes it perfect for this negroni-imprisonned aperitif. Movies shouldn’t take themselves too seriously- and neither should Campari.

Directed by Ben Stiller, Tropic Thunder spoofs the making of a Vietnam War film, in all its Creedence-soundtracked glory.  The production takes a strange turn when the actors find themselves in a real-life jungle hostage situation, with nary a craft services table in sight. Starring Stiller as a Tom Cruise-esque washed-up action hero, Jack Black as a drug-addled king of flatulence and prosthetic body suits, and Robert Downey Jr. as a lily-white Australian playing an African-American (he’s the dude who’s playing a dude disguised as another dude), this film skewers everything we’ve come to love and hate about Hollywood blockbusters. Even Tom Cruise himself gets in on the action, nearly unrecognizable as heartless studio boss Les Grossman. And I do mean Gross. Man.

I was lucky enough to tour the ranch on Kaua’i where Tropic Thunder was filmed, and let me tell you- after traipsing through the jungle, covered in red dirt and booty sweat, I was ready for a tiki cocktail back at the hotel. While watching Tropic Thunder, I recommend drinking a Jungle Bird.

Jungle Bird

1 ½ oz dark rum

¾ oz Campari

½ oz simple syrup

1 ½ oz pineapple juice

½ oz lime juice

Pineapple wedge and cherry for garnish

Combine rum, Campari, simple syrup, and juices in a shaker filled with crushed ice. Shake vigorously until chilled, then pour entire mixture into a tumbler. Garnish with pineapple and cherry.

Jungle Bird

I’d like to give a special mention to the fantastically good fake trailers before this film, a sub-genre in cinema that we need more of (see also Kentucky Fried Movie and Grindhouse).  Is the world ready for a Scorcher franchise?  This tipsy lady says HELL YES.  Cheers!

The Triplets of Belleville

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Triplets of Belleville

Image credit: The Triplets of Belleville, 2003.

This week, I found the rare film that bridges the gap between my Mad Max-loving husband and myself.  By the time we finished The Triplets of Belleville (DVD/Download), we were both humming “Belleville Rendezvous”, and he enthusiastically admitted that this was the best French (mostly silent) cartoon he’s ever seen. Small pool, but I’ll take it!

Similar to The Artist, this film is largely dialogue-free, thus opening it up to a world-wide audience. You don’t need to speak French to laugh at Bruno the dog barking at trains, or the whistle-blowing little old lady with one oversized orthopedic shoe.  It’s ALWAYS going to be funny.  When her grandson gets kidnapped by the French mafia and forced into a simulated Tour de France, Grandma and Bruno travel across stormy seas to Belleville, a strange Metropolis-esque city up to no good. Their rescue operation gets some help from three aging singers with a hearty appetite for frogs, and soon they’re all making some strange, fantastic music. It’s delightful, it’s moving, and it’s a glorious love letter to old-school animation.

I don’t know much about cycling, but I do know that in the Tour, the Lanterne Rouge is the cyclist in last place who refuses to drop out. If that isn’t a metaphor for this whole movie, I don’t know what is. Break out the French aperitifs for a Red Lantern cocktail!

Red Lantern

1 ½ oz vodka

½ oz Cointreau

½ oz Chambord

1 oz cranberry juice

½ oz lime juice

Fresh Blackberry or raspberry

Lime Twist

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake, and then strain into a glass. Garnish with a blackberry and lime twist.

Red Lantern

As I get older, and busier, I regret that I don’t take a chance on foreign cinema or animation the way I used to.  The Triplets of Belleville reminds me that great films come from unexpected places, and in unexpected formats.  And it also reminds me that some things, like the love between a boy and his grandma, or a boy and his dog, are universal. Cheers!

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

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Dr Strangelove

Image credit: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964.

If you’re like me, when the daily news becomes too depressing, and reality is just a little too real, you retreat into fiction. With this in mind, I recently re-watched the classic Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove (DVD/Download).  Despite the fact that the world may now be on the brink of actual nuclear war, and Russians are still being Russians, somehow Peter Sellers manages make me laugh about all of it.  Better than crying right?

This political satire about a lunatic rogue General setting off a chain reaction of nuclear warfare doesn’t sound like my normal cup of tea. But great writing is something I can always appreciate, and this script zings with double entendres, madcap conspiracy theories, and what I fear is frightfully accurate military defense strategy. The film hinges on the brilliant performances by Peter Sellers (in 3 impressive roles), Slim Pickens as the Texan bomb pilot, and George C. Scott as the bumbling military commander. The way Sellers transforms himself into characters is like nothing I’ve seen before or since his time in pictures (sorry Eddie Murphy). Also, keep an eye out for the scenes onboard the plane carrying the nuclear warhead- I spy some Wes Anderson-esque camera work, AND James Earl Jones.

In a toast to the German Dr. Strangelove, ex-Nazi and all around scary creep, I’ll be drinking a spirit I’ve shied away from for many years, Jägermeister. I’ve heard nothing but horror stories of hangovers and blackouts, but like Major King Kong, I’m gonna strap myself to that bomb and go for it. While watching Dr. Strangelove, I recommend drinking a Jägerbomb.

Jägerbomb

1 shot of Jägermeister

1 can of Red Bull energy drink

Pour can of Red Bull into a glass, and drop the Jagermeister into it. Drink quickly before the doomsday device ends us all!

Jagerbomb

The final scene of atomic bomb detonations set to the tune of Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” is both funny and frightening. After spending the last 90 minutes giggling at Jack D. Ripper’s antics and his rants about precious bodily fluids, my eyes see the bombs, my ears hear the music, and I start to laugh at the irony. But then the screen goes dark, and a grim thought seeps in- maybe Kubrick was right, about all of it. Maybe we’ll meet the bomb again, some sunny day. All I have to say is: drink up while you can. Cheers!

The Bodyguard

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The Bodyguard

Image credit: The Bodyguard, 1992

With awards season ramping up, I can’t help but feel a little “can’t care” about the whole dog-and-pony show. Viewership of the Oscar telecast has steadily declined over the years, likely due to its Groundhog Day-level of sameness. If only award shows could be as exciting as they are in the movies. If only they could be like The Bodyguard (DVD/Download).

If you’re a fan of film noir, you might be disappointed with this loose contribution to the genre.  If you’re a fan of cheesy romance (like I am), prepare to be thoroughly entertained. Although Whitney Houston’s mega-pop star has limited chemistry with her strong, silent bodyguard played by Kevin Costner, that doesn’t stop me from cheering when he picks her up in his arms, rescuing her from wild, handsy fans. Or when he jumps in front of her, literally taking a bullet at the Academy Awards as Debbie Reynolds probably swoons from all the excitement backstage. Or during that ending, which is without a doubt one of the best Hollywood endings a viewer could ask for.   Take all the frustration you’ve ever felt when Audrey Hepburn lets Gregory Peck walk away in Roman Holiday, wrap it up, and toss it out in favor of the planeside kiss between Houston and Costner. THAT’S how you do romance.

Because Costner’s Frank Farmer is almost always on duty, he never gets to let his guard down and have a drink. The man imbibes so much plain orange juice, he’s single-handedly keeping the Florida citrus industry in business. This makes me want to drink a cocktail, if only because he can’t. While watching The Bodyguard, I recommend drinking a Screwdriver. Strong and uncomplicated- kind of like Frank.

Screwdriver

1.5 oz Vodka

3 oz Orange Juice

2-3 dashes Grapefruit bitters

Orange Twist

Screwdriver

Build drink over crushed ice, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with an orange twist.

I’ve never been one for remakes, but I’m just going to throw this out there: Beyonce + Solange + Kevin Costner (yes, the age-defying Costner should ALWAYS play The Bodyguard).  Let’s make this happen.   After all, isn’t it time for a new Queen of the Night? No offense, Whitney- I will always love you. Cheers!

Bell, Book and Candle

Bell Book and Candle

Image credit: Bell, Book and Candle, 1958

For all you Vertigo fans out there, consider this my Cinema Sips Christmas gift to you. Maybe you’ve longed for more of Kim Novak’s eyebrows. Or an aging, tan Jimmy Stewart. Or that weird hypnotic lighting. Bell, Book and Candle (DVD) covers all the bases. Plus, there are the added bonuses of a beatnik Jack Lemmon playing the bongo drums, and a very expressive Siamese cat. Happy Holidays to all!

Although the film starts on Dec. 24th and stars Mr. Christmas himself, Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life this is not. Kim Novak plays a witch who falls for a book publisher (Stewart), and she must decide whether to give in to love and become mortal, or keep her powers and lose him. The pair’s onscreen chemistry is every bit as sizzling as it was in Vertigo, and even though this is meant to be a romantic comedy, there’s something dark and powerful between these two actors. They’re sexy without even trying to be, and I am totally under their spell.

The movie takes a strange turn when Jimmy Stewart’s publishing house courts an expert on Mexican witchcraft. While it seems like an unnecessary plot element, I still love Ernie Kovacs in this role. (Let’s face it, I love Ernie Kovacs in any role). While watching Bell, Book and Candle, I recommend drinking a Mexican Séance.

Mexican Séance

1 ½ oz Patron XO Coffee Liqueur

1 ½ oz Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee- Mexican flavor

1 ½ oz Egg Nog

¾ oz Crème de Cacao

2-3 dashes chocolate bitters

Orange twist

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.

Mexican Spell

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the production design and costuming. Bell, Book and Candle is a perfect time capsule of 1960’s Greenwich Village style, from capri pants to mid-century modern furniture. Jimmy Stewart’s office, covered in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and featuring a gorgeous vintage couch, is the stuff of book lovers’ dreams. Witchcraft never looked so appealing. Cheers!