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Working Girl

working girl

Image credit: Working Girl, 1988.

To celebrate the 4th anniversary of Cinema Sips, this week I’ll be watching a classic ode to big hair and big dreams, Working Girl (DVD/Download).  Championing the idea that if you want to get ahead in life, you have to make it happen, this film is an inspiration to any woman who has ever dared to imagine she could crack the glass ceiling.  Or match her two-toned eye shadow to her jewelry.

As intelligent, hard-working Tess McGill, Melanie Griffith gets overlooked at work due to her Jersey accent, flashy clothes, and pretty face. She wants to make it in Mergers & Acquisitions (whatever the hell that is) but feels permanently stuck down in the secretarial pool. Enter Sigourney Weaver, a boss babe who seems supportive at first, but turns out to be a snake in Armani shoulder pads. Through some creative maneuvering, elocution lessons, and a flattering new haircut, Tess manages to pass herself off as someone who matters. The thing is- she had good ideas all along. She should have been taken seriously from the get-go. But sometimes when the rules are stacked against you, you have to make up new ones.

Along the way to the top, she meets Jack Trainer, delightfully portrayed by Harrison Ford. Talk about a female fantasy- he doesn’t talk down to Tess because she’s a woman, he values her ideas, and he offers her herbal tea when she gets drunk on tequila and valium. Maybe you’re in the mood for romance, or maybe you’ve just had a tough day at the office. In either case, I recommend watching Working Girl with some Lust & Tequila.

Lust & Tequila

1.5 oz silver tequila

3/4 oz lime juice

4 oz Mighty Swell Peach sparkling cocktail (or peach soda)

Topo Chico

Lime Twist

Build drink over ice in a highball glass, topping with Topo Chico.  Stir gently to combine, and garnish with a lime twist.

Lust and Tequila

As any working woman can tell you, making it happen is hard.  As I juggle a day job, a blog, a burgeoning career as a novelist, and that hungry beast called Social Media, I start to wonder if it’s all worth it.  The thing that keeps me going is the idea that someone out there might stumble onto this post and get SO EXCITED about drinking tequila while watching Working Girl.  Maybe it’ll bring a smile to their face.  Same goes for my books.  Finding a story that consumes me so much that I can’t put it down is one of my greatest joys in life. The dream of doing that for someone else is a big motivator.  Like Tess, if I keep pushing forward, some day I’ll get there.  Maybe Working Girl is a fairy tale, but it’s one I want to believe in.   Cheers!

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Across the Universe

Across the Universe

Image Credit: Across the Universe, 2007.

As a teenager I was largely obsessed with everything Beatles-related (who am I kidding- I still am), so it comes as no surprise that I would adore Across the Universe (DVD/Download). Using the songs of Lennon and McCartney to tell the story of 1960’s-era star crossed lovers? Genius. Tapping director Julie Taymor to bring her signature visual-wonderland style to the project? Transcendent.

Across the Universe is essentially a patchwork quilt woven from Beatles song lyrics.  Heartsick Jude pines for Lucy, they survive the turbulent 60’s with a little help from their friends, dear Prudence sneaks in through the bathroom window, and in the end they realize that love is all you need. Through superbly choreographed songs, wildly creative set pieces, and heartfelt acting, the music of the Beatles truly comes alive. I feel every note, from Joe Cocker belting “Come Together”, to T.V. Carpio singing her heart-wrenching version of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. It makes me understand the songs like never before.

One of the strongest symbols in the film is the strawberry, used to represent both the overt sexuality of the era, as well as the bloodshed of Vietnam. It’s a powerful and striking visual element. While watching Across the Universe, I recommend drinking a Strawberry Fields Martini.

Strawberry Fields Martini

1/4 cup strawberry juice (I used Naked Strawberry C Monster™)

1 oz cake vodka

Pink champagne

Fresh strawberry (for garnish)

Mix the strawberry juice and vodka over ice in a cocktail shaker, stirring until chilled. Strain into a martini glass, and top with pink champagne. Garnish with a strawberry.

strawberry fields

 

Despite an awful Mr. Kite musical number in the middle (honestly- wasn’t it bad enough we had to suffer through it on the Sgt. Pepper album??) Across the Universe is simply magical. So turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream- it is shining.  Cheers!

The Fugitive

The Fugitive

Image credit: The Fugitive, 1993

90’s nostalgia seems to be everywhere these days. I’ve recently been combing through my stacks of VHS tapes to find a piece of movie magic that captures the heyday of high-concept action films the decade was known for.  What did I land on? The Harrison Ford/Tommy Lee Jones thinking-man’s thriller The Fugitive (DVD/Download).

Adapted from the 1960’s TV series (my grandpa was a big fan), Ford plays Dr. Richard Kimball, a renowned surgeon falsely convicted of killing his wife (hey Sela Ward! Where ya been?). He knows it was a one-armed-man that did the deed, but proof, and the actual killer, are long gone. While being transported to prison, his bus gets hit by a train, allowing him to escape. Tommy Lee Jones plays the US Marshall tasked with finding him, and thus sets off a manhunt through Chicago as the lawman hunts the doctor, who is simultaneously hunting the one-armed-man. The film manages to condense a 4-season TV show quite well, and Harrison Ford plays the smartest prison escapee since Andy Dufresne.   Tommy Lee Jones might be searching every farm house, hen house, and outhouse in the tri-state area, but he’ll have to be clever if he’s going up against Dr. Richard Kimball.

I love that there are essentially two man hunts going on in this film, and kudos to finding THE SCARIEST looking villain in the history of cinema. Not only does Andreas Katsulas look like the reincarnated Bela Lugosi, but he’s also got an undeniably creepy mechanical arm. Not that all prosthetics are creepy, but combined with a gun and a trench coat, it gives me the shivers. So while you watch the hunted Richard Kimball hunt the one-armed-man, sip on a Manhunt.

Manhunt

2 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey

4 dashes lemon juice

1 tsp granulated sugar

1 splash sparkling water

1 maraschino cherry

Dissolve the sugar in lemon juice and water at the bottom of a Boston shaker. Add the whiskey, and fill halfway with ice. Stir to combine and chill, then pour into a tumbler. Garnish with a cherry.

Manhunt

While watching The Fugitive, keep a look out for blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Julianne Moore, back in the days before anybody realized she could act. This is the movie I’ll always associate with Tommy Lee Jones, and his rugged Texas accent. Even in the big city of Chicago, he’s still the top lawman in town. Cheers!

Auntie Mame

auntie mame

Image credit: Auntie Mame, 1958

For those ladies out there lucky enough to be an aunt, have I got a movie for you. In this 1958 Technicolor dream starring Rosalind Russell, Auntie Mame (DVD/Download) is a shining example of how fabulous life can be when you’ve got cocktails, a man servant named Ito, and an impressionable young relative looking to you for example. Do I strive to be the Auntie Mame in my own nieces’ lives? Showing them that “life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death”? You betcha.

I immediately knew I would love this movie as soon as I saw Rosalind Russell float across an art deco set in a sequined pantsuit, cigarette holder in hand. Her apartment is everything I’ve ever wanted in life, and what makes it even better are all the eccentric artists and intellectuals coming over to visit.  When Mame is forced to take in her orphaned nephew Patrick, you’d think that would put the kibosh on her wacky, wonderful lifestyle, but instead she manages to bring him along for the ride. In no time at all, he’s mixing a perfect martini and posits the question only the best bartenders know to ask- dry or extra dry?

When it comes to cocktail pairings, there is literally SO MUCH ALCOHOL in this movie. Faced with the impossible task of picking just one thing to drink, I decided to take a page from Mame’s book and step right up to the banquet. Therefore, if you’re watching Auntie Mame, you could drink Champagne, you could drink Spiced Rum and Dr. Pepper like poor Agnes Gooch, or one of Mame’s Martini‘s (recipe below). But for heavens sake, stay away from the honey-sweetened Upson Downs Daiquiri.

Mame’s Martini

3 oz Gin

1 oz Vodka

Dash Cocchi Americano

Lemon twist

Stir gin, vodka and Cocchi Americano over ice until chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. (note: never use olives- it takes up too much room in the glass!)

Martini

As I cruise through the age of “so when are you going to have kids?”, I’m happy to throw up my Aunt status as proof that while I don’t want kids of my own, I don’t hate kids. My nieces are great! They’re fun, they play Barbies, they like purses, and at the end of the night their parents do all the heavy lifting. And when they get a little older, I’ll be waiting right there to show them how to navigate a bar cart and wear costume jewelry with confidence. Cheers!

Harvey

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harvey

Image credit: Harvey, 1950

The devastating hurricane that pummeled my state over the weekend may have inspired this week’s  film choice, but rest assured, Harvey (DVD/Download) is the cheer-up film we all need right now.  I’m a fan of pretty much every Jimmy Stewart movie, and this is certainly one of the greats. Sure it’s based on a play, but let’s not hold that against it, shall we?

As Elwood P. Dowd, Jimmy Stewart is at the peak of his nice-guy charm as he drinks the day away, talks to his imaginary rabbit friend Harvey, and perplexes his relatives. Is he crazy? Is he drunk? Who cares?? He’s just so darn pleasant that you want to take his calling card and stop by for happy hour with him and Harvey. What is Harvey exactly? A 6’ 3 ½” “pooka” who’s a great friend to all, even if you can’t see him. Personally, I love the idea of an imaginary friend. For one thing, you never have to drink alone!

Throughout the film, Elwood likes to frequent the local bar, yet he never gets sloppy drunk. He’s just hanging out, having a good time, making new friends. We should all aspire to drink like Elwood. Although martinis seem to be his drink of choice, I’m making something special for his rabbit friend this week. While watching Harvey, I recommend drinking a Carrotini.

Carrotini

1 ½ oz gin

¾ oz Cointreau

1 oz carrot juice

½ oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Carrotini

The lesson that I think we can all learn from both Elwood P. Dowd and Harvey is one of kindness. A little charm, and a little understanding can go a long way toward disarming any situation. Plus, if you’re a nice guy, they might not immediately send you to the sanitarium. Cheers!

Speed

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Speed

Image credit: Speed, 1994

Pop quiz hot shot: You have the option to watch Speed or literally anything else- WHAT DO YOU DO?? Obviously, watch Speed (DVD/Download). When faced with this very predicament recently, I chose Keanu and his never ending bus-ride-of-implausibility. No regrets.

This movie really shouldn’t work as well as it does. The premise of an LA city bus rigged with a bomb that will explode if the bus drops below 50mph sounds dumb as hell and yet… I can’t look away. Maybe it’s the magnetic appeal of nice-guy cop Keanu Reeves, who over-pronounces vowels and calls people Mister and Ma’am. Maybe it’s the feisty young Sandra Bullock, thrust into the role of bus driver after her predecessor gets shot by a passenger. Maybe it’s Dennis Hopper making us all wonder what villainous thing he’s going to do next, and why there’s a mannequin sitting behind him. Or perhaps it’s the flashbacks I get of watching OJ Simpson in a white bronco, tearing down the LA freeway trailed by police cars, kind of (no, EXACTLY) like the bus in Speed. I may be crazy, but here are some facts for you: theatrical release date of Speed– June 10th 1994. Date of the White Bronco chase- June 17th 1994. Coincidence? I think not.

From minute to minute, Keanu Reeves’ character is in some crazy predicaments. He’s on top of an elevator hanging by a thread! Now he’s in a bus hurtling through LA traffic and jumping missing sections of the freeway!  Wait, now he’s UNDER THE BUS, clinging for dear life!  What does he use for fuel? Just coffee.  I, on the other hand, need a little something extra to enjoy this movie to its fullest potential. While watching Speed, I recommend drinking a Wildcat.

Wildcat

3/4 oz Liber & Co fiery ginger syrup

1 oz Añejo tequila

8 oz cold brew coffee

Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice. Mix well, and serve.

Wildcat

When I told people I was watching Speed, the unanimous response I got was “Oh my God I love that movie!!” And, I should point out, I got this response among wildly different demographics. I think we all need a little Speed in our lives right now. While many might find themselves at the whim of a madman (ahem, POTUS), it’s great to see a rag tag group of bus riders pull together, and show this domestic terrorist what real Americans are made of. Cheers!

The Dreamers

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The Dreamers

Image credit: The Dreamers, 2003

Prone to expressing themselves through movie quotes, cinephiles are easy to spot. Even when they get into a contest over who has seen which obscure film, you know it’s only due to pure enthusiasm for the medium. Thus when I saw The Dreamers (DVD/Download), these characters instantly felt like kindred spirits. Sure, director Bernardo Bertolucci takes things a little too far with his sexually explicit style, but at the core of the film there is a deep love for all things cinema.

Starring Michael Pitt, Eva Green, and Louis Garrel, The Dreamers is set in Paris during the 1968 student riots. It was this era of turmoil, artistic expression, and youthful energy that fueled a cultish devotion to the Cinémathèque Française, the organization upon which all modern film criticism and preservation is based. Seen through the eyes of an American student, Paris seems exciting, revolutionary, and slightly dangerous. By connecting with two French twin cinephiles, his love of film is fostered even further. There are lengthy debates about Chaplin vs. Keaton, a recreation of the Louvre scene in Godard’s Bande à part, and a rather disturbing interaction with Marlene Dietrich’s Blonde Venus. By the time they start chanting “One of us!” (Freaks), I feel drawn in and consumed every bit as much as the naïve protagonist onscreen. These are my people, too.

For a dangerous, intruiguing, sexy film, only a similar sort of cocktail will do. The Sidecar is one of my favorite classic cocktails, the kind of thing that I could picture Dietrich drinking after a night at the Blue Angel. French liqueur Chambord pairs perfectly with the cognac in this drink, bringing it a lovely raspberry subtlety. While watching The Dreamers, I recommend drinking a Chambord Sidecar.

Chambord Sidecar

1 ½ oz Peach Brandy

¾ oz lemon juice

¾ oz Chambord

¼ oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

It’s hard not be creeped out by the sexual tension between the two siblings in The Dreamers, and the film’s disappointing second half veers wildly off the rails.  But despite these flaws, the wild, anarchist feeling of Paris in the 60’s remains a constant drumbeat, reminding us that once upon a time, cinema had the power to start a revolution.  Maybe it still does. Cheers!