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Punch-Drunk Love

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Punch Drunk Love

Image credit: Punch-Drunk Love, 2002

With a title that includes the words “Punch”, “Drunk”, and “Love”, Paul Thomas Anderson’s dark romantic comedy seems like a natural fit for my collection. However, Punch-Drunk Love (Disc/Download) is not a movie I liked on the first watch, or even the second. It’s rare that my opinion shifts so drastically on a film, but that’s exactly what’s happened over the ensuing eighteen years. Now, in our cursed year of 2020, I adore it.

The reason I initially had a hard time connecting with this story was because I just didn’t know what to make of Adam Sandler’s character Barry. Was he being weird for weird’s sake? Was he simply shy with a dangerous undercurrent of anger? No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t figure him out. But since this movie’s release, we have a new language to describe people like Barry. I don’t know that this theory has ever been confirmed by the filmmaker, but to me, this guy is very clearly on the Autism spectrum. And with that realization, I now root even harder for him to find love with fellow lonely-heart Lana. Paul Thomas Anderson did something really incredible in this movie, making us feel through the camerawork and music, what it’s like to be in Barry’s head. Adam Sandler gives an incredible performance (as if there were any doubt- he’s been my uncut gem for YEARS), and I want so badly for this novelty toilet plunger salesman to find the one person in the world who “gets” him. I long for him and Lana to take those pudding cup miles and ride off into the sunset.

Speaking of sunsets, how gorgeous is the scene on Waikiki Beach? I’ve been lucky enough to sit at that beachside bar at the Royal Hawaiian, sipping a Mai Tai, and it’s a memory I cling to during lockdown. Someday, I’ll get back there (in fact, there’s already a room booked for June 2021. Call me an optimist.). But in the meantime, let’s have a drink with Barry and Lana. While watching Punch-Drunk Love, get those Waikiki sunset vibes with this Mai Tai Punch.

Mai Tai Punch

1 cup Light Rum

1 cup Gold Rum

1 cup Cointreau

½ cup Lime Juice

½ cup Orange Juice

½ cup Orgeat Syrup

Dark Rum for topping

In a glass bottle or punch bowl, combine Light Rum, Gold Rum, Cointreau, Lime and Orange juices, and Orgeat. Stir or shake until well combined. Pour into cups filled with crushed ice, and drizzle dark rum on top.*

Mai Tai Punch

There’s a moment in Hawaii when Barry and Lana are in bed, and they start saying violent, mildly shocking things to one another. He looks down at her and says, “This is right. This is good.” Those words perfectly describe what love is—finding that one other person who understands your weirdness and jumps right on into it with you. Barry, I’m sorry it took me so long to get to the diving board. Cheers!

*This gold pineapple glass, while attractive in a photo, is hands down THE WORST container I have ever put a drink in. The top wobbles and falls off, and the bottom gets so cold and slippery that you can’t even hold it. I have a dried puddle of Mai-Tai on the back of my couch cushion to prove it. If you got this from Target on a whim, do yourself a favor and THROW. IT. OUT.

Boogie Nights

boogie nights

Image credit: Boogie Nights, 1997.

It finally happened- my weekly Cinema Sips post is dropping on the booziest night of the year!  New Year’s Eve deserves a movie featuring disco dancing, kung fu fighting, alcohol and drug-fueled parties in the San Fernando Valley, and a main character with a name so cool it cuts glass. It’s time to watch Boogie Nights (Disc/Download).

This is a great movie for New Year’s Eve because the holiday acts as a touchstone within this meandering tale of the 1970’s pornography industry. Things are rosy for a while– newcomer Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg, in a star-making role) joins a dysfunctional “family” of porn stars, makes a lot of money from his greatest, er… asset, and buys a lot of kooky stuff. As you do. But then the ball drops on 1980 and things spiral out of control. The drugs get harder, certain other things get softer (ahem), and the misfit family splinters. Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson manages to transport his audience to a time and place that’s so specific, it’s as though the characters are trapped in amber.  Even sin looks beautiful under his filter.

One of my favorite scenes involves John C. Reilly’s character Reed Rothchild displaying his bartender skills at a pool party. I have no idea how much tequila he pours in that blender, but it really doesn’t matter; the man is my mixologist hero. Let’s toast this Shakespearean tragedy of a film with a New Year’s twist on an old favorite. While watching Boogie Nights, I recommend drinking a Frozen Amber Margarita.

Frozen Amber Margarita

4 oz silver tequila

2 oz Triple Sec

2 oz fresh lime juice

2 oz blood orange cocktail mix (I use Stirrings)

1 oz Aperol

1 cup Ice

Sparkling Wine

Combine tequila, triple sec, lime juice, Aperol, and cocktail mix in a blender with ice. Blend until frothy, then pour into a champagne flute. Top with Sparkling Wine.

Frozen Amber margarita

New Year’s Eve is always such a strange night. It’s full of hope and reflection, maybe sadness and joy. Wherever you’re at with this holiday, just know that whatever happens in the coming year, you’re gonna be okay. There are movies to watch, there are cocktails to drink, and I’m excited that we get to do it together through Cinema Sips. Cheers!

Inherent Vice

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Inherent Vice

Image credit: Inherent Vice, 2014

I’ve received several requests on Cinema Sips to feature The Big Lebowski, to which I always say, what’s the point? We can all quote it endlessly and drink White Russians without my advocating it. To satisfy the stoner-noir fans out there, I’d rather talk about a movie that is a little more bizarre, and a little less well-known. Like Lebowski, Inherent Vice (DVD/Download) is a movie that demands repeat viewing, almost as much as it demands viewing with a cocktail.

Adapted from the novel by Thomas Pynchon, Paul Thomas Anderson’s hilarious take on the 1970’s Los Angeles underworld was a bit of a mystery upon its release. Critics didn’t seem to know whether to love it or hate it. The consensus was- nobody really got it. Do I fully understand all the twists and turns of a plot centered on a Gordita Beach private investigator, played by Joaquin Phoenix in all his mutton-chop glory? No. Do I care? No. The movie is just cool as hell. Featuring Martin Short as a purple-velour suited dentist, Owen Wilson as a heroin-addicted jazz musician, and Reese Witherspoon playing, well Reese Witherspoon, with all this crazy I just can’t look away. Yes the plot meanders, but it’s so well-acted and so funny, that you just get sucked into the lunacy of it all.

I’m not going to say that the movie needs alcohol or marijuana to be more enjoyable, but it certainly helps. If you happen to live in a non-progressive state (like I do), and can’t get legal access to weed, then certainly the next best thing is a strong cocktail. I’ve come up with this zombie-beach bum hybrid to maximize your viewing pleasure. While watching Inherent Vice, I recommend drinking a Golden Fang.

Golden Fang

1 oz lime juice

1 oz pineapple juice

1 oz orange juice

1.5 oz dark rum

1 part apricot brandy

1.5 oz light rum

Splash of lemon-lime soda

Maraschino cherry and citrus fruit for garnish

Build drink over ice in a highball glass, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with a cherry and citrus fruit slice.

Golden Fang

Because of Anderson’s superb directorial skill, Inherent Vice succeeds in immersing the viewer in the world of 1970s LA counterculture. Full of Manson paranoia and unfortunate facial hair, it was certainly a city on the edge. If you’re looking for an escape this week, there’s no better place than Gordita Beach. Cheers!

Magnolia

Image Credit New Line Cinema 1999

Image Credit New Line Cinema 1999

I’ll admit it- when I first saw Magnolia, I didn’t get it. Specifically the frogs. However, I think that’s what I really like the most about this film now- it leaves me questioning everything, including my own intelligence. I was tempted to watch this recently after the passing of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman. Really, no retrospective of his work would be complete without seeing at least one Paul Thomas Anderson film. I am singling out Magnolia because it’s a great film to watch when you’re buried inside on a cold wintry day. Dark and stormy weather mixed with a dark and stormy film makes for a hell of a combination.

Magnolia (DVD/Download) tells the stories of several characters in the San Fernando Valley whose lives intersect over the course of a day. At 3 hours long, you may worry that the film drags by, but let me reassure you that every minute of those 3 hours is entirely necessary in order to give each character their due. The actors are all Paul Thomas Anderson regulars, with the notable exception of Tom Cruise sporting a weird samurai hairdo. This is the rare movie where I actually say afterward, “Wow, Tom Cruise can actually act!” He is surprising and amazing in Magnolia, as is the rest of the large cast. As their stories weave back and forth, you realize how interconnected we all are. The movie is about coincidences and fate, and the connections that we make with other people in our lives. The script is superb, and though I still don’t entirely know what the frog scene is about, it does become a sort of glue that binds the stories together.

My drink pairing for Magnolia is an obvious choice. Given the amount of weather references in the film, I have to pair it with a Dark & Stormy. This is a favorite drink of mine that combines simple ingredients into a refreshing cocktail. I like to imagine that Quiz Kid Donnie Smith finally grows up and goes back to that upholstered bar stool and orders up a tall cocktail like this.

Dark & Stormy

2 oz Dark Rum

3 oz Ginger Beer

Lime Wedge for garnish

Pour Rum and Ginger Beer into a tall Collins glass over ice. Garnish with lime wedge.

Dark-&-Stormy

Of course, this cocktail is much more innocuous than the cadre of pills in Julianne Moore’s character’s purse, but it won’t leave you passed out in your car later on (hopefully). The big line in this film that gets said over and over again is “The book says we may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.” I think that statement holds true for the simple act of watching this film, for even though I’ve seen it before and think I understand it, watching it now makes me consider it in a new light. So if you continue to be buried under winter weather, give this film a chance (along with a Dark & Stormy) and hunker down for a weird, intense, thought-provoking 3 hours. Cheers!