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Tag Archives: romance

In the Mood for Love

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Image credit: In the Mood for Love, 2000

Get ready to have your goddamn heart ripped out this week with Wong Kar-wai’s timeless masterpiece In the Mood for Love (Disc/Download). I’m sorry to do this to you, but it can’t be helped. I can’t NOT talk about one of the greatest romances in cinema history—even when I know it’s going to hurt all over again.

I first saw this film in 2000 when it came to my town’s tiny little art house theater, and I remember being overwhelmed by its style and emotional punch. Because the story takes place in 1960s Hong Kong, viewers are treated to colorful mod wallpapers and gorgeous mandarin-collar dresses worn by lead star Maggie Cheung (and believe me, this woman has a lot of beautiful dresses). In the Mood for Love is so undeniably sexy, with its sultry Latin Nat King Cole tracks, dark alleyways, and longing looks shared between the film’s protagonists, that by the end you feel like you need the lipstick-covered cigarette left behind in Chow’s apartment. It’s an impossible romance between two married neighbors whose spouses are sleeping with one another, and for the briefest of seconds you start to believe that a happy ending is possible for these star-crossed lovers. Surely, the perfect soul mate doesn’t just slip right on by, like a noodle off a chopstick. Surely fate isn’t that cruel.

Although this is by no means a cocktail-heavy film, that doesn’t mean we can’t draw inspiration from some of the amazing dishes prepared and consumed onscreen. Food becomes a conduit for the love between the two characters, and we see it clearly when Mrs. Chan makes Chow sesame syrup while he’s fighting a cold. You might not think sesame could be used in a cocktail, but I’m open to experimentation this week. While watching In the Mood for Love, I recommend drinking a Sesame Highball.

Sesame Highball

3 slices cucumber, plus a cucumber ribbon for garnish

¾ oz lemon juice

¼ tsp. toasted sesame oil

Pinch of kosher salt

2 oz Vodka

1 oz Simple Syrup

3 oz Club Soda

Line a highball glass with cucumber ribbon, fill with ice, then set aside. Muddle cucumber slices in the bottom of a shaker with lemon juice, sesame oil, and salt. Add vodka, simple syrup, and ice. Shake until chilled, then double strain into prepared highball glass. Top with club soda and stir gently to combine.

In the Mood for Love is a movie about destiny, love, missed connections, and secrets, with not a single inch of wasted celluloid. Told in a very precise manner, the brisk story pacing forces the viewer to search for a place to rest—often finding it in the brush of a sleeve against a hip, the cloudy exhalation of smoke, or the reflection of a street light on wet pavement. If it sounds dreamy and otherworldly, it is—because that’s what falling in love feels like. Cheers!

Out of Sight

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out of sight

Image credit: Out of Sight, 1998

I tend to spend a lot of time explaining the romance genre to people.  The books I read (and attempt to write) usually feature intelligent, capable heroines who find love in unexpected places, and never compromise their own integrity for a roll in the hay.  Elmore Leonard and Steven Soderbergh tackled romantic suspense with this week’s film Out of Sight (DVD/Download).  And the weird thing is, they got it SO RIGHT.

I’m going to warn all you ladies who are still mourning the loss of bachelor George Clooney- he is at absolute peak sexiness in this film. As Jack Foley, the bank robber with a heart of gold, he’s charming, a little dangerous, and oh so chivalrous. When he meets-cute with Jennifer Lopez’s federal marshal Karen Sisco, sparks fly along with bullets. They’re trapped in the trunk of a car together, and instead of copping a feel, he banters with her about old movies. Be still my heart! Karen follows him from Miami to Detroit, Jack gets caught up in a burglary gone bad, and even when things get dark (as they always do in an Elmore Leonard novel), Lopez and Clooney still share a crackling chemistry.

One of my favorite scenes is when these two star-crossed lovers pretend to be strangers in a bar, just for one night. With the snow falling outside, they’ve got bourbon and a steamy attraction to keep them warm. Let’s keep this cocktail simple with just a dash of ginger liqueur.

Bourbon & Ginger

2 oz Bourbon

.75 oz Ginger Liqueur

Combine bourbon and ginger liqueur over a large ice cube. Stir to chill.

Out of Sight is smart, sexy, and everything I love about romance. As Jack says, you’d be surprised what you can get when you ask for it the right way. Hollywood- I’d like more films where love is inconvenient, yet unavoidable. I want an intelligent script, and I want the heroine to be a total badass. And if it’s not too much to ask, I would like more Don Cheadle. Is that clear enough?  Cheers!

Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love

Image credit: Shakespeare in Love, 1998.

This Valentine’s Day, I know just what I’m in the mood for- love, and a bit with a dog. Throw in some sumptuous Elizabethan-era costumes, one of the most genius scripts of all time, a saucy Judi Dench, and what have you got? This week’s Ultimate Romance film Shakespeare in Love (DVD/Download).

Before GOOP, before vagina steaming, Gwyneth Paltrow was Viola de Lessups, beautiful muse to Will Shakespeare and feminist icon to every girl who ever dreamed of doing a “man’s job”. I wanted to hate her, she of the dewy pore-less skin and perfect hair that doesn’t even need a comb in the morning. Except, damn it- she’s just radiant in this film. Her chemistry with Ralph Fiennes is amazing, and her joy at playing this character is completely contagious. Plus there’s that script, which takes all the brilliance of Shakespeare’s plays, adds some subtle, witty nods to Elizabethan history, and sparkles with one double entendre after another.

I love a good “putting on a show” storyline, so naturally I’m enamored with The Rose theatre’s production of Romeo and Juliet née Mercutio née Romeo and Ethel- The Pirate’s Daughter. This film does a fantastic job of showing the humorous side of Shakespearean theatre, and therefore it deserves a light, rose-inspired cocktail to put you in the mood for romance. While watching Shakespeare in Love, I recommend drinking a Rose by Any Other Name.

Rose by Any Other Name

2 oz gin

2 oz Elderflower Liqueur

1 ½ oz lime juice

½ oz simple syrup

½ tsp Rosewater

Fresh rose petals

Combine liquid ingredients over ice, shaking well to combine and thoroughly chill. Strain mixture into a glass, and garnish with rose petals.

Rose by Any Other Name

Can a play (or a film) show the us the very truth and nature of love? I certainly believe it can, and this film does it perfectly. By the final scene, I’m a true believer in the idea that it will all come out right in the end. How? It’s a mystery. 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!

Return to the Blue Lagoon

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return to the blue lagoon

Image credit: Return to the Blue Lagoon, 1991

Remember when movie studios used to wait over 10 years to make a movie’s sequel, rather than 10 months? Maybe they thought audiences forgot about the original by that point, clearing the way for a nearly identical plot structure. How else to explain Return to the Blue Lagoon (DVD/Download), technically a sequel to the Brooke Shields/Christopher Atkins romance classic, but in my mind more of a reboot. Do I care that they’re basically the same movie? Of course not!

I actually saw Return to the Blue Lagoon years before The Blue Lagoon, and I gotta say- I prefer the sequel! Mainly because I never found Christopher Atkins remotely attractive with his labradoodle perm, but also because these new kids seem to have a better handle on thatched hut engineering. Milla Jovovich is abysmal in Return, but hey, what do you expect when her biggest task is to hide her nipples behind her long hair and feathery jewelry?  And Brian Krause looks like a blonde Taylor Kitsch in minimal clothing, so that’s just all kinds of irresistible.

Although these teens didn’t need alcohol to loosen their inhibitions and relax (being naked all the time tends to do that anyway), I still prefer watching this with a tropical tiki drink. While viewing Return to the Blue Lagoon, I recommend drinking a Blue Beachcomber.

Blue Beachcomber

2 oz light rum

1 oz blue curaçao

1 oz lime juice

.5 oz maraschino liqueur

.5 oz simple syrup

Shake all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice, then strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with an umbrella.

Blue Beachcomber

For anybody who fears that this is just a romance novel in cinema form, let me re-assure you- it’s actually Jaws with better looking actors.  There are some serious close calls with a hungry shark, and this one actually looks like a real predator (as opposed to Spielberg’s mechanical version).  But I admit, there’s also a lot of butt and side boob action.  Have I convinced you to yet to give this one a chance??  Cheers!