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Tag Archives: Rufus Sewell

A Knight’s Tale

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Image credit: A Knight’s Tale, 2001

After sitting through Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel (2021), which has been measured and found very wanting, I decided to put on a much more upbeat picture featuring armored men on horseback with sharp objects. A fun addition to Heath Ledger’s tragically short filmography, A Knight’s Tale (Disc/Download) is what happens when a director who is not Baz Luhrmann wants to make a Baz Luhrmann-style movie set at the Renaissance Festival. Is it perfect? No. But the music will remind you of your dad’s favorite classic rock station, and Heath is a great onscreen kisser. This, of course, makes it worth our time.

Closely resembling the feral child in Mad Max for the first chunk of the story, Heath plays William Thacker, a poor squire to a noble jouster. When the nobleman suddenly dies, William decides to take his place in the tournaments. He is aided by his fellow squires and struggling writer Geoffrey Chaucer, who has falsified documents declaring the peasant to be Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland. William cuts those unflattering dreadlocks, gets some fancy armor made by a feisty Scotswoman, and practices his jousting to the tune of War’s “Low Rider”. This is a true rags-to-riches story as William aims to change the stars of destiny that would have him remain a poor servant. He must defeat frequent film villain Rufus Sewell while still holding onto the one thing that has gotten him this far, against all odds- his pure heart.

If you want a drink inspired by the changing of one’s stars, look no further than this classic apple brandy-based cocktail. It feels period-appropriate to me, and after enough of these, you may be line dancing along to David Bowie’s “Golden Years” right along with Heath and Shannyn Sossamon. While watching A Knight’s Tale, I recommend drinking this classic Star cocktail.

Star

1 ½ oz Apple Brandy

1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

¼ oz Simple Syrup

Pinch Edible Glitter

Dried lemon wheel (for garnish)

Combine apple brandy, vermouth, bitters, simple syrup, and glitter in a shaker with ice. Stir until chilled, then strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

While this movie doesn’t quite get me over the hump of actually wanting to attend the Ren Fest, it’s an enjoyable way to experience the time period from the privacy of my own home. And if you needed any more encouragement, let Heath in leather chaps be the thing that tempts you to press Play. Cheers!

Dangerous Beauty

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Image credit: Dangerous Beauty, 1998

If you’re looking for a movie that features all the heart, heat, and feminist energy of a romance novel, then look no further than this week’s pick Dangerous Beauty (Disc/Download). Based on the biography of 16th century Venetian courtesan and poet Veronica Franco, this will leave you swooning over sumptuous costumes, moonlit canals, and a powerful woman who chooses learning above all else.

Made during the late 1990s, when small-budgeted, female-centric pictures still had a place within the cinema landscape, Dangerous Beauty stars Catherine McCormack as the beautiful young Veronica who falls in love with Marco, a man far above her social status. Unable to afford the dowry it would take to marry him, and unwilling to settle for a loveless marriage to someone else, she is instead schooled in the ways of seduction by her mother (Jacqueline Bisset), a former courtesan herself. Veronica agrees to this arrangement because being a courtesan means having access to great libraries and learning institutions. Blossoming as a poet and a woman of intellect, she finds success in her profession, never settling for the easy option. Yes, this is a love story between Veronica and Marco, but it is also a story of a woman claiming her power during a time when women didn’t have many options. As she says, “an education is a woman’s greatest and most hard-won asset.” Not marriage.

Beautifully directed by Marshall Herskovitz, this movie will have you longing for romantic rides in a gondola, followed by drinks on a balcony overlooking the canal. Maybe if you’re lucky, someone will drop off a peacock or drunkenly serenade you. While watching Dangerous Beauty, I recommend mixing up a classic Venetian Spritz.

Venetian Spritz

1 ½ oz Aperol

3 oz Prosecco

1 ½ oz Soda Water

Green Olive

Orange slice (garnish)

Build drink in a glass over ice, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with an olive and orange slice.

Of course, all good times must come to an end, and in Veronica’s case that means plague, war, and the Spanish Inquisition. But even when confronted with so much darkness, she never loses sight of who she is and what she wants. It sounds weird to say it, but as a teenager watching this movie, I totally wanted to be like Veronica when I grew up. Hell, I still do. Cheers!