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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

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vicky-cristina-barcelona

Image credit: Vicky Cristina Barcelona, 2008.

Yes, yes, I know, Woody Allen is cancelled.  But you know what isn’t cancelled?  My trip to Barcelona!  That’s right, Cinema Sips is headed to España this week, where I intend to drink all the cava in the city before flying off to a Menorcan cheese farm (because wine + cheese is YES).  To give all you readers a taste of my getaway, I’m featuring a movie steeped in Gaudí, glasses of Rioja, and strong female performances—Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Disc/Download).

Starring Scarlett Johanssen and Rebecca Hall, this film about two American students and their romantic entanglements with a Spanish artist (Javier Bardem) feels like a step back in time. It’s the sort of dialogue-heavy, sexually freewheeling, location-specific movie that would have gotten made in the early 1970s, before focus groups and big budgets sucked the life out of everything. Shot in Barcelona and the small city of Oviedo, the country of Spain is its own character within the story—costumed in sun-drenched days, mosaic-covered buildings, and red wine-stained tablecloths.   I love films where the setting is key, and truly I don’t think this story could happen anywhere else.  You need the passion and fiery history of this place to make sense of Penélope Cruz’s crazy ex-wife character Maria-Elena, who goes toe-to-toe with her real life husband Bardem in an Oscar-winning performance. It just wouldn’t have the same impact if the film was shot in, say, London.  The viewer needs Spain to understand that sometimes, women go a little crazy.  I blame the absurdly low price-point of wine.

Speaking of booze, I may have gone over my weekly quota at this point.  But when it’s cheaper than Diet Coke, AND I’m on vacation, what’s a girl to do? While watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona, I recommend drinking a glass (or three) of Red Wine Sangria.

Red Wine Sangria

2 bottles Rioja wine

1 cup brandy

1 cup orange juice

¼ cup sugar

2 oranges, sliced thin

2 lemons, sliced thin

2 limes, sliced thin

2 apples, cut into small chunks

2 cups club soda

Combine wine, brandy, orange juice, and sugar in a pot over heat until sugar dissolves.  Add the fruit, and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.  Once chilled, add the club soda.  Serve in glasses over ice.

Sangria

The thing about Vicky Cristina Barcelona is that none of the characters are likeable.  They’re all incredibly self-indulgent, make terrible choices, and betray one another left and right.  And yet, I really enjoy it.  Maybe I want to live vicariously, to imagine what it would be like to run off for the weekend with a sexy Spanish artist.  But when it comes down to it, I think I prefer running off for a whole lifetime with a sexy American artist.  Cheers!

Grease

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Image credit: Grease, 1978

Image credit: Grease, 1978

Olivia Newton-John in skin-tight pants. A thin (okay, pretty hot) John Travolta, before he lost his mind and started Adele Dazeem-gate. Frankie Avalon in a creepy heaven-as-beauty parlor dream sequence. This is the stuff that high school is made of.  This week’s back-to-school classic movie musical always made me feel better about having to return to classrooms and social cliques, after blissful summers spent watching Nickelodeon and reading alone in my room. Maybe, just maybe, I’d have a gym teacher as cool as Sid Caesar. Or by some miracle, no gym class at all! I was a big dreamer back then….

Grease (DVD/Download) is a wonderful film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, starring John Travolta as greaser Danny Zuko, and Olivia Newton-John as his good-girl love interest Sandy. They meet at the beach over the summer, then inexplicably, amazingly, Sandy moves from Australia to Rydell High. She makes friends with the Pink Ladies on her first day of school (a pretty awesome girl clique led by Stockard Channing), and spends most of the movie alternatively pissed at Danny for being a typical high school guy, then in love with him as soon as he acts like a normal human being. I’m not a fan of the ending, when Sandy decides that the only way she can be happy is to slither into some tight nylon pants and tease her hair in an effort to be “bad” like Danny, but that’s a discussion for another time. All in all, Grease is a fun movie with catchy songs, charismatic actors, and a cavalcade of 50’s TV stars. Seriously, Eve Arden as the principal?? Joan Blondell as a waitress at the local teen hangout? My town was so boring in comparison.

For the past few months I’ve been drinking La Ferme Julien rosé wine from Trader Joe’s. It’s light, fruity, and perfect for the last of those hot summer days. And summer ni-highhhhhhts! At only $6 a bottle I definitely don’t hesitate to use it in a sangria, and what better occasion than this movie to invite your girlfriends over for a boozy slumber party, a la Frenchie’s house? While watching Grease, I recommend drinking Pink Lady Sangria.

Pink Lady Sangria

1 bottle rosé wine

¼ cup brandy

2 tablespoons sugar

1 ½ cups raspberries

1 ½ cups strawberries

1 sliced lemon

1 ½ cups club soda

Mix the wine, brandy and sugar together in a pitcher, then after the sugar dissolves, add the fruit. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then add the club soda just before serving. Twinkies optional.

pink lady sangria

Grease is an easy film to mock, due to the prevalence of 30 year old actors pretending to be 17, campy jokes, and John Travolta’s bizarre falsetto.  But there’s something undeniably appealing about young love and Stockard Channing’s boozy, bawdy Rizzo.  Plus- that Bee Gee’s intro- amazing!  Grease is the word. Cheers!