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Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing

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Much Ado About Nothing

Image credit: Much Ado About Nothing, 1993.

I am in full Summer Vacation-mode this week, and while my plans are a little less glamorous than a villa in Tuscany (sorry, Cape Cod, I still love ya), I’m still primed for a cinematic escape.  Kenneth Branaugh’s Much Ado About Nothing (DVD/Download) is just the sun-drenched romp we all need this week.

The film opens with a radiant Emma Thompson in minimal makeup, sporting a golden tan and free-flowing hair. She and I share a similar vacation look, though in my case it usually involves a sunburnt scalp and last night’s mascara. Hey- we don’t all get to wear corseted linen gowns and eat grapes on a swing (I’m thinking this is a Tuscany-only thing).  Branaugh directs this Shakespearean tale of slick word battles, lovers’ quarrels, and mistaken identity with infectious glee, to the point where I can’t help but get swept up in the merriness. And Denzel Washington truly shines as Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon. He’s charming and intelligent, and his connection with Emma Thompson’s Beatrice breaks your heart just a little. He’s the odd man out at the party, and lord, haven’t we all been there?

This film deserves a sparkling, effervescent drink that’s just as complex and delightful as Shakespeare’s text. Since this is set in Tuscany, I must use Aperol- that great Italian aperitif that practically screams summer vacay. While watching Much Ado About Nothing, I recommend drinking a Florentine Spritz.

Florentine Spritz

2 oz Gin

1 oz lime juice

¾ oz Aperol

½ oz Honey Syrup (equal parts honey and water, boiled)

2-3 dashes angostura bitters

Sparkling Wine

Lime Wheel

Combine first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine, and garnish with a lime wheel.

I love films based on Shakespearean plays because they help me to understand his work in a new light. Even though this film isn’t as modern as say Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet, or even Joss Wheden’s more recent version of Much Ado, it still draws me in to the story in a way that live theatre fails to do. Plus, Tuscany and Denzel in sexy leather pants. I’ll suffer through a sonnet or two for that. Cheers!

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Romeo + Juliet

romeo and juliet

Image Credit: Romeo + Juliet, 1996

So I know I already featured a Baz Luhrmann film on Cinema Sips this month….. and here’s another one! Because it’s still February and still romance month, I couldn’t resist watching Romeo + Juliet (DVD/Download). I adore the 1968 Zeffirelli version too, but for my money, Lurhmann does the best job of capturing the energy of the original play. The director has said in interviews that he wanted to make a film in the way that Shakespeare himself might have done it, and since William Shakespeare was the ultimate entertainer of his day, it stands to reason that by the time the mid-90’s rolled around, he would have incorporated an Ecstasy-fueled party and Mercutio in sparkly sequin drag costumes. Definitely.

Romeo + Juliet stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes in the title roles, and their chemistry is part what makes the film such a success. I love the constant motif of water, particularly how the big balcony scene was done in a swimming pool. The lighting and the turquoise radiance of pool turn it into a much more sensual scene than I ever could have imagined when reading the play. Because it’s Luhrmann there are so many visual treats, even becoming chaotic at times, but the use of the original Shakespearean dialogue helps to balance the frenzy out. Is it word for word Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? No. Does it draw me into the story and make me feel the passion and tragedy of these star-crossed lovers? Without a doubt.

The color of Juliet’s fake-death potion inspired my cocktail this week. Though not actually poisonous, it looks like it might be!  While watching Romeo + Juliet, I recommend drinking a Mortal Drug.  (Apologies in advance for having to ask for Kinky Blue at the liquor store, but it actually feeds the decades-long Jolly Rancher addiction I have in the best way).

Mortal Drug

2 oz Kinky Blue Liqueur

1 oz Blue Curaçao

¾ oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Splash of club soda

Mix together Kinky Blue, Blue Curaçao, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then pour into a highball glass. Top with club soda.

Mortal Drug

While watching this film, be sure to look out for all the billboard slogans that are nods to Shakespearean quotes, and listen to the carefully curated pop songs. The version of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” is still one of my favorites.  Just, try to look past Clare Danes’ ugly crying. ‘Tis not pretty. Cheers!