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That Funny Feeling

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That Funny Feeling

Image credit: That Funny Feeling, 1965.

If I had to describe my favorite film genre, I’d have to say, “anything with 1960’s cocktail dresses”.   Even before Mad Men came on the scene, I was already obsessed.  Blame Doris Day, blame Sandra Dee– so many wonderful actresses took me down that A-line chiffon rabbit hole.  This week, I’ll be watching one of my favorites in the “pretty dress” canon, That Funny Feeling (Disc/Download).

Starring Sandra Dee and her then-husband, crooner Bobby Darin, That Funny Feeling follows the familiar Pillow Talk formula that worked so well for Doris and Rock. Sandra’s character Joan is a maid/struggling actress, who meets cute with Bobby Darin’s lothario character Tom, never realizing that he owns the apartment she cleans every morning. His trip gets cancelled, right after Joan allows him to escort her home to “her place”, which is actually his place! He has to move in with a friend (Donald O’Connor, in a truly bizarre role), to maintain the charade, during which time she covers his leather sofa with chintz slipcovers and hawks his suits– I’m still not sure why. Maybe so we can enjoy the sight gag of Bobby Darin climbing down a New York City fire escape in nothing but a plaid parka?   Strange plot devices aside, this movie is full of beautiful cocktail dresses, gin, midcentury interior décor, vintage stereo equipment, and sassy best friends. That’s enough to sell me on even the worst movie.

Sandra Dee is a classy lady in this film, allowing Bobby Darin to buy her gin and quinine that she takes one lousy sip of. Until later, when she has (oh dear!) a FULL GLASS and gets hammered. You can certainly watch this movie with a gin and tonic (I like the quinine ratio in Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup), but I also want to highlight the scene where her roommate dumps a bunch of brandy and Cointreau on a roast duck and lights it up with her cigarette. God, I love the 60’s. While watching That Funny Feeling, I recommend drinking a Big Apple Sidecar.

Big Apple Sidecar

1 ½ oz Calvados Apple Brandy

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz spiced apple cider

1 oz lime juice

½ oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass.

big apple sidecar

I will admit, there’s a cringe-inducing part of this film where Sandra Dee pretends to have a Japanese accent. It’s bad. It’s very, very bad. However, the script does lament the pervasive white-washing of Hollywood, much to my surprise. That’s the thing about these Sandra Dee movies- they may look all fluffy and retro on the surface, but dig deep and you’ll find some thoroughly modern problems.  After all, sometimes even the best cocktails need a little sweet to balance the bitter. Cheers!

The Dreamers

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The Dreamers

Image credit: The Dreamers, 2003

Prone to expressing themselves through movie quotes, cinephiles are easy to spot. Even when they get into a contest over who has seen which obscure film, you know it’s only due to pure enthusiasm for the medium. Thus when I saw The Dreamers (DVD/Download), these characters instantly felt like kindred spirits. Sure, director Bernardo Bertolucci takes things a little too far with his sexually explicit style, but at the core of the film there is a deep love for all things cinema.

Starring Michael Pitt, Eva Green, and Louis Garrel, The Dreamers is set in Paris during the 1968 student riots. It was this era of turmoil, artistic expression, and youthful energy that fueled a cultish devotion to the Cinémathèque Française, the organization upon which all modern film criticism and preservation is based. Seen through the eyes of an American student, Paris seems exciting, revolutionary, and slightly dangerous. By connecting with two French twin cinephiles, his love of film is fostered even further. There are lengthy debates about Chaplin vs. Keaton, a recreation of the Louvre scene in Godard’s Bande à part, and a rather disturbing interaction with Marlene Dietrich’s Blonde Venus. By the time they start chanting “One of us!” (Freaks), I feel drawn in and consumed every bit as much as the naïve protagonist onscreen. These are my people, too.

For a dangerous, intruiguing, sexy film, only a similar sort of cocktail will do. The Sidecar is one of my favorite classic cocktails, the kind of thing that I could picture Dietrich drinking after a night at the Blue Angel. French liqueur Chambord pairs perfectly with the cognac in this drink, bringing it a lovely raspberry subtlety. While watching The Dreamers, I recommend drinking a Chambord Sidecar.

Chambord Sidecar

1 ½ oz Peach Brandy

¾ oz lemon juice

¾ oz Chambord

¼ oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

It’s hard not be creeped out by the sexual tension between the two siblings in The Dreamers, and the film’s disappointing second half veers wildly off the rails.  But despite these flaws, the wild, anarchist feeling of Paris in the 60’s remains a constant drumbeat, reminding us that once upon a time, cinema had the power to start a revolution.  Maybe it still does. Cheers!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

last-crusade-sidecar

Image credit: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989

As a rule, I try to avoid film franchises at all costs. However, I have to make an exception with this week’s film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (DVD/Download). Even though it stands on the shoulders of the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark (and on the not-so-classic Temple of Doom) to me this is the best Indiana Jones film of them all. Sean Connery, snappy dialogue, and creative problem solving- what’s not to like?

Perhaps the reason I enjoy this third film in the trilogy so much is that finally Indiana Jones is taken down a peg. For once, he’s not the smooth archeologist who can con a woman into his bed even faster than he outruns a giant boulder. In Last Crusade he’s just Henry Jones “Junior”- an ordinary son trying to repair the relationship with the father who abandoned him. Sure, they have action-packed zeppelin escapes and a tense run-in with Adolph Hitler at a book burning party, but at the end of the day this is all normal family drama. Like a really exciting episode of Parenthood. And let’s face it, watching Indy and his dad solve riddles and outsmart the bad guys in their search for the Holy Grail is a lot more fun than watching people eat monkey brains. Just sayin’.

For me, the banter between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford is what makes this film so enjoyable. And how cute does Connery look in the sidecar of Indy’s vintage motorcycle?? That bucket hat kills me. While watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I recommend drinking a Sidecar.

Sidecar

2 oz cognac

¾ oz lemon juice

¾ oz Cointreau

Granulated sugar

Lemon twist (garnish)

Combine cognac, lemon juice and Cointreau in a shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass that has been rubbed with lemon juice and rimmed with sugar.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

sidecar

When Indy finally reaches the Holy Grail, he must choose which glass offers life, and which death. I can’t say my stakes are quite so high, but it is always a challenge to find the best glassware for a drink.  If only I could find the magic glass that would turn alcohol into something healthy, and not something that will eventually pickle my liver and cause my skin to dry out. Now that’s the Holy Grail. Cheers!