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Leap of Faith

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Leap of Faith

Image Credit: Leap of Faith, 1992

I feel a healing coming on– of the cocktail variety!  Get ready for a 90’s blast from the past as Cinema Sips watches Leap of Faith (Download), that gospel-heavy movie where Steve Martin jogs in a belly shirt and cowboy hat, with zero irony. There is a God!

Faith is an important aspect of life for many people, but unfortunately, organized religion can also be a breeding ground for con artists and predators. Jonas Nightingale is of the con artist variety, a slick-tongued preacher promising prosperity to the downtrodden. He travels the Midwest with a bus load of accomplices, setting up a game of smoke and mirrors for people who have a lot of faith, but not much else.  Giving them a good show, he makes them believe in the power of the Lord, then lines his pockets with their hard-earned cash. One could say he’s not unlike certain politicians, feeding off the economic hardships of their constituents, but that’s an argument for another time. As Jonas, Steve Martin is charismatic, dark, and one hell of a showman. Liam Neeson’s well-meaning sheriff doesn’t stand a chance.

The reason these poor townspeople are ready and eager to believe in Nightingale’s “healing power” is the ongoing drought that threatens to ruin their corn crops. Living in Texas, I know the feeling of praying for rain (and I also know the feeling of praying for it to stop… ahem ATX water contamination 2018). Plus, corn is pretty important, if for no other reason than moonshine. While watching Leap of Faith, I recommend drinking a Sunday School Collins.

Sunday School Collins

1 oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

1 ½ oz corn whiskey

4 oz club soda

Combine whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a rocks filled glass. Top with club soda, stir gently to combine.

sunday school

“Our Lady of Immaculate Queso” by Heartless Machine (heartless

The real standout element in this film is the music. From the opening notes of Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” to rousing gospel numbers, it’s no wonder it later received the Broadway treatment. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, this film will make you want to get up and dance. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll start to believe in the impossible.  Cheers!



Image credit: Shopgirl, 2005

If you’re like me, the end of November is a panic-inducing time where I realize that I have a million people on my Christmas shopping list and NO IDEA what to buy. The rise in online shopping options means that I haven’t been to a mall in years, however I almost wouldn’t mind going if it meant I could run into Claire Danes at the Saks glove department in this week’s film Shopgirl (DVD/Download).

Adapted from the novella by Steve Martin, Shopgirl stars Claire Danes as Mirabelle Buttersfield, a 20-something visual artist caught in a love triangle between clueless hipster Jeremy and emotionally distant millionaire Ray. Steve Martin’s performance as Ray is quiet and nuanced, and refreshingly different from his broader comedic roles.  And as the well-meaning but utterly oblivious suitor Jeremy, Jason Schwartzman brings to mind so many hapless men of his generation.  With less-than-ideal romantic options such as these, it’s no wonder Mirabelle spirals into depression.

I love that one of Jeremy’s steps toward maturing is a newfound appreciation for cocktails. He tries a mojito for the first time, and we see the wheels spinning. Yes- there is more to life than cheap beer. As further ode to this film’s stunning visual depiction of the city of Los Angeles, while watching Shopgirl I recommend drinking an Echo Park Mojito.

Echo Park Mojito

1 oz blood orange juice

1 Tbsp lime juice

1 oz light rum

2 Tbsp simple syrup

Topo Chico sparkling water

5-6 sprigs of mint

Pour blood orange juice, lime juice, and simple syrup into a glass. Add the mint leaves and muddle them. Add rum and crushed ice, then top the rest of the way with Topo Chico. Stir gently.  Garnish with fresh mint.


I can identify with Mirabelle’s plight of having to take a retail job to support her dreams of being an artist, because I too have been a shopgirl in the past. It’s just what you do when you have a creative dream. You stand behind that counter and hope that maybe someday, somebody looks at you and declares, “this one has value”. And in the meantime, there are cocktails.  Cheers!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles


Image credit: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, 1987

Ah the open road.  It seems a lot more appealing in Jack Kerouac novels and black & white photography.  Luckily, we have this week’s film Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (DVD/Download) to remind us of what a hellish experience  holiday travel can be.  Cramped airline seats, rude people, that guy behind you who just won’t shut up– it’s enough to drive anyone to drink.

The story of an odd couple (played by Steve Martin and John Candy) who unwittingly get stuck together on the Thanksgiving travel adventure from Hell, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a reminder that when one detail of your travel plan goes awry, the rest of the dominoes are soon to fall. Most of us have had a cancelled or delayed flight, dealt with rude rental car personnel, or endured crappy motel rooms on the way to our friends and family.  Whoever said the journey is more important than the destination has obviously never spent the night in a West Memphis Ramada.

After a couple of long days on the road, the only thing that bridges the divide between Steve Martin and John Candy is a stash of mini airplane liquor bottles. Since I’m still working through my stocking stuffers from last year’s Christmas haul, while watching Planes, Trains, and Automobiles I’ll be drinking some Mini Liquors.  Your decision on whether to mix that Bacardi with some vending machine Coke or drink that Jameson straight from the bottle probably depends on how long you’ve been in the car.


By the end of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, we’re meant to realize that Thanksgiving is not just about the the hassle of travel, but rather about the familial love that you’re traveling toward. And if you’re lucky, maybe you make a new friend along the way. But before you get too comfy with this new friend, just remember- THOSE AREN’T PILLOWS!! Cheers!