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The Swimmer

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The Swimmer

Image credit: The Swimmer, 1968

In stumbling across The Swimmer (Disc/Download), I’ve found a film tailor made for Cinema Sips.  Made in the 1960s, featuring swimming pools and a hell of a lot of alcohol, this is the visual culmination of all my daydreams.

Based on a John Cheever story, The Swimmer stars Burt Lancaster as a sort of proto-Don Draper. He’s a mad man without a compass, having driven away his family long before the story begins, and largely in denial about his crumbling life.  While attending a party at his Connecticut neighbor’s house, he decides he’ll swim home through all the nearby pools, down a sapphire river of suburbia.  It’s not until the end that he realizes home doesn’t exist for him anymore—he’s completely alone. Throughout his journey, he encounters hungover couples who still clutch glasses of gin, a pair of elderly nudists, a doe-eyed teenager with a crush, and oddly enough, Joan Rivers.  At every stop he’s offered a drink, enabling him to swim and imbibe his way through the film.  The story is sad, at times bizarre, but still relatable.  What are pools, and cocktails, if not an escape?

The Swimmer also introduced me to perhaps the one drink I have zero interest in: the Bull Shot. Like a Bloody Mary made with beef broth instead of tomato juice, watching Burt drink his hefty glass of brown was pretty stomach turning.  Let’s celebrate the better parts of summer with a sweeter, more palatable drink:  Sugar on Strawberries.

Sugar on Strawberries

Sugar

3 strawberries

2 oz vodka

½ oz simple syrup

½ oz lemon juice

1 oz champagne

Wet the rim of a martini glass with lemon juice, then dip in sugar.  Set aside. Muddle the strawberries with simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker.  Fill with ice, then add the vodka and lemon juice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into prepared glass. Top with champagne.     

Sugar on Strawberries

Book pictured: Poolside With Slim Aarons

I don’t know what it is about swimming pools, but I’m undeniably drawn to them.  I have no desire to own one; I just want to look at them all day.  Maybe, like Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer, I’m responding to what they represent—an idea of American leisure and luxury.  Maybe I’m an explorer too, imagining what lies beneath the water of those giant turquoise boxes.  Or maybe, I simply want to know what it’s like to feel cool on a hot summer day. Cheers!

Across the Universe

Across the Universe

Image Credit: Across the Universe, 2007.

As a teenager I was largely obsessed with everything Beatles-related (who am I kidding- I still am), so it comes as no surprise that I would adore Across the Universe (DVD/Download). Using the songs of Lennon and McCartney to tell the story of 1960’s-era star crossed lovers? Genius. Tapping director Julie Taymor to bring her signature visual-wonderland style to the project? Transcendent.

Across the Universe is essentially a patchwork quilt woven from Beatles song lyrics.  Heartsick Jude pines for Lucy, they survive the turbulent 60’s with a little help from their friends, dear Prudence sneaks in through the bathroom window, and in the end they realize that love is all you need. Through superbly choreographed songs, wildly creative set pieces, and heartfelt acting, the music of the Beatles truly comes alive. I feel every note, from Joe Cocker belting “Come Together”, to T.V. Carpio singing her heart-wrenching version of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. It makes me understand the songs like never before.

One of the strongest symbols in the film is the strawberry, used to represent both the overt sexuality of the era, as well as the bloodshed of Vietnam. It’s a powerful and striking visual element. While watching Across the Universe, I recommend drinking a Strawberry Fields Martini.

Strawberry Fields Martini

1/4 cup strawberry juice (I used Naked Strawberry C Monster™)

1 oz cake vodka

Pink champagne

Fresh strawberry (for garnish)

Mix the strawberry juice and vodka over ice in a cocktail shaker, stirring until chilled. Strain into a martini glass, and top with pink champagne. Garnish with a strawberry.

strawberry fields

 

Despite an awful Mr. Kite musical number in the middle (honestly- wasn’t it bad enough we had to suffer through it on the Sgt. Pepper album??) Across the Universe is simply magical. So turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream- it is shining.  Cheers!