Movies & Menu: Moulin Rouge! (2001)

2016 has been a mixed bag. The highs were very high (Getting married! Seeing Radiohead from the front row!) and the lows have been..pretty low (health issues, job issues, the election blues…). There have been more of them than I’d like to think about.

I watched Moulin Rouge! recently and I think it’s a great film to end this year on. The characters share the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It’s also a lovely way to honor one of the (too many) artists we lost this year, David Bowie.

Directed by Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge! is a story of truth, beauty, freedom and love. In the late 1800s, a poor poet (Ewan McGregor) moves to bohemian Paris and falls in love with a courtesan (Nicole Kidman). They must hide their love from a jealous duke, who funds their new play at the infamous Moulin Rouge night club.

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Moulin Rouge! (2001) presented by 20th Century Fox

I saw this film the first time when it was originally released. Similar to experiencing Luhrmann’s previous film Romeo + Juliet, I watched in awe as this creative, sensory feast unveiled before me. My heart jumped in delight with the very first frame: a conductor on-screen setting the mood and opening curtains for the studio logo. Until seeing R+J and Moulin Rouge!, I had never seen a film cut so quickly (I wasn’t as well versed in action films or Michael Bay at the time). The crosscutting as the Moulin Rouge club is first introduced and, later, the “El Tango de Roxanne” scenes are particular highlights and favorites. I remember a wave of excitement each time a new pop song weaved into a scene. Many viewings later and I still singing along loudly to this film (and know most of it by heart from my endless days of listening to the soundtrack). If you’ve had a rollercoast of a year like me, then I would recommend coming back to Moulin Rouge!, singing along and let the feelings flow. (If you live in Seattle, then you should hang out with the good folks at SIFF and do it up right on New Years Eve!)

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Moulin Rouge! (2001) from 20th Century Fox

While watching this dazzling musical, I suggest making yourself a stiff and spectacular Sazerac. The Sazerac is a well-known drink in New Orleans (and you can read more about the history on the Esquire link below). Absinthe is the fun addition to this cocktail and it, of course, makes an appearance in Moulin Rougeas the poet and his bohemian friends celebrate with the green fairy.

What do you remember feeling when you first saw a Baz Luhrmann film? What’s your favorite scene in Moulin Rouge!?

Cheers to a new year!
2017, I’m ready for you.

Sazerac
Recipe from Esquire

Ingredients

1 Sugar Cube
2 1/2 oz. (GOOD) rye whisky
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters
absinthe
lemon peel
old-fashioned glass

  1. In an Old-Fashioned glass (not a mixing glass; it’s part of the ritual), muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water.
  2. Add several small ice cubes and the rye whiskey, the Peychaud’s bitters, and the Angostura bitters.
  3. Stir well and strain into a second, chilled, Old-Fashioned glass in which you have rolled around a few drops of absinthe until its inside is thoroughly coated, pouring off the excess.
  4. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

Watch the films mentioned in this post:
Moulin Rouge! on iTunes, Amazon, add to Netflix queue.
– Or support your local video store!

Films that feel like October, Part I

October has always been one of my favorite months. As a kid, I loved getting into the Halloween spirit and thinking of creative costumes. In my 20s, October seemed like the month when a routine for the season finally set in. I love that changes in temperature and maybe discovering a golden leaf. In the South, the break in the heat was a much-needed relief. In Los Angeles, the land of no-seasons, the change isn’t as clear. There are moments when the breeze comes through the window and we wake up to our apartment being chilly. Suddenly, autumn has arrived.

There are some films I revisit every October. They give me a sense of the autumn spirit and remind me of the passage of time no matter what the weather is outside. This is part one of two posts this week about films that set the autumn mood for me.

Good Will Hunting not only has the “back to school” vibe, but I feel the cool Boston air as the camera moves through the Harvard and MIT campuses. Robin William’s cozy sweater wardrobe can’t be ignored either. They are on point.

The story of When Harry Met Sally covers all the seasons, but the shots of Harry and Sally walking amongst those bright red and orange trees in New York City are saved like a screen shot in my brain. Watching that comedy is like preparing yourself for the oncoming holiday madness, no matter your dating or marriage status. As Sally mentions, you just have to get through Thanksgiving to New Years.

Days of Heaven‘s stunning cinematography reminds me of how the days are getting shorter. Set in the early 1900s on the panhandle of Texas, this Terrance Malick film was shot mostly during “magic hour”. The sky glows beautifully during the harvesting scenes and its easy to get lost in this love triangle story. (I may have to curl up in a blanket and write a longer post about this one.)

As soon as the weather turns slightly cooler here, I start baking. Because we don’t have central air/heat, we are particular about when we use the oven. The moment I realize I can turn it on and it wouldn’t make the house too hot, my mind and stomach immediately goes to baking. I’ve been on a low FODMAP diet for the last several months for health reasons and including gluten is still a little tricky at times. While deep in the recipe-rabbit-hole, I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Granola Bars. I’ve made it each week for the past month (despite a short heat wave last week). So yes, we’re now a little obsessed with them. It’s perfect as a snack or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. And it “feels” healthy because OATS, so that’s good, right?

What are some of your autumn favorites? Any non-horror films put you in the October mood for tricks-or-treats? Do you find yourself craving pumpkin (or do you hate the non-stop marketing and vow to eat all things non-pumpkin)?

Stay tuned for more autumn picks on Thursday!

Pumpkin Granola Bars
from The Well Balanced FODMAPer
*I have experimented a little with the amounts for this, using a little more pumpkin or adding ginger spice at times. It’s always turned out amazing, so go for it.

Should make about 10 smaller size granola bars. Serving size: 1 bar

2 cups oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon all spice

Preheat oven to 325°.
Blend all ingredients together. Press very firmly into lightly greased 8 x 8 square pan.
Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.
Refrigerating will keep the bars firmer.

Watch the films mentioned in this post:
– Good Will Hunting – watch on Amazon, iTunes, add to Netflix queue
– When Harry Met Sally – watch on Amazon, iTunes, add to Netflix queue
– Days of Heaven – watch on Amazon, iTunes, add to Netflix queue (make sure you get the Blu-ray!)
– Or support your local rental store!

 

A Classic Combo: Casablanca (1942) & Champagne Cocktail

I’m not the first person to say how amazing Casablanca is, nor will I be the last. It only seems fitting to kick-start this blog with one of my favorite films and a celebratory champagne cocktail.

Rick, an American expatriate played by Humphrey Bogart, runs a saloon in Casablanca as the Nazi’s have invaded Europe. When his former lover, Isla (Ingrid Bergman), arrives to town with her husband, Victor Lazlo, Rick is forced to face the bitterness of his past. Victor, a renowned Nazi resistance leader, is on the run. Rick must choose between assisting Victor’s escape and his love for Isla.

There are so many wonderful things about this film that we could be here forever. But first, there’s Ingrid. Beautiful, wonderful, amazing Ingrid. Oh, how I wish I was her. Those eyes! Those hats! Her careful lighting makes her leap off the screen during every scene. Besides my massive girl crush, Casablanca truly is one of the best romance stories ever. Trust, love, war and making the ultimate choice. This film wraps you up and takes you away. Hollywood has been trying to top this ever since (and has failed often as we all know and will discuss later).

The champagne flows throughout Casablanca as refugees make the best of their war-torn situation. Rick and Isla share a glass of it often, most notably as the Nazi’s march into Paris (so the Nazi’s won’t have any to drink upon arrival).

Dating back to the early 1860s, the champagne cocktail is a sweet and bubbly delight. How could drinking a glass not make you feel like Isla or Rick, making you just light-headed enough and falling in love all over again?

If you haven’t seen this movie, seek it out immediately to remedy. Find a retro screening (support your indie theater or local film society!) or download from your favorite Silicon Valley tech giant. It is the perfect film for a weekend evening, perhaps with a glass of champagne by your side.

1 Champagne Cocktail
Champagne
2/3 oz Cognac or Brandy
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 sugar cube

Dash the bitters onto the sugar cube, add the cognac and chilled champagne. Garnish with a cherry or citrus twist if you like

So here’s the classic question: Would you get on the plane? Have another Champagne cocktail favorite? Tell me in the comments below!

-Watch Casablanca on Amazon, iTunes or add to Netflix queue. Or even better, support your local rental store!-