For the drink recommendations in this week’s Picks & Drinks, I paid a visit to the lovely Harmony Fraga and her ‘Executive Assistant’ slash Party Motivator Michael Lopez at their slick Fillmore lounge The Social Study. Situated as it is, the Social Study was in a prime position for many early morning coffee runs during the two weeks of the SF International Film Fest, and I was excited to hear how their nighttime menu of unique beer- and wine-based cocktails would stack up to this week’s best indie offerings.
The Devil (Diabel)
With its thunderous soundtrack of booming abstraction and stark scenes of winter bloodlust, Diabel defies the casual viewer to watch it on anything less than a big screen. Luckily, YBCA is currently treating film fans to a retrospective of the outré Polish director’s masterful genre works throughout the month of May. Not quite as cryptic as his glacial sci-fi opus On the Silver Globe, which plays Sunday afternoon, Diabel is none-the-less a potent maelstrom of genre film as allegory, colored by darkness and dipped in madness. Plays as part of From a Whisper to a Scream: Discovering Andrzej Zulawski on Friday at YBCA, 701 Mission St, 415-978-2787.
Michael recommends “The Michelada”
The Michelada is a cascading mixture of Social Studies’ house-made hot sauce, tomato and cayenne pepper mixed in to a light beer. “It’s like the beer, which is usually easy to drink, got possessed by something much darker.” His description proves apt to both the movie and my taste buds, which are left pleasantly searing after a few sips. Like the movie, the drink is difficult and possibly a little dangerous, but hard for the adventurous not to enjoy.
Braden King’s first narrative feature, the lyrical landscape-centric melodrama Here exceeded my expectations, despite the fact that I’ve enjoyed the work of leads Ben Foster since he became a favorite following The Messenger with Woody Harrelson, and Lubna Azabal, since she captivated me in Canadian director Dennis Villeneuve’s Incendies a year later. Some viewers may balk at the slow pace, but I was quite taken by the skillful interplay of sections of video, truly breathtaking landscapes and the very realistic (and sexy) romance between the two leads, here playing a photographer and cartographer united by chance in an exploration of Armenia’s psychological and geographical features. Anyone landlocked and seeking a vacation would be wise to take refuge in this film’s sweeping vistas and varied soundtrack. Plays at Film Society Cinema, 1746 Post St @ Webster, 415-525-8000.
Michael recommends “The Little Apple”
A mixture of Prosecco and apple nectar, the Little Apple is a drink made from two very different things that complement each other well, as do the protagonists of Here. Michael tells me “nectar is an ideal Mediterranean ingredient… apple nectar, pomegranate nectar, etc…” He’s more on point than he knows as one of the film’s key scenes takes place on a trip to a pomegranate orchard! The Apple is fizzy and delightful, if a little sweet for my dark taste.
A Lannister always repays his debts in this thriller pitting Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister) and Norway’s premiere leading man Aksel Hennie against each other in a cat-and-mouse chase across the countryside. Built from another successful literary thriller from the Scandinavian Peninsula, the blacker-than-black humor, truly unpredictable twists and of understated charm of Hennie make this export a boom everywhere The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a bust. A Hollywood remake is rumored to be in the works, but it’s certainly not needed with the intensity the original brings to the screen. Playing now at The Clay, 2261 Fillmore Street, (415) 267-4893.
Michael recommends “The Buzzkill”
Right out of the gate I can tell the Buzzkill is the right drink to down before a viewing of Headhunters. A pint of Guinness with a shot of Four Barrel coffee dropped into it, the Buzzkill is double dark, double heavy. “It’s also a double-entendre if you think of the barrels as shotgun barrels instead of the traditional coffee kind,” Michael mentions. Something tells me I might regret drinking this one tomorrow, but it slides down easy.
You can visit Harmony and Michael at The Social Study at 1795 Geary Blvd from 8 am-11 pm every day.