Weekend Movie Picks and Stiff Drinks to Go with Them


This week's drink recommendations come from my friend Ryan Spencer at Slow's Barbeque in Detroit, where I spent last week for the Movement music festival. Although Detroit isn't a city known for its BBQ, more often than not when I asked locals for a dining recommendation, Slow's was the name on their lips. Nestled in the up-and-coming Corktown district across from a bar called O'Blivion's and next to an upmarket coffee shop where Stumptown, local roasts and, yes, Blue Bottle were on offer, it was almost like being back in San Francisco.

Henri-Georges Clouzot's epic Wages of Fear is one of a few films that invariably finds mention in lists of the Best Movies Ever. A pot-boiling thriller cooked by the South American sun, this tale of four men at their limit shepharding unsecured trucks filled with nitroglycerin to their destination is as explosive and and exciting as it is artful. Immensely popular at its release, it was almost immediately remade as in the US as Violent Road and then subsequently re-appeared in more spectacular--and synth-laden--fashion in the late 70s as William Friedkin's Suspension, starring unlikely icon Roy Scheider. Usually the kind of film that screens once-in-a-blue-moon at some far-flung cineastic stronghold (ahem… Pacific Film Archive!), Film Society is kind enough to host a full week's worth of screenings courtesy of a newly restored print from Criterion. The real question is, can an 150-seat theater hold all this excitement? Plays at Film Society Cinema, 1746 Post St @ Webster, 415-525-8000.

Ryan's drink recommendation: "The Fogcutter"

Itself a dangerous and volatile mixture of rum, gin, and brandy, the fogcutter cuts a mean line in the tall glass ryan passes to me across the bar. "It's kind of the original tropical drink, and it's incredibly strong but incredibly drinkable" Ryan tells me. The first sip is definitely heady, and the drink is sweet but clearly packed with alcohol. Each sip that follows seems to incrementally increase the chance that I'll explode.

In Elena an aging nurse presides solemnly over two worlds, the sleek apartment of glass and steel where she lives with her bedridden but still iron-skinned lover and the homey but squalid abode of her son and his "accidental" family. In the film's tensest moment, she makes a decision between the two in defiance of common notions of morality, suggesting that will itself is the only high power to which we answer. An apocalyptic sort of dread hangs over this stately meditation on class and loyalty, directed by decorated Russian auteur Andrey Zvyaginstev's (The Return). Comparisons to Hitchcock are inevitable, but undercooked--the film's entrancing Philip Glass score elevate it to something more sinister than a simple pastiche, and as in Zvyaginstev's previous efforts, the devil is in the details and not the denouement. Plays at Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St @ Polk, 415-561-0455.

Ryan's drink recommendation: "Pink Gin"

It's highly possible that Ryan was on a quest to get me drunk, but the pink gin seemed like a foil for the impassive protagonist of Elena--lightly feminine in its appearance but stark in presentation, with a taste that's powerful and palatable at the same time. Ryan reveals that "only a very special combination of gin and bitters can make the pink gin: It's got to be Plymouth gin or it doesn't work." I decide to take a break from the drink for a minute to make sure my brain will still work.

I have to admit to a level of fanboy salivation in anticipation of Ridley Scott's return to the sci-fi genre and the Alien franchise. I'm a bit too jaded to take in any kind of Hollywood entertainment without some reservations, though. One possible reason for hesitation is the involvement of Damon Lindelof, co-creator of the laughably convoluted TV mainstay "Lost," known primarily for his propensity to throw as many Big Ideas at a script as possible and hope that viewers take one home to bed with them. On the other hand, Prometheus' co-writer, Jon Spaihts, is probably the most hyped sci-fi scriptwriter working now despite (or perhaps because of) his slim filmography, and is definitely a point in the right quarter. In terms of casting, Michael Fassbender and Guy Pearce are almost guaranteed, in terms of acting ability and bank-ability, but Noomi Rapace… I digress. Suffice to say I'll be seeing it with the rest of you on opening weekend! Plays at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St and other Bay Area theaters.

Ryan's drink recommendation: Beer

As for Prometheus, my expectations for the last drink are already sky-high, completely convoluted and entirely fantastica--I'm expecting something incredibly tasty and totally devastating at the same time. I could tell from the way Ryan was looking at me that I was getting that look in my eyes. "It might be time to slow it down, we have some great locals on tap…" Probably a smart idea.

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