Posted on February 8th, 2016 No comments
for Mod Movie Monday at Tiki Lounge Talk, starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Alden Ehrenreich, Hobie Doyle, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton.
(NO Spoilers, just some fun facts)
I won’t go into the basic idea of what the movie is about…you can read about that anywhere. I’m going to tell you why, as one who digs mid-century coolness, you will dig this movie and need to see it on the Big Screen.
“Hail, Caesar!” takes place sometime around 1950-51, and is set in Los Angeles (after all, it’s a movie about the movie business).
So here we are, transported back to the early 1950s. Now you might expect the movie to hit us over the head with imagery and symbolism of that era. Well, the Coen Brothers (The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There) are too good to resort to that kind of shtick. They have their own brand of shtick, and it’s subtle…it’s in the spoofiness of the whole thing, and how every scene is shot in such a way that it reminds you of another movie, one from the actual era.
The movie starts off in a timeless way, then before you realize it, the nostalgia bits are added in and multiplied. These start out small (an actress taking “dirty pictures” (read: full but skimpy clothing) in the middle of the night, a meeting at the Imperial Garden (“They have the best Mai Tai’s here), and time-establishing shots of Brolin’s wristwatch, which looked like it was probably from the 1930s.
From there the Hollywood spoofing takes center stage, with incredibly fun scenes that mimic some of our favorite movies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. These scenes include an aquatic dance number complete with mermaid (think Ester Williams), a cowboy guitar & song (Gene Autry), and a fully-executed sailor dance number that would have fit right in to “On the Town” (well, most of it). Watching that sequence featuring Channing Tatum, all I could think was, Gene Kelley and Frank Sinatra are looking down and laughing their asses off. Well done.
And then of course there’s George Clooney’s character, they typical big star, a playboy and the kind of 1950s actor who could bring tears to an audience with one line. Also, not so bright, and easily influenced, which helps carry the main story line to a really fun and cool ending. I applaud Clooney for taking this role, and he was fantastic in it.
But the real juiciness it that dotted throughout the movie is pretty much EVERY possible nod the era’s nostalgia and movies of the time, including:
A mid-century modern Malibu house overlooking the ocean (compete with bar)
Close-up of the Cadillac nameplate on the chrome dashboard of the car
A lasso-wielding singing cowboy who does his own stunts
4-button multiline telephones
Vaudeville/slapstick comedy (where you least expect it)
Hollywood cover-ups (I won’t spoil it)
Carmen Miranda-ish character
Dance routines out of nowhere
Actual songs from the era, as background music
Romans (of course)
Black and White “artsy” movie within the movie, with odd camera angles
Over-dramatic, high-society type director who is incredibly serious about his musical
“Epic” movie splash screen
Backlot shots of Roman columns next to modern cars
Stars who’ve had multiple marriages
The future of aviation (Lockheed)
The future of TV replacing movies
Intellectuals sitting around discussing things but not taking action (until they take action)
Cool Chinese Restaurant/Almost a Tiki Bar
1950’s Housewife (with a line to her husband something like “You know what’s best”)
One of those old lawn chairs with the plastic webbing
Old movie cameras
Dailies complete with cards that say things like “Big Credits Here”,
The Ester Williams-style number is incredibly fun to watch, as is Tatum’s dance routine (I like that the movie gives us full numbers, not just a 15 second snippet). Even the cowpoke’s song is a hoot.
So, my recommendation…It’s a great movie, fun plot, exceptional characters, the right amount of nostalgia without it being obvious, unbelievable dance numbers, and laugh-out-loud comedy, plus visuals that will make you wish you lived back in 1951.
-Tiki Chris P. reporting from the screening room at Capitol Studios, Hollywood.
Posted on January 24th, 2016 No comments
The short reason: Because science fiction is a huge part of mid-century American pop culture, and The X Files derives its main plot from the “little green men” who started visiting us (according to believers) in 1947.
The crash-landing of a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 really kick-started the Martian-based sci-fi craze of the 1950s. Sure, science fiction movies and novels, etc. had been around for decades at that point (no one can forget Orson Wells’ 1939 broadcast of “War of the Worlds”), but when the public got its first taste of real rocket-aged stories of flying saucers and short, green aliens, the genre took off…and hasn’t really let up since.
Before Roswell, UFO sightings were few and far between, and were usually written-off as unsophisticated people mistaking modern airplanes or – yes – weather balloons for space ships. The “cigar-shaped metallic object” that was usually reported more-often really was just an aluminum-skinned plane, seen by people who may have never even seen a motorcar or Streamliner train in their lives. Consequently, most sightings weren’t widely reported.
But after that fateful night in Roswell generated so much hype and interest, the media, sci-fi authors and movie execs realized they had a money-making bonanza at their fingertips. Comics, movies, TV shows, books…you name it were all fair game to perpetuate the Martian/UFO phenomenon.
As the Roswell UFO event began looking more and more like a government cover-up, the media and entertainment industry used it to fuel the fires of government conspiracy theories. Suddenly, our government which had protected us, seen us through WW2 and saved the world, was being viewed as a secretive, manipulative and even lying entity that was completely out of reach of the American people. Add to that the anxiety that came with post-WW2 Cold War-era threats of atomic war, the perceived threat of a communist takeover of the world, and still mysterious circumstances surrounding the JFK assassination…the entertainment industry had the perfect cocktail of public fears to play on. And play they did…with thousands of movies, TV shows, books etc. making billions of bucks along the way.
The X Files takes us back to that era, both in its basic mythology and in actual flashbacks to the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The show does a fantastic job combining the alien abduction theory with a government conspiracy, hiding a truth so horrific that even the greatest movies, books and TV shows of the era wouldn’t dare ponder. And interspersed with the alien mythology are the “Monster of the Week” episodes, giving us a cool, re-imagined view of some of the most interesting concepts to come out of mid-century sci-fi, from human-like creepy creatures to eerie paranormal mysteries. It’s like watching a modern take on the greatest parts from The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and all those ’50s monster movies put together. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself…The truth is out there.
Sure, the original X Files series was filmed and takes place in the 1990s, complete with large-shoulder padded suits, crappy cars and a curious lack of cell phones and internet, but if you can get past that, watch it for the reasons I shared above. I’m confident you’ll dig it.
The New X Files short series starts tonight at 10pm. I really hope it starts off with a cool space ship, like the one that landed in our front yard last week.
-Tiki Chris reporting from the media lounge at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, Florida
Posted on January 11th, 2016 No comments
On the day of his passing, January 10, 2016, here’s a few words about David Bowie, may he rest in rock n roll heaven:
Although not considered a part of the mid-century music that we love here at the Tiki Lounge, many people don’t realize that Bowie’s career began way back in 1962, when he played sax in a band he formed with his friends. He was truly part of the “new generation” of kids that dug rock n roll over swing and jazz, and of course went on to be one of the musicians who transformed the music landscape. For this reason, I believe he should be remembered as part of the history of mid-century culture.
Although not my personal taste, I appreciate how Bowie’s music touched millions, including many of those who grew up on Tommy Dorsey and Bing Crosby, who expanded their musical tastes later in life (my Mother was one of those people…born in 1943, she became a huge fan of musicians like Bowie, Hendrix, etc.) And although not my taste, a few of his songs, to me, broke through and stood aside from his usual format, songs like Let’s Dance (borrowing the title from the 1930s/40s Make Believe Ballroom theme and Benny Goodman’s opening theme), and the jazz chord-infused Changes, where Bowie plays the alto sax solos.
So today we say goodbye to a true musician and artist, a man who devoted his life to his craft and to making people sing and dance. Cheers to you, David Bowie…the music in heaven just got a little more exciting now that you’re there.
Posted on September 18th, 2015 No comments
There are exotic cocktails that live just on the edge of Tiki Lounge drink acceptability. These include more tropical/Caribbean drinks such as the Piña Colada and Dark and Stormy, and others that worked their way into Asian restaurants and Tiki bars over the last half century. One such concoction normally enjoyed at upscale Chinese restaurants, but that can be nicely added to your home Tiki drink menu is the
Exotic, tasty, and with an interesting look, the Lychee Martini is easy to make and fun to serve. After trying several recipes, I’ve found this one to be the most interesting and tasteful.
1 oz lychee liqueur
2/3 ounce vodka
1/4 tspn vanilla extract (real)
1 dash Cointreau
2 oz lychee syrup
1 lychee fruit (canned fruit and juice is fine, it’s not easy to find them fresh, but of course use fresh if possible)
Lychee fruits, for garnish
Quarter-fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice, top with cubed ice to about the 2/3 mark. Separately, crush one lychee in a glass and add all ingredients, mix well and add to shaker. Shake until the outside of the shaker starts to freeze up. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with lychees. Can also be garnished with a curl of shaved chocolate or an orchid for added flair.
-Tiki Chris, reporting from behind the bar at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Lounge
Posted on September 4th, 2015 No comments
There are only a finite number of Tiki Cocktails in the world. Fortunately, that number is pretty high. And new exotic cocktails are being invented every day. But what’s really fun is when you stumble across a Tiki drink that dates back to the 1930s, that you haven’t had yet.
Here’s a somewhat traditional recipe for just such a great:
Nui Nui Exotic Cocktail
In the true tradition of Tiki bar drinks, the Nui Nui blends rums, fresh juices, syrups and other exotic ingredients to create an enticing cocktail that’s perfectly balanced.
4 oz amber good quality Carribean rum
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz freshly squeez orange juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice liqueur
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 spiral-cut orange peels
Toss everything except the orange peels in a blender and blend on high until nice and frothy, just about 5 seconds but no more. Add about 8 oz crushed ice to two tall tiki mugs or glasses, pour drink into each and add additional crushed ice to fill.
Coil an orange peel into each drink, with the top hanging over the rim of the glass for garnish. This drink also lends itself to getting creative with the garnish…anything from a tropical flower to speared pineapple, cherry and orange wedge, plus an umbrella if you dig it.
-Tiki Chris, reporting from the Tiki Bar at that wonderful, mythical Pirate’s Cove Lounge on Tiki Island
Don’t forget! International Exotic Cocktail Day is October 2nd this year!