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NM Film Focus: Spirits in Cinema

NM Film Focus: Spirits in Cinema

When Booze Steals the Show

By Christa Valdez

From a sloppy sip of a White Russian to bootlegging crates of whiskey or the ubiquitous pop of bottles of beer, booze on film can be anything from a prop to a character, to a storyline.

Actor Jeff Bridges, who should just go ahead and officially become a New Mexican already, took the White Russian in his script from prop to co-star in “The Big Lebowski.”

The drink is now synonymous with the outrageously popular film and the cult figure “The Dude,” which Bridges also embodied to perfection.

In “Hell or High Water,” dubbed the best film of the year by Forbes magazine, Chris Pine and Ben Foster play an epic pair of bank robbing brothers who popped more bottle caps than bullets on their heart wrenching crime spree across west Texas, which was beautifully portrayed by eastern New Mexico.

The brothers commiserating and refueling over beers lent a calm and centering feel to the storyline that seemed to drive home the many relatable themes in this great New Mexico made movie.

Johnny Depp has made two New Mexico movies, one the little known, but very solid sci-fi drama, “Transcendence” and the underwhelming “The Lone Ranger,” but he’s known the world over for playing a boozed-up pirate in the blockbuster franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Whether the portrayal is life imitating art or vice versa, Depp’s yo-ho-ho and many, many bottles of rum performances in the series of films has earned him box office gold.

And then there’s New Mexico’s own booze-specific feature length film “Beerfest,” an “Animal House”-esque comedy that was filmed in Albuquerque.

Again centered on brothers, “Beerfest” follows Jan and Tod Wolfhouse to Germany for Oktoberfest, where the brothers find themselves responsible for defending their family honor in “Fight Club” style beer games. The film co-stars big hitters Cloris Leachman, Will Forte, Nat Faxon and local favorite Steven Michael Quezada.

Our beer, wine and liquor dalliances are also blooming in popularity on and off screen as our state’s presence grows in the global film industry. Local brews, vintages and distilled spirits alike have been featured in local productions, and New Mexico hot spots for libations are well known to the never-ending string of stars who film in our fair state. Cheers!

New Mexico film expert Christa Valdez, of OneHeadlightInk.com and ChristaValdez.com, reports on movie industry news for ABQ Free Press.

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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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