Alcohol and entertainment go hand in hand. The magic elixir can either be a gateway towards self-destruction and tragedy or the stimulus for rowdiness and crazy comedy. Here's a few films that take "shots" at both facets of drama.
The newest feature from the wild minds of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, The World's End follows a group of friends who embark on an epic pub crawl, coincidentally during an alien invasion. To save the world, they must make it to the last bar, The World's End. The film has already been released in the United Kingdom and will be released in the U.S. August 23.
'The Angels' Share'
In an attempt to turn over a new leaf after numerous arrests, a Scottish father (Paul Brannigan) delves into the world of whiskey tasting and collecting to make enough money to start over. The film debuted and competed for the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2012 and earned director Ken Loach the Jury Prize.
This 1987 picture starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway depicts the life of poet Charles Bukowski as he struggles with alcoholism and meaninglessness in rundown Los Angeles. Struggling to understand whether alcohol is the solution or the problem, Rourke and Dunaway's characters are constantly either fighting or loving, but always losing.
From the Colgate-graduated comedy group Broken Lizard, Beerfest brought together the three things that the idyllic American man holds so dearly: beer, sporting competitions and beer. Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, the film chronicles the formation and hilarious trials of an American troupe trying to compete in an international beerfest, a brew-drinking tournament that the Germans have dominated.
"A medium dry martini, lemon peel. Shaken, not stirred." Though the first James Bond film doesn't revolve around Bond's dependence on vodka and vermouth, it established the most iconic line about alcohol in film history. There have been numerous renditions of the line, performed by every Bond from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, but never, ever, has 007 drank a stirred martini.
Hititng theaters on August 23, the movie stars Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston as two couples struggling in their relationships. Wilde and Johnson play two co-workers at a craft brewery who, through their like fondness for good beer, develop romantic feelings for one another. Though the underlying theme resembles more of dry stout, dark and sharp, the comedy is certainly of the light-brew variety, fun and easy.
This Denzel Washington vehicle from last year initially attracted an audience because of its high octane portrayal of an absurd plane crash, during which at one point the place is flying upside down. However, at the heart of the narrative of Robert Zemickis' most recent film is a pilot's severe addiction to alcohol, cocaine and other drugs, which comes into play when his sobriety during the failed flight is questioned. Washington's dynamic performance as the turbulent airline captain earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
'The Hangover' Trilogy
Though the Wolfpack eventually discovers that their massive collective hangover was the result of them being roofied, it is the very first shots of Jagermeister on the roof of (the real) Caesars Palace that ignites a two-hour whirlwind of chaos, crime and Chow. The Warner Bros. property received rave reviews and broke the bank in 2009, setting a record with the highest ever gross for an R-rated film. The two sequels that followed the comedy classic? Eh, not so much.
'In Heaven There is No Beer?'
The only non-fictional film on this list, In Heaven There is No Beer? is a documentary chronicling the underground world of polka bands and its fans. The title comes from a German song that encourages drinking all the beer you can while you are living because "in heaven there is no beer." The film won awards at the 1985 Sundance Film Festival.
'Leaving Las Vegas'
Before he was stealing the Declaration of Independence, Nicholas Cage was a suicidal alcoholic, or at least he played one in Leaving Las Vegas. The 1995 film was based on a semi-autobiographical novel by John O'Brien, who unfortunately committed suicide two weeks into production. The film was finished as a tribute, but was ultimately a melancholy tale of self-destruction. Cage earned Oscar and Golden Globe wins for his sad portrayal.
'The Rum Diary'
A critically-panned adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's lost novel about a journalist's drugged-out journey through Puerto Rico in the 1950s, The Rum Diary was directed by Bruce Robinson and starred Johnny Depp as the journalist, Paul Kemp. With a Caribbean liquor in the very title of the film, it'd be blasphemous to not associate this film with alcohol. Robinson even admitted that "some savage drinking took place [on set]. When I was no longer in Johnny's environment, I went back to sobriety."
A twisted road trip film, this 2004 dramedy from acclaimed director Alexander Payne won the hearts of wine connoisseurs and Academy voters alike. Paul Giamatti stars as Miles, a divorced and depressed wine aficionado, who takes a road trip from San Diego to Napa Valley with his best friend, Jack (Thomas Haden Church), who is looking for one last fling before marriage. Copious glasses of wine (none of which are ever filled with merlot) are consumed and endlessly silly antics ensue. The film won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay and was nominated for four other, including best picture.
As the title indicates, this James Ponsoldt-directed film is a love story that revolves around the dependency of alcohol in place of a strong relationship. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul play a married couple in which both spouses are struggling with alcoholism. While Winstead's Kate tries to get sober, Paul's Charlie remains stuck in a dependent rut, compromising their relationship.
'The Lost Weekend'
One of Billy Wilder's most highly acclaimed films, The Lost Weekend recounts the life of an alcoholic writer living in New York. Based on a novel of the same title, the film starred Jane Wyman and Ray Milland, who won an Oscar for his troubled portrayal of Don Birnam. Wilder's work combined elements of noir while providing one of the first in-depth examinations of the effects of alcoholism. The picture won four Oscars in 1946, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Photo by: Everett Collection
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