Monday, November 22, 2010

The Ultimate Gin Martini: Bunuel Style

To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of the dry martini. To be frank, given the primordial role played in my life by the dry martini, I think I really ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen “like a ray of sunlight through a window-leaving it unbroken.”

Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won’t melt, since nothing’s worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients-glasses, gin, and shaker-in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Shake, then pour it out, keeping only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, shake it again, and serve.

(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)

- Excerpted from My Last Sigh by Luis Bunuel, translated by Abigail Israel.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Wisdom Of Sam Fuller

On Filmmaking:
"Young writers and directors, seize your audience by the balls as soon as the credits hit the screen and hang on to them!"

"If the first scene doesn't give you a hard-on then throw the goddamn thing away."

"You wanna know how I make movies? I'll tell you. First I figure out what would be a good ending, and then I put it at the beginning. The rest comes after that."

On The Army:
"You wanna know what's so great about the infantry? I'll tell ya. The infantry's not stupid, that's what. Think how stupid the guy in the tank is - once he gets hit he's still gotta burn. And the guy in the boat - he's stupid 'cause once he gets hit he's still gotta drown. And the stupidest of all is the guy up in the plane - once he gets hit he's still gotta fall. But not the infantry! They get hit right on the ground. All the other guys have gotta die twice! TWICE!"

"Why do you think soldiers call themselves dogfaces? Easy! You wear a dog tag, you eat food out of a can, you live and sleep like a dog, you always die like a dog, forgotten and sprawled on the ground. Dogfaces called themselves what everybody thought of them anyway."

On America:
"Why do you suppose this country got so great? Was it the fact that we're separated by oceans from the older countries? And that's pretty goddamned unique, you know. But what about Mexico and Canada and South America? The oceans are right there, too.... This country's only 200 years old and what's the one thing we've got plenty of? LEGENDS! We're stuffed with'em. Bunyan! Pecos! Every goddamned kind of legend! And Europe - well, they don't have legends; they have myths. A myth is based on something that never existed. But a legend. that's different. A legend is based on a real person. And those real persons, what did they do? They reached for the sky! Grabbed at the clouds! Walked across water! Deserts! Mountains! It's the land, kid, the land that makes us great. Great! Get what I mean?"

"There's nothing wrong with the red, white and blue flavor. But those parades and the martial music and the speeches! They insult the dead. We should apologize to the dead! All that heroic stuff. How do you think that makes the guy who got his balls shot off, or his ear shot off, or his arm shot off or who's in the nut house feel? Like a freak, that's what!"

"Listen, we're living in a world where you have to belong to something, even if you're a loner. We can't go around being men without a country. That's no damned good. But we can't go around telling each other what to do either. That's what all that damned flag-waving is all about! You never see that up at the front. If you're there you don't need it. The more you go to the rear, the more the flags begin to fly. I don't like those goddamned flags waved in my face."

"Politicians have always been crooks. Throughout our history, believe me. But there's a certain kind of thief, like a Jimmy Walker when he was the mayor of New York, or a Boss Tweed in the Civil War, who says, "Why certainly I stole 22 million dollars. But I only kept six. Didn't I spend the rest for churches, goddamned bridges and schools and orphan asylums and good, healthy, clean, spacious whorehouses? Didn't I?" We like them. We don't like the group that's been in control the last few years. Our politicians now are cheap. Little men, little men! I hate petty people representing this great goddamned country!"

On Money:
"You gotta be drunk to enjoy it. I mean it. Buy the finest cognac, go out and spend it. That's the only way to live with it."

"Getting the money to make the picture - that's the top of the hill you gotta take. The rest is easy."

On Life:
"The joy of working for an idea - that's the joy of living."