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Night is Short, Walk on Girl
Last call (Part 4 of 4: Summer Happy Hour)
But First: Last Call for Summer Happy Hour
Summer is still upon us, but Summer Happy Hour on Movie Night is coming to a close. Thanks to Elliott Dicus for providing drink pairings for films and for all the time spent fine-tuning the beverages in his kitchen. I’m unsure if I’ve ever read such profound intros to recipes (eat your heart out NY Times cooking section), and this is where I’d say something pithy, but I’m too busy spacing out. Thank you, Elliott!
Night is Short, Walk on Girl
If you get into a relationship with film, as I have (twirls mustache), where when certain moods strike you, it calls for specific films, then Night is Short, Walk on Girl (2017) is a movie you should know. It’s a big ol’ mood. It is also the ultimate cocktail movie. It’s effervescent and lively and makes the mind race with longing for the creative potential of youth. It’s got stylish, vibrant animation and surreal visuals that perfectly emulate the stellar atmosphere of an unpredictable night out. Not just any night; A night with adventure, potential, and even danger. Its characters are caricatures that you will immediately recognize, and its unconventional narrative creates an intoxicating blend of humor and unlikely romance. It’s
an the ideal choice for a delightful cocktail-filled evening with friends.
In April of 2021, a friend of mine, let’s just call him “David Lee,” and I took a trip to Nevada City. The pandemic was about a year in, and we were both burnt out at work. We dubbed this trip our “movie retreat.” We watched about 30 hours of film, and it was glorious. The best film we watched was A Brighter Summer Day (1991), the most insane (and fascinating) movie we watched was House (1977), but the most memorable film we watched was Night is Short, Walk on Girl. On a personal note, watching movies in Nevada City while on a break from work with David is one of the best film experiences I’ve ever had. Conditions were ideal (pandemic notwithstanding), and David recommended a home run of a movie to cap off one of the nights of great food, drinks, and friendship. Cheers, David!
Night is Short, Walk on Girl tells the tale of a young woman who explores different aspects of Kyoto's nightlife, from attending a used book fair (along with a god who gives us an excellent crash course in how all books are connected) to visiting various bars and participating in wild drinking games. Her experiences and interactions with the people she meets shape the fluidity and essence of the story. The movie artfully portrays the complexities of relationships, the passage of time, and the beauty of chance encounters. Everything we think about, and don’t think about but feel, when we’re young. It weaves together stories of love, friendship, and self-discovery and leaves you with a, dare I say it, heartwarming tale of one remarkable night in Kyoto as a stand-in for life itself.
Hiroshi Kamiya, who might be best known for his work as Levi Ackerman in Attack on Titan (2013), gives an outstanding performance as Gakuensai jimukyoku-chô. Knowing him from Attack on Titan makes his ostentatious performance here all the more enjoyable. Watch this in Japanese with subtitles (if you don’t speak Japanese, that is.) It’s the only way. Like Kamiya’s, all of the performances deserve to be enjoyed as realized by Masaaki Yuasa, the director.
Night is Short, Walk on Girl is a movie about life. It’s a movie about enjoying the messy days that lead to dull organized days. It’s a movie about getting the most out of the life that you’re dealt. In one of the sneakiest, funniest lines of the film, two characters are flying hand in hand toward the end. One asks if the other would like to enjoy the scenery. The other responds, romantically: “I’m already looking at the best scenery.” After a beat, “Also, the shape of my wings only lets me fly this way.”
It’s a movie about going where the night (read: life) takes you, even if (especially if) it’s Nevada City to watch House.
A Short Night and a Long Death
How fast is your watch ticking right now? Is the second hand languishing around the face, pushing through a viscous and heady mixture of uncountable days and nights? Is it frantically speeding forward, pulled recklessly by the invisible heft of an ever deepening sense of finality? Like the seeming dichotomy of fate and determination, these are two frames of reference for the same reality. Neither more correct, per se.
When we’re young, every day feels new because we haven’t yet noticed how they can blur together. We feel invincible because we haven’t found out we aren’t. We expect so much because the world hasn’t shown us just how often it can disappoint those expectations. The endless, infinite possibility assures us that there’s always time.
When we’re older, this day is much the same as the last…and the next. We shuffle through the long, boring moments hoping to be entertained - only to look with whiplash at our watches.
But if it’s just perspective, how do we see it the other way? I’m not sure we truly can (bummer). However, I suspect a key element is remembering wonder and joy. With those, it’s easier to believe that we can expect more from the world; that we can be more than we are; that this next night can be anything.
1 1/2 oz Brandy
1 1/2 oz Brut Champagne or Sparkling Wine (you want dry, not sweet)
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 Bar Spoon Agave Nectar or Rich Demerara Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Tobacco Bitters
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
Absinthe to rinse
Rinse a Collins glass with Absinthe - Roll some around in there to coat the sides and pour the extra out (into your mouth).
Add all ingredients except the Champagne to a mixing glass.
Fill the rinsed Collins glass with ice.
Add ice to the mixing glass and stir until the outside of the mixing glass feels cold.
Strain into the Collins glass and top with Champagne.
Gently draw the bar spoon up and down through the drink to mix.
Garnish with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry on a cocktail pick. No, you may not use the bright red ones that you have.
Speaking of Joy: This drink is a play on the French 75, which will make you feel like you’ve drank as much as Kōhai (careful, you get hangovers). We’re also pulling in the Maraschino Liqueur from a Starry Night with a hint of Absinthe from Death in the Afternoon. We’re taking the French 75 back to a Collins glass, making it a “long drink”. Generally, a long drink is less strong. This is not.
Night is Short, Walk on Girl
Written by Makoto Ueda; Directed by Masaaki Yuasa