Summer Schooled: What the summer season at the movies meant in 2016

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From May to August, the summer movie season is in full swing, a cavalcade of blockbusters designed by large corporations to bring in as much money as possible by appealing to as many people as they can. And if those studios just so happen to produce a good film in the process? Well, that’s a bonus. As opposed to the dumping grounds of January and February, or the prestige-filled months at the end of the year, summer is the awkward middle child attempting to overachieve and set new box office records. But what can filmgoers learn about the state of the movie nation based on what was a success this year? And was there a huge disparity between what was popular and what was critically praised? I looked at the numbers and took the pulse of 2016’s summer movie season, and I found some surprising trends.

First, to make sure we’re all working from the same math, here are the top ten films, by box office for May to August, along with their Rotten Tomatoes critic scores and audience scores:

summer-movies

So what are we to draw from this? A few things…

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Bullz-Eye cowboys up at the Old Spice Dude Ranch

Our friends at Old Spice decided that the best way for us to experience Desperado, the latest scent within the Old Spice Red Zone Collection, would be to fully immerse us in the cowboy lifestyle at a dude ranch in Colorado!

Pretty crazy, right? Especially for a city slicker like myself who has never ridden horses, gone trap shooting, thrown a hatchet or done any of the other manly activities that they had in store for us. But life is all about new adventures (YOLO!), so I packed my bags and headed out West.

Our home for the week was the C Lazy U Ranch, an authentic dude ranch located about two hours outside of Denver that has been serving guests since 1919. Pulling up to the ranch, I was blown away by the endless green meadows, blue skies and the crisp Colorado air. This was going to be a memorable experience!

After getting settled in our rooms (and washing off the grime after traveling all day with a full assortment of Desperado products), we met up for the #SmellEm Hat Swap, where each of us got to pick out a cowboy hat of our very own. Once we were properly cowboy’d up, we headed off to dinner, followed by a trick rope performance from the legendary “Desperado Kid,” which was incredibly cool. We even got to try roping for ourselves, which is way harder than it looks.

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Seriously Stylish Ways to Travel

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Jet setting is an excellent way to clear your mind and experience all that the world has to offer. In order for you to be able to get in touch with yourself during your journeys, it is a good idea to allow yourself the room to indulge a bit. A luxurious adventure awaits you when you know where to look for it. If you want to be sensible and stylish on your next trip, here are a few simple tips to get you going.

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Drink of the Week: The Improved Genever Cocktail

The Improved Genever Cocktail.If you Google “improved cocktail,” you will find a number of somewhat differing drinks featuring the most venerable of the base spirits (i.e., whiskey, brandy and gin) or genever, aka “Holland gin.” That’s because, as Michael Dietsch puts it, improved cocktails are more of a template and less of a recipe. Still, I’ve just found that the “improved” model is a pretty amazing template with which to build a recipe.

If the name seems odd to you, it’s important to remember that the actual meaning of the word “cocktail” has changed since the Gilded Age heyday of 19th century bartending. If you walk into a bar today and ask for a cocktail, your confused bartender is likely to say, “Sure, which one of the hundreds of thousands of potentials drinks do you mean?”

If, however, you walked into ur-bartender Jerry Thomas’s bar circa 1876 and asked for a cocktail, you’d find yourself with what we now call an Old Fashioned, a base spirit with sugar or syrup, bitters, maybe a bit of water and a garnish. That was a cocktail. Drinks that didn’t contain bitters were not yet considered cocktails — they were just mixed drinks, and some cocktailians still prefer that terminology. Specifically, if you had ordered last week’s drink at Mr. Thomas’s bar, you would have likely asked for a Holland Gin Cocktail, the once popular term for the spirit thatevolved into the dry English-style gins we all know. When you started adding other forms of booze to it, you were getting a bit fancy. Hence, the Improved Cocktail.

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Movie Review: “Snowden”

Starring
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Melisssa Leo, Tom Wilkinson, Joely Richardson
Director
Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone has been more hit than miss as a filmmaker over the past few years, but even his most successful work sometimes leaves a little more to be desired. Stone is a filmmaker that likes to take big swings with his movies – the ending of “Snowden” being a perfect example – and sometimes they don’t always payoff. In the case of “Snowden,” however, most of them do, making this biopic/thriller the director’s most consistent movie he’s made since 1999’s “Any Given Sunday.”

With this true story, Stone tackles one of recent history’s most divisive figures: Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the man who exposed the NSA’s illegal surveillance of American citizens. The film opens several years before those events, when he was a proud Republican and patriot who wanted to fight in the Iraq War, only to be discharged after breaking his legs in basic training. In 2006, Edward meets and falls in love with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley), and shortly thereafter, begins working in the CIA’s global communications division, where he immediately questions his orders. For a while, he keeps his mouth shut and his concerns to himself, but after working on the NSA’s massive cyberforce project, Edward can no longer keep what he’s doing a secret while unsuspecting Americans are spied on by their own government. In 2013, Edward travels to Hong Kong with a hard drive containing classified documents exposing the NSA, which he shares with Guardian journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson), as well as the documentary filmmaker behind “Citizenfour,” Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo). Once the story breaks, Snowden becomes a fugitive without a home.

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