After chatting with Peter Moody about his ode to the martini, OLIVE OR TWIST, he mixed the best example of that cocktail that I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. You’ll hear him doing that at the end of the interview. Just before that, you’ll hear his wife, Mara, opine about the subliminal message that the classic martini glass sends. Like the docudramedy and its maker, it’s piquant food, or should I say drink, for thought. As is the mostly civilized discussion of where the martini was born, the Pope’s involvement in the 15-year saga of how Moody made his film, and how poets feel a need to compose verses in honor of Moody’s favorite libation.
Consider the martini. That just what Peter Moody has done with OLIVE OR TWIST, a kitschy 55-minute valentine to that most persistent and evocative of cocktails. Standard references will give you facts, figures, and the twisted history surrounding Martini’s origins, but only Moody will also give you the ambiance, the gestalt, and yes, the cult of the drink some preferred shaken not stirred.
To fully express his devotion, rather his obsession, Moody has created a new form, the docu-dramedy. Interspersed among the usual stock film footage and talking heads, many of them more stylish than the ones we usually get, there are mini films noir, wherin trench-coated gumshoe Nick Martini (co-writer Paul Arensburg) investigates all things Martini. Some of those segments are shot in an exquisitely glossy black and white that is perfectly suited to the sophisticated mystique evoked by the cocktail.
There is something sophisticated, too, about the Martini folk, albeit somewhat off-kilter. The passionate devotees are a breed apart, living in a world that is not quite the one we inhabit, but one that seems to be a lot more fun.