Thursday, August 27, 2009

Julie & Julia or perhaps just Julia

Film: Julie & Julia
written and directed by Nora Ephron

I wasn’t exactly sure who Nora Ephron was. I thought she was the author of saucy novels. In actuality she is the director of such Rom-Com classics as Sleepless in Seattle and by proxy, You’ve Got Mail.
I was already excited for the prospect to see Julia Child in action, played by the always spot-on Meryl Streep. Unfortunately I never saw much of her show when it was still on air during the early days of the Food Network. My mom was fond of Two Fat Ladies*, and the Galloping Gourmet*.
Many reviews come to a consensus that a movie about Julia Child would have been better, instead of interlacing it with the story of Julie Powell’s blog. But the success of the blog was the inspiration to make the whole movie. The unfortunate part is that the real life Julie Powell had nothing to do with the making of the film. Her rights were sold, and that was that. I assume that the majority of the audience for Julie & Julia is a dedicated crop of Julia Child fans like me who felt disappointment that they couldn’t see more of her life dramatized by Meryl Streep. If I had been a fan of the blog at the time, I’m sure it would have been great for me to see. Alas, that’s not the case.
The 1940’s French kitchen sets were exquisite, decked with copper pans, millions of whisks, and wooden islands. The scenes in cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu were fantastic. It’s clear Julia Child was a very determined woman, to fight against gender stereotypes and a language barrier to be accepted as a professional chef. Her father was a Pasadena Republican (ha!), and she settled in Cambridge, MA by the time Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published by Knopf. I was buzzing in my seat with the familiarities of home, Boston, and Paris. When Julia moved back to California in 2001, her Cambridge Kitchen was moved in its entirety to Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Behring Center. It’s now on my list of things to see before I die.
Another reason I saw this film was because there was a full feature of Amy Adams in the L.A. Times Calendar section a few weeks ago. I felt so proud for her.
One unseen joy of the film is the sex! What better complements food than sex? There were a few bedroom scenes throughout the film where both Julie and Julia get it on with their husbands respectively. Thanks, Nora.
In the past few years, I’ve enjoyed watching biopic films, re: Ray, Capote, and The Soloist (two incidentally featuring Jaime Foxx.) Meryl Streep was the right choice. You can trust her with anyone. She recreated the quality of Julia’s voice and swagger, and made them her own. Bravo.

To read up on Julia Child:
Read Julie Powell’s blog:

Next…mac and cheese with a Texan twist!

For FUNnotes:

*Two Fat Ladies was on BBC2 initially, and ran from 1996-1999. It featured Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson, travelling the United Kingdom on a Triumph Thunderbird driven by Paterson. Wright rode in the sidecar as they travelled to various destinations. They enjoyed strong flavors and lots of fat. The opening credits to the show were animated, featuring a song the ladies had written themselves. –wiki-

*Galloping Gourmet was a TV show during the 1960’s and 70’s featuring a gregarious British-Scottish chef Graham Kerr, who would prepare many of his foods with wine, and would often be drunk by the end of the episode. “The series was known for its lighthearted humor, tomfoolery, and the copious use of clarified butter, cream, and fat.”-wiki

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