Julie and Julia

There are still a couple of movies I watched to prepare for the SAG awards that I really haven't mentioned, or perhaps I mentioned very briefly. Julie and Julia is one of those films. It starts Meryl Streep as Julia Child, hence the Oscar nom. In my opinion comedies don’t get nominated very often but Ms. Streep is such a revered actress that her performances overcome the stigma of the comedy. The film is based on the book of the same name, which in turn is based on the blog called The Julie/Julia Project, written by Julie Powell, which can be found here: http://blogs.salon.com/0001399/.

Nora Ephron wrote the script and directed the film and she did a lovely job. Julie and Julia is a charmer, weaving the lives of an ordinary girl (Julie) who takes on a big challenge, with that of an extraordinary woman who changed the face of cooking (Julia.) The story switches back and forth between the trials and tribulations of Julie, who has the dreariest job in the world, to that of Julia, who fights the disapproval of the male dominated world of French cooking. (It probably doesn't help that she's in France but not French.)

By using this format of intertwining stories we really see the differences between these two women. Julie is a bit of whiner and easily overcome by every little bump in her cooking plans while Julia is stalwart and a fighter, keeping her chin up in the face of rejection of various sorts. The film begins with Julie looking for something beyond her terrible job and deciding to cook her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Childs' most famous cookbook in one year. That's 536 recipes in 365 days, which does sound daunting, until we remember that we eat more than one recipe per day. If you're only eating two dishes per meal, an entrée and a veg or fruit, then right there you've got more than 2000 dishes. Still, promising to cook every dish, no matter how little it appeals to your taste buds, is a pretty good challenge.

As Julie begins to make her way through the cookbook we see her frustration with various dishes, as well as her determination to make them, even the funky ones that involve making a sort of jelly out of meat (I've forgotten the name for this. Aspic? Maybe. I wouldn’t eat it if I were starving. But I digress.) Meanwhile we see Julia moving to Paris with her civil servant husband and casting about for a new hobby. She hits upon cooking and falls in love, head over heels, violent love, that lasts her the rest of her life. Julia has to battle her way through classes, enduring the scorn of the abovementioned men who are less than enthused about the presence off a solitary female in their class.

While Julie is building a blog readership and eventually finding a home for a book based on the blog, Julia is spending a great deal of time working with Louisette Berthole and Simone Beck creating a cookbook that will allow anyone to cook glorious French recipes. It's no surprise that Meryl Streep is wonderful as Julia, interspersing humor with stoicism. Amy Adams works wonders making the character of Julie, who spends too much time complaining for my tastes, likeable. This is a charming film that should be enjoyed after a good meal with a nice glass of wine.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Only a Grin who writes in to say, "Johnny Depp's dance in Alice in Wonderland is so crazy it made me queasy. I thought Mad Hatter meant Angry Hatter. Guess I was wrong AGAIN." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.