Today is my Saturday. I got all my Saturday plans done and it’s only 6 pm.
To be fair, these are my Saturday plans:9 am: Wake up because I forgot to turn off my alarm, curse and drop phone on floor. 10 am: Get dressed 10:08 am: Finish getting dressed, pester Yean to do same 11 am: Go to brunch at dim sum place, eat an embarrassing amount. 2 pm: Go see “Julie and Julia” in the Beav. The dark theater conceals my food baby. 4 pm: Wander out of theater and directly into bookshop across the parking lot. Buy related Julie/Julia books. 5:30 pm: Still full, waddle home an write a blog post.
So huzzah! You see I have challenged myself a lot. The only thing I might add to my to-do list is to eat a light salad, then blackberries with whipped cream. Those berries have been sitting in the fridge for days, too tart to consume on their own. Gotta bust out my whippin’ arm.
So Julie and Julia! Can I just say, I love movies for the ladies? As a professional cook (and I guess AS A LADY) there’s something incredibly powerful about sitting in front of this unabashedly girly food porny lovefest for two hours. At one point I nudged Yean and whispered “macarons!” and then when I decided she hadn’t heard, “opera cake!” I also was on the verge of tears the entire film, which is an accomplishment because I am typically dead inside.
A lot has been said about Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Julia Child, to the point where a lot of people expressed a desire to see a straight up biopic of Julia. I for one would love that, and probably Julie Powell would love it too(because IT WOULD BE AWESOME). But the fact is that this whole project was inspired by a book that was inspired by a blog that was inspired by a cookbook/tv show. The narratives don’t exactly go together, in movie form, and it’s a valid point that what made Powell’s blog, and later book, compelling doesn’t necessarily translate well to screen. My favorite scenes with Julie were ones where her narration of blog posts was laid over scenes of her cooking. While die-hard Julia fans may dismiss the Julie narrative as whiny and tiresome, it actually says a lot about how we relate to cultural icons.
There’s a scene toward the end of the film where Julie finds out that Julia Child, then in her 90s, didn’t care for her project. She’s crushed, of course. “Do you think it’s because I occasionally use the f-word?” she asks her husband. Sadly, it really happened, and Judith Jones, Child’s editor, had no kind words for Powell either. The unfortunate thing about this is that is really is just a generational difference. At that point Julia Child had become this untouchable goddess of cooking, and Powell thought she was honoring her by attempting her recipes. Child and Jones were suspicious that Powell was just trying to cash in on her years of work, but to Powell it was about documenting an emotional journey. “Julia’s perfect!” Powell’s character moans. “The one in your head is,” her husband corrects, “and that’s the one that matters.”
But ultimately, the Julia in Powell’s and all of our heads is fictional. The real Julia was imperfect, as we all are. And I think a lot of the kerfuffle over the Julie side of the movie could have been eased if the narrative had confirmed this. Instead we get a dreamlike account of Julia’s life in France, with amusing anecdotes and an alarmingly attractive Stanley Tucci. Compared to that, even Amy Adams has to work to make her storyline sympathetic.
There’s also some interesting stuff about blogging and the internet in here. I wish the film didn’t have to explain and justify blogging as a hobby or as a profession. There’s a lot of “what the fuck is the internet?” sort of discussion going around, which is another mark of the generational difference. It’s true that the more delicate Julia fans out there would be put off by the dirty words in the blog. But you know, this is the world we live in now. People write blogs. They connect with each other on online communities. It can be as superficial or as serious as you want it to be, but it’s there and it’s valid. It’s not a sign of the apocalypse. And can we please dump this idea of blogging as a profession for the lazy and impatient? Look at what Powell did; 524 recipes, 365 days. All while working full time and somehow finding the energy to write about it. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Most people wouldn’t even attempt it. Girl had spunk, and drive, and more than a little cooking skill. She made good on the merit of her writing, which was funny and emotional, not on concept alone. And I can personally assure you that blogging is not and never will be a get rich quick scheme.
So go see it! Now that I have said all these mean things, I will say that it is an incredibly gorgeous food movie, and everyone in it is wonderful in it. The movie succeeds because it hits us in that nostalgia place that makes us love everything. Watching Julie and her husband crack up over the Dan Akroyd SNL sketch, seeing Julia’s sister (played by Jane lynch) have a squawking tall girl reunion, it’s all brilliant and beautiful. And it really, really makes you want to cook. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look up this beef bourgignon recipe.