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Julie and Julia Review-NYT

http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/...

They like it! They really, really like it!

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  1. Thats the second good review I've read. Now I'm REALLY annoyed we didn't go last night, even if we would have had to bring the pups......oh well, hopefully it will come to our neighborhood soon.

    1. Well, it didn't sound like a complete rave to me (though I am seeing it tomorrow morning at 10:35!):

      "The unevenness of “Julie and Julia” is nobody’s fault, really. It arises from an inherent flaw in the film’s premise. Julie is an insecure, enterprising young woman who found a gimmick and scored a book contract. Julia is a figure of such imposing cultural stature that her pots and pans are displayed at the Smithsonian. The fact that Ms. Ephron, like Julie herself, is well aware of this gap does not prevent the film from falling into it. All the filmmaker’s artful whisking can’t quite achieve the light, fluffy emulsion she is trying for"

      9 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        Yes, 20-something angst is not pretty, but parts of the book were so funny that I laughed out loud (which I never do). I'll have to see if the movie successfully translated her humor onto the screen.

        1. re: Claudette

          Did you read the blog? I wish they had just compiled the blog into a book - I read the book but thought the blog was better. (I hope I'm not sounding churlish about all this!!)

          1. re: MMRuth

            Agree--the blog was a delight to read. I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on it (and I've only started My Life in France the other day--entertaining, infectious, but definitely in need of a little more editing).

            That said, I am going to see the movie tomorrow afternoon. It's part of my staycation, since my real vacation was cancelled on short notice (valid reasons--travel partner's mother took a turn for the worse). I'm hoping that Julie doesn't come off too vacuous in the movie, since I really did enjoy her blog!

            1. re: MMRuth

              I too wish that the book had been just a compilation of the blog. I was an avid reader and really enjoyed it. I read the book when it first came out and I was a little disappointed - it seemed to "prettified" compared to the blog. However ---I just reread the book and enjoyed it much more than I did the first time. So perhaps I needed to read it as its own thing instead of comparing it to the blog.

              I am going to see the movie next week and I am excited about it.

          2. re: MMRuth

            Is the blog still available?

            1. re: greygarious

              Google is your friend. There is no need to fear it.

              http://blogs.salon.com/0001399/2002/0...

              1. re: SnackHappy

                Thanks for the link, SnackHappy -- my August to do list on my own staycation just grew :-). I was not bowled over by the preview showing I saw, thinking the Julie parts were weak, so it will be good to go to the source material.

                1. re: grayelf

                  I loved the blog but read most of it as it was written (god, that was a while ago). Not sure it would survive being crammed down too quickly. But yes, go read it! (Sounds like our Julie has been PG'd.)

                2. re: SnackHappy

                  Oh thank you for the link! You're right google isnt to be feared-but this is SO much easier!

            2. We're going to see it tonight. I'm sure it'll be good for a few laughs. Meryl looks great as Julia and Amy Adams is adorable.

              DT

              8 Replies
              1. re: Davwud

                Meryl is great as Julia, and Amy Adams is adorable-ish in the movie.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Well, we're practically out the door to see for ourselves.

                  DT

                  1. re: Davwud

                    I just got back from seeing the film--very delightful, entertaining, and frankly, I thought Amy Adams did a wonderful job as Julie (very real and very human). That's a tough job, with the always wonderful Meryl Streep--icon playing icon.

                    I went to a 1:00 matinee--only 2 men in the whole audience and about 85% over the age of 65 (boy, did I feel young--and I'm 48!) But clearly folks enjoyed the film. It's not going to win awards and it won't go down in history as great cinema, but a wonderful way of spending an afternoon. Though with the age of the audience, this may have been less a chick flick than a stewing hen flick! I definitely think foodies and Julia fans will get more out of this, though. My friend, with whom I saw the film, enjoyed it, but much of the context was lost on her. She is not a foodie and barely knows who Julia Child is (and she's 15 years younger than I am).

                    But, I'd go see it again!

                    1. re: nofunlatte

                      "Stewing hen flick!" That's a good one. Thanks for the chuckle. : D

                      1. re: nofunlatte

                        Yes, I'm over 65 and "Mastering the Art..." was my first serious cookbook as a newly wed, back in the very early 60's. I used to rearrange my life to watch her show on PBS. I very much enjoyed Julie Powell's book, My Life in France, too. I'm planning to see it this weekend, IF it rains!

                        1. re: Pat Hammond

                          I did get to see it yesterday. I expected to like it and I certainly did. I laughed and even got a little teary, in a few spots. Streep, of course, was astonishing. In the scene where she was portraying Julia on her TV show, I had to blink a couple of times, because I wasn't sure whether I was seeing Julia as Julia or Streep as Julia. Amy Adams held her own beautifully, I thought. Loved the husbands, Messina and Tucci.

                          As I left the theater, it was like a sorority of gal's from the 60s, as we buzzed among ourselves and reminisced about cooking with Julia. Just plain good fun!

                        2. re: nofunlatte

                          "only 2 men in the whole audience and about 85% over the age of 65"
                          Funny, it looked like every gay man in Chelsea was there in the theater with me yesterday. Loved the movie; Meryl Streep and Sanley Tucci were delightful (as always).

                          1. re: Emmmily

                            A weekend matinee in the Boston 'burbs: it was easy to read my watch by the light reflecting off the chrome-domes and silver heads that comprised over half the audience. I imagine it will be packed on senior Tuesday.......had I read the fine print I'd have waited 10 days and saved $4 (plus I'll need something to take my mind off that ominous milestone ;-D)
                            I thoroughly enjoyed the film and am curious about the camera tricks. I know they hired short extras but it looks like they somehow elongated the legs on Julia and her sister.

                            *******Streep, Adams, and Ephron will be the guests on PBS' Charlie Rose on Monday 8/10.********

                  2. Just got home from the movie. As has been mentioned, it's not an award winning movie, but not every movie has to be. It was very enjoyable and both my husband and I laughed a lot. Meryl Streep was fantastic and Amy Adams was great too.

                    Made me proud (or should I say even prouder!) to be a chowhound!

                    1. I thought the movie was adorable. I haven't read the book but I did just finish My Life In France which was a very enjoyable book as well.

                      1. I liked it. Meryl was fantastic as Julia. Amy Adams was great as Julie.
                        The movie was enjoyable even though Julie became completely unbearable. I'm not a big fan of movies where the lead character is not likable but this one was fine. I guess because she starts off likable and gets consumed by her blog/Julia.

                        A good date movie.

                        DT

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Davwud

                          Yes, that was pretty much my take on it as well (and I hope that my reply to you above wasn't rude somehow - didn't mean it to be). Overall, I was a little disappointed - somehow I didn't find the movie as captivating as I thought I would - perhaps if it had just been about Julia, I might have been. Streep was brilliant, and I did enjoy the movie.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            No, it wasn't rude. You stated the truth and weren't rude about it.

                            DT

                          2. re: Davwud

                            Will of course see the movie but did not care for the Julie Powell book AT ALL - expected I would but found it very grating (excruciatingly self-concerned). Didn't follow the blog, it seems that it was more engaging than the book was. A just Julia movie could be a divine confection, but likely will not be made given this one. Sigh.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Julie Powell FEH ! Couldn't have cared less about her, her insipid personality in the film and her too cute blog ! I don't think it's possible to cook all of the recipes in MTAOFC in a year while working full time. When did she prepare all of the stocks for the sauces which take HOURS of preparation, not to mention shopping.

                              Queens looked like a dirty dead end pit, while actually some of the best ethnic food you will ever eat is available in abundance in the delightful neighborhoods.

                              Remember the scene in the film when Julie gets a phone call telling her that Julia Child has been told about the blog and idea of the one year deadline and thinks it is an awful idea? I couldn't agree more.

                              1. re: missclaudy

                                Yes I was quite delighted to read that. Schadenfreude.

                                1. re: missclaudy

                                  And I just discovered that she used canned stocks in some of the recipes ! This is not mastering the art of French cooking hon, deeply developed flavorful stock is the most important ingrediant in any French sauce or stew. My flames have been fanned with this piece of knowledge.

                                  1. re: missclaudy

                                    Well, to be fair, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, JC talks about using canned stocks, and how to doctor them up a bit to then use them in recipes.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      In that case, I will back down a bit.......but just a soupcon.

                              2. re: Davwud

                                Ditto. The movie was wonderful. Streep is a genius. Many lough out loud moments. And of course now I want to run out and get the book and start cooking. I won't be surprised though if the book is currently hard to find in the local used book stores...

                                1. re: sasha1

                                  FWIW - her books were "cookbook of the month" awhile back - in case you are interested in perusing the threads:

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/446374

                                  1. re: sasha1

                                    Mastering the Art shouldn't be difficult to find. A new edition (paperback, I believe) was issued Friday to coincide with the movie's opening.

                                    I loved the movie. Got to meet the real Julie afterward. I like her a lot better than the way the character came across in the movie.

                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                      Oh, lucky you!

                                2. Sara Moulton has a nice memoir of Julia in The Daily Beast, "How Meryl Streep Nailed Her", and comments on Meryl's characterization of Julia:

                                  http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-an...

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Thanks, Gio. I really liked Sara's reminiscences and keys to the essential Julia Child - her gawky physicality, joie de vivre, and willingness to be impolitic.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I used to enjoy Sara Moulton, and her daily dashes of Julia-isms and such.

                                      1. re: DallasDude

                                        One of the most touching episodes of Sara Moulton's show was when she had Julia on. The reverence and respect that she showed Julia moved me to tears.

                                    2. My wife and I just got back from seeing "Julie and Julia". Despite what the critics say, we liked it a lot. It was very entertaining, Meryl Streep WAS Julia Child and I have always liked Amy Adams in all her roles. In Julia's honor we are going to prepare her Boeuf Bourguignon tomorrow night!

                                      1. Streep is perfection as Julia Child and her scenes with Tucci are so poignant. Adams is so-so in the role--all big eyes and nervous energy--but anyone would look weak in comparison to Streep. Great cameos: the actress who play's Child's sister is wonderful; they seem to have a real connection. The food is glorious too. That fish in all that butter! Oh god, glorious!

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Claire

                                          I thought Adams was perfect for the role. Or, at least how she played her. She has a very soft personality and really seems to lack self esteem. That's why the Blog consumed her life. It was her way of being important. You know the type, walk down the street looking at their shoes. Very socially awkward. Then when in front of a computer screen become much more assertive. She led an insignificant life and in her mind, the Blog made her important. That's how I saw Julie and that's how Adams played her.
                                          IMHO.

                                          DT

                                          1. re: Davwud

                                            Streep and Adams were wonderful in their roles. Anyone else annoyed by Mary Lynn Rajskub? She plays the same squirmy-faced, cranky, cynical, character in 24. I could not stand her in any of the scenes she was in. If Julie Powell really had a friend like this; someone who agreed she was a bitch, then my apologies.

                                            1. re: woodandfine

                                              and which character did she portray in the movie? I'm not familiar with "Mary Lynn Rajskub."

                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                She was Julie's best friend - drinking martinis at the bar when Julie and Eric had had their fight (and also saying she had just broken up with her boyfriend)...she was also at the two group dinners that Julie held - lobster and the duck dinners.

                                        2. Went to see the movie with the family, but definitely a "stew hen flick", as mentioned above. I thought I walked into a bingo parlor or a bank of slot machines.

                                          The film was entertaining with a good film with a Hollywood ending - Julia has her book published and Julie learns how to be a better person. Blah.. Blah... Blah... Cartoon birds are making my hair and cleaning the tub. Flowers are blooming and I whistle while I work.

                                          I thought the the Julie part of the film was just a gimmick. I would have enjoyed a film about Julia. Julia's life is more compelling - being "spies", Julia's sadness about not having children, her life in China, McCarthyism, the difficulties of writing and publishing "the book"... and life after the book, how she handled "fame".

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: dave_c

                                            I don't underdstand why it is a hollywood ending when that is how it really happened- if you read both books which I have. The Cookbook and the blog were both published.

                                            1. re: cocoagirl

                                              Did Julie Powell really have the self-realization that she's a wacky broad and change for the better? I don't know her personally so I can't say if she's truly transformed herself from the experience. In the real world, it's difficult for people change who they really are. I'm sure the $$$ from all the notoriety helped a lot for her self-esteem and her keeping up with her clique.

                                            2. re: dave_c

                                              Dave, 100% on the money.

                                            3. If you enjoyed reading My Life in France, you should also read the Tenth Muse by Judith Jones, Julia Child's editor. It details how Judith "discovered" the cookbook. A good read.

                                              1. I disagree with A. O. Scott: the unevenness of the film is Nora Ephron's fault. She chose to write a movie based on both "My Life in France" and "Julie & Julia." The stuff about Julia was great and Streep and Tucci are wonderful. I'd rather have had another hour with them and done without the annoying Julie (though Amy Adams does a great job with the part, such as it is).

                                                13 Replies
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  That was the view of the Washington Post, too:

                                                  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                                                  "Either way, Powell's whiny, sad-sack self-absorption is no match for Child's spirit, skill and joie de vivre, a fact made painfully clear in a movie that soars whenever Child is on the screen and sags when Powell shows up -- most often with a complaint about turning 30, having successful friends and living in bummed-out, post-9/11 New York."

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    On the other hand, after reading greygarious's post, maybe the glass is half full. Presumably it was Ephron's idea to spend half the movie with the delightful Julia Child. Imagine if had been two solid hours of Julie Powell.

                                                    Ephron invented or exaggerated Powell's jealousy about her successful friends as a Hollywood substitute for polycystic ovarian syndrome.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      I would enjoy two hours of solid Julia minus Julie. I think Julia is fascinating enough to stand on her own w/out putting up next to someone like Powel, PCOS notwithstanding. But I do agree w/ greygarious that she might not have enough appeal for the general population and movie-making is about box office dollars. Julia actually faced real limitations with how society perceived her in France. My amateur psychoanalysis is that Julie is the result of overindulgent baby boomer parents who bring up their children to think they are the center of the universe, and should get trophies just for showing up. And then...they hit the real world where they're not. Reality Bites meets Mastering the Art. But, then again, I'm judging by the book which I've read, not the movie which I'm not planning on seeing (I very rarely see movies).

                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    The Julie stuff is the turd in the punchbowl. This is really two movies. One great and one lousy. It is worth sitting through the Julie crap to see the brilliance of Streep and Tucci. I would love to see a sequel of Julia after publication.

                                                    1. re: phantomdoc

                                                      Interesting turn of phrase. Repellent, yet completely precise and to the point.

                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                        Thank you for the support.
                                                        I am usually not rude, but was so offended by the annoyance provided by the bad performance of an uninteresting story. I read a review that said to bring a flashlight and a book to have something to do during the non Julia parts. The Julia story was so delightful and performances real Oscar quality.

                                                        1. re: phantomdoc

                                                          Amy Adams and Eric Powell gave great performances too, the script was the problem, particularly for Adams.

                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                            Eric Powell was the character's name - the actor's name is Chris Messina. But I agree - given the script they had, Adams and Messina did a good job with it. I enjoyed the *entire* movie, even though I enjoyed the parts with Julia and Paul in it more.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              No accounting for taste. Mine or yours. I think they were poor performances of a poor story. I do not know where the blame lies, script, casting director, editing. I would like to see it recut without the Powell Adams,Messina interruption. Like when they recut the Godfather in a time sequence, I suspect it would improve the film experience.

                                                              1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                As has been said in many different threads, there are many viewers who would have liked to have seen the Julia-only story. But that wouldn't have sold, and it's not what got made into a movie.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Would it be that far fetched if enough people stated their desire for such?

                                                                  1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                    "Enough people" to a producer or someone who's paying the upfront bills to make such a movie is WAY more than have stated their desire for such a movie on CH.

                                                                    The Hollywood folks choose what to make into a movie - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't (see: Ishtar). But they're the ones with the moolah and the decision-making power to decide what gets made and what doesn't and where they're going to spend their money...unless someone comes along and manages to turn an independent little movie into a big financially successful one. Because that's what it's all about - earning back (and then some) the money for those that fronted the costs in the first place.

                                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              You really liked those two? I don't get it. ok?

                                                    2. The blog and resulting book were popular, and commercially successful. Foodie preferences notwithstanding, producers and studios have to back a film or it won't be made. Even with Ms. Streep on board, I doubt that they would have decided to make a purely biographical movie about Julia Child. Appealing as that might be to mid-life and older viewers, they are not the main demographic of filmgoers, and the fact that many of them will be paying a discount ticket price doesn't help the numbers.

                                                      Julie & Julia came in a very respectable second at the weekend debut box office, to the GI Joe movie that will be quickly forgotten. That's pretty remarkable and it does indicate that older audiences will come "if you build it". I think the strategy of attracting both Powell's fans and Childs' contributed greatly to that success. I haven't read the former's blog or book but did not find Adams' character to be a problem. A degree of self-absorption is de rigeuer for bloggers. The Powell character is an ambitious young woman with a harried life, looking for some purpose and gratification. That strikes a chord with many young men and women. She feels sorry for herself sometimes - who doesn't? She realizes she can be self-centered and is embarrassed about it. And she uses some shortcuts and substitutions in her cooking because of practical constraints, so she's not cloning what came out of Julia's 1950's kitchen. NYC beef and butter differ from what Julia bought a half-century ago in France....even the most faithful attempt at following her recipes is going to have some differences. Maybe some of today's ingredients are better - there's more selection in our supermarkets and certainly there are packaged stocks today that are far better than the bouillon cubes of yesteryear. It's unfair to dump on the film because it wasn't custom-made for your particular world-view. As for professional critics, it is their primary job to focus on what made it to the screen, not on potential alternative approaches.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        Wow, this is a well written, well thought out, cogent interpretation. I wish I'd written it!

                                                        I might add that "purity and authenticity" were an issue when Julia Child was busy working on her tome. In "My Life in France", she discusses the arguments over the inclusion of a cassoulet recipe made sans goose or duck confit. Simone Beck had a fit, insisting the recipe include confit. Child, understanding that this was a shortcut necessary for the "servantless American cook" said "no". Ultimately, the confit version was included in the variations.

                                                        1. re: nofunlatte

                                                          ...and now, of course, the "Servantless American cook" can purchase ready made duck confit in specialty stores. ;)

                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                            Which THIS servantless Americano cook is going to have to do when the weather gets cooler and she does the cassoulet!

                                                      2. "... their differences in moral stature and achievement are staggering: Julia Child passionately applies herself in an effort to do something worthwhile and finally achieves a foothold in success after 13 years of hard work and setbacks. Meanwhile, Julie, piggybacking on the efforts of a great woman, tries to get famous by writing a blog - and succeeds inside a year. On the way to her book and movie deals, she whines, throws tantrums and puts her poor husband through utter hell. ..."--Mick LaSalle of the SF Chronicle

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          Julia Child will be remembered for a very long time and her kitchen is in the Smithsonian. Julie whats-her-name will be forgotten in a year or less.

                                                          1. re: margshep

                                                            I have to amend my comments a bit. I just read a review of the movie in Gourmet mag. Link below...
                                                            It is the most critical of Julie I have seen. However, some of the comments have made me stop and back up a bit.
                                                            Julie was only trying to do something constructive in her life, not ride on Julia's coat tails. That is what happened, of course, but it was not the intent.
                                                            Sorry, Julie, I was being harsh because I adore Julia Child and felt like you were taking advantage of her. I was wrong.

                                                            http://www.gourmet.com/food/2009/08/j...

                                                            1. re: margshep

                                                              I'm so glad you posted this. My impression, from when I read her blog ages ago was not that she was seeking fame or fortune or to ride on Julia Child's coat tails in anyway. Nor do I recall thinking that she was whiny - I remember an awful lot of laughing out loud, and admiration for her determination in a project that could be hard enough without a full time job. That said, I didn't enjoy "her" part of the movie as much as "Julia's", but I separate that from what I thought of Julie during the project - which was admiration.

                                                              1. re: margshep

                                                                I don't think Julie Powell did anything wrong in her blog--as Laura Shapiro admits in that Gourmet piece, it was a great idea--and who could resist the book and movie offers?

                                                                She just isn't interesting enough to be the subject of a movie.

                                                              2. re: margshep

                                                                Not so fast, sunshine: Julie Powell has a life post the project memoir coming out this fall, I believe.

                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                  It's already out in the UK.

                                                                  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/...

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    It's odd that it would come out there first - Amazon shows it forthcoming without definite date.

                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                      I think JoanN posted a link to a U.K. paper about this - I gather there was an issue w/ Nora Ephron being concerned about the impact of that book on her movie, and somehow got the date delayed here.

                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                        The US publisher (Little, Brown) thought that they'd sell more copies of both books if they put off the release of "Cleaving" until after the big movie-tie-in promotion of the paperback edition of "Julie & Julia":

                                                                        http://www.observer.com/2009/media/ju...

                                                                        Presumably her UK publisher (Penguin) thought otherwise.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          Does Julie Powell have much of an audience in the UK?

                                                                2. re: margshep

                                                                  I think that the most important thing that Julie did was renewed interest in Julia Child and her remarkable achievements. Without her blog, a mainstream movie about Julia may have never been made. For this we should be grateful.

                                                                  1. re: Buttons

                                                                    Amy Robinson deserves most of the credit for the movie being about Julia Child.

                                                                    http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2009...

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      That was a good background story at the link. Thanks.

                                                              3. I regret that I haven't read the blog, the book or seen the movie... but, I've been reading a lot on Chowhound about the blog, the book, the movie and thought this review in our local free [Twin Cities] weekly was interesting, "Julie & Julia is Half of a Great Movie"

                                                                http://www.citypages.com/2009-08-05/m...

                                                                The reviewer (as many did) loved the "Julia" half and detested the "Julie" half, but lays the credit for the former and blame for the latter on the shoulders of Nora Ephron, saying

                                                                "The book, originally shopped as a stand-alone project, could have made for a scrappy, scrumptious indie—all the outer-borough funk and main-course "fucks" of the book left intact, Bridget Jones doused in béarnaise sauce and vodka gimlets. But Ephron has excised the heart (and gizzard and liver and so on) from Powell's tale."

                                                                I just thought that was an interesting perspective, that the Julie story COULD have been interesting, but wasn't allowed to be.

                                                                Whether this perspective is fair, original or true or not, I don't know, but I thought I'd pass it along for those who might be interested.

                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  I agree with the reviewer as you quote him or her.

                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                    Yes! Julie's blog winding up as a mainstream Nora Ephron movie is some kind of cosmic joke really, though I guess it's churlish to complain. That the only "fuck" in the movie came from Paul Child is also pretty funny.

                                                                    1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                                      Did they not show he typing it into her blog once?? With the internal narative??

                                                                      DT

                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Thanks, Dairy Queen, for posting that great review. (I quite agree.) I am reading Julie Powell's book now, and it seems to me her part of the movie could easily have been made more interesting and Julie more personable. (The real Julie is not simpy like the Amy Adams portrayal.)

                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      I don't think an interesting (at least to me) movie could be made from Julie Powell's book, not if the main character were written and played as true to life as Amy Adams does in "Julie & Julia." In the blog and even more so in the book, she's too self-centered, neurotic, and annoying. She told Amanda Hessler (who plays herself in the movie, by the way) as much: "[My husband's] life with me has become, shall we say, pretty thankless. Nothing but dishes and late dinners and neurotic wives for him.''

                                                                      http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/13/din...

                                                                      Dramatically, the character should be punished or redeemed, but in real life, she was rewarded for staying the same.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        But gosh, her husband is just great. So many kindnesses and forgivenesses.

                                                                        it's so fun to watch him eat with abandon.

                                                                        I read all these comments that the Julie parts of the movie were disappointing compared to the Julia parts of the movie, and I didn't find that to be so for me. Sure I like to watch Meryl Streep as Julia more than Amy Adams as Julie, but I loved the parallel plot, and the way the two eras, the two lives, shimmered back and forth.

                                                                        I loved Julie's Everyman quality, the thankless job of being a government insurance cubicle occupant, living over the pizza parlor, the procurement of ingredients, cooking in the small kitchen -- I liked it all.

                                                                        I don't agree with all the criticism of Julie, her blog or her part of the movie.

                                                                        As for Meryl Streep as Julia, I'm simply amazed at that woman's level of talent.

                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                          Maybe Julie Powell is a sort of Gen X neurotic Everybitch, but (maybe in part because I'm older, male, and not neurotic) I found her blog and book unreadably grating, and thought Amy Adams did a great job of bringing that to the screen.

                                                                    2. Between the articles linked ot on CH in the last week, and the televised interviews with those who knew her, it seems that Julia Child, in her later years, was something of a "hermudgeon" (my coinage for addictionary.org). She referred to Julie Powell as a "flimsy", by which she apparently meant people who take liberties with time-honored, authentic methods of food preparation. By that definition, most of us would be grouped right along with Ms. Powell. This is not meant to in any way disparage Julia's significance for American cooking.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                        That's from an article in Publishers Weekly:

                                                                        [Child's editor Judith] Jones says Child did not approve of Powell’s cook-every-recipe-in-one-year project. The editor and author read Powell’s blog together (Julie and Julia was published a year after Child’s 2004 death). “Julia said, ‘I don’t think she’s a serious cook.’ ” Jones thinks there was a generational difference between Powell and Child. “Flinging around four-letter words when cooking isn’t attractive, to me or Julia. She didn’t want to endorse it. What came through on the blog was somebody who was doing it almost for the sake of a stunt. She would never really describe the end results, how delicious it was, and what she learned. Julia didn’t like what she called ‘the flimsies.’ She didn’t suffer fools, if you know what I mean.”

                                                                        http://www.publishersweekly.com/artic...

                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                          I think of it as a passion thing--Julie never seemed to have any passion for cooking. It was a chore for her, one that she seemed to resent, at least in the book. For someone like Julia Child who was about joie de vivre, especially the joy of cooking, it might have seemed "flimsy". That's the big difference between Julie and a Chowhound. She didn't seem to have a reason for picking cooking over, say, learning every Beethovan sonata in a year.

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            I have to disagree her. I think there was plenty of cooking passion in her blog. If she came across as passionless in the film, that was the fault of Nora Ephron. FWIW, I never read Julie's book, only her blog.

                                                                            1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                              I never read her blog but her book and found her stressed and barely able to cope w/ life even w/out adding the cooking. To me, it felt like something she HAD to do, another chore on her list. But, I've read from quite a few people that her blog was much better than the book. I haven't seen the movie which is filtered through Nora Ephron's eyes. From the book, it seemed like she grabbed an idea out of the air and went with it, and I don't remember (though it's been a while since I read it) that she talked about how much she enjoyed cooking. I'd compare the difference to Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. I never read orangette but her passion about food and cooking comes through in her book.

                                                                        2. I have seen the movie twice! I am absolutely in awe of Meryl Streep's performance - she nailed Julia and it is a joy to watch. As is the dawning of her love of food, cooking and married life.

                                                                          I read the blog for a while but grew tired of it quickly. Just not my thing and the book was awful . .. I am not a Julie Powell fan. I am a fan of Amy Adams (she is absolutely incredible in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) and I think she was given a thankless task of portraying a whiny, self-absorbed shrew and I think she did a great job with it. For me, it was almost painful when the movie moved from Julia to Julie. I wish that Nora Ephron has seen what an absolute treasure Meryl Streep's portrayal was, had scrapped plans for the Julie segments and just made a movie about Julia and Paul's life (Stanley Tucci was wonderful as Paul!). I would have loved to see the China years, more about their lives during and after The French Chef aired. Paul was instrumental in a lot of that show and it would have been great to see them work together on it. Ah, well, as Julia might say, c'est la vie!

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: pastryqueen

                                                                            There's a large part of me who thinks the movie was supposed to be mostly about Julie Powell but given the likability of the two characters and the performance of MS, my suspicion is that more and more of the JP scenes got left on the cutting room floor and more of the JC parts made the cut.

                                                                            DT

                                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                                              According to what I've read, the initial Ephron plan was to make a movie from Ms. Powell's book, but she wasn't given the go-ahead until she changed it into the parallel stories approach. The blog/book mostly repeats the same basic scenario of struggles at work and in the kitchen, so there's a lack of plot development. Including the Julia biopic in the mix added a linear storyline, while switching back and forth kept the modern-day part from seeming too repetitive.

                                                                              I started reading the blog and enjoy it. Julia Child's message was that you, too, can produce classic French cuisine. The "you" meant, in her day, a stay-at-home wife whose food budget did not have to pinch pennies. Julie Powell demonstrates that today's "you" - a woman who works 8 or more hours a day and is short on time, money, and kitchen equipment, can do it, too, albeit not without frequent glitches and frustration. This is an encouraging and reassuring message for the generation that grew up thinking that if they can't achieve Martha Stewart perfection, they are failures.

                                                                              I am old enough to be Ms. Powell's mother, and would also have enjoyed the film had it only been about Julia Child. However, that film wasn't, and probably couldn't have been, made. But I am entertained by, and learning from, Ms. Powell's blog - I salute her!

                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                "'I had first read a piece about Julie's project in the Times ... and I thought, as I do about almost everything: Is this a movie? ... [and ] I thought no. No it's not, a movie. Or at least, I don't know how you make it into a movie. A person decides to do something, and they do it, and it's done. It seemed too straightforward.' ... Eventually--thanks to, Ephron says, a smart suggestion from studio executive Amy Pascal--a clever script for 'Julie & Julia' emerged, one that created flashbacks (and re-created post-war Paris) to bring Julia Child to life too, and push her center-stage."

                                                                                http://www.nj.com/entertainment/tv/in...

                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                  Davwud, GG,

                                                                                  Here's what I heard Ephron say:

                                                                                  Nora Ephron and Meryl Streep (they're friends) were at a party several years ago and as they were leaving Streep breezily imitated Julia Child. That was the genesis.

                                                                                  Streep was in the picture all along, and Ephron said in the Charlie Rose interview that the studio would never had made the picture had Streep not been in it.

                                                                                  The blog was also on Ephron's radar. The idea of parallel tracks may have been Amy Pascal's idea, as Robert says, but the idea that Julia Child could be the subject of a movie came from that fleeting imitation of her by Streep.

                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                    I didn't say it was Amy Pascal's idea, that's what a Newark Star-Ledger reporter said Ephron told her, but it was actually producer Amy Robinson:

                                                                                    "I saw an A&E biography of Julia Child and was amazed to learn that she didn't know how to cook until she was almost 40. So I started noodling around with a movie idea based on that. And then I saw the New York Times article on Julie Powell and thought, What if you combine these two stories?"

                                                                                    In that same interview, her co-producer Eric Steel says Streep did her impression of Julia Child in response to Ephron telling her about the project.

                                                                                    http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2009...

                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                      Yep, I commented to your post above.

                                                                              2. re: pastryqueen

                                                                                I asked my wife, who read Powell's book, what she got out of it. She said the main redeeming quality was that some parts about her work and neighbors were very funny, but none of that made it into the movie.

                                                                              3. For those of you that would like a more "Julia" version, there is a DVD documentary of her called "An Appetite for Life".
                                                                                Netfix has it for rent.
                                                                                The ISBN is ISBN 0767082141

                                                                                If you google appetite for life dvd, you will get some hits.
                                                                                I have the DVD and it is wonderful.
                                                                                Don't ask me where I got it.......(My daughter is a pirate) :-)

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: margshep

                                                                                  I think that DVD/documentary came from the bio of the same name by Noel Riley Fitch, which Julia disliked.

                                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                    Julia disliked Appetite for Life? The book or the movie or both?
                                                                                    Noel Riley Fitch spent 8 years on that book.

                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                      I didn't know there was a movie. She didn't like the book. She didn't like Fitch's approach to the project. Was sorry she'd approved it.

                                                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                        Given what Fitch said, that doesn't necessarily mean Chlld read the book or saw the movie.

                                                                                    2. re: ChefJune

                                                                                      From what Fitch says, Child didn't read it:

                                                                                      "She really didn’t want herself portrayed. Even when I did the book, she said it felt like an obituary. She was determined not to read it. But then someone in her family would say, 'Oh, you’ve got to read this paragraph about Paul, it’s a really good portrait of him.' So she’d look at that."

                                                                                      http://wsm.wsu.edu/discovery/index.ph...

                                                                                  2. Some interesting comments on the film by Julie Powell:

                                                                                    "Ephron's Julie ... is emphatically not me. ... I was never editor of the Amherst College literary magazine ... I do not have friends buying up parcels of Manhattan real estate or writing Showtime-series-inspiring blogs about having sex with billionaires in private jets. I did not start a blog to get a book deal--people didn't do that in 2002. I have never dressed up as Julia Child, and I hate Dean & DeLuca.

                                                                                    "... Every time I watch the scene in which Ephron's Eric Powell (played, spot-on, by Chris Messina) calls out Ephron's Julie Powell on her relentless self-involvement, as exemplified by her breakdown over the failure of Judith Jones to come over to her house and give her a book deal, I cringe. 'I wasn't like that!' I think to myself. 'I was never that much of a twit!'"

                                                                                    http://food.theatlantic.com/cooking-f...

                                                                                    19 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                      Thank you for posting the link, Robert. Interesting to gain Powell's insight regarding the typical discrepancies between fact and Hollywood fiction.

                                                                                      1. re: woodandfine

                                                                                        Second that. Makes one wonder what else was "invented."

                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                          Ephron's Powell had given up on being a novelist, but the real Powell had given up on being an actress.

                                                                                          Ephron made up the Cobb salad lunch scene to substitute for the role polycystic ovarian syndrome played in Powell's decision to start the project--though it's true that Powell had never eaten an egg.

                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            Hmmm...I think Ephron made a mistake. In terms of plot development, I could see how the Cobb salad lunch scene cold be easier to film, but having Julie sit around with and be jealous of her self-absorbed unlikable friends didn't make her very sympathetic, whereas some kind of back-story having to do with polycystic ovarian syndrome might have made the character someone the audience could have some empathy for from the outset. It would also explain why her husband bent over backwards for her, at least at first.

                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                              I agree.

                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                I think PCOS might just have been too complicated and distracting, but that hackneyed Cobb salad set piece was Ephron at her worst.

                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                  I agree. I also think she thought the Cobb salad scene was funny, and it was to an extent, but it just didn't do anything towards helping the audience develop any fondness for the Julie character. Ephron must have had no idea that audiences were going to react so unfavorably to the Julie character. Once she realized that was the case, no wonder she sought to have the publication of Powell's second memoir delayed...

                                                                                                  On the topic of what else was "invented"--I just finished reading Judith Jones memoir. In the movie, Judith and Julia came up with MtAoFC as the title together using the board in Judith's office. According to Jones' memoir, the two women hadn't even met yet as the Childs were still in Oslo. Jones suggested MtAoFc to Child in her written correspondence via airmail. Minor stuff, I suppose, except that I didn't think the scene in the movie where the two women came up with the title together was very interesting. Why bother inventing a story unless it's interesting or entertaining?

                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    The delay in the US publication of "Cleaving" had nothing to do with Ephron, the publisher just thought a later release date would sell more books:

                                                                                                    http://www.observer.com/2009/media/ju...

                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                      I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Ephron sought to have the second memoir delayed, but I don't have a link, so, perhaps that was just rumor. Thanks for the clarification. Nevertheless, I think Ephron miscalculated the affection audiences would have for one of her heroines.

                                                                                                      EDIT: actually, I don't believe what they are saying in that Observer story for one moment. I think it's a crock. Just my opinion, of course, but just because someone says it, someone else writes it, and someone else links it, doesn't make it true or believable. I think it's B.S.

                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        I might have (mistakenly?) posted that information!

                                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                          HA! Funny. Well, it's really hard to know the truth when commercial interests are at stake.

                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    And a (blatant and inferior) ripoff of Nicole Holofcener's Friends With Money.

                                                                                                    1. re: small h

                                                                                                      small h, that is so funny you mention this ripoff. As I watched the beginning scene where Julie sits at lunch with her well-to-do friends, I immediately recalled "Friends. . .". This scene in "Julie & Julia" seemed so phony and over-the-top; almost misplaced in the whole movie. Then again, I found most of the Julie scenes to seem....artificial and trite.

                                                                                                      1. re: woodandfine

                                                                                                        The Powell story suffers in contrast to the Child story, and I think there are a number of reasons for that. I've read a good deal of Powell's blog, so I could plainly see that for the most part, Powell' "voice" didn't make it into the film, whereas Child's "voice" sure as hell did. Why? Well, Meryl Streep is awesome, but also, Child is a known quantity to most of us. We're just looking for affirmation of what we've already seen, which the movie certainly provided. It was like being able to sing along with a familiar song.

                                                                                                        And Child's story had three clear adversaries - mean cooking school lady! lazy collaborator! clueless publishers! Whereas Powell's story had just one - Powell herself, who was constrained mostly by her own inability to commit to being the writer she thought she could be. From what I've read here & elsewhere, a lot of viewers don't think that counts as an obstacle, and they reacted to it with some variation of "she's just whining, and all she needs is a good kick in the pants."

                                                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                                                          According to her book, Julie Powell came to New York to become an actress, not a writer. She talks in the book about becoming a writer "by default." Imho, she's surely right. The book is not well written. Tho the story has some interest for foodies, to be sure, her basics are lacking, as in grammar, sentence construction.

                                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                            But what does that have to do with the movie? I'm discussing the movie. Just the movie.

                                                                                                            And what does it matter if Powell - the person, not the character - ended up in a different profession than she originally intended? Is that a moral flaw, or something? Because if so, I'm going straight to hell.

                                                                                                            1. re: small h

                                                                                                              I believe the fact the movie is different from Julie Powell's real life proves my point up thread... that the movie is Hollywood where the character (Julie) is changed for dramatic effect, likability and the ending is fabricated to show a moment of self-realization/goal attainment. Script writing 101.

                                                                                                              Also, I do agree with your comment about the contrast between Powell and Child... The movie also contrasted how the two reacted to adversity.
                                                                                                              JC would deal with adversity head-on and move forward while JP would meltdown. In this modern age of girl power, Women's Lib and empowerment, are the meltdowns really necessary?

                                                                                                              I also noticed that the movie fell back to the "overbearing mother" angle too, which is just modern psycho-babble.

                                                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                <In this modern age of girl power, Women's Lib and empowerment, are the meltdowns really necessary?>

                                                                                                                Heavens to Murgatroyd. If Women's Lib is a "modern age" term, I'm the Queen of Romania. (Luckily, on the internet, no one knows you're NOT the Queen of Romania.)

                                                                                                                I see your point, though, about the disparate ways the two heroines confront obstacles in the film, and I chalked that up to the Child character being *not* actual Julia Child, but instead Powell's (and our) fantasy Julia Child. The one that salvages the sorry omelet and, um, deals with the horror of having to move from a lovely life in Paris to a lovely life in another world capital.

                                                                                                                Except! The Child character certainly did melt down. She fell apart when she learned her sister was pregnant.

                                                                                                                Also, although overbearing mothers are an oft-used cinematic device, they sure as hell exist in real life. I know scads. I bet you do, too.

                                                                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                                                                  Just wonderful...

                                                                                                                  <<In this modern age of girl power, Women's Lib and empowerment, are the meltdowns really necessary?>>

                                                                                                                  Dave, please God don't write stuff like this.

                                                                                                                  Meltdowns are a common response in both sexes to adversity, frustration and tragedy.

                                                                                                                  Examples: economic times are tough; you've worked hard and not accomplished what you set out to do; you've been chronically mistreated/disrespected.unappreciated; your child has been diagnosed with a severe illness. All cause for a "meltdown."

                                                                                                                  The nature of the meltdown may be different between the sexes, but they are ubiquitous in both sexes in any era.

                                                                                        2. Like most people who have watched the movie I thought it would have been better if, instead of Julie and Julia, it should have been Julia and Julia. Meryl Streep was BRILLIANT! I get lost in her story and I fully believed she WAS Julia Child (in fact it took me some time to remember that Julia Child does NOT look like Meryl Streep) but then they go back to Julie Powell's story and I was like..."oh".

                                                                                          I thought Julie was kinda annoying and I could not find myself rooting for her success. Also learning that she cheated on her husband and they are going to get a divorce is not helping.

                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                                                                            They're not getting divorced.

                                                                                            http://juliepowell.blogspot.com/2009/...

                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                              When the movie cuts back to Julie it is as if a good tv show breaks for a commercial. The splendid spell that is woven by Streep and company comes to a screeching halt and you are back there sitting in a theater. The magic stops as if getting hit with a frying pan, (All-Clad most likely maybe Le Creuset).
                                                                                              I do not care who Julie screwed, besides the audience. We all get cheated when they show Julie. I know Robert likes it though.

                                                                                              1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                                                I'll repeat - I didn't mind the Julie Powell part as much as some of you. I liked the comparison between the two eras - what happened to Julia sometimes happened to Julie. I thought Amy Adams did a decent job with what she had. Yes, I preferred the Julia side of the story. But the movie wasn't "ruined" when they showed Julie Powell's story - at least not for me. Nor did I feel cheated being forced to watch her part of the movie. I liked the movie as a whole.

                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                  Glad you had fun with the movie Linda. As almost everything on chowhound, it is just a matter of taste.
                                                                                                  When Andy Griffith first appeared in NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS, a very astute reviewer stated, It remains to be seen whether this person is a good actor or just happens to be this character.
                                                                                                  I found nothing engaging or stimulating any curiosity about the Julie character. Did not like to watch her and had no interest in that story. No substance there for me. Very unsatisfying. Seemed like a waste of time, needless interruption.
                                                                                                  Her friends at lunch who seemed uninterested in her life were better representation of the majority of viewers.

                                                                                                  1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                                                    "Majority" of viewers as based on this thread? Perhaps. But that's a very tiny sample as compared to the number of viewers of the movie nationwide. Plus the viewership as based on CH membership is massively inclined to favor someone like Julia over Julie Powell.

                                                                                                    And as has been said several times, the movie of Julia's life probably wouldn't have gotten any backing by the major studios and wouldn't have been made. Don't know if it was tried, but this is what Ephron chose to do with the movie she made. This was a way to get younger viewers into the theater - those that perhaps had read Julie's blog (or at least those who have heard of her). You can bang your head against the wall asking for more Julia in the movie, but unless you choose to go out and make the movie yourself, I don't think it's going to happen.

                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      I knew more about Julie Powell than Julia Child when I saw the movie and I liked the Julia bits much more. Chacun a son gout, n'est-ce pas?

                                                                                                      1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                        As did I. (Although I knew more about Julia than Julie Powell.) However, wishing for more Julia in these comments about the movie kind of reminds of of the old nursery rhyme "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride." Or to put it another way: "It is what it is." This is what we've got.

                                                                                                        To say "we all got cheated" is incorrect - there are some of us who liked the movie for what it was - a story about two people learning to cook in two different times. It wasn't a waste of time for some people. Perhaps for most of the CH members it was. But that constitutes a small number as compared to those who saw the movie.

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                          Who knows what most viewers thought, but most of the movie reviews I read didn't have much good to say about the Julie half either, and movie critics aren't all big foodies.

                                                                                                          Other indicators of popular favor might be that "My Life in France" is #1 on the NYT paperback nonfiction list while "Julie & Julia" is #3, and MtAoFC is #1 of all books on Amazon, "My Life in France" is #64, and Julie & Julia is #96.

                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                            But those indicators also show that Julie Powell *is* popular, at least for now. Will it last? Who knows.

                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                              Julie who?

                                                                                                              From the NY Post
                                                                                                              By LOU LUMENICK
                                                                                                              In "Julie & Julia," Meryl Streep masters the art of Julia Child, whereas Amy Adams (inset) is a needless extra ingredient.
                                                                                                              In "Julie & Julia," Meryl Streep masters the art of Julia Child, whereas Amy Adams (inset) is a needless extra ingredient.

                                                                                                              THE two heroines of "Julie & Julia" never meet, but there's very little doubt in my mind that somewhere, culinary legend Julia Child is fuming about being consigned to a double bio-pic with a whiny, self-centered cooking blogger.

                                                                                                              Fortunately for us, Meryl Streep makes such a tasty and larger-than-life Julia in a nostalgically evoked late-'40s Paris -- and director Nora Ephron depicts food with such mouthwatering relish -- that it's worth stomaching the pancake-flat sequences with her supposed early 21st-century counterpart, Julie Powell.

                                                                                                              http://www.nypost.com/seven/08072009/...

                                                                                          2. I saw the movie last weekend and really enjoy it. As a Queens resident who would LOVE to live in LIC, my biggest pet peeve was its depiction of Queens. Of course, Meryl Streep was amazing as Julia, but it was also an idealized depiction. The Julie character made me roll my eyes at time, but I felt more empathy for someone who is struggling and trying to find herself, while working full time and struggling financially. I think had the PCOS been revealed in the movie, Julie would have been a more sympathetic character, particularly since PCOS impacts fertility and they took the time to address Julia's pain about not being able to have children.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Val55

                                                                                              I think the problem with the PCOS was that she portrayed herself in a quite whiny/obnoxious fashion in the book. It wasn't "Will I ever be able to have kids?" but "OMG I am turning 30 and don't have kids yet. I'm such a failure in life!" I still liked the book, but found that part to be so grating in this day and age where we have plenty of role models who are past 30 without children.