Thursday, August 13, 2009


Some guys are lumping in Julie & Julia with garbage like Sex and the City, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past or The Ugly Truth, but I never saw it that way. Sure, there are no titties and nobody gets chopped up with a machete, but neither of those things happen in G.I. Joe either and plenty of guys paid to see THAT shit. Men be different from women, mars, venus, etc.

Who knows, maybe this *is* a chick flick that no self-respecting man would ever watch, unless forced to by a significant other. But Julie & Julia features Amy Adams and food, and since I'm a big fan of both and have no self-respect whatsoever, there the fuck I went.

The Adorable Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, a young woman who's approaching 30 and noticing how relatively well her friends are doing with their lives. She, on the other hand, has accomplished nothing and is beginning to feel like a completely useless piece of shit. So she begins writing a blog to distract herself from the pain of living and to somehow fool her stupid ass into thinking she's accomplishing something in between alcoholic blackouts -- oh wait -- I'm sorry, that's the Exiled from Contentment story, I got confused there for a moment, because they start off so similarly before veering off in completely different directions.

Powell does create a blog, though, calling it The Julie/Julia Project, and in it she writes about her attempt to make every recipe from Julia Child's cookbook, titled Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That means this lady who's married and working a full-time job now has to complete 524 recipes in 365 days. I'm single and unemployed, and sometimes I skip breakfast because I don't want to get off the bed and cook a fuckin' egg, so good for her.

Anyway, the film cuts back and forth Godfather Part II style between Powell's attempts at making all the recipes, and the life of her idol, Julia Child. She's played by Meryl Streep and the movie focuses on her time living in France in the '40s, along with her diplomat husband, played by Stanley Tucci. Maybe it's because they're portrayed by two actors who I like and respect, and maybe it's because they're middle-aged and not young kids, but goddamn I couldn't get enough of these two. Most movie couples make me want to introduce them to the business end of a shovel, but I really enjoyed Streep and Tucci here. Usually I call Bullshit on most on-screen pairings, no matter how good the actors are supposed to be, but these two actually had me believing that they were totally into each other.

So it's awesome to watch them in a scene together, but even when Tucci's not around to share the good times, it's still all good; Streep gives out what I can best describe as an Infectious Performance, where everything she says or does left me with a smile on my face, even with that high-pitched voice she was doing. It reminded me of another Infectious Performance I enjoyed immensely, some movie about a cartoon princess who ends up in the real world, I forgot the name of the movie or who played her. Tucci's character describes Child as having such a likable quality that she manages to charm even the asshole French (redundant, I know) and you get prime examples throughout. Like Martha Washington, the screen version of Julia Child seems like a hip, hip, hip lady, man.

I'm not so sure about Powell, though. Compared to Child, she comes off as kinda jerky sometimes, and I wonder if that was part of the reason why The Adorable Amy Adams was cast as her. If another actress played Powell, I'd probably find her a little on the insufferable side. There's enough hurdles set in the path to make you cheer for her -- hell, I definitely emphasized with her situation at the beginning -- but even the movie seems to make the same judgment on her character halfway through. At one point, Powell asks a friend if she thinks she's a bitch, her friend responds with Yes. She ain't kidding either, she's telling her the truth.

But oh just how less bitchy a character Ms. Adams manages to make her! The director of this movie also worked with Meg Ryan a few times, and it's almost like she called Ms. Ryan to come in and act as a Cuteness Consultant for Adams, only she specifically requested the Meg Ryan from Joe Versus the Volcano to show up. Some of you will be on the same page, and some of you will want to borrow my shovel, but I thought The Adorable Amy Adams brought enough Awww to her performance to make me go, uh well, Awww. She is, to quote another friend who watched this with me, "precious". To my knowledge, he's not gay -- which I guess is too bad for me. There's a scene where she's attempting to cook lobster, and I noticed she was wearing what was either a doggy or kitty cat pin on her blouse. I have no idea why she was wearing it, but I'm glad she was.

There are references to Child's past employment by the OSS, and given her linebacker sized frame, maybe she took out a few motherfuckers permanently in her old job. Streep isn't nearly that big in real life, so I guess they busted out with some Lord of the Rings digital effects work or old-fashioned stuff to make her look as big as the real thing, and they definitely pull it off. She practically towers over most of the cast, at least until her sister (played by Jane Lynch) comes in and stands even taller than Julia. Now that's a huge bitch.

Some radio show hosts (Poon & Peener, I believe) were making cracks about this movie, assuming it was going to be another spoonful of Women Are Good, Men Are Dogs like most chick-flick claptrap. That's why they call them assumptions, because a motherfucker is bound to be very fuckin' wrong when making them. The men in this movie are actually very supportive, and in some cases, victims of our ladies' headstrong manner in getting shit done.

For example, Powell's husband has to not only put up with Julie's whining about how she has nothing to show for her life (he's like What about me? I'm your fuckin' husband!), but also all the grumbling and moaning about living in a walk-up apartment located above a pizza parlor. What the fuck. Living above a pizza place sounds pretty fuckin' awesome, if you ask me. Sure, I might gain a few extra pounds, but I'm already a fat fuck, so it's all good. I remember a movie with Jude Law and Gretchen Mol, it was either called The Two Stars That Never Were, or Music From Another Room, and I remember Law's character lived above a bakery. That seemed pretty sweet, literally and figuratively.

You're going to want to eat directly before or after the movie, because there's a lot of delicious food being prepared, served and eaten throughout the running time. Whenever or wherever you decide to eat, do me a favor and try to keep your manners. Don't be like the people in this flick who all talk with their mouths full. It's a little off-putting at first, but you'll get used to it. It was probably necessary for the filmmakers to have the actors do it this way in a dialogue-heavy flick such as this one, otherwise this shit would've been 20 minutes longer with everyone waiting to swallow their bites before speaking.

There are a couple examples of what I will refer to from now on as an Up moment, named after the great Pixar movie that sucker-punched many a motherfucker with Cold Hard Reality in its first 15 minutes, damn near making some of the weaker ones (including me) get a little teary-eyed. What's cool about the Up moments -- both referring to one character's unfortunate inability to, uh, create -- is that they're handled pretty damn well. Very little dialogue is involved, and another filmmaker may have been tempted to draw the shit out to a long, emotional sequence of blah, blah, blah and shit being thrown against walls and floors and tears and blood and overly dramatic music swelling up. Instead, the sadistic bastard behind the camera decides to play that shit as quietly as possible.

Nora Ephron is the name of the sadistic bastard. She wrote and directed this movie, adapting it from two books: Julia Child's memoir My Life in France, and Julie Powell's book, whatever the fuck that one's called. She also seems pretty good about calling out other women's bullshit, based on some of the stuff that happens here. Ephron was also behind Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and Michael. I actually kinda like those movies, probably because I'm half a fag, but also because I think they're each examples of Two Hours Pleasantly Spent, which is also how I'd describe Julie & Julia.

This rambling ended way too nicely, so let me close this off with an extra heaping serving of Asshole: Julie Powell's success with her blogging/cooking travails kinda reminded me of the chick who blogged about her pen-pal relationship with the late, great John Hughes. I went to her blog fairly early and found her post very touching, and then I went on to read her other posts as well. I later noticed that while her other posts had zero comments, the Hughes blog had about 40-50. Since then, I've gone back and she's clocking over 1200 comments on the Hughes piece, and the other posts are now starting to get comments as well. In a fucked-up, That's Life kind-of-way, the death of John Hughes is quite possibly the best thing to happen to her blog.

On that note, I will wait for the sad day that Christopher Walken shuffles off this mortal coil to write my Touch With Greatness blog and rake in the attention. Fuck it, with my drinking and horrible diet, I'll probably die before him, so I'll just tell my story now: I went to a screening of The Deer Hunter back in '02 and brought my DVD of the film for Mr. Walken to sign. I'm not an autograph guy, but I decided to make a rare exception in this case. He was in a hurry, but he took the Sharpie and the DVD and signed it while talking to someone else. Then he walked away. I took my DVD and ran off, feeling all giddy that I got Christopher Walken's signature on a DVD of a film he won the Academy Award for. Then I realized I forgot to take the cap off of the Sharpie. If you squint your eyes enough, and the light is shining on it at a proper angle, you just might be able to catch the indentation of Walken's signature on my DVD case.