French lunch + Julie & Julia

Yesterday was “I will treat myself in small ways” day.  I bought a sandwich at Pastoral:  paté, gruyere, coarse mustard, and tiny sliced cornichons on a baguette.  The sandwich was so awesome my camera refused to fully focus on it.

I also hit a matinee of Julie & Julia, and you guys, I loved it.  I’d read reviews that the Julie parts were pretty dull compared to the Julia parts, and those reviewers weren’t wrong.  Ephron, Adams & Co. did their best with it, but let’s face it, watching someone blog is not exactly riveting cinema.

FADE IN

INT. – MESSY OFFICE – AFTERNOON

JENNIFER (35), wearing glasses and a bright blue shirt sits at a desk covered in papers, bills (both paid and unpaid), books, pens, pencils, at least three separate mugs, an Incredible Hulk keychain, and last year’s W-2 forms.

BEADIE (2), a small cute cat, jumps from the floor onto Jennifer’s shoulder, digging her claws in for a toehold.  Jennifer screams a stream of obscenities and puts the cat on the floor.

Jennifer thinks.  She types the url for http://www.flickr.com and finds the direct link to the photo she wants to use for today’s post.   She inserts it, making sure to link back to the Flickr photo page according to the terms of service.  She types her text.  During this typing, the cat jumps on her three more times.  Jennifer successfully dislodges the cat, finishes typing, and hits “Publish.”  Then she checks her blog stats 75 times to see if anyone read it.

FADE OUT

And unfortunately for the Julie parts of the movie, the only thing more boring than watching someone blog is listening to them talk about blogging.  Good lord.  I love our great Eternal Cocktail Party In The Computer, I really do, but sometimes I like to have a conversation that doesn’t eventually devolve into “I’ll send you a link to that” or else huddling over the phone looking at stuff on YouTube.

The Julia parts, though….holy cow.  First of all, no one told me that Jane Lynch shows up as Julia’s freakishly tall sister, and the two of them are hilarious together.  Secondly, the romance between Meryl Streep’s Julia Child and Stanley Tucci’s Paul almost made me cry at times, in a good way – it’s the Best Friends Who Are Hot For Each Other Marriage. The only on-screen couple I’ve ever seen who approach that kind of chemistry are Coach & Mrs. Coach from Friday Night Lights.   I end up feeling kind of bad for Adams and Chris Messina, who plays Julie’s husband – maybe someday he’ll have the incredible intelligence and presence and sexiness that Stanley Tucci has, but this is not that day.  Third, Paris. Eating in Paris and dancing in Paris and wearing pearls and the occasional New Look dress in Paris and having great dinner parties with fantastic friends and being full of life and butter and joy in Paris – it completely steals the movie. I know what it’s like to work in a cubicle and be at loose ends and to live in an apartment furnished with 1/2 Ikea and 1/2 stuff I pulled out of the alley, so those parts of the movie don’t take me anywhere I haven’t been. But exploring Paris in the 50s with a larger-than-life woman who finds delight in everything she sees?  I hope the DVD has like, 5 hours of deleted scenes of that stuff.

My movie defenses have been hardened by six years of film school, and I am quick to notice every false moment, cliche, and trick of movies.  Sometimes I watch movies not as a story but as a series of decisions (script, design, direction, framing, editing) that led to what’s on the screen, which can make it either really fun or really unfun to watch movies with me depending whether you see the word “pedantic” as a compliment or an insult.    But this film completely disarmed me, because it is about grown women at the moment when they start taking their own dreams and their own appetites seriously.  Ten years ago I was a depressed cubicle worker who used to sneak out of her job and watch three movies in a row.  (It turns out that if you are otherwise really good at your job, you can do this for about nine months before anyone notices.)  Then I took it seriously, and to quote a guy who wrote a poem once, that has made all the difference.

P.S. OMG the food

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6 responses to “French lunch + Julie & Julia

  1. ok…didn’t even finish your review, and I’ll see it. Loved the book, but was turned off to the movie by the reviews.

    • The Julie parts are not awesome. I think because in the book Julie’s voice is cute but also sarcastic and profane and self-deprecating, and Adams’s performance is almost painfully sincere. Julie of the book seems like she’d be awesome to hang out with and throw great dinner parties. Movie Julie makes me want to say “buck up, little camper!”

  2. lucky me, i have my paul! now, to get back on that road not taken dealio…i think i have other paths to follow. sadly they do not revolve around pearls and paris, but we can’t have everything.

    • I think you’d like the movie a lot. And you’re my own personal road-not-taken, what with the making small awesome people project you’ve got going on.

  3. B. here. What a lovely combination! I haven’t made pate forever, but learned using Julia’s recipe. And good to know the movie is worth seeing.

  4. “Then she checks her blog stats 75 times to see if anyone read it.” — haha, so true!!

    Nice movie review… I saw a clip of Meryl Streep’s Julia Child on the Colbert Report and was in awe… I use to watch Julia Child growing up… Meryl Streep is amazing…

    I have not read the book, but I will probably still wait for the DVD, but I will definitely see this movie after reading your review. 🙂

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