So, yeah, the insomnia has hit again. Like it does.
Although, this time, I was able to catch the ass-end of Julie and Julia (totally one of my favorite movies), and it caused me to remember back in 2009, when I had taken a year off of school to suss out what exactly I was going to be doing with the rest of my life (a rest-of-my-life that lasted about a year and half), I wrote briefly for Handmade News‘s “Just for Fun” department.
And, since it’s National Novel Writing Month and I’m really behind on my novel, the insomnia is really insane and Julie and Julia was on, I’d go back and revisit the movie review that I had written of Julie and Julia for Handmade News.
‘Cause I’m weird.
And a procrastinator.
Also? Because, sometimes, reading what you have written before can be a heartening experience when you’re in the midst of a new writing project.
I.e., it reminds you that, even if you’re completely sucking right now, you once knew how to write, and possibly, you might remember how to write again.
Oh, melodrama. <–Can y’all tell that I grew up reading and watching Anne of Green Gables?
So, yeah, here it is so that y’all don’t have to over to the actual review (‘though, y’all should check out HMN).
Julie and Julia tells the story of young Julie Powell as she cooks her way through the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days. That much, you figure out from the previews. What the previews aren’t saying is how supremely sweet and touching Julie Powell’s story is because it isn’t just the story of one New Yorker rapidly approaching thirty, but really, the story of all of us that are searching for a way to free ourselves from our own indecision and looking for a dare-to-be-great situation. Julie Powell’s story of empowerment is framed by Julia Child’s story of self-discovery as she learns to cook at Le Cordon Bleu and, eventually, writes Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Although this movie probably qualifies as a “chick-flick,” it’s an oddity in the romantic comedy genre due to everybody already being married, but more than that, a lot of what is fantastic about this movie can be summed up in two words.
Director-writer-producer Nora Ephron deftly intersperses Julie Powells’s histrionics and Julia Child’s escapades with glorious, gratuitous food porn. It’s like Food Network in a movie theatre. That alone would have made this movie worth watching, but what was completely brilliant and supremely touching was the relationship between Paul Child (Stanley Tucci) and Julia Child (Academy Award®-winner Meryl Streep) set in the beautifully scenic Paris of the late 1940s and early 1950s and then in a succession of anonymous, European apartments until, finally, Julia and Paul move into their famous Cambridge Massachusetts house.
The portrayal of Paul-—which is largely based upon surviving letters that Paul wrote to his brother Charlie, letters that Julia wrote to her friend Avis, and Julia Child’s autobiography My Life in France—is wonderfully deadpanned and quirky, and Tucci, whose performance as Puck in the 1999 adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was unforgettable, catches those aspects of Paul exactingly, which is heartbreakingly obvious in Paul’s consideration of Julia throughout the film. Streep’s Julia is full of a madcap silliness that is completely believable if you’ve ever watched “The French Chef,” yet with an under-riding melancholy that infiltrates the film and is used to frame Julie’s own emotional setbacks and disasters with relationships and her job as well as trying to reconcile the Julia in her head and the Julia who lives and breathes in the world.
Before there is the misapprehension that this movie nothing but melancholy, there is a wickedly brilliant, sharp wit that pervades Julie and Julia and can be heard in the words and phrases that are nearly lost between Julia and Paul as scenes change and can be seen by incidents like the juxtaposition of the ritual boiling of lobsters for Lobster Thermidor with the Talking Head’s song “Psycho Killer.”
Amy Adams (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) and Chris Messina (Made of Honor) are fantastic as Julie and Eric, the quintessential functionally dysfunctional contemporary couple stuck in an apartment they don’t really like and in jobs that aren’t as fulfilling as they would want. Adams’ Julie is completely neurotic and brilliantly spastic while Messina’s Eric acts as a way to temper the craziness in much the same way that Tucci’s Paul balances Streep’s Julia, mirroring each other so that, even when Julie learns that Julia doesn’t care for The Julie/Julia Project, there are no hard feelings from the viewer toward Julia Child.
Julie and Eric become somewhat of a critique of blogging culture and hipsters for thirty-something couples, but Adams and Messina are so real in their portrayals that it’s hard to think badly of Julie and Eric since it seems that they are trying to find meaning whereas many soon-to-be thirty-somethings aren’t. This critique is set among a cheerily-gloomy New York one year after 9/11: Julie’s cubicle is the soft yellow that screams of some bureaucrat’s idea of “soothing” and “calming” while the street scenes are bare and often concrete in contrast to the wonderful crowded-ness of Julie and Eric’s apartment that is, as we are reminded, “900 square feet”—-and above a pizzeria.
Overall, although the film probably won’t be winning too many awards since it doesn’t have Tom Hanks dying of some horrible disease, it is sweet and witty, empowering and charming, and you’ll likely come away with a hearty appetite–both for food and for cooking.
Not precisely the kinda thing that y’all are probably expecting from a studio art blog (although, those of you that have been here for ever and ever and ever probably aren’t surprised by my little forays into writing).
Totally understandable since artists are not generally thought of creatures given to work with the
written typed word, but words have always been important to me (as if evidenced by a degree in Literature and a job history littered with writing-oriented jobs).
It’s also incredibly important to my art, e.g., the unnamed friends series all have L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E poetry not-fairtales that accompany them. Also, Artist Books, for me, is less about the physical book-making (although that is important–form must meet function, after all), but more about the transmission of information, of concept.
And, the novels that I write during NaNoWriMo and the scripts that I write during Script Frenzy are where the fairytales, mythologies, narratives, and popular culture references that appear in my work get
dumped stored a lot.
Think of them as my external hard-drives. <–See, ‘Lain, I do have an external storage center for my brain-files!
So, odd as it is, story-writing is part of my conceptual process and, therefore, part of my art-making.
I’m not certain that I had really verbalized that for myself before.
Nice to know all of it works together.