Julie & Julia reviews

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Postby criddic3 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 4:12 am

I thought Adams was fine. What was so bad about her performance?
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Postby cam » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:02 am

Because the Julie Powell book was fleshed out with the Child book, I sort of expected more. Streep does another Oscar-worthy performance, and may just get it this time, but Adams is a disaster. The food is absolutely lovely and the wonderful photography of it is reminiscent of "Big Night". The film could have said a lot more about women and challenges, but even my wife was ho-hum about it.

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Postby Penelope » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:37 pm

Passable, but nothing great. Streep's impersonation is impressive, but it rarely moves beyond that. The Adams sequences are deadly dull, and she's rather miscast--Julie and other characters describe her as a "bitch" but she comes across as nothing more than self-involved.
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Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:07 pm

Hollywood Reporter.
Julie and Julia -- Film Review
By Kirk Honeycutt

You feel hunger pangs all the way through "Julie & Julia." Platters of boeuf bourguignon, sole meuniere, fresh oysters, trussed chickens and calves' livers served with crusty baguettes and desserts of fromage blanc move tantalizingly before your eyes. But there is another hunger: As enjoyable as this foodie movie is, you wish it would take a deeper, more nuanced measure of the women who, in two different eras, star in the movie's kitchens.

Writer-director Nora Ephron tells of two real-life people, newly wed and restless with ill-defined ambitions, and how they discover their true selves in gourmet cooking. They are America's first food star, the late cookbook author and TV personality Julia Child, and an otherwise unknown 30-year-old wife in Queens, N.Y., Julie Powell, who blogged about her attempt to cook all 524 recipes in Child's legendary "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a single year.

The film is primed to do extremely well with female audiences in many markets, an attraction only enhanced by stars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.

Ephron, who certainly delights in parallel story lines -- "Sleepless in Seattle," "You've Got Mail," "When Harry Met Sally ..." -- has merged two recent memoirs, "My Life in France," which Child wrote with her grandnephew Alex Prud'homme, and "Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously," by Powell.

Probably this merger makes commercial sense: Neither memoir is the stuff of popular moviemaking, though Child's reminiscences of her life-changing experiences in postwar France -- where she fell in love with French culture, cuisine, local markets and her classes at the Cordon Bleu -- might have been worth a try.

Powell's story about her single-minded engagement with Child's cookbook has an almost unpleasant taste of self-absorption. And by sharing her story with Child's, Ephron throws the wrong emphasis on Child's delightful memoir of the early years in her ideal marriage to Paul Child.

True, the movie shows that Paul -- played with modest self-effacement by Stanley Tucci against Streep's larger-than-life Julia -- encourages his beloved wife's every experiment in the kitchen and the writing of her seminal book. But by contrasting that memoir with Powell's, the movie somewhat distorts the life the Childs share as they revel in their love for la belle France and each other.

Streep delivers yet another uncanny impersonation, getting every shade of the famously hearty voice and extravagant, life-loving personality that was Julia. The evocation of late-'40s Paris encourages a terrific sense of nostalgia, whether one was alive or even in France then or not. After "Julie & Julia," you feel like you were.

The details of the couple's life and their meals, Julia's Kismet-like meeting with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, with whom she wrote her first cookbook, and all mood swings as publishers reject -- and Knopf enthusiastically accepts -- the monumental work fill the screen with joie de vivre.

Adams' Julie is more of a lost soul. She lives with a "saint," as she often calls her husband, Eric (Chris Messina), in an iffy apartment above a pizza parlor. She works as a secretary in a federal government office overlooking the World Trade Center crater and laments that she has never finished anything in her life. Thus her determination to complete the cookbook marathon.

She suffers for her blog. She drags herself to that cramped kitchen whether sick or well. She refuses to quit because it has become her identity. Without the "Julie/Julia Project," she'd revert to a frustrated wife with a husband, dead-end job and another unfinished project. No joie de vivre here.

Possibly the Powell sequences might have worked better as a framing device. Sharing equal time with Julia's discovery of la cuisine bourgeoisie, it turns the banquet that was Julia's French experiences into short-order dishes. And even in the Julia sequences, Ephron dwells far too long on the conflicts among the cookbook's three authors.

Consequently, the movie misses the point of "My Life in France." That country liberated Julia, a 6-foot-2 woman -- tall girls "don't fit it," her equally tall sister remarks -- from a conservative Republican household in Pasadena. France released her from middle-class values and its indifferent attitude toward food. She in turn introduced the modern American woman to the glories of cooking and how she could express artistry in her kitchen.

So "Julie & Julia" is a mixed blessing. You enjoy vicariously many dishes, sample the good life in France and get treated to another Streep marvel. Stephen Goldblatt's lush cinematography and Alexandre Desplat's whimsical score make the film's two worlds inviting. Both female protagonists even enjoy a final triumph, but one indulges far too much in Bridget Jones-like self-obsession.

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Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:56 pm

Julie & Julia

It should come as no surprise that Meryl Streep's delightfully daffy turn as Julia Child, the woman who demystified French cuisine for American households, is the freshest ingredient in "Julie & Julia." Otherwise, this middling melange of Child biopic and contempo dramedy feels overstuffed and predigested as it depicts two ladies who found fame and fulfillment in their respective eras by cooking and writing about it. Despite the lack of shared screen time, the reteaming of "Doubt" duo Streep and Amy Adams under the femme-friendly imprimatur of writer-director Nora Ephron should yield tasty returns for this self-satisfied foodie fairy tale.

"Julie & Julia" shares its title with Julie Powell's barbed-and-bubbly 2005 book about her plan to chop, stir, bake and whip her way through Child's seminal 1961 cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Powell's blog devoted to her crazy yearlong experiment, dubbed "The Julie/Julia Project," developed enough of a following to earn her a book deal and, as the end titles note with characteristic cuteness, inspire this movie. Probably aware that Powell's story alone wouldn't sustain an entire feature, Ephron opted to divide the film's 122-minute running time between Julie and Julia, also drawing material from the latter's posthumously completed 2006 memoir, "My Life in France."

Upon arriving in Paris in 1948 with her husband, Paul (Stanley Tucci), who has taken a job at the American embassy, Julia (Streep), a self-described "36-year-old, rather loud and unserious Californian," is enraptured by French culture in general and French cuisine in particular. The pic efficiently traces Julia's determined rise from impassioned gourmand to master cook, from her education alongside unfriendly male competition at the Cordon Bleu school to her friendship with fellow epicureans Simone Beck (Linda Emond) and Louisette Bertholle (Helen Carey) -- her eventual collaborators on the 524-recipe cookbook that no publisher would initially accept.

Meanwhile, in a rickety Gotham apartment circa 2002, Julie (a redheaded Adams), alarmed at the prospect of turning 30 and having little to show for it, embarks on her insane assignment -- working as a government secretary by day, cooking and blogging by night. Fortunately, Julie's husband, Eric (Chris Messina), loves her enough to put up with her exaggerated mood swings whenever a dish goes awry, though his patience and sensitivity wear thin as the project drags on.

And so the film implies a kinship between two women who never meet, united across time and space by their love of butter, their doting husbands, their search for meaning through pleasure and their struggles to see their work in print. (Call it "Publisher-less in Paris.") The crucial difference, one Ephron doesn't seem to grasp, is that while Julie courts the fickle attentions of the blogosphere and the media, Julia yearns to create something of lasting value, a work with genuine potential to enrich people's lives. Ironically, the pic's decision to foreground Julia's life only ends up trivializing it; by conflating the characters so neatly, "Julie & Julia" becomes the slick, presumptuous vanity project that Powell's book was not.

Doing her formidable best to counteract these drawbacks is Streep, whose 5-foot-6 frame makes her an imperfect physical match for the 6-foot-2 Julia, but who proves more than up to the challenge of tackling this beloved celebrity's equally outsized personality. Delivering an elegant approximation of the woman's distinctly flutelike vocal pitch and endearing mannerisms, Streep abundantly conveys the warmth, rich humor and joie de vivre so evident in Julia's TV appearances and her writing. She and Tucci (as fine a foil here as he was in "The Devil Wears Prada") etch moving portraits of two people who can scarcely conceal their delight at being married to each other.

As a more prosaic and bickersome modern couple, Adams and Messina acquit themselves well enough; Adams, rather miraculously, manages not to sink under the weight of her character's cloying perkiness and weepy hysterics. The overall tone of the present-day material strikes familiar, unsubtle romantic-comedy beats, with a few catty dashes of "Sex and the City" and "Bridget Jones's Diary" thrown in to taste.

While Ann Roth's costumes and Mark Ricker's production design nail the dual milieus with impressive versatility, the Paris scenes feel slightly gauche and unconvincing; commercial considerations likely account for the near-total absence of French dialogue. Most disappointingly, aside from the occasional glimpse of boeuf bourguignon, the film misses a clear opportunity to offer glorious culinary eye candy on the level of "Babette's Feast" or "Eat Drink Man Woman." Whatever auds make of "Julie & Julia," it's hard to imagine that Julia Child herself, an unapologetic Francophile with one hell of an appetite, would have been much of a fan.

Screen Daily
Julie & Julia
24 July, 2009 | By Fionnuala Halligan

Dir/scr. Nora Ephron. US. 2009. 123mins.

There’s a key ingredient to the Julie & Julia experience which writer-director Nora Ephron has taken for granted, and that’s a familiarity with Julia Child. Credited with introducing French food to the US in the 1960s and 70s, Child was a Cordon Bleu chef with distinctive physical attributes and eccentric, if not downright campy, mannerisms, which Streep largely nails.

But Ephron does not help the uninitiated – that is to say the younger viewer or international audiences who haven’t seen Child’s TV shows – by providing any footage or context upfront. Thus it takes a while for Streep’s initially alarming performance – more reminiscent of her turn in Mamma Mia! than Doubt – to sink in and the good-natured Julie & Julia to warm up into a dish which will be best savoured by American kitchen goddesses, Streep and Ephron fans, skewing female and older.

Even as the film wraps, it feels as if there’s a course missing.
A good thematic match for long-time foodie Ephron, whose 1983 novel Heartburn (later adapted with Streep in the lead) was dotted with recipes, Julie & Julia twins the real-life stories of Childs’ arrival in Paris in 1948 and, in 2002, a year-long effort by New York blogger Julie Powell (Adams) to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s opus Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Billed as a comedy, this comes across as a typically whimsical effort from Ephron, who has enjoyed sustained success as a writer but a bumpier path behind the camera (from the highs of Sleepless in Seattle to Mixed Nuts, Michael and Bewitched). Here, she’s working from a mixture of Powell’s blog and Child’s posthumously-published My Life In France. Julia and, a half century years later, Julie, struggle to become published authors; both have adoring husbands (Stanley Tucci in Paris, Chris Messina in Queens); and are passionate about food. Ephron traces their parallel quests.

The director introduces Child as she arrives in Paris with her diplomat husband Paul and eats a meal of sole meuniere which will kick off a lifelong obsession with food. Julia becomes the first American woman to study at the famous Cordon Bleu cookery school, and eventually – after several setbacks chronicled here - writes Mastering The Art of French Cooking with her friends Louise Bertholle (Carey) and Simone Beck (Emond), the popularity of which leads to her famous TV show.

Interspersed with this is the story of Julie Powell, a government employee and aspiring writer in New York who has just moved to Queens and frets about her impending 30th birthday. She comes up with the idea to blog her way through Julia Child’s 524 recipes in 365 days – an effort which netted her a book deal, and, as the credits archly note, this film.

Adams has a lot to deal with in these sequences; not only must she make like Carrie Bradshaw and sit in front of a laptop smiling at her own blog, she also has to roll around the floor in hysterics whenever she burns the boeuf bourgignon. Eating an egg, boning a duck and cooking a lobster become big dramas for Julie, but Adams thankfully manages to smooth over some of character’s more irritating edges.

Julie & Julia also suffers from the dramatic imbalance: writing a blog about cooking somebody else’s recipes isn’t quite the same feat as creating the recipes yourself. Neither story here quite stands up by itself, and they don’t quite gel together either - even as the film wraps, it feels as if there’s a course missing.

Julie & Julia’s score accurately reflects Childs’ TV series, but sets a cheesy tone which the film struggles to shrug off. Of note technically is overenthusiastic sound work; it seems odd that Julia Child would spend years mastering the art of French cooking and then speak with her mouth full, but turning the sound levels up on Messina cramming down a bruschetta in mid-speech was certainly inadvisable.

Edited By Mister Tee on 1248548354

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