Monday, 22 April 2013

julie & julia revisited

Those of you who frequently stop by on my blog know that I have a weakness for everything French and it is no secret that I have a Paris obsession - and I love food. My love for Paris and France is not blind; I fully realise that no place is perfect but I choose to focus on the beauty of things instead of things gone wrong. (There are plenty of pessimists in this world who can take care of the latter.) France is only a short drive away from where I live but on Saturday I went to the library and borrowed the film Julie & Julia (2009), which would bring me to post-war France - more importantly, to the Paris kitchen of Julia Child.

When it comes to cooking, Julia Child and I probably couldn't be more different. She loved butter. I never use butter. She made things like aspic, which is something I wouldn't be caught dead preparing. Yet, I think we would have got along fine. We definitely could have enjoyed a glass of red and talked about our love for Paris. I also could have told her how much I adored her kitchenware.

Let me add here that I think Susan Bode, the set decorator who has decorated the sets of many of my favourite films, did an amazing job collecting all these items. I cannot get enough of this kitchen.

Anyway, I have seen Julie & Julia many times but this is the first time I get a copy containing Nora Ephron's commentary. (It turned out to be the last film she made; she passed away last year.) When I watched it and listened to her describing the making of the film there was one thing that surprised me.

Do you remember the part towards the end of the film where Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, gets a call from some journalist and learns that Julia Child "hates" her? I always thought that they had just added that to create more drama, but they didn't. Julia Child didn't like Julie Powell's blog.

Nora Ephron says (about 1 hour and 47 minutes into the film) that when she first heard it she thought it wasn't true or that Julia simply hadn't read Julie's blog. Even though quite old at the time, Julia had read it and she didn't like Julie Powell and thought that she had been ripped off by her; that Julie wasn't a serious cook. Those are almost Nora's exact words in the commentary.

Ouch, that must have hurt.

Imagine the time she devoted to this project, cooking all the 524 recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 in one year, and realising that the woman she so admired and looked up to didn't approve of what she was doing. You only have to look at the index of that book to realise the willpower required to complete this task. Some of these recipes are very difficult and take hours to cook (merely reading through some would make me tired!). And mind you, Julie was someone who had a full-time job.

Nora Ephron based her screenplay on Powell's book, Julie & Julia: The Year of Cooking Dangerously and Julia Child's book My Life in France that she wrote with her great-nephew Alex Prud'homme. Besides the director's commentary, there is another bonus material on the DVD called 'Secret Ingredients,' about the making of the film. In that one Meryl Streep says: "I'm not really doing Julia Child, I'm doing Julie Powell's idea of who she was."

I have mentioned this film on the blog before saying that I wasn't exactly a fan of the Julie Powell part; that I tend to watch only the scenes where Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci so wonderfully portray the lives of the Childs. But you know what, after hearing Streep talk about how she approached this role I have decided that from now on I'm going to give Julie Powell more credit. There probably wouldn't be a film about the life of the Childs if Julie hadn't blogged about her task and turned it into a book.

photo credit:
Jonathan Wenk for Sony Pictures via the Julie & Julia Facebook Page, except 2-4 via Mrs. Blandings


  1. Hi Lisa,

    You are so right.. I actually liked Julie but didn't know that Julia hated her blog in real life.

    The kitchen is amazing. Thank you foe sharing. Will go pinning soon. Hope you are well.

  2. I just love LOVE this movie!!! I have to go home and watch it again! =)

    Ergo - Blog

  3. I would get along with Julia as I like butter on everything even if this year I am trying to change my "diet" and had very little butter in my meals. I don't know much about Julia Child, I watched some youtube moments with her, but of one thing I am sure: Meryl Streep is divine in this movie :)

  4. I love your take on this. Can you imagine?...Julie must have really been heart-broken when she heard Julia's opinion of her, especially after all of her trials and tribulations!!
    I enjoyed the movie so much that I ran out and bought 'My Life in France', and loved it too.

  5. I tend to skip the Julie Powell part too, but I have to appreciate her determination. Wonderful post, Lisa! Yes, I think you and Julia would have lots of things to talk about. :)


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