Thursday, September 3, 2009

what "julie & julia" taught me

This past week I went to the cinema with some friends. We watched the new movie, "Julie & Julia," which is "based on two true stories," as the tagline has it. I'd been wanting to see it since I heard about it several months ago, since I have a very soft spot for Nora Ephron films, for food films, and for Meryl Streep films. All three in one? OK, we're on! Also, I'm a blogger, and so a film about a blogger also scores points with me. So, it was inevitable that I would see it, really.

We settled in for the film, my two friends and I. One of them, M, had just recently decided to go off dairy products, suspecting that she might be allergic. I am attempting to limit my own sugar intake, as well as caffeine, so that meant that we didn't smuggle anything into the theatre besides gummy bears. I did take a long, sad glance at the popcorn counter, but the prices were enough to scare me back to sense. (Four DOLLARS for a chocolate bar. And it's not even a very good chocolate bar. It's waxy Dove "dark" chocolate that tastes more like additives than chocolate. Sad, sad, sad. I mean, if it was Just-us Fair Trade Dark chocolate then I would happily pay four dollars. But - no.)

Well, the movie was a joy. Yes, there were trite moments, and yes, I tried to stay just a tiny bit aware of the Hollywood machine and all that. But mostly I sunk into that film like I would into a great big, overstuffed armchair on a rainy afternoon. It was like "You've Got Mail" crossed with, well, Julia Child, and you all know how I feel about "You've Got Mail". So, as you might imagine, I loved a lot of things about "Julie and Julia," but I think the three most important lessons I took from it can be summed up as:

1. Tall, big-boned women rock. Julia Child was six foot two, according to my sources. (The Internet.) Meryl Streep playing Child stalks all over the screen, making no apologies about her larger-than-the-norm body. Indeed, neither does Stanley Tucci's Paul Child, Julia's adoring husband, apologize for loving her body. It's obvious they lust after each other, as well as being in love, and I liked how physical they were - there's a moment where "Julia" reaches for "Paul" when they are kissing, both in nightclothes, and the way she touches his belly and reaches for his waistline and below that is tender and yet erotic.

The clothes on Julia Child are straight-up beautiful 1940s and 50s dresses, skirts and blouses, which emphasize the waist, and she's got the figure to pull it off. It just happens to be a bigger than average figure; her height, for all that it dominates the screen, is only referenced a few times - the message is that yes, she's tall, but that's not what the fuss was all about. The fuss, rightly so, was about her presence, her passion, and her cooking.

(If you're interested in reading and thinking more about bodies and body size and being positive about fat and big and tall and all that, I highly recommend this blog: Shapely Prose. In fact, I might just do a whole blog post about it at some point.)

2. Women bloggers rock. So the other half of the story is Julie Powell, who was an aspiring writer working in a less-than-dream job in 2002, when she decided to write a blog chronicling a year of cooking her way through Julia Child's book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." (Side note: I started blogging in 2002, too!) I loved how 2002 is now part of history, now, and how at that point, blogging was this new thing that only a few people were doing.

I'm beginning to think that maybe my love for both "You've Got Mail" and "Sex and the City" is actually due to a passion for scenes of women typing on laptops. Because, well, this movie's got a spate of them. What can I say? I identify. I might have only gotten a laptop to call my own last year, but for almost seven years I've been typing my own blogs and articles out on a keyboard, so when I see Meg Ryan, Sarah Jessica Parker and now Amy Adams tap-tapping away, while a voice-over reads what she's typing, I get a wee bit excited. Mind you, my writing doesn't take place in a stylish New York City apartment, nor in front of a window, usually. And, my voice-over is all in my own head. But this I know for sure - bloggers, and women, and hey! women bloggers - rock, and I'm proud to be one, and to see them onscreen. You don't need a book deal to write and publish, you just need tenacity, an audience, and the ability to type. (Voice-over optional.)

3. Butter rocks. As my friend M found out, much to her now-dairy-less dismay, butter is all over this movie. There is even a short montage where one, then two, then three large blocks of butter are added to a hot frying pan, while the voice-over declares: "Nope, you can never have too much butter!" And, at the end of the film, when "Julie" visits the Smithsonian exhibit of "Julia's" kitchen, she secretly leaves a block of unsalted butter under a portrait of the chef. Everything in French cooking, it seems, meets butter at some point or another, and "Butter makes everything better" easily could have been the alternate tagline for this movie. Butter - and the movie as a whole is pretty tasty - except, of course, if you're lactose-intolerant.

In other news: I invested in the actual CD release version of the new Fat Freddy's Drop album, and I am not sorry. It only took a week and a half to arrive from New Zealand, and thanks to the favorable exchange rate, 36 NZ$ turned out to be only 27 CAN$. (That was Air Mail included.)

If you haven't yet listened to Fat Freddy's Drop, and you like reggae, soul, dub or R&B, I suggest you get yourself over to their website and listen to some samples. Or, check them out on YouTube, as there are lots of videos for their tunes there.

That's it for now! Until next Thursday.

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