Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't Miss This One!

I had the pleasure of getting away on my birthday last week to see “Julie and Julia” with a friend, followed by dinner. I have to tell you, dear readers, if you haven’t seen it, run—don’t walk—to the theatre to see this delightful film. From the moment the credits came on until the lights went up at the end, I was smiling from ear to ear. It’s that good and it’s that uplifting.

I find as I get older—and have been through some stuff (that which we shall not name and all)—that I can’t take movies that have any kind of violence, but particularly violence against women, children, and animals; a focus on the end of the world and complete destruction; or anything in which a character develops, deals with, or god forbid, dies of, cancer. Any kind. If that makes me a wimp, well, so be it. (I still can’t look at the Statue of Liberty up close. Why? The last scene of “Planet of the Apes” where Charlton Heston escapes from the apes, runs down to the ocean, and finds the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand. He’s been in his own country all along, a country that’s been overtaken by apes. The visual has stuck with me all these years and is something of a joke in my family. But it’s not a joke to me. The memory of the final scene in that movie—seen when I was a young child—makes me sick to my stomach to this day. Heck, I’m getting a little queasy just writing about it!) So, with all of those requirements, it’s been well over a year since I’ve stepped foot in a movie theatre. When I saw the advertisements for “Julie and Julia” on television, I told my husband that I wasn’t going to miss it.

One of the most refreshing things about the movie is its positive depiction of marriage, particularly the marriage of Julia and Paul Child. These were two people who cared about each other, supported each other, loved each other, and had a very voracious and healthy sex life. What could be better? They had their hardships—many moves between Europe and the United States, infertility, Paul’s job insecurity and subsequent questioning by members of HUAC—but they seemed to get through everything with laughter, a good meal, and each other’s support. I know: it’s just a movie. I’m sure that they hit their bumps in the marital road. But isn’t this just a bit more refreshing than watching couples deal with infidelity and any one of a host of other problems in the movies that seem to come out weekly?

The “Julie” portions of the story weren’t quite as uplifting, but charming nonetheless. Her marriage was on shakier ground than “Julia’s” due to her obsession with her blog and cooking her way through Julia’s cookbook, but things resolved nicely and left me with a positive feeling about her and her husband as well.

One piece of oft-recited advice: Do not go to the movie hungry. The cooking scenes are numerous, realistic, and intense. I have never wanted to eat boeuf bourguignon so badly in my life but that’s a tough dish to find in a sleepy suburban village in New York in the middle of August. So we settled for dinner at an Italian restaurant and the chicken special to take the edge of the hunger exacerbated by the movie.

This is one not to miss.

What movies would you recommend, now that you know my requirements for a good feature film? And please, make sure the Statue of Liberty doesn’t take up residence on a sandy beach far, far into the future. That’s rule number one for my viewing pleasure.

Maggie Barbieri


  1. On Friday the 14th (the day before what was Julia Child’s birthday) my younger sister and I also made a theme day out of seeing Julie & Julia and then having lunch at our favorite Italian resto, one of two bistro-ish choices in the immediate topography.

    Liked the movie a lot, too. Agree that the Julie part was the lesser piece. The book of her story was only so-so while the book of Child’s (My Life in France) was much better, but that could be sentimentality since I lived in Paris from ’88-’92 and am prone to nostalgia. I’m the same about my three years lived in NYC (’85-’88).

    I did NOT like either the actor or the character of Julie Powell’s husband Eric! He was a P-I-G pig! That early scene of him eating her bruschetta?! Yikes. I’m a cook who values highly the time and energy I take to make a meal and whether it takes me 30 minutes or 3 hours, I won’t tolerate people not dropping what they’re doing and getting to the table when I say “dinner’s ready”—I’m looking at you, dear husband Mark! Nothing winds me up like when I say “dinner is ready” and he takes even five more minutes playing some silly computer game or reading the paper, etc. I’m HUNGRY by then, I’ve worked hard on the meal, and dammit I want to EAT and enjoy while the enjoying is ripe. So, if my sweetie had dug into that lovely chocolate cake with his mitts and then smeared it around his face (as Julie’s spouse did near the end) I’d have knocked him to the ground and screeched “NO CAKE FOR YOU, PIGMAN”!

    One last dig: they lived a very modest life, the Powells, but she had Le Creuset pans up the wazoo in that grotty apartment. Ladies and gents, I own about a half dozen of these wonderful pans and two were gifts while I got all of the others at huge sales or even at factory second outlets. Those pans currently run about an average of $150 each, so it would have been interesting to see in the film how she got them and even to touch on the idea that the tools of cooking aren’t always expensive, but some are.

    Loved the part with Streep and Tucci. Would love to see a movie with them that just focuses on their life after they returned to the US and she began her TV show, etc.

    I avoid the violent themes and stories, too, as I’ve posted here before. You might enjoy Up—it has some sad bits, but was very sweet and often funny. The sadness was wrapped up in the story of love and living, not an ugly kind of sad.

    I haven’t seen anything else new lately. I hear District 9 is very good, but it may be too violent or gory for me. Don’t know. It’s supposed to be thought provoking. Nothing on me needs provoking, though.

    Lastly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAGGIE SCAREY BARBIERI, you young thing you! You’re the best Maggie I’ll ever know.

  2. I just saw "Julie & Julia" yesterday with a good friend and my mom (who was dying to see it as well). Absolutely LOVED Streep's depiction of Julia Child. It makes me want to find a DVD of Julia's cooking shows, which I don't remember in reality. But I always knew who she was (how could one grow up in this country and not know?). It made me realize how few originals like Julia we have left and how rare they are when reality shows are making "stars" out of talent-less, uneducated brats and plastic surgery makes everyone look like character-less clones. (Okay, rant over!) I did see the movie when I was hungry, and by it's end I was starving! We went to eat at Cheesecake afterward, but what I really wanted was a little of that boeuf bourguignon. I agree, Vicky, that I would've rather seen more Julia than Julie. Overall, adored the movie and want to go back with my husband.

    Maggie, I'm with you. Why go to a movie to be entertained and watch the world collapse and people die? (Or worse, when animals die! Ugh!) I used to love scary movies in high school, but I wouldn't any more go see the latest remake/rendition of "Friday the 13th" for all the money in the world. Having lived awhile and having faced scary things, my perspective has surely changed. Uplift me or teach me something, or else I won't pay for a ticket!

    It's Maggie's birthday??? (Thanks for the heads-up, Vicky!)Happy birthday, chica! And here's to many, many more!


  3. Happy Birthday, Maggie!

    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

  4. Happy Birthday, Maggie!

    I'm anxious to see that one too. My son-in-law, back when he was a truck driver, used to deliver wine to Julia Child's home on a regular basis. He never saw her, only her husband, but could hear her talking.

    He also made deliveries to Oprah and often saw her without her makeup. And that's all I'll say about that.

    We watch a lot of movies from Netflix and vary the types of movies.

    I used to love horror movies too, and still like a scary one as long as it doesn't have blood and guts in it.

    What I do object to is language that's not necessary, we walked of Funny People and sex scenes that are too explicit.


  5. Maggie,

    I went with a friend also. We are both cooks, have spent time in Paris, loved the movie....but ate first!
    We loved the SNL "French Chef" skit, probably since we'd both seen the original as well as LOTS of the early Julia Child shows.

    If you haven't seen it, try "Love, Actually"


  6. Oh, I mean, thanks, Maggie, for letting us know about your birthday. (How did I miss that part? Glad I read Vicky's comments so I didn't miss the birthday mention altogether!) Man, I am so ADHD sometimes!

    Susan (at least, I think that's my name)

  7. Maggie - I loved the movie, too, and wanted to run to La Vie En Rose immediately for something French and decadent. Unfortunately, my hubby and son were in the other theater watching GI Joe. They wanted burgers.

    I don't get to the movies often. Gratuitous violence and scatalogical humor isn't my thing. I suspect that's part of why Julie & Julia is so popular - people like us are pining for this kind of film.

    The best movies I can recommend to you are quite old, but they're uplifting and fun: French Kiss, While You Were Sleeping, Auntie Mame, and My Man Godfrey. Nobody dies of cancer, and no children or animals are harmed - yay!


  8. I so agree. The Julia/Paul marriage was wonderful. I hope it was that good in real life. I know a lot of people criticized the Julie part of the movie but on the whole, it served the purpose of accenting the Julia segments. And for what it's worth, I hide under the covers during violent scenes, especially TORTURE!