Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer vacation is almost over

Didn't realize I was taking a summer vacation from the blog! As the summer winds down I'm back. I've been busy, busy, busy, with lots of exciting, crazy antics, which I'll probably write about later when things are a bit more settled. Because I'm been so INSANE (just know, the last three weeks, and the last few days in particular, have been one of the biggest roller coaster rides I've experienced), and because my poor hubster is so darn sensitive to the heat, we decided to go to the air-conditioned movie theater last night. A welcome and excellent distraction!

There were a few good options at the Lloyd Center theatre (the one outside the mall on Multnomah) - Funny People, (500) Days of Summer, Julie & Julia. We chose Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci. The (based on true) story follows a nearly-30 young woman named Julie who dreams to be a writer, but depressingly plugs away at government desk job. Her husband encourages her to start a cooking blog. She decides that her blog/life project will be to cook every single recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in exactly 365 days. Parallel to Julie's story is Julia Child's story - how she began seriously cooking in her 40s while living in Paris, studying at the Cordon Bleu and her deeply romantic and loving relationship with her husband Paul. To top it all off it was written and directed by queen of the chick flick Nora Ephron of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle fame. Sounds like too-perfect a package, right?

Loved it! OK, I admit, it's exactly what I wanted and needed for a distraction - a sappy, sweet love story. But it was even better than I expected from a formulaic Hollywood "chick flick."

First of all, Meryl Streep is frakkin' brilliant. She is such an amazing actress! She always manages to create fresh, complex, engaging characters, unlike so many other iconic (particularly male) actors of her caliber and age, who seem to fall into trite characterizations of themselves. (Think DeNiro, Pacino.) Streep's Julia Child is hilarious, loving, lovable, tragic, flamboyant and charming. Stanley Tucci makes a perfect Paul to Streep's Julia and their chemistry is heart-warming and wonderful to watch. Jane Lynch has a fun appearance as Julia's equally tall and charming sister.

In the other story line, Amy Adams does a very nice job as the sweet, quirky blogger. Her journey through Julia's cookbook is somewhat predictable, but well-played and satisfying. Eric Messina brings a nice grounding to their story line as husband Eric.

Another interesting aspect to the film is the political and social backdrop of the time periods of the two stories. Julia and Paul's story takes place amidst the scary McCarthy years, with Paul himself getting investigated for his communist ties. Julie and Eric live in Queens, Julie working at the Lower Manhattan Development Project post-9/11 answering calls about claims for survivors of folks who perished.

All in all, I enjoyed the film. It made me yearn for (and almost feel sick over) the gorgeous, rich French dishes. And it's always lovely and rare to see a good movie with strong, interesting, complex women characters, made by a strong female director.

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