Monday, August 24, 2009

Well Played Nora Ephron

Mad props also to Meryl Streep. And blogs.

If you haven't already guessed, I just got back from seeing the thoroughly delightful Julie & Julia. Here's hoping a whole new generation rediscovers the love for Julia Child (including both Meryl's and Dan Akroyd's interpretations). Highly recommended for the characterizations, depictions of various lifestyles, glimpses of good marriages after the happily ever after moment, and most of all the food. The Food!

Even more, here's hoping that Hollywood will continue to fund and produce quality films starring women of all ages. At the local writer's group meeting I stumbled into a couple weeks back, one of the writers used to be a successful actress. She knew her career was screeching to a halt when men her age got to play Supreme Court Justices and she got to play a Supreme Court Justice's wife, and make him a sandwich in her big scene. You'll notice in Julie & Julia that the women have the strong lead roles even if they are making their husbands Boeuf Bourguignon. Nicely, the male roles weren't throwaway - they were strong supporting roles, just as the real husbands were (according to the accounts) strong, supportive husbands. It felt really healthy to see this movie. Which should counteract at least a little of the butter I'll most likely be eating very soon!

The score/soundtrack is something I'll search out if I get around to it. I think at least one song was from Chocolat. (Wonder if they also cadged a song from Big Night? Nah, that was Italian food, but both have Stanley Tucci!)

Some funky coincidences - I used to live around the corner from Julia Child's Cambridge house, right around the corner from the woman who revolutionized home cooking. The entrance to her neighborhood was the next right past my laundromat. I'm pretty sure I only found out after she'd moved away, but I had a friend who would take walks over there, living in hopes of a Julia sighting back in the day. Now I live, more figuratively, around the corner from Hollywood. Where hopefully Nora Ephron will have people beating down her door to hand her heaps of money to make more good movies with women in the power positions - producers, writers, lead roles, directors, etc...

[Tangent: Look at the recent movies coming out - what looks to be a lousy piece of garbage about badly behaved men with nothing to recommend them trying to sell cars comes to mind. Just try to find me a supporting female role in that movie that is worth anything more than a couple months rent to the actress. Why is it that all manner of crap written by men, about men, & starring men can get funding? And why can't they even pretend to put in a female role that's worth a damn? It's one reason I didn't hate Baby Mama as much as it deserved. At least it was crap written by women about women and starring women that got funded. It was certainly no worse than half the other movies out at the time.] Back to J&J...

While I had heard of the blog, I don't think I ever checked it out while it was in progress. Quite the undertaking! I had a hard time liking Julie in the movie, but I've decided it's better to have flawed characters making a go of things than perfect paragons who are also thinner than the rest of us showing off their perfection. I didn't have a problem with the meltdowns, those seemed quite reasonable for mid-way through an extensive, time pressured project. But the dinner with frenemies kind of put me off. (Not as much as the 2 horror movie trailers in the previews, but I digress.) She didn't like her friends - fortunately discussed later, rather than dropped cold, if not much resolved. And she seemed more jealous of them than happy for them. While that could be natural, especially around a milestone birthday, it played to me as more solipcistic and mean than it had to. I came out of the movie adoring Julia Child and pleased for Julie that she accomplished such a feat for herself.

Despite my criticisms of Julie the character, lord knows I sympathize. When I was that age I also worried about never finishing something. I'd graduated and written a bachelor's thesis but hadn't set the world afire. It was around that age I found Cued Speech and worked toward my instructor's certification driven in large part by the desire to meet a recognized level of accomplishment. Now I just bitch about the cost of living, mostly, and watching everyone who made bad choices get bailed out while I try to maintain a good humor about watching it happen and get the runaround when I try to merely fix my interest rate. That can't always come off as sweetness and light. I'm hoping future birthdays won't freak me out so much as this one. For the cherry on top, I just received my birthday card from my grandma (93 in two weeks) saying "Ah, Sweet Youth // it's all behind us now!"

Feels almost like a Julie & Julia moment, dontcha know.

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