A re-post from my starter blog -- August '09.
Mom & I enjoyed a foodie field trip day last Wednesday. We drove about an hour away to Birmingham where we window shopped, stopped at Penzey's spice store, and saw a matinee of Julie & Julia.
First though, we stopped at the drive-thru and heeded Mom's new addiction: chai tea lattes. I made the mistake of introducing those to her on our trip to Chicago earlier this summer and now she's hooked. With our lattes safely placed in the car's beverage holders, we were off to Birmingham.
We stopped at Forte for an early lunch. The weather was perfect so we sat at a sidewalk table. We shared some starters...Buffalo chicken spring rolls, tempura shrimp, and beef croquettes. All three dishes were prepared well and were very tasty.
Just two doors down was the movie theater, the Birmingham 8, a throwback to old movie palaces and one of my favorite places to see movies in Detroit. Mom & I took our seats as the lights went down and were transported to Paris in the 50s and 60s with Julia Child. Once the end credits rolled, we realized that we weren't ready to come back to reality.
The movie is based on the book, Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell, a temp worker in New York City who decided to use Julia Child as her muse and cook her way through all the recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Writer/director Nora Ephron cleverly intertwines this modern-day story with the story of Julia Child's days as a newlywed and cooking student in Paris, based on Child's book, My Life in France.
I've read both books, by Powell and by Child, so I was curious to see the film versions, most especially because of Dame Meryl Streep, who can barely do any wrong as far as I'm concerned. Toss in Stanley Tucci, Jane Lynch, and Amy Adams and I knew that I could not, not see this movie.
The best parts of the film are, no surprise, the parts about Julia Child's life in France. This time period includes her falling in love with food and cooking and ultimately attending the Cordon Bleu. She goes on to teach some cooking classes and embarks on writing what would later become her masterpiece, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a cookbook for American women who want to learn how to cook classical French dishes. Streep plays Child as a sassy, fun-loving, adventurer who still can't believe that she's finally found someone to love her. Tucci's Paul Child is a quiet, intellectual type who is in awe of his wife. The two make one of the most charming couples I've seen on the screen in years.
Streep towers over her co-stars, sounds just like Julia and exhibits pure joy while in the kitchen or at the dining table. As for Amy Adams, she plays a down and out, frustrated unpublished writer, who plods to her cubicle everyday wishing she was somewhere, someone else. Casting Amy Adams automatically makes the character of Julie Powell sweet, likeable, and root-able. Truthfully, the Julie Powell character should've been played by Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Julie's friend in the film. Rajskub, who plays the acerbic Chloe on 24, exudes more of the spirit, or lack thereof, of Julie Powell. Instead we have Amy Adams' Julie Powell, depressed and obsessed, but still cute and likeable.
I'm nitpicking, because the scenes between Julie and her husband are also tender and sweet. I will not remember most of those modern day scenes though. I will remember Streep's Julia Child visiting the farmers' markets, practicing chopping onions, her Valentines' Days with Paul, and her custom kitchen in Boston. I would love for someone to make another film about Julia Child, 120 minutes of just her life, starring Streep, of course.