Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thoughts on Weekend Movies

I saw three movies this weekend; two on DVD: Knowing & The Soloist; and one at the theater: Julie/Julia.

I talked about Knowing below (and about Cheating - which I will talk about in my "cleaning your manuscripts" this coming week).

The Soloist There were inspiring messages about friendship and sacrifice; however I was sad and disturbed all the same. Mr. Ayers, this musical genius, a prodigy -locked in a world that only he understands. Sometimes the line between genius and "madness" is a fine one. The movie was intense and the acting extremely well done. Do not expect a traditional hollywood "happy ending" . . . although it does have a version of a happy ending.

As for Julie/Julia -- I adored the Julia Child parts - Streep is brilliant in everything she does and J/J was no exception. She WAS Julia Child. Stanley Tucci was wonderful as Julia's husband. Their interesting story made me laugh, cry, love food and cooking. Julia Child's story inspired me! Her "never give up" attitude-Bravo! I adore her more now than I ever did before, and I admire her more than I ever did.

However, unfortunately, as for the present day "Julie" parts - I'm sorry to say that I wasn't as much inspired. This is not a reflection on the author, because I have not read her book; however, for how it was portrayed on screen, the Julie character was sometimes whiny and one-dimensional. My friend said she's listened to author interviews and thought the on screen interpretation in no way portrayed the depth of the real Julie, or the real story of her depression or pain that she worked her way through with "Julia by her side." I can believe this - how many times have books to movies failed in some way? I am tempted to go back to her blog and read more about the author, as I visited it only briefly before watching the movie. When your books go to movies, you do lose some control of content.

Every time the Julie character's husband ate, I wanted to retch. The loud smacking, the chewing with his mouth open, the oozing food out of the mouth, the cake smashed all over the face - it was disgusting. It was distracting to me and I didn't find it cute or funny, and certainly not appetizing. However, when Julia Child ate, and when she cooked - I wanted to be there with her! I wanted to be enjoying food with her. She loved food and she made me love it with her. When she failed and then jumped back up on her feet, I was inspired. When she thumbed her nose at naysayers, I was inspired. When her dreams finally came true, I wanted to jump up and say YES!

Then there was the "thing" about Julia Child snubbing Julie (and the part about "guess who is coming to dinner was really strange - I won't give it away, but . . . huhn? Why make it seem as if one thing is going to happen when it did not?).

Perhaps Julia Child felt exploited. Well, Julie did exploit Julia Child for her own ends. What writer does not do this at some time in their writing life, knowingly or unknowingly (mostly knowingly)? Even when done with the best of intentions, with a heart full of admiration, it is exploitation when another person's life or character is so blatantly used to another's means to an end (becoming well-known). And Julie wanted to be a well-known writer, adored by others, and she wanted a quick way to it (who doesn't? *smile*).

Perhaps Julia Child snubbed Julie because she felt Julie didn't pay her dues. Julia Child spent eight years trying to publish her cookbook. She worked her ass off. And suddenly, here comes this young woman who rides on the back of Julia Child's hard work to "stardom" by writing a blog over the course of a year based on Child's hard work and dedication to something she loved: food and cooking.

I wonder how Julie felt about the way she was portrayed on screen? If she felt the missing parts that would have given more depth to her on-screen character? Or, if she really doesn't care because she achieved her goal of becoming "famous and well-known." After all, we can't please everyone - I know this from my own small experience in publishing. We just do what we love and do it the best we can and hope for the best. In fact, good for Julie for having such a wonderful idea and sticking to it! That is inspiring.

I wonder, though, if we can lose something of ourselves when it becomes about how much exposure and "fame" we strive for to be successful. As authors/artists/musicians, things can become about other things; will we sell or give away what's precious to us to "Make It" even if we think we won't do something that? In the end, does the means justify the end, or is it the old "laughing all the way to the bank" thing? I can't make a judgment on something I haven't experienced myself, but I do fear the answer.

All in all, I did have fun watching the movie-I laughed, I cried, I was hungry as hell.

Google images from:


DebraLSchubert said...

Interesting to hear your take on the movie. My husband and I went to see it last night and we loved it. I'm a vegetarian, so I couldn't watch the scenes with the lobster and ducks. We also thought the SNL skit was unnecessary, but, besides that, we both enjoyed the movie very much.

I was thrilled to see the publishing side of the movie. I didn't realize that would be such a big part of the story. It captured much of what I am experiencing on the road to publication, and made the movie far more personal for me.

Also, I loved Amy Adam's role as Julie. I think she did a great job. I agree the "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and dissing by Madame Julia were bizarre, but that was Nora Ephron's call (the screenwriter) not Amy's.

I would recommend this movie to anyone interested in writing, cooking, or just seeing a good movie. Thanks for reviewing it! (I was thinking about reviewing it as well on my blog, so check back next week.) Hugs, D ;-)

Jaime said...

I will say that the book isn't for everyone. I loved it though. I posted the review on my blog. I will say that if you are wanting to read more about Julia Child and the recipes, then don't read Julie Julia. The book is more about Julie then anything.

I think in regards to Julia Child "snubbing" Julie, I think it has more to do with her age and the technology aspect then with anything else. Remember, she was in her late 80s with Julie started the blog and died shortly after. She was also living in an assisted living facility. So, I think there was more to it then was considered by both the book and the movie.

Great review!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Dang! Didn't even mean to write a "review" - *laugh* -- but, it is always good when movies inspire thought and discussion.

Debra - I don't eat much meat -and I don't eat lobster because - because -- eek! I told you how my chef friend sitting next to me said they scream - EEK NO NO NO - say it ain't so! Boiling alive just gives me the willies....

Jaime - I would read the book if it were more about Julie, IF the book had more depth of character to it - which I bet it does. They left it a bit "fluffy" for me - i'm sure much was left out.

All in all though, I did enjoy the movie - in case that didn't come through. I knew it was going to happen - that the movie would be "over hyped" and I'd expect more from it....

Deb Shucka said...

You pose some interesting questions here. Great food for thought (bad pun intended). :-)

Lazy Writer said...

I haven't seen the movie or read the book, but I'm dying to do both. I let you know what I think when I do.

Strange Fiction said...

I’m so behind the times. I haven’t seen any of these. We’re too far out in the sticks to go watch a movie—I’ll have to wait until I can order them from the library. I’ll be like 87th on the list so may get to see them in 4 or 5 years. *heavy sigh*

On a brighter note—I’m thrilled to see that I’m not the only one left in the free world who uses the word ‘dang’! Oh, and I could seriously use a pedicure…

JOY said...

My own chef and I loved Julie/Julia. I didn't know Julia Child much - she had such perseverence, joy and humor! What great qualities. This movie has inspired my hubby to consider taking classes in culinary arts. I am encouraging him - why not? He loves to cook and what is better than doing what you love to do?! (You know the answer to that Kat!)

We saw The Soloist too. It was good but for me it didn't take me beyond good. When it's about a real person out there, that always interests me more. Fabulous acting by Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.

Hey Kat, just a friendly hello!

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Hey Kat...I haven't read the book but do intend to see the movie!
Meryl Streep is my very favorite actress! I did not like Mama Mia though!Can you believe it was "really" cool here this morning!
I bet it will be frosty Ba**s up there in November! HA!

Sandra Leigh said...

Ah, Kathryn. I'm so relieved to see that you shared my revulsion at the gross eating scenes. I was half convinced that it was just my neurosis showing through. Or are you my long-lost sister? ;>)

The Soloist does sound interesting, actually. I love watching Robt. Downey Jr., so I'm rather forgiving of flaws in his movies. Downey reminds me somehow of Peter O'Toole, who had that same mesmerizing effect on me.

Lori said...

I am reading so much about this movie! I cannot wait to see it myself. I guess it is particularly interesting for those of us involved in the publishing world.

And yeah, I don't think you can blame Julie either for how her character turned out in the movie. I doubt she had much say in that. Plus these movies are so edited to death that in the end the result is completely out of your hands.

Jessica said...

Interesting post. I haven't seen this and not sure I will, even though the food parts sound yummy! Thanks for the run-down. I'm not sure I'd want to be famous and people who do want that... well, I wonder if they think it will make them happy? I don't know...

Dave King said...

I'm not sure if this is my kind of book, but your review has done its job: I think I shall probably read it. Well done.

Debbie said...

We are strictly a DVD kind of family but I do want to see Julie and Julia eventually. Although I have read lots of reviews that echo your thoughts on the Julie part.

Pen Pen said...

:) I thought Julie's kitchen was gross-and it looked dirty and rusted-that made me not want to eat her stuff. AND- Her hubs left her cuz she was stressed about her deadline and was REALLY into being needed on her blog?! It just seemed like a stupid reason to have a "move out" fight to me. I loved Julia too tho!! She was an inspirational character-esp for writers :)
When Julia snubbed Julie, I was sad--BUT-then I went onto the REAL Julie/Julia project blog to check it out, and Julie was...not very likeable...and she cussed-I think Julia came from a time when that may show terrible manners-I started to wonder if Julia may have thought Julie was not someone she'd really like to meet...I dunno tho.
If you like J/J, you should watch 'Miss Potter'-the Beatrix Potter story(if u haven't seen it)--It inspired me too!!! :)
Also-I've deleted a few posts cuz I bashed 'Twilight' a lot, and now that I look at the writing fan base, I worry that I could piss off some young readers who loved the books, and they won't buy mine one day. ...OR- Maybe I just deleted them cuz I hate confrontation :)