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PCR #489 (Vol. 10, No. 32). This edition is for the week of August 3--9, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Julie & Julia"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Julie & Julia"  by Mike Smith
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Marvel Fatigue .... Attack Of Russell Brand .... Dune .... .... .... .... ....  by Brandon Jones
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D T #58 .... Movie Notes .... Free Tex! .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci
Directed by: Nora Ephron
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 3 mins

My first knowledge of Julia Child came courtesy of Dan Aykroyd, who imitated the popular television chef in a skit on “Saturday Night Live.” In the skit, “Julia” attempts to de-bone a chicken and in doing so cuts her finger so deep that blood sprays everywhere, to the point where she passes out. Funny stuff. Just as funny is the new film that not only takes a look at Julia Childs’ formative years but the influence she held on her fans decades later.

Told in an intertwining manner, “Julie and Julia” begins in France at the end of World War II. Julia Child (Streep) has accompanied her husband, Paul (Tucci) to the City of Lights as part of his job with the United States Government. A woman of great appetite and enthusiasm (for both life and food), Julia keeps searching for something to keep her busy. After taking hat-making classes and participating in the occasional bridge game, she decides to enroll in a cooking class, mostly so she can learn how to make the delicious French food she enjoys. The second half of the story takes place 50 years later in New York City where Julie Powell (Adams) has the unenviable job of working in the city office that deals with the aftermath of 9/11. From grieving relatives to bureaucrats unhappy with tribute designs, she is stuck in a constant world of chaos. After moving with her husband (Chris Messina) to a new apartment she longs for something to occupy her time. After some discussion she decides to tackle the 500 -plus recipes found in Childs’ renowned cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Not only will she cook her way through the entire book in one year; she decides to write a daily blog about her venture. As both women progress through their stated journeys, the similarities they share decades apart become more and more apparent.

After a 30-year reign as film’s most acclaimed actress there really isn’t much Meryl Streep can’t do. With a whopping fifteen Academy Award nominations on her resumé, and an almost guaranteed number sixteen thanks to her performance here, she continues to amaze. Where some actresses (and actors for that matter) have been guilty of camp when portraying a real life character (a fine example being Faye Dunnaway braying about wire hangers as Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest”), Streep is so cool and comfortable in the role that you can almost imagine what you’re watching are old home movies. Equally good is Tucci, for so long an underrated character actor who deserved stardom years ago. Great talent translates to great chemistry between the two and you feel the genuine affection they share for each other. The supporting cast is just as impressive, with special mention going to Jane Lynch, who plays Julia’s just as outgoing (and tall) sister, Dorothy. Which leaves us with Adams. With great performances in the past like “Enchanted” and her Oscar nominated role opposite Streep in last year's “Doubt,” this should have been another part to shine in. Yet to me it seemed like she were playing the role as if she were channeling Meg Ryan. Of course, since Ryan starred in several films that director Ephron either wrote (“When Harry Met Sally”) or directed (“Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail”) perhaps she had Ryan in mind while on the set. 15 years ago the role would have been tailor-made for her. Speaking of roles, I should mention that Streep actually played Ephron in the film adaptation of her novel, “Heartburn,” a film that didn’t have the good fortune of including the Dan Aykroyd/Julia Child skit as “Julie and Julia” does. Bon apetit’.

On a scale of zero to four, I give “Julie and Julia”  

This week's movie review of "Julie & Julia" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.