Julie & Julia (Blu-ray)
Watching other people cook on television is either something you like, or just can’t understand. Before the Rachel Ray made the Food Network famous, Julia Child was the cook to watch on television. She paved the way for Ms. Ray and the Iron Chef’s of America. In general, cooking shows are for a niche market and I’m sure people may have been wary of a film that was focused on cooking, but JULIE & JULIA is more about the women and not so much the food. Although you will probably be hungry after you watch the movie.
Julie Powell (Amy Adams) decides to make a commitment by writing a blog based on her culinary experiences as she cooks her way through Julia Child’s (Meryl Streep) ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’. The movie follows her story over a year as she cooks French cuisine as well as Julia Child’s story as she writes the book and grows into the legend we know today. The film follows two stories from two women that are intertwined with food and personal growth.
I will say that the movie JULIE & JULIA is nothing like the book it was based on. In the book the character/author Julie Powell takes us through her year long journey but with more vulgarity and whininess. Thankfully, Nora Ephron understood the need to add Julia Child’s story into the plot because two hours of listening to Ms. Powell whine about cooking and having nervous breakdowns over food preparation would just be too much. However, with that said, Julia Child is no saint herself and although she was played wonderfully by Meryl Streep, she is equally annoying to watch at times. The one complaint about this film would be the characters themselves, but since their stories were given to us in short increments, the women were more tolerable to watch.
Ms. Ephron did an amazing job of balancing the film and making the two stories meld together seamlessly. The way she developed the two characters without focusing on one more than the other was perfection. She made two women come to life and made the food an important and defined character as well. The acting was also amazing and the visuals were stunning. Sets, costumes and entrees were done beautifully and everything put on the screen was a pleasure to watch and candy for the eye.
I would recommend for Ms. Streep’s performance alone. She is spot on as Julia Child and it would have been easy to watch more of her in this role. The one downfall is Julie Powell and although she accomplished a great feat (524 French recipes in 365 days is an incredible accomplishment) her character was just too whiny and if it weren’t for a portrayal from the adorable Amy Adams, this movie wouldn’t have done so well.
Video: JULIE AND JULIA is presented with a striking widescreen 1.85:1 transfer. This near-reference quality video makes the multitude of colors shown throughout the film pop right off the screen. Given the colors and the complexity of some of the scenes, this is one of the better video transfers I’ve seen.
Audio: The audio was also quite impressive and the 5.1 DTS-HD audio track was crystal clear.
Commentary with Writer/Director Nora Ephron: Although there are some pauses throughout the film, the commentary Nora Ephron gives is interesting to listen to. She gives a lot of little tidbits of info that are great fun. If you want another view of the film, then I would recommend watching this because listening to Ephron is a treat.
Secret Ingredients: Creating Julie & Julia (27:44):A making of featurette that wasn’t too bad. Some movie clips make their way into this segment but it’s really more behind the scene footage that’s being shown. There are a lot of good interviews from Ephron, Julie Powell as well as the producers and actors, and they give a lot of good background information. Definitely worth the watch if you liked the movie.
Family and Friends Remember Julia Child (47:39): This is a long featurette about friend and family who reminisce about their moments with Julia Child. This is good if you are a fan of Julia or are endeared by her journey, but I found it to go on a little long. There are some great stories and photos and would be a great companion to the book My Life in France.
Julia’s Kitchen (22:31): This is about the procurement of Julia’s kitchen by the Smithsonian Institution. This was a cool featurette to add to the Blu-ray, especially if you love cooking. I really enjoyed this and though it was a fascinating watch.
Cooking Lessons: Featuring Julia Child and other chefs (22:52): These are five cooking lessons from Julia Child or her associates, and they are each led by the coordinating scene from the film or another appropriate movie clip. If you’ve never seen Julia Child cook, or just enjoy watching cooking shows then these are fun to watch as they are one dish and are right to the point. Not all of them include Julia, but with each we get a bit more information about her.
There are also some Previews and a MovieIQ with Julia Child’s original recipes