Thursday, August 27, 2009

julie and julia, i want my money back.

i've been had.
i went to a movie tonite under the false pretense that it was a real movie, based on interesting stories.
what i got was a trick. i was tricked into watching something along the lines of shopaholic or he's just not that into you without any warning whatsoever.

i watched julie & julia.

the julia was thumbs up, the julie was another story.

julia child was a dynamic and unconventional woman whose ambition and passion enabled her to be creative and fulfilled during a time when most women had to settle for a new washer/dryer set and being a care robot to their husbands and children. say whatever nostalgic garbage you want about the 1950's but anyone who has read the feminine mystique(or who has parents born or raised in the 50's) knows that it was a terrible and repressive time for both men and women

julie powell is insipid and a complete waste of movie popcorn. her biggest problem, apparently, is that she's been forced to live in queen's. she has to COMMUTE to work. she's a failed writer who wrote half a novel but didn't have the motivation to finish it, her friends are all successful and high powered women who spend their weekly lunch dates on their cell phones, and her job is one of those shitty ones where she has to deal with people! woe is her, her life is hooorrrrrriiibbbbllleee!

this was my first problem with the movie, i suppose, her job. because the film is semi-set in new york city in 2002, there's the obligatory shot of ground zero where julie supposedly works.
i can't tell if she works at an insurance agency or some kind of fundraising apparatus, but the first bit of the film focused on her shows her in her cubicle having to take calls from an assortment of people, from 9/11 widows to people upset about the memorial plans. but it's almost like a joke, the people calling and yelling at her or crying at her.

so she's become complacent with life, fine. but what does that have to do with julia child? julia child was anything but complacent and went out of her way to find a career that she loved and she never did anything half way.

problem number two: julie and julia also have no parallels when it comes to female relationships. julia child's story is intertwined with the lives of other motivated and interesting women--from the women she wrote the cookbook with to the woman who she corresponded with for eight years but never met(who eventually helped them publish the book).

nora ephron, as usual, gives the female lead in her film one 'real' friend--a quirky(read: weird) woman who provides "comic" relief and is uglier than the lead.

i don't even remember julie's friends name honestly, nor do i recall her career, or anything substantial about her. probably because she has no reason to be in the movie and basically just acts as a sounding board for julie's insecurities and self-centered whine fests.

their relationship basically consists of this:

julie : "waaaahhh, i'm a bitch!"
friend: "yes you are"

julie: "waaaaah, my university friends are more successful than me"
friend: "yes, they are"

julie has no meaningful relationships with anybody but her husband. alternatively, the women in julia child's life acted as catalysts for change and progression--without these women the story wouldn't exist.

the only person who has any substantial contact with julie is her husband, who the entire movie seems to pivot around for some bizarre reason.

which brings me to problem number three: husbands!

julia child's relationship with her husband is a supportive and equal one--in the film(i don't really know anything about her real life). she is vigorous and can't stand doing nothing so she goes out and does whatever she wants. her husband always supports her but doesn't do anything for her because he knows she's completely capable of doing whatever she needs for herself.

the rolling stone review of the film said that "tucci and streep are magical together, creating a portrait of an unconventional marriage" and it's true--they're sweet and loving, ambitious and dedicated to their interests/politics. they're also really respectful of each other and hilarious.

julie needs her husband for everything. he even sets up her blog for her. apparently both men are the same--"really nice", but julie's husband is nothing like julia child's. julie and her husband are not respectful of each other, and they're most certainly not hilarious.

julie's husband eats before she sits at the table, he encourages her to follow her dreams but then he punishes her for doing it when she becomes successful, mocking how self-centered she's become. they don't encourage change in each other's lives and they resent each other.

at one point her husband actually leaves her. he's sick of the blog, he's sick of not having sex with her every night, he's sick of her 'being the center of the universe'(which translates to him NOT being the center of the universe), and so he leaves her.

he doesn't call her or see her until basically she learns that what she's done is wrong, that she "doesn't deserve" such a great guy, unlike julia child. she learns to put her "marriage"(ie: sex with her husband) before the blog. she calls him and tells him she misses him, she needs him. she writes a blog about it(which he reads). then he comes home to her.

seems pretty outlandish for the guy who made his wife move to queen's so they could be closer to his "office"(he's a writer) to accuse her of being selfish. she IS selfish, but they both are. it just seems annoying that his selfishness is alright but hers isn't.

julia child's story isn't just a love story, but a story about hard work and sacrifice, about being passionate about something other than a husband. julie powell's story has no real ending except a happy ending with her husband--who she's learned to defer to.

all really sickening, actually.

problem number four: politics

in 2002, in new york city, where are the politics? they could have drawn some actual parallels between the two women's lives with politics.

while julia child is in paris joe mccarthy, republican extraordinaire, becomes a prominent figure in the united states. his communist-grabbing hands reach all the way to paris and people start feeling the pinch of his politics.

julia child's husband(like thousands of others) is interrogated under mccarthy. his friends, books, travels, etc are all under question. his years of service to his country mean nothing and he is placed under scrutiny.

why not draw parallels between mccarthy-ism and the kind of new mccarthy-ism that arose post 9/11. remember that? remember the whole "if you're not with us you're against us", "if you question the government, you are a terrorist", "what? you want to know WHY we're invading iraq? terrorist!".

julie works at ground zero and it's literally a year after 9/11, how can you erase those politics? sure, not everyone is political or was political at the time, but including the mccarthy presence in the julia child side of the story was a decision and so why not just pay tribute to the political climate in 2002?

i don't know, i guess i just pretty much hated everything about this movie EXCEPT the julia child parts. why not just give me over two hours of julia child? at least those parts were charming and engaging!

the review on joy hog said that julie & julia is a "delectable film. you'll want seconds" but in reality i actually kind of want to just throw up my first serving.

1 comment:

eff said...

so funny re "i actually kind of want to throw up my first serving" but also clearly so critical! dear julie and julia:
i will not being viewing you.

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