Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Julie and Julia. (they come as a pair.)

Julia Child has come back to life on the big screen this week, thanks to a stellar performance (does she give any other kind?) by Meryl Streep.

I went to see the movie, Julie & Julia, on its opening night last Friday, which had been eagerly anticipated by some, including the foodie with whom I watched it. (by the way, that foodie knows more about food...and words...than I could ever hope to learn. go check out her take on the movie.)

I don’t know if I would place myself in the “eagerly anticipated” category, but the film had Streep, which is never a bad thing; it had blogging as at least a secondary theme, a topic about which I know a fair amount; and it had food, which, while I can’t match the culinary skills of even a C- or D-list chef, I’m a big fan of eating.

So I was game for the movie.
And my two-word review: Great. Flick.

If you’ve seen even one or two of Child’s cooking shows, you’ll appreciate the skill with which Streep portrayed the legend. In a discussion after the movie, I predicted that Streep’s performance will earn her yet another Oscar nomination, but that there will be an as-yet-unseen role that may edge her out for the statue.

Take that opinion for what it’s worth, though, as I’ve been made aware of h
ow little I know about what makes a movie, um...good.

In reading a select few reviews of the movie, I became annoyed as I saw one critic in particular, A.O. Scott of the New York Times, dismiss Amy Adams’ role in the movie as basically unnecessary.

Adams plays Julie Powell, a young woman from Queens who takes on the challenge of cooking every recipe in Child’s classic book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in one year, and writing a blog about her experience.

Scott compares Adams’ acting ability to Streep’s, and Powell’s personality to Child’s, and concludes that the former are bland and lifeless when matched with the latter.

Can we please compare apples to apples here, and not apples to elephants?

Several commenters on Scott’s review agree with him, saying, “the movie didn’t need Julie.” Then might I suggest that when a movie titled, The Life and Souffl├ęs of Julia Child, is released, they buy their popcorn and go sit in the front row.

I may not be a big-shot movie critic for the Times, and I may only see a handful or fewer of movies in the theater each year, and maybe I just don’t get it.

But this movie needed both storylines, and both were entertaining and engaging.

Of course, Meryl Streep acted circles around everyone else in the movie, and of course, the highlight of the movie was Child’s larger-than-life persona. Isn’t that what we’d all expect as we sat in the theater, even before the previews rolled?

And, no, Adams probably shouldn’t spend her time sitting by the telephone, waiting for her own Oscar nod. But the Powell storyline was quite necessary, and her angst over creating 534 recipes in 365 days, along with her excitement of watching a fledgling blog take off and gain a readership, added plenty to the movie.

Go see this movie. Enjoy perhaps the greatest actress of her generation as she portrays such a wild and wonderful personality. But don’t snooze or take a bathroom break during the Julie scenes, or you just might miss something.

I’ll say it again: Great. Flick.

“The only time to eat diet food
is while you’re waiting for
the steak to cook.”
—Julia Child
(photo via metronews)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Torture...In 140-Character Increments

I follow @detroitlions on Twitter.

I don't know why.

Perhaps it's because I enjoy having my pain served to me 140 characters at a time, with a hyperlink added for good measure if I wish to click and endure more.

NFL training camps opened last week, which means that the Lions' Twitter account has seen much more daily activity. And while I'm trying to remain optimistic heading into a new season...some of the snippets I'm reading are making it difficult to believe this year might be different from last. Although...can any team really go winless two seasons in a row? (don't answer that.)

Here is a sampling of tweets I've received on my phone in the last couple of weeks. The first few can kinda drag a fan down, but after half a dozen or so, you learn to chuckle and use the old standby excuse of, "Same...old...Lions."

Louis Delmas nervous as he signs with the Lions.

Jim Schwartz: Training camp will be just like the rest of the offseason program, except with pads.

At first team meeting, Lions' Jim Schwartz pokes fun at a rookie.

Sammie Hill, two other flunk Lions' conditioning test.

Lion's Bryant Johnson involved in golf cart accident.

GM Martin Mayhew: Lions have "areas of concern."

Landon Cohen celebrates his birthday by pushing people around.

Today's 7-on-7 drill was the worst of the Lions' camp.

Damion Cook goes on IR, a dozen other Lions are sidelined.

Lions' drill: Quarterbacks work on throwing the ball away (really).

Doesn't exactly inspire, um...hope...for a winning season, does it?

To be fair, there are some positive tweets to come out of Lions' camp once in a while. Such as:

Scott Linehan on Lions' Matthew Stafford: "I don't feel like I'm coaching a rookie."

With 40-some million guaranteed, and 70-plus mil at the top end of the contract, it's probably a good thing that Stafford doesn't look like a "rookie." For that kind of dough, he better be doing his best savior impression, and get the Lions a double-digit win total.

But that might be wishful thinking. First let's start with a couple/few more victories than last year, OK? And a few tweets that make me smile as a fan...instead of chuckle.

"I quit because I didn't feel like
the Detroit Lions had a chance to win.
It just killed my enjoyment of the game."

—Barry Sanders