Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Julie & Julia- an experience

Very blessed. I am very blessed. My buddy, Wanda Adams, food editor at the Honolulu Advertiser, invited me to an advance screening of the movie "Julie & Julia" last night. Chef Mavro has a connection to the theater and was able to invite his 100 or so closest friends and food associates and their friends to a showing. Chef Mavro and his wife, Donna, are very tight with Wanda, so my degree of separation was once removed.

In two words, Loved It.

1.) See it with a friend who is as passionate about food as you are.
2.) Either eat before you see the movie or anticipate a good meal after.

Nora Ephron directed and wrote the screenplay. That alone should get you to come. She's done many of everyone's favorite movies-When Harry Met Sally, Michael, Moonstruck, and of course, Sleepless in Seattle.

The movie is based on two books based on real life and separated by fifty years- an autobiography of Julia Child and a recent bestseller about a blogger turned writer, Julie Powell, who tackled all 524 recipes in Julia's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in 365 days.

Backstory. I, along with millions, consider Julia an important cooking mentor. The liner notes for the book "The French Chef" calls her famous cooking show the "most widely attended cooking course ever given in America." I was right there at the tv in the early 60's, fascinated by this honest, real woman dispensing invaluable tips with flair, humor and grace. Reassured by Julia's warble, my first recipe that I attempted from Julia's book was Boeuf Bourguinon. Wanda said that was often the first choice of other cooks.

I avidly followed Julia's rise to fame and her life in the culinary universe. Read everything about her with interest. Collected her books. When the butter police came down hard in the 80's it was Julia, a voice of reason, that countermanded "Butter is Good. Everything in Moderation." I probably smirked along with Julia when it was discovered that margarine was the enemy and butter, less so. I knew of Julia's enduring love story with Paul Child, a marriage that lasted fifty-four years. I drilled my friend Tina for details when I found out that Julia had been a guest speaker at the culinary school in LA where Tina got her degree.

The Movie.
I was as excited to see this movie as I was about "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" last week when I snuck into a matinee. (To my surprise, the whole theater was filled not with shrieking kids on summer break but ADULTS. Adults like me besotted with the HP books and the movie series.)

So, both Wanda and I were kind of bouncing in our seats. Wanda found the extra long seats uncomfortable for her petite frame so she tried sitting backwards for fun. A friend on her right said "You look like you're six!" Chef Alan Wong was sitting on the opposite end of our row. The Culinary Institute of the Pacific team from KCC that won a national competition last week, beating out 400 teams, was in the house. Chef Mavro spoke briefly and in his ebullient way told charming stories of meeting both Julia and Jacques Pepin.

From the first frames of a Woody station wagon and Paris in the early part of the 20th century, we were totally engaged. So engaged that the whole audience would gasp when culinary giants like Simone Beck's or Irma Rombauer's characters appeared. So engaged that we'd actively scrutinize each food porn/money shot to see how they filmed it. So engaged that it felt as though we were scarfing down the glistening tomato bruschetta right along with Julie's husband, Eric.

Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia was right....on....point.
Amy Adams made blogger/author Julie Powell your newest foodie BFF.
Wanda's astute comment was that there were layers to the film. She said that those who know publishing and those who work in food will appreciate the honest portrayals.

Throughout the film I wondered who did the food and who did the the food styling because they did a superlative job. When the movie was pau, I asked Wanda if she knew anything about the food prep and she said that she will be interviewing the food stylist for the movie by phone today. That means, lucky us!, Wanda will be doing an article in the near future in the Honolulu Advertiser.

The two stories were seamlessly melded together with a completely satisfying and sweet ending. I won't tell you anything about the plot nor spoil any surprises. Go see it. Anyone who eats will enjoy it.
Shall I say it, so very trite?
You will hear Julia's high-pitched and passionate command trilling
"Bon Appetit!"

Charles, Tess and Marian,
Below is a link to Wanda's article re: the food stylist who did the movie. It's an interesting read.


Charles Wickham said...

wow a bubbly great article! what an incredible experienc to watch a movie w/some of hawaii's talented chefs! :D

foodiewahine said...

Oh hi yo, "Charles",
Jason's friend Ross was with his gfriend at the showing and I didn't even know it. She's a concierge at the Kahala Mandarin. There were newspaper food writers, educators, business tv reporters, tv cameras, at the movie along with the chefs. It was alot of fun.

I read that when there was an advance screening in Boston, where Julia's tv series began, two weeks ago they had a dessert buffet!

Tess said...

Love your review of the movie and can't wait to see it! Just watched Next Food Network Star and they featured the movie as well. Seems to be getting a lot of buzz

Anonymous said...

I thought it looked like a cute movie, but based on your description it sounds like a must-see!

foodiewahine said...

Dear Tess and Marian,

Thank you both for your kind comments! I do appreciate them.

Wanda Adams has done two articles about the movie that are available on the Honolulu Advertiser's site. The first one was on July 22nd in the Taste/Island Life section. The second one was yesterday, the 2nd of August in the Island Life section called "Styling the real star of "Julia":delicious dishes" Yesterday's article was an extended interview with the food stylist for the movie. I think you'd both enjoy these reads.

I'm actually surprised by how much publicity this movie is genertating, Tess. As you said there was a segment on the Next Food Network Star where the contestants had to use the movie as inspiration. Also Borders' site has a series of videos with the blogger/author Julie Powell.

I think it IS a must-see and I can't wait to see it again AND get the DVD, Marian. Chef Mavro, the guy who invited Wanda, is even doing a series of food courses based on Julia's recipes. He said that everyone was hungry for boeuf bourguinon after the preview so somebody had to do something.