Julie & Julia (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 6, 2009 by Dennis Amith
Adorable, entertaining and delightful! Featuring a wonderful performance from Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and a Blu-ray release featuring plenty of special features (not available on the DVD version). Definitely recommended!
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TITLE: Julie & Julia
DURATION: 123 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
RATED: PG-13 (For Brief Strong Language and Some Sensuality)
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: December 8, 2009
Based on the book “Julie & Julia” by Julie Powell
Based on the book “My Life in France” by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
Directed by Nora Ephron
Screenplay by Nora Ephron
Executive Producer: Donald J. Lee, Jr., Scott Rudin, Dana Stevens
Produced by Nora Ephron, Laurence Mark, Amy Robinson and Eric Steel
Co-Producer: Dianne Dreyer
Line-Producer: John Bernard
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography by Stephen Goldblatt
Edited by Richard Marks
Casting by Kathy Driscoll, Francine Maisler
Production Design by Mark Ricker
Art Direction by Ben Barraud
Set Decoration by Susan Bode
Costume Design by Ann Roth
Meryl Streep as Julia Child
Amy Adams as Julie Powell
Stanley Tucci as Paul Child
Chris Messina as Eric Powell
Linda Emond as Simone Beck
Helen Carey as Louisette Bertholle
Mary Lynn Rajskub as Sarah
Jane Lynch as Dorothy McWilliams
Joan Juliet Buck as Madame Brassart
Crystal Noelle as Ernestine
George Bartenieff as Chef Max Bugnard
In August 25, 2002, a woman named Julie Powell began her blog on salon.com titled “The Julie/Julia Project”. A government employee by day and wife by night, she wanted to do something challenging in her life.
As a fan of Julia Child and remembering the dishes her mother would cook from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Louisette Berthole, Simone Beck and Julia Child, Powell made the decision to blog about her one year experiment which was to create as many as 536 recipes from the book and document it on her blog. We see in the film the challenges that Julie faces in trying to recreate the recipes, especially when the media start contacting her and how much stress she puts herself through and how it starts to affect her, her relationship with her husband and her day job.
To say the least, the blog was popular and gaining Julie Powell recognition in various newspapers and publications for her dedication. Powell then wrote a book about her experience.
Meanwhile in 2006, the book “My Life in France” was published and is by Julia Child and her nephew Alex Prud’homme. The book was written during the last eight months of Julia Child’s life before her death in Aug. 2004. What many people were not aware of was Julia Child’s personal life and the book would feature the love shared by husband and wife Paul and Julia, would feature letters that Julia wrote to her penpal and letters that Paul Childs wrote to his brother, photographs and most importantly, their time living in France.
The book would detail Julia and Paul moving to Paris, Paul’s job with the USIA and how the two explored restaurants in Paris. To avoid boredom, how Julia would join the Le Cordon Bleu program and her wanting to teach cooking of French cuisine to Americans and how she became a member of the club The Gourmettes which she would meet Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle (the three would write “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”) and how Julia Childs went on to get a book published.
Director and screenwriter Nora Ephron (“When Harry Met Sally”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, “You’ve Got Mail”) began working on an adaptation on both books to a film and is essentially two films in one. The adaptation of both stories are featured but showing how Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams, “Doubt”, “Enchanted”, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) shared a similar passion of food through Julia Childs (played by Meryl Streep, “Mamma Mia!”, “Doubt”, “Kramer vs. Kramer”) and eventually how making the recipes helped her with her life.
Similar to Child’s life in France where cooking is what made a difference in her life and also showing how Julie’s husband Eric (played by Chris Messina, “Vicky Christina Barcelona”, “Made of Honor”, “Six Feet Under”) and Julia’s husband Paul (played by Stanley Tucci, “ER”, “Lucky Number Slevin”, “Shall We Dance”) were instrumental in giving support to their wives.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Julie & Julia” is featured in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1) and features beautiful cinematography from Stephen Goldblatt (“Charlie Wilson’s War”, “Rent”, “Conspiracy”, “Angels in America”). For Julia Child’s story, we see the shots in Paris, late 40’s and early 1950’s. Set design and costume design were well done but it was important for Goldblatt to capture that feel of Paris but most importantly the decoir of that time. It’s important to note that in the special features, it is mentioned several times that the look of Julia’s life in the past, is how Julie Powell imagined Julia’s life, so it’s a characterization of Julia and Paul Child.
For Julie’s story, this is a couple who lives atop a pizzeria and for the most part, are not making a whole lot of money. The timing of Julie’s storyline is months after 9/11 and but where Julia Child’s features the somewhat upper middle-class living, Julie’s life in a 900 sq. ft. room, small kitchen and just the surroundings of Julie and Eric’s life is captured well.
Detail of both lifestyles are well-captured in film, shots of the food are colorful, blacks are nice and deep, skin tones are natural but it’s the various shots that stay in your mind. From Julie and friends sitting above the rooftops overlooking the NYC skyline and Julia and friends eating at a cafe or restaurant. But both different timelines are well-captured and presented amazing well in the film.
As for audio, “Julie & Julia” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (And French and English – audio description track 5.1 Dolby Digital). The film is primarily dialogue driven and is front and center channel driven where you will hear music being played Audio description is pretty much just that, a female voice describes what is happening during each scene while the normal audio of the film is playing.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Portuguese.
“Julie & Julia” comes with the following special features in Standard and High Definition and in English Stereo. Included are:
- Audio Commentary by Director Nora Ephron – Featuring a detailed, informative commentary by Nora Ephron. Ephron explains the differences between Powell’s real life and what was featured on screen to Julia Child’s home in Paris and how the set is an almost an absolute exact replication. To how Ephron had problems working with the cat in the film and more. But also interesting is the commentary in regards to Julia Child’s impression of Julie Powell’s blog.
- Secret Ingredients: Creating Julie & Julia – (27:43) A featurette about how the film and adaptation came about. Interviews with Nora Ephron, Julie Powell and more. Norah talks about her passion of food and her appreciation of Julia Child and what she wanted to accomplish with the film which includes making sure the food eaten by the talent were wonderful. Interviews with the talent of the film of working with each other (Streep and Tucci, Adams and Messina) and more.
- Family & Friends Remember Julia Child – (47:39A very entertaining featurette from family and friends talking about Julia Child’s the person on television and offscreen and how wonderful a person she is. From her and Paul Child’s love for each other and friends and family confirming how passionate she was about life. We also learn about the final day of her life and most of all, what she has meant to the people’s lives that she has touched.
- Julia’s Kitchen: Take a tour of Julia Child’s kitchen -(22:31) Exclusive to Blu-ray, this featurette is about Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian. Featuring interviews with Paula Johnson (Curator, Smithsonian Institution), Rayna Green (Project Director and Curator, Smithsonian Institution) and Nanci Edwards (Project Manager, Smithsonian Institution). How Julia’s kitchen became part of the Smithsonian Institution. Friends and family talk about the importance of Julia’s kitchen.
- Cooking Lessons: Featuring Julia Child and other world renowned chefs including Jacques Pépin, Suzanne Goin and more – An exclusive to Blu-ray. Featuring “Poaching Eggs with Julia Child & Jacques Pépin” (4:14), “Making Hollandaise Sauce with Julia Child & Jacques Pépin” (2:38), “Mark Peel prepares Scrambled Eggs” (4:50), “Suzanne Goin prepares Braised Beef Short Ribs” (5:43), “Steven Lewandowski & Drew Nieporent prepare Butter Poached Maine Lobster” (5:26).
- movieIQ with Julia Child’s original recipes – BD-Live includes collecting and e-mail your favorite Julia Child recipes while watching the film! You will need a Blu-ray profile 2.0 player (that can connect to the Internet) for this feature.
- Previews – Trailers for upcoming Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases.
Adorable, entertaining and delightful! “Julia & Julie” once again shows us once again why Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are wonderful actresses.
Although not working together like they were in the film “Doubt”, both actresses were both wonderful in their roles. Meryl Streep as Julia Child is very convincing but what I found quite wonderful is seeing a side of Julia Child that I was not even familiar with. One thing in my household is that my wife enjoys watching her old programs on PBS, so we watched this film together and she was quite impressed. For me, I was more impressed about the relationship between her and husband Paul and seeing how she became passionate about food and even treated badly when she entered Le Corden Bleu. Stanley Tucci brings that side of Paul Child that many people are not familiar with and it was great to learn from friends and family of how well he played the part.
I was surprised because I thought after seeing her in PBS for all these years, I thought she was a chef previous to hosting her own cooking show. So, it was great to know this personal side of Julia Child and if anything, watching this part of the film encourages me to purchase the book “My Life in France”.
As for Julie Powell storyline, Amy Adams does a wonderful job playing this wife who works at a job and is just not feeling her life is all that exciting (when compared to her other friends) and thus setting a goal for herself by cooking all the recipes from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and blogging about it.
I suppose for today’s social media crowd, a film about blogging and use of Paypal is something that today’s viewers can definitely connect with. As with Nora Ephron’s “You’ve Got Mail” using the Internet technology of e-mail for her romantic film, it was great to see Ephron doing a film about blogging.
What I found was quite amusing is seeing how many people have responded to Powell’s blog. After watching the movie, I definitely had to check this blog out and after reading the comments written (around the time she made her first post), I realized that Powell touched and inspired hundreds of people to do something similar. I’ve known so many people who have blogged about cooking and even I have blogged about the food and recipes that I’ve cooked over the years. So, the fact that Powell was able to write a book about her blog and an adaptation made for film is wonderful (note: The last time I have seen this happen was for the Korean film “My Sassy Girl”).
As for the Blu-ray release, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment really went all out in making sure the release contains plenty of special features. In fact, the commentary and “Secret Ingredients” feature is on the DVD release but everything else is exclusive only for the Blu-ray release. Definitely a good way to drive people to upgrade to Blu-ray.
Overall, “Julie & Julia” is an entertaining and heartwarming film featuring strong performances from its talent, also well done cinematography. “Julie & Julia” may be a film about two different stories but it was great learning about Julia and Paul Child’s personal life in France and what led to Julia Child being the International star. And of course, watching how a blogger would inspire man people through her action of cooking every recipe from Julia Child’s book.
A wonderful Blu-ray release and may you be Julia Child or Julie Powell fans, bloggers, people who love to cook or you are wanting an entertaining movie, “Julie & Julia” is definitely recommended!
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