Posts Tagged ‘Amy Adams’

Steppenwolf’s Revenge

Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J. K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, David Thewlis, Billy Crudup, Ciaran Hinds

Uniformity of vision is key to director Zack Snyder’s films from his earlier films including 300, Suckerpunch and Watchmen to his onscreen tackling of the DC Comics universe starting with Man of Steel (2013) Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice (2016) and now with the latest Superhero extravaganza Justice League.

Batman aka Bruce Wayne played with a deadpan sense of humour by Ben Affleck has to assemble a team to fight the inexplicable and mythical power of Steppenwolf voiced by Ciaran Hinds as the evil underworld monster plans on destroying the Earth with enough energy to wipe out Wonder Woman’s secret Island and Aquaman’s Atlantic underwater liar.

Speaking of which Israeli actress Gal Gadot reprises her role of Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince following the hugely successful standalone film earlier in 2017 by Monster director Patty Jenkins.

New to the cast is Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa who plays Aquaman aka Arthur Curry who besides being able to control the oceans has some serious authority issues along with Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as The Flash aka Barry Alan and Ray Fisher as Cyborg aka Victor Stone.

The best scenes in Justice League are when the superheroes come together especially Batman and Aquaman who naturally have a healthy distrust for each other. The dialogue is peppered with some great lines like “Cool, like a bat, I dig it!” or when The Flash asks Batman what his superpowers are, he simply replies “I am rich”.

The good news is that Warner Brothers is set to release stand-alone films of Batman, Aquaman and Cyborg within the next three years, so fans can have a favourite superhero to themselves. Let’s hope these films do as well as director Patty Jenkins remarkable all female superhero film Wonder Woman which smashed all box office records.

Director Zack Snyder’s Justice League is slick, fast, action-packed and filled with quirky interactions between all the world’s favourite superheroes without being puerile or garish. With suitably Gothic production design by Patrick Tatopoulos, Justice League cleverly hints at the upcoming Aquaman and The Batman films. Audiences should look out for Oscar winner J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon.

With a funny screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, Justice League is sure to entertain audiences that loved the previous Zack Snyder superhero films and will possibly get a glimpse of the Man of Steel.

Justice League gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is thoroughly entertaining, visually rewarding and definitely worth seeing. As the tagline goes: You Can’t Save the World alone. Even Batman.

 

The Universal Language

Arrival

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Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stulbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma

With a screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on the story “Story of Your Life” written by Ted Chiang, French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s latest film Arrival gives Oscar nominee Amy Adams (American Hustle, The Master, Doubt) full scope to flex her truly extraordinary acting abilities.

Adams plays a Linguistics expert Dr. Louise Banks who is enlisted by the US army, when an alien space craft lands in Montana. However as Arrival gains momentum, it appears that there are 11 other similar alien space crafts that have landed unexpectedly in places throughout the world from The Sudan to Venezuela.

Banks is joined by Ian Donnelly played by Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town) as they become the proverbial couple who must make first contact with the aliens and decipher their complicated circular means of communication and ultimately discover what their true purpose is on earth? Are they friendly aliens or have they come to annihilate earth?

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As other nations around the world become increasingly hostile to the foreign ships in their territories, mainly China and the American military is becoming more trigger happy that the aliens which take the form of giant squid have malignant intentions, Banks and Donnelly must race against time to establish a pattern of communication to discover their real intention.

Skilfully shot and mostly done in a murky light, cinematographer Bradford Young photographs Arrival very dimly at first but soon as the narrative progresses, the film becomes brighter and more explanatory.

What really makes Arrival so distinctive a film, especially about the possibility of contact with alien life forms is the skillful direction of Villeneuve who portrays the contacts between Banks and the aliens in a non-linear form.

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Secondly, it is Amy Adams superb performance as Dr Louise Banks who is desperate to not only save humanity but forge a future for herself beyond this supernatural event. Adams is brilliant in this role and most of the screen time is taken up with her contradicted thoughts and emotional turmoil as the mental toll of what she is trying to achieve is distinguishable in every frame.

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Whilst the rest of the cast including Renner and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) playing Colonel Weber along with character actor Michael Stulbarg as Agent Halpern all inhabit peripheral roles, it is Amy Adams’s performance which makes Arrival so absorbing to watch.

Visually the film is dark and almost perplexing but director Villeneuve handles the subject matter of first contact so elegantly that for moments, audiences will forget they are watching a sci-fi film.

Arrival is an extraordinary film with many intuitive moments much like the Universal Language that Dr Louise Banks discovers and ultimately ends on a poignant note, without resorting to corny or special effects laden farce. Arrival is a cinematic treat exploring how we as human beings assimilate language, despite there being so many different variations. Highly recommend viewing.

 

 

 

Clash of the Icons

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Diane Lane, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy, Laurence Fishburne, Callan Mulvey, Kevin Costner, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa

Hollywood studio Warner Brothers had a lot riding on the highly anticipated sequel to the 2013 hit Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but fortunately they followed the golden rule of sequels, always bring in the same cast and director mixed in with a bunch of surprises.

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Fortunately in the hands of Zack Snyder whose visual range is vast, Batman vs Superman comes across as an epic battle between the two infamous superheroes, a monumental gamble on reintroducing Batman back into the mix so soon after the brilliant success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Then why not bring the writer of that trilogy on board, David S. Goyer and use Christopher Nolan’s expertise as executive producer. Then there is the casting which really pays off.

The Social Network’s Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg as the smart and brilliant villain Lex Luthor, Oscar winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as Batman’s trusted manservant Alfred and the biggest coup was casting Ben Affleck (Gone Girl, Argo) as Batman which gives this comic book clash of the icons a more edgier hue.

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After all, realistically Batman, aka Bruce Wayne cannot really defeat Superman, an alien man from Krypton with superpowers. All Batman has is cool gadgets, a Batmobile and all that pent-up rage from his childhood trauma of witnessing his parents being murdered on the streets of Gotham.

Amy Adams returns as the adventurous Lois Lane, along with Henry Cavill as Clark Kent, aka Superman along with Diane Lane as his earth mother Martha Kent. If there is one way to make a superhero angry, it’s to mess with his mother!

Whilst Batman v Superman at two and a half hours long could have been edited especially the last hour of the film, visually the film is so impressive as director Zack Snyder artistically pays homage to his filmography which made him famous: 300, Watchman and Suckerpunch, the last one being especially evident in the surprise appearance of Wonder Woman, played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot.

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The chemistry between Batman and Wonder Woman is sexually charged, and on screen the duo look impressive. Affleck’s Batman is a brooding, aging wealthy playboy who is hellbent on seeking revenge for the destruction of a Wayne Enterprises skyscraper by alien invaders from Krypton. Blame Superman!

Whilst Chris Terrio (Argo) and David S. Goyer’s script is not particularly dazzling, the visual effects in Batman v Superman are brilliant, as well as the tone of the film, which Snyder keeps alternating between light bright colours for Superman and dark, cavernous greys for Batman. It also helps that Affleck himself has greying sideburns which realistically makes Batman look older than Cavill’s boyish Superman.

Women in Batman v Superman also have a major role, although clearly the film itself is marketed for a primarily male audience. Lois Lane is feisty and believable, Wonder Woman looks absolutely gorgeous in evening wear and even appears as a suitable femme fatale for Bruce Wayne during a glamourous Lex Luther cocktail event. Even Diane Lane as Clark Kent’s mother Martha gets caught up in the raucous and very loud action sequence.

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It’s really Jesse Eisenberg’s superb and surprising turn as the deranged megalomaniac Lex Luther, a psychotic billionaire tech guru who thinks nothing of killing innocent people during a public gathering or messing with extra-terrestrial DNA from General Zod.

Fans of Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Trilogy will certainly appreciate the iconic face-off between Batman v Superman, but be warned the tone of this film is far darker than your average bright and garish superhero caper.

Recommended viewing for all Zach Snyder fans and those that wish to be regular attendees at Comic-Con. This is serious comic book warfare.

 

 

 

 

The Keen Reproduction of Art

Big Eyes

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Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp, Krysten Ritter, Jon Polito

Golden Globe winner Amy Adams (American Hustle) gives a sterling and nuanced performance as the American artist Margaret Keane in director Tim Burton’s 1960’s San Francisco set drama Big Eyes.

Whilst Margaret Keane was more commercial and was certainly not in the same vein of other celebrated female artists like Frida Kahlo or Georgia O’Keefe, her rise to fame as the painter of the Big Eyes series is certainly extraordinary and filled with intrigue. In a chauvinist society of the late 1950’s it was unheard of for a woman to leave her husband, and this is what the brave Margaret Keane does leaving upstate California for the more liberal art community of San Francisco with her young daughter Jane in tow, the true inspiration for her Big Eyes series.

In San Francisco Margaret becomes enchanted with the smooth talking Walter Keane, a budding artist but a commercial realtor by trade. Walter Keane, claiming to have spent some time in Paris, is wonderfully if slightly overplayed by Austrian actor and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds). After a quick marriage, Walter soon recognizes the commercial potential of his wife Margaret’s art, which mainly consisted of paintings using oils and mixed media of women, children and animal with unusually big eyes.

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After an initial showing of the works in a San Francisco nightclub, Walter Keane claims that he is the artist of these works and when commercial success strikes thanks to the purchasing of several painting by the heir to the Olivetti fortune, Walter Keane soon opens his own gallery, simply called the Keane Gallery where the posters of the paintings sell more than the actual art itself.

Before Andy Warhol, Keane was the pioneer of pop art and although the works weren’t particularly imaginative, there was something inspiring and commercially viable about the big eyes paintings.

However the plot twist to Burton’s film Big Eyes, is Margaret Keane’s desperate bid for freedom from her deranged husband after she discovers that Walter was not the artist he claimed to be. Margaret Keane with daughter in tow flees to Honolulu in Hawaii and then after a sort of spiritual rebirth whereby she ironically becomes a Jehovah’s Witness, she claims that she was the original artist of the Big Eyes series on Hawaii radio much to the horror of the American art world. The rest as they say is artistic legal history.

As a film about art, Big Eyes does not match up to similar films such as the brilliant Pollock, Frida or even the late Robert Altman’s film Vincent and Theo, but as a story about the crazy commercialization of art over any form of visual integrity, Big Eyes is a fascinating cinematic adventure, more so because its true.

Amy Adams is mesmerizing as the tortured and vulnerable Margaret Keane, and makes this real life story as bizarre as it really occurred, believable and informative. Watch out for priceless cameos by Jason Schwartzman (Marie Antoinette, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as a snobby art dealer, Terence Stamp (Valkyrie; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as senior New York Times art critic John Canaday and Danny Huston (Hitchcock, Birth) as San Francisco journalist Dan Nolan who initially befriends the charismatic yet crazy Walter Keane.

Big Eyes is recommended viewing for students of Pop Art, lovers of films about artists and for those that appreciate an informative tale of a really extraordinary woman, Margaret Keane –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Keane who despite the age she lived in eventually become famous in her own right.

72nd Golden Globe Awards

72nd Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 11th  January 2015 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama: Boyhood

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Best Film Musical or Comedy: Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Director: Richard Linklater – Boyhood

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Best Actor Drama: Eddie Redmayne – Theory of Everything

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Best Actress Drama: Julianne Moore – Still Alice

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Michael Keaton – Birdman

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams – Big Eyes

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Best Supporting Actor: J. K. Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

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Best Foreign Language Film – Leviathan (Russia)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/72nd_Golden_Globe_Awards

71st Golden Globe Awards

71st Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 12th  January 2014 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama – 12 Years a Slave

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Best Film Musical or Comedy – American Hustle

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Best Actor Drama: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

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Best Actress Drama: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams – American Hustle

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

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Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

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Best Director: Alphonso Cuaron – Gravity

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Best Foreign Language Film – The Great Beauty (Italy)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/71st_Golden_Globe_Awards

That Seventies Con!

American Hustle

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Director: David O. Russell

Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Shea Wingham, Robert de Niro, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Pena

Acclaimed director of Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell delivers another cinematic masterpiece with his latest film American Hustle about a couple of con artists in New York in 1978 during the Disco era. Think fabulous Seventies costumes, broad Jersey accents, big hair, the brilliantly ensemble cast of American Hustle all deliver top notch acting along with some sassy flair and loads of self-deception.

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Oscar Winner Christian Bale (The Fighter) is brilliant as  Irving Rosenfeld a two-bit con artist with a chain of dry cleaning businesses which also double as a front for selling fake art to unsuspecting New Yorkers who teams up with Sidney/Edith a sexy pole dancer turned grifter superbly played by Amy Adams (Doubt, The Fighter) at a Jersey pool party in January!

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Together the ever glamorous Edith sporting a fake British accent and the smooth talking wily potbellied Irving unveil their small scams selling unsuspecting lines of credit to gamblers, pimps and two bit hustlers. However their duplicitous lives are crossed by unstable Richie diMarso energetically played by Bradley Cooper (Place beyond the Pines), complete with a perm and a pent-up attitude who is in fact an FBI agent out to catch bigger fish from corrupt politicians to American mobsters who control the Florida casinos in Florida are looking to reinvigorate Jersey’s den of iniquity Atlantic City with its newly acquired gambling licences.

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The setting is New York, 1978 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, when the American public are distrustful of smooth taking politicians and economically hangover from a 1977 oil embargo and a costly Vietnam war. Director Russell captures the ambience of the late 1970’s Americana perfectly heavily influenced by the films of that period including The French Connection, American Gigolo and even the 007 film Live and Let Die. As the narrative unfolds a complication comes in the form of the no-nonsense confident chain smoking wife of Irving, Rosalyn Rosenfeld, a knockout performance by Jennifer Lawrence, last year’s Oscar winner for Silver Linings Playbook.

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American Hustle follows a cleverly scripted and elaborate plot about these four drifters and cons who not only try to out wit the FBI, the mob and a shady Jersey politician Mayor Carmine Polito a well coiffed Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy) involving shifting money for fronting an imaginary investment into the revitalization of Atlantic City casinos. Oddly enough the con also involves funds from a mysterious Abu Dhabi Sheik, comically downplayed by Michael Pena who is in fact Mexican.

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Amy Adams gives a tour de force performance as Sidney/Edith a vulnerable yet shrewd woman who can smooth talk any man out of his cash which is certainly Oscar worthy along with the rest of the brilliant ensemble cast making up regulars from David O. Russell’s two previous hit films Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter.

Alessandro Nivola (Coco Avant Chanel), Robert de Niro (Casino) and Shea Wingham (Savages, Take Shelter) also make a welcome appearance. Any viewer who experienced or grew up in the sassy disco inspired 1970’s will appreciate every aspect of authenticity of this ambiance infused con drama featuring magnetic performances by the four leads along with a witty, comic and incisive script co written by Russell and Eric Warren Singer.

American Hustle is a sophisticated sexy adult drama dripping with menace and deception, complete with a dynamic plot in the lines of Stephen Frears excellent The Grifters and Sam Mendes American Beauty. It’s the ultimate homage film about that Seventies Con featuring the unrivalled power of intention and people’s limitless capacity for survival, love and betrayal.

The Genesis Chamber

Man of Steel

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Director Zack Snyder’s ambitious retelling of the origins of Superman in Man of Steel is visually dazzling and grittier than the cheesier Superman movies of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. With Christopher Nolan as the producer and co-writer of Man of Steel, Snyder’s vision of Superman is darker, edgier and more realistic with the occasional humorous nod, but ultimately its firmly rooted in Sci-Fi with Krypton taking a centre stage in the spectacular production design of the opening sequences which shows influences of Snyder’s previous darkly toned blockbusters, 300 and Watchmen.

With newcomer Henry Cavill in the titular role fresh from his role on the TV series The Tudors and relatively unknown outside of the UK, he does a fairly good job of becoming one of America’s iconic figures. In Man of Steel, the comic and sci-fi iconography is rife, with Snyder paying homage to a range of influential Sci-Fi films from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to War of the Worlds, while firmly rooting the narrative in the celestial journey that Kal-El takes from Krypton to Kansas to Superman saving America. There is even a scene of the conflicted Superman in a Kansas church, complete with religious imagery mulling over whether to save his adopted planet Earth from destruction or side with his extraterrestrial origins that of his Kryptonian heritage represented by the ruthless General Zod, expertly played by Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Premium Rush) who after a period of isolation tracks Superman to Earth and soon brings a wake of devastation from Smallville to Metropolis.

The trick which makes Man of Steel so compelling is that along with the dazzling visual effects, the casting was spot on surrounding newcomer young British actor Henry Cavill with a galaxy of veteran Hollywood stars from Russell Crowe as his birth father Jor-El to Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as his adopted parents Jonathan and Martha Kent. Then there is the brilliant Amy Adams (Doubt, Julie and Julia) cast as the adventure seeking tough investigative journalist Lois Lane, who plays the part in stark contrast to the goofy, slightly dizzy take on the role by Margot Kidder in the original Superman movies.

From Krypton to Kansas…

The narrative is deeply rooted in origins mythology and told through a series of expertly crafted flashbacks about how Kal-El was naturally conceived on Krypton by his birth parents without the help of the sinister looking Genesis Chamber on the doomed planet Krypton and shunted off to earth as the last surviving hope for his celestial race. Kal-El, better known in Kansas as Clark Kent soon discovers his extraordinary powers as a growing boy and transforms into the mature, measured and slightly emotionally stunted Man of Steel, complete with X-Ray vision and high-speed atmospheric flight capabilities. The narrative arc closes when Lois Lane discovers Superman’s origins and naturally as most Superheroes do, he must don the fetching red cape and suitable attire, complete with underpants in the right place saving Earth from the Warrior General Zod, whilst balancing his newfound status as an alien with that of being a saviour of mankind.

Man of Steel is a superb cinematic retelling of the original comic book hero, worth watching for the fantastic opening and closing sequences, with Snyder desperate to cram all aspects of the Superman mythology into this slightly long and explosive action-heavy blockbuster. The only criticism is that the penultimate sequence of the film could have been effectively edited for effect, as the action outweighs the narrative and character development and often resembles a CGI-laden video game.

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Snyder’s Superman version in Man of Steel is destined to become a cinematic blockbuster and firmly establish him as a skilled action film director. Whilst not as thrilling or tightly written as Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, Nolan’s influences are apparent in Snyder’s darker more stylized vision of Superman as another conflicted superhero having to choose between his own dying civilization and becoming the new found saviour of Earth. Recommended viewing for Sci-Fi and Comic book fans, Man of Steel is sure not to disappoint Zack Snyder followers who have eagerly traced his quirky directorial growth from 300 to Watchmen to Suckerpunch and beyond…

Pearls and Panache in the Kitchen…

Julie & Julia

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Nora Ephron’s latest film Julie & Julia – follows two separate but true stories about Julia Child rise to fame through French cuisine by surviving the McCarthy era in Paris learning Gourmet Cuisine and 50 years on, Julie Powell’s blog account of a year of cooking exquisite dishes from the famed recipe book that was Julia Child’s piece de resistance, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and how it got to be published in 1961.

Child having spent years in Paris with her diplomat husband, took up Gourmet cooking lessons and was determined to eventually introduce French cuisine to the American home.

While Ephron’s film should be treated as a comedy and a gastrononic delight it by no means rivals the brilliant Babette’s Feast or Chocolat. While films whose main subject is cuisine is always difficult to market, Ephron manages through a fairly quirky script to capture the two distinct eras that both her heroines lived in. Child and her husband had to deal with the McCarthy era, where everyone was treated with suspicion due to Communist paranoia sweeping America, not helped by their early years spent in China.

Juliet Powell and her husband Eric played by Chris Messina lead a less glamorous life across the pond, in Queens, New York where Powell sets herself a blogging and cooking deadline of a year to cook every recipe in Child’s bible on French cuisine as a way of distracting her from a call centre job dealing with the families and relatives of 9/11 in 2002.

While there was 50 years apart in their lives, both women were trying not to deal with the realities of a world that did not make sense.  And who could blame them? Post 9/11 New York and Post World War II Paris are vastly different, yet with some delicious recipes to lose themselves in, Julie and Julia proved that like any man, a woman can be just as determined, passionate and steadfast in their goals especially in achieving success, whether it be domestic or literary.

Julia Child's original kitchen

Julia Child’s original kitchen

Obliquely the film, also comments subtly on the rise of celebrity cult status and how historical references shape a characters lives so distinctly. Most notable are the wonderful shots of Paris and the diplomatic parties that Julia Child attends and eventually cooks for contrasting with a replica of her Cambridge, Massachusetts kitchen built especially for the tall woman she was, so elegantly displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, where Julie eventually, like a worshiper at a sacred site, leaves a pound of butter as a fitting tribute to her gastronomic inspiration.

Julie & Julia is by far means not a brilliant film, but it will evoke an appetite for some superb, tangy and tantalizing gourmet dishes and give the audience a new appreciation of de-boning a duck, whilst wearing pearls in the kitchen and appearing relatively calm.

See it and enjoy the meals, yet its far from a cinematic feast, flawed with shoddy editing and uneven directing, whilst saved by a eclectic score by Alexandre Desplat who excelled in The Queen and of course by the ever versatile and brilliant Meryl Streep.

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