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Julie & Julia(2009)
A culinary legend provides a frustrated office worker with a new recipe for life in Julie & Julia, the true stories of how Julia Child's (Meryl Streep) life and cookbook inspired fledgling writer Julie Powell (Amy Adams) to whip up 524 recipes in 365 days and introduce a new generation to the magic of French cooking. Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) co-stars in director Nora Ephron's delicious comedy about joy, obssesion and butter. Bon appétit!
For more about Julie & Julia and the Julie & Julia Blu-ray release, see Julie & Julia Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 23, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Nora Ephron
Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jane Lynch
» See full cast & crew
Julie & Julia Blu-ray Review
Another delectable release from Sony.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 23, 2009
You can never have too much butter.
There's nothing quite as satisfying as a good meal and endearing as the wonderful cook that can prepare it, turning average ingredients into something of a work of art, a masterpiece of meats, vegetables, fats, breads, and spices that not only looks beautiful but tastes positively scrumptious. The old adage that recommends people "eat to live, not live to eat" may be the most ignored of them all, for food not only sustains the body but it satisfies the soul, relieves stress, brings people together, and engenders new appreciations for not only cuisine but those that can so expertly prepare it. In fact, the fascination with food, all its varieties, its varied tastes, range of nutritional value, and its appearance has created an industry in and of itself, not only in the food services but in the art of cooking, the ability to turn the bland into a mouth-watering array of dishes, the wonder of combining everyday ingredients into a chorus of taste with an exotic appearance for a stomach- and soul-satisfying experience. The trick, then, lies in the ability to create these dishes in one's own home through the shared wisdom of history's most renowned cooks and without the exorbitant cost of traveling the globe and seeking out the world's finest chefs. Enter Julia Child, a post World War I American-born globetrotter who in 1961 published one of the most widely-read cookbooks of all time, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and in 1963 appeared as the host of the award-winning television program "The French Chef," both of which have inspired millions to forego the ordinary and whip up the extraordinary in kitchens around the world.
In 1949, American Julia Child (Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada) and husband Paul (Stanley Tucci, Maid in Manhattan) arrive in Paris where Julia falls in love with food. Searching for purpose in life and a potential career, Julia takes up cooking, at first looking high and low for a French cookbook written with an American audience in mind. Though her efforts prove futile, Julia finds herself inspired to study the art of cooking and attends the prestigious "Le Cordon Bleu" school in Paris where she proves herself a quick learner and expert chef and inspired to pen the very cookbook she's long sought. In post-9/11 New York City, Julie Powell (Amy Adams, Enchanted) is working a depressing and dead-end job fielding telephone calls pertaining to the terrorist attacks and their aftermath. She lives in a 900 square foot apartment above a pizza shop, and in her search for something to take her mind off both her job and empty life, she begins cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogging about her experiences on the world wide web. What begins as a stress reliever quickly blossoms into something special; her blog slowly but surely gains a following, leading Julie down a career path she never could have imagined.
Something of a unique motion picture, Director Nora Ephron's (Sleepless in Seattle) Julie & Julia is a film that perfectly entwines the biographies of two individuals, the film shifting back and forth between timelines but doing so with an ease and creativity that makes each transition seamless and the film's paralleling stories mesh into a singular motion picture achievement. The biopic of the famed chef and the blogger she inspired decades later, Julie & Julia tells its tale with a sweetness and respect for both characters, and each story makes for captivating cinema despite the seemingly bland source material; a burgeoning Parisian chef and a blogger recreating hundreds of dishes in her small New York City apartment seems, superficially, not to be made of the stuff that translates well to film, but Ephron pulls it off with amazing ease and skill, and like the two characters in the film, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Indeed, the film follows the same paths as its pair of protagonists in its ability to cobble together the basics of a story and craft them into a scrumptious and satisfying event that proves to be about more than cooking. The characters are endearing, the drama captivating, and the film effortlessly involves the audience into each story to a degree that makes each success and failure pleasurable and depressing, respectively, a sign of both good filmmaking and worthy source material. Ephron injects plenty of humor along the way which eases the tension and drama that's palpable but not overbearing in both stories, the result a complete motion picture experience that's at once heartwarming, funny, urgent, and altogether magical, both stories engaging in every way and as sweet as Bavarois.
Stories and quality of direction -- for as superb as they are -- take a back seat to Meryl Streep's performance in Julie & Julia. One of the best efforts in years, Streep's characterization of cooking legend Julia Child is positively uncanny and a frontrunner for a Best Actress Oscar. Her performance perfect in every regard, Streep embodies Julia Child in both body and spirit; her physical effort may be the key ingredient, but her exuberance for the role and twinkle in her eye in every scene shows a deeper range and understanding of the character that goes well beyond her impeccable mannerisms, the way she carries herself, her posture, her vocal inflections, and a palpable charm that makes the character endearing, lovable, and one of the most memorable of this, or any, decade. The other performances are excellent as well, though they understandably become a bit lost in the shuffle underneath Streep's gargantuan effort, even when the action shifts to the more contemporary setting and Streep, save for a few re-created television clips, is nowhere to be seen. Last but not least, Julie & Julia enjoys superb set design and costuming; both the post-World War II France and post-9/11 New York settings are marvelously detailed and painstakingly realized, but the film's Paris setting proves the more stunning of the two.
Julie & Julia Blu-ray, Video Quality
Julie & Julia cooks up a visual tour de force 1080p, 185:1-framed transfer that's as perfect as a freshly-baked Boeuf à la Bourguignonne. The transfer exhibits tremendous depth in every scene where detail -- far, wide, near, and everywhere in between -- is to die for. The film's exterior French locales positively sparkle. Building façades and paved roads are awash in palpable textures; each leaf on a vine growing around Julia's home as seen near the beginning of the film is sharp and intricately detailed, every leaf an individual and each with its own identifiable shape, texture, and edging; a Parisian subway station appears appropriately cold and reveals plenty of fine detail on the cement floor, wall tiles, and various posters hanging about; and an outdoor farmer's market as seen in chapter three comes alive like few scenes before it, awash in depth and detail throughout the frame and sparkling through a broad array of colors that jump straight off the screen. Color reproduction is impeccable throughout; interiors take on a slightly warm tone but are nevertheless handsomely reproduced. Flesh tones are natural, blacks impeccable, and the image is rounded out by a pleasantly thin veneer of film grain that rounds out a pitch-perfect and film-like transfer.
Julie & Julia Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Julie & Julia simmers on Blu-ray with a reserved yet appealing and tasty DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. It should come as no surprise that Julia & Julia's soundtrack isn't of the same sort as that found on a Terminator Salvation or Star Trek, but the presentation is no less clear or faithful to the source. The track delivers plenty of fantastic atmospherics in both the Paris and New York segments; slight blowing winds, pedestrian footsteps and chatter, honking horns, and squealing brakes bring each big city environment to wholesome sonic life with a delicate yet palpable rear-channel presence. Music is light and fluffy, like a perfectly-baked cake. Sweet, delicious, and easy on the way down, it flows effortlessly from the speakers and makes for a pleasant, crystal-clear listen. In addition, dialogue is clear as a bell, and Meryl Streep's whimsical speech patterns in particular are perfectly clear and intelligible. Though not the stuff that's going to stretch a sound system to its limits, Julie & Julia's lossless DTS track is just as appetizing in its own way.
Julie & Julia Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Julie & Julia serves up several fantastic extras, the collection headlined by a commentary track with Writer/Director Nora Ephron. She discusses the importance of making the food appear as delicious on-screen as it tastes in real life, the contrast between post-war Paris and modern day Queens, set design, the challenge of incorporating two books and two stories into the film, and much more. The track features plenty of stretches of dead air, but fans will find enough goodness inside to make it a worthwhile listen. Secret Ingredients: Creating 'Julie & Julia' (1080p, 27:44) is a solid making-of piece that looks at the inspirations for the film, what makes the stories memorable and worthwhile, the strengths of the cast and crew and the performances of the actors and how they connect to their real-life counterparts, the histories of the real-life influences, eating on-set, food preparation, sets, and more. Family & Friends Remember Julia Child (1080p, 47:39) contains a collection of interviewees speaking on the cooking legend, intercut with a plethora of historical photographs.
Julia's Kitchen (1080p, 22:31) looks at Child's kitchen as found at the Smithsonian and the process of transferring it to the museum. The piece also takes viewers on a fascinating tour of the kitchen. Next is Cooking Lessons (1080i), a collection of five segments that feature Julia Child or others demonstrating how to cook various items as seen in the film. Pieces include 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 (5:44), and Steven Lewandowski & Drew Nieporent Prepare Butter Poached Maine Lobster (5:26). Sony's "MovieIQ" feature that offers live, up-to-date details about every scene, including cast and crew filmographies and biographies, soundtrack listings, and more, is available, and as an added bonus, the extra allows viewers to collect various Julia Child recipes as seen throughout the film. After entering a valid e-mail address, users are prompted to press the "green" button on the remote control when the "recipe" icon appears over the film to have the recipe for the corresponding dish sent to the user via e-mail. Also included is BD-Live functionality and 1080p trailers for Angels & Demons, Michael Jackson's This is It, Coco Before Chanel, An Education, Every Little Step, Whatever Works, Bewitched, The Holiday, Made of Honor, and Damages: Season One.
Julie & Julia Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Julie & Julia is a superb film in every regard and worthy of several Oscars, including a Best Picture nomination. Meryl Streep seems a shoe-in for the Best Actress Oscar, too, but regardless of any potential wins or nominations, Julie & Julia is filmmaking at its sweetest, a tantalizing feast of moviemaking goodness sure to satisfy even the strongest of appetites. With a pair of fascinating tales, a breezy and fun script, steady direction, and wonderful performances, Julie & Julia is a wonderful little delicacy of a film that's not to be missed. Sony once again delivers an appetizing Blu-ray that offers up a pitch-perfect 1080p transfer, an excellent lossless soundtrack, and a few good extras. Julie & Julia comes highly recommended. Bon appétit!
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