Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 6 - In-Depth Title Card Analysis

Day 6.

I operate under the belief that a title card can make or break any film. For example, who could forget the way the words waved across the screen in Casablanca? Or how the iconic font and design of The Godfather title card captured the awe of millions? Or the effervescence of the opening credits in the modern-day, talking gerbil classic, G-Force? These movies all share one thing in common--Great fucking title cards. Without them, surely no one would like these movies.



Which brings us to the inevitable question--how does the Julie & Julia title card stack up to these other famous films? Let's find out, shall we?



At first glance, the title card of Julie & Julia doesn't seem like anything special--typical, French-looking street, boring tan font, an unnecessarily stylized ampersand, etc. However, upon further inspection, we see that the mise-en-scène foreshadows/reveals major narrative themes and visual motifs of the film as a whole.

For example, the presence and juxtaposition of red and white on the buildings, signage and especially the canvassed roofs symbolize the eternal struggle and conflict between whites and Native Americans. These clashing colors conjure up images of bloodshed, drawing an obvious parallel to the Trail of Tears. Later on, when Meryl Streep slits a raw duck to prepare it for stuffing, it's hard to not imagine her doing the same to the scalp of a young Cherokee. The visual imagery and use of color of the title card hearkens back the genocide of America--a tragic event that the film often sidesteps--but always remains present.

Also, if you take a closer look at the two nuns in the foreground, walking down the street, you'll discover that they do not appear to be singing, a clever nod to the 1992 film Sister Act (or perhaps its sequel, Sister Act 2). As most educated people already know, nuns were banned from singing in public until 1985--well before the Julia Child part of this film takes place--and nuns were most certainly not allowed to be Whoopi Goldberg until very recently.

The blue, wood-paneled station wagon to the right of the frame seems to represent and mourn the bygone era of wood-paneled station wagons, serving as a modern-day criticism of the auto industry today. I mean, the Nissan Cube? Really?

The black streetlight is most obviously a stand-in for a phallus. Notice how long and erect it is. And doesn't that round tower that peers out from between the two buildings kind of look like a boob? Come to think of it, everything else in this title card is pretty sexual. The windows and food carts are made of wood, the women in the skirts don't appear to be wearing panties--the evidence is staggering. I mean, I dare you to look at those J's in the title and think pure thoughts.

Well, that's all I got for now, but I have the strange feeling that the man in the way back has a swastika tattoo. I will try to dig up some more hi-resolution stills to confirm this.

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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "Dorothy is pregnant."

33 comments:

  1. The nuns were not an homage to another Julie in film? Andrews in "The Sound of Music?"

    ReplyDelete
  2. The nuns weren't flying either. Just a note.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Are you sure that is a yellow FONT you are referring to? Not a typeface maybe?

    -Cruise Director

    ReplyDelete
  4. OK this one made me laugh out loud. I'm digging it Lawrence. And yes, I only started reading this because you were in HuffPo, so yes, you're going to have to go through with the entire challenge.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm loving the quotes-of-the-day...they're truly inspirational.

    ReplyDelete
  6. HI. So not only are you now famous on the Internet - you are also famous amongst Northwestern RtVF grad students. Or at least a few. I mean, I'm one and this was linked to me by another (presumably because I have been "researching" this movie for a paper/my dissertation/some reason off and on for awhile now). Anyway, I figured I'd comment while I've still probably seen it more times than you have.

    My first observation is that this post in its witty parody of academic film writing is somewhat proto/reverse Sconce-ian. Case in point: That Dude in Your European Cinema Class Reviews 'Winter Light' by Ingmar Bergman. Not that I am in any way implying that YOU yourself are akin to the eponymous "that dude."

    Now being a TA - though not your TA, not yet anyway - I have some optional J&J related "homework" for you. First, of course, we have Nora Ephron's 1983 roman à clef Heartburn in which she made her alter-ego a food writer instead of a Jill 'o multiple topics (including food) journalist like herself. As a point of interest, the protagonist of this novel shares some very similar sentiments to the "Julie Powell" of Ephron's film/script.
    See: this color-coded comparison.

    As for the other two books upon which this film is based, I can tell you this: the film is much more "faithful" (whatever that means) to My Life in France than it is to Julie & Julia, which includes significantly more cursing, boozing, Republican-baiting, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom—all of which were presumably removed in order to broaden the film's audience appeal.

    A shorter recommendation is this [essay response] by Powell about what the film got "wrong" that should have included something about cats in the title because that's its rhetorical hook. Incidentally, this essay is somewhat similar to the witty/snarky yet somehow sometimes earnest style of Ephron's journalistic pieces for such publications as Esquire and the New Yorker back in the day.

    If all that is too much, especially given your grueling J&J watching schedule, here's something easier: a couple of short "screenings" on YouTube.

    *Nora Ephron speaking at a tribute to Meryl Streep
    [Please note that I cut on that freeze-frame of Carrie Fisher—who Meryl Streep also played in Postcards From the Edge.]

    A wee Meryl/JC mash-up I edited together for a conference presentation once I realized that I could cut on motion between Meryl in J&J and Julia on the French Chef without interrupting “her” monologue.

    *I call it Potato Show Simulacrum

    And finally, two random facts:

    #1 - Julia Child supposedly had a VHS copy of the Dan Akroyd SNL skit that she'd show to anyone who came over to her house without having seen it—she enjoyed it that much.

    #2 - Nora Ephron has ADD (no idea about Julie Powell), but you will learn this—and so much more!—when you get around to watching the movie with the director's commentary.

    Cheers, Lucia.

    ReplyDelete
  7. (Hopefully not spamming - last comment was too long and rejected by blogspot, which probably means that I'm still spamming but whatever.)

    HI. So not only are you now famous on the Internet - you are also famous amongst Northwestern RtVF grad students. Or at least a few. I mean, I'm one and this was linked to me by another (presumably because I have been "researching" this movie for a paper/my dissertation/some reason off and on for awhile now). Anyway, I figured I'd comment while I've still probably seen it more times than you have.

    My first observation is that this post’s parody of academic film writing is somewhat proto/reverse Sconce-ian. Case in point: That Dude in Your European Cinema Class Reviews 'Winter Light' by Ingmar Bergman. Not that I am in any way implying that YOU yourself are akin to the eponymous "that dude."

    Now being a TA - though not your TA, not yet anyway - I have some optional J&J related "homework" for you. First, of course, we have Nora Ephron's 1983 roman à clef Heartburn in which she made her alter-ego a food writer instead of a Jill 'o multiple topics (including food) journalist like herself. As a point of interest, the protagonist of this novel shares some very similar sentiments to the "Julie Powell" of Ephron's film/script. See: this color-coded comparison.

    As for the other two books upon which this film is based, I can tell you this: the film is much more "faithful" (whatever that means) to My Life in France than it is to Julie & Julia, which includes significantly more cursing, boozing, Republican-baiting, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom—all of which were presumably removed in order to broaden the film's audience appeal.

    ReplyDelete
  8. [Hopefully not spamming - comment was too large and blogger rejected it - which probably means I'm still spamming, but whatever.]

    HI. So not only are you now famous on the Internet - you are also famous amongst Northwestern RtVF grad students. Or at least a few. I mean, I'm one and this was linked to me by another (presumably because I have been "researching" this movie for a paper/my dissertation/some reason off and on for awhile now). Anyway, I figured I'd comment while I've still probably seen it more times than you have.

    My first observation is that this post’s parody of academic film writing is somewhat proto/reverse Sconce-ian. Case in point: That Dude in Your European Cinema Class Reviews 'Winter Light' by Ingmar Bergman. Not that I am in any way implying that YOU yourself are akin to the eponymous "that dude."

    Now being a TA - though not your TA, not yet anyway - I have some optional J&J related "homework" for you. First, of course, we have Nora Ephron's 1983 roman à clef Heartburn in which she made her alter-ego a food writer instead of a Jill 'o multiple topics (including food) journalist like herself. As a point of interest, the protagonist of this novel shares some very similar sentiments to the "Julie Powell" of Ephron's film/script. See: this color-coded comparison.

    As for the other two books upon which this film is based, I can tell you this: the film is much more "faithful" (whatever that means) to My Life in France than it is to Julie & Julia, which includes significantly more cursing, boozing, Republican-baiting, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom—all of which were presumably removed in order to broaden the film's audience appeal.

    ReplyDelete
  9. [Cont.]

    A shorter recommendation is this [essay response] by Powell about what the film got "wrong" that should have included something about cats in the title because that's its rhetorical hook. Incidentally, this essay is somewhat similar to the witty/snarky yet somehow sometimes earnest style of Ephron's journalistic pieces for such publications as Esquire and the New Yorker back in the day.

    If all that is too much, especially given your grueling J&J watching schedule, here's something easier: a couple of short "screenings."

    *Nora Ephron speaking at a tribute to Meryl Streep
    [Please note that I cut on that freeze-frame of Carrie Fisher—who Meryl Streep also played in Postcards From the Edge.]

    *A wee Meryl/JC mash-up I edited together for a conference presentation once I realized that I could cut on motion between Meryl in J&J and Julia on the French Chef without interrupting “her” monologue. I call it Potato Show Simulacrum.

    And finally, two random facts:

    #1 - Julia Child supposedly had a VHS copy of the Dan Akroyd SNL skit that she'd show to anyone who came over to her house without having seen it—she enjoyed it that much.

    #2 - Nora Ephron has ADD (no idea about Julie Powell), but you will learn this—and so much more!—when you get around to watching the movie with the director's commentary.

    Cheers. [And good luck!]

    ReplyDelete
  10. Maybe the nuns refer to 'Doubt'?
    Meryl and Amy worked together in that movie
    as well... ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. LOL..."the evidence is staggering." Very entertaining!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Bah! There was a first half of that now-mysterious comment beginning with "Cont." that was eaten by blogger, probably due to it's spammy size. I will not now post it in two smaller posts and then give up.

    Ahem. This is part 1; the comment above will be part 3.

    ******

    HI. So not only are you now famous on the Internet - you are also famous amongst Northwestern RtVF grad students. Or at least a few. I mean, I'm one and this was linked to me by another (presumably because I have been "researching" this movie for a paper/my dissertation/some reason off and on for awhile now). Anyway, I figured I'd comment while I've still probably seen it more times than you have.

    My first observation is that this post’s parody of academic film writing is somewhat proto/reverse Sconce-ian. Case in point: That Dude in Your European Cinema Class Reviews 'Winter Light' by Ingmar Bergman. Not that I am in any way implying that YOU yourself are akin to the eponymous "that dude."

    ReplyDelete
  13. part. 2. [Cont. again]

    Now being a TA - though not your TA, not yet anyway - I have some optional J&J related "homework" for you. First, of course, we have Nora Ephron's 1983 roman à clef Heartburn in which she made her alter-ego a food writer instead of a Jill 'o multiple topics (including food) journalist like herself. As a point of interest, the protagonist of this novel shares some very similar sentiments to the "Julie Powell" of Ephron's film/script. See: this color-coded comparison.

    As for the other two books upon which this film is based, I can tell you this: the film is much more "faithful" (whatever that means) to My Life in France than it is to Julie & Julia, which includes significantly more cursing, boozing, Republican-baiting, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom—all of which were presumably removed in order to broaden the film's audience appeal.

    ReplyDelete
  14. While I'm spamming you, I might as well point out the typos in the introduction to "part 1."

    In the first sentence, "it's spammy size" should read "its spammy size." And in the sentence after that, there is an unnecessary "not" preceding "now."

    This is what blogger and its character limits have reduced me to. The end.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yea... J's are very sexual letters...
    and your very hillarious.
    some say this is stupid,
    I say kudos for coming up with something more interesting than playing halo all day.
    haha


    ...scalping indians

    ReplyDelete
  16. this was definitely my favorite post - this is what got me hooked to your blog!!! ily larry...

    ReplyDelete
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