Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 240 - Director's Commentary Commentary (pt. 2)

Day 240.

On Monday, I went through the first 10 minutes of Nora Ephron's Writer/Director's commentary for the film Juile & Julia. And to my surprise, it was neither very interesting, nor insightful. Wait, did I say to my surprise? I meant "to everyone else's exact expectations."

I mean, no director sounds great when forced to do one of these things (presumably after a long, arduous post-production process), but Nora Ephron just rambles on and on about nothing in a rather incoherent fashion. But I'll cut her a break--she was 68 when this movie came out after all. Moving onwards to the next 10 minutes of director's commentary commentary!


Nora Ephron's Director's Commentary in bold.  
My Director's Commentary Commentary in italics.


Ahhh, this was the fucking best. I sat breathlessly waiting for her insight on the awful, awful Cobb Salad Lunch scene (The one Julie's always "dreading, dreading, dreading"), but Nora didn't say fucking shit about it. Probably because she knew how bad it was. Or that nothing justified how big of bitches her friends were being. Or maybe she just forgot that she wrote/filmed the scene altogether and therefore had nothing to say. Maybe an intern just took a shit on the script and this excuse for a scene was the final result. I'm leaning towards the latter.

This scene is shot outside the famous New York bookstore, The Strand—where, well its just one of the great landmarks of New York life on uh, Park Avenue and… or 4th avenue and 12th street. It’s a nightmare of trucks passing and all of the rest of uh… we got it—Mary Lynn Rajskub who was Amy Adams’ best friend Sarah is somebody that I have been dying to work with since I saw her in Punch-Drunk Love… and of course she’s on 24. She’s a great, great actress.

Oh man. Nora Ephron is so old and feeble-minded that she cannot recall what street The Strand is on. She also forgot that no one gives a shit about the Strand at all! Actually, I have no idea. Any New Yorkers out there who actually believe that this bookstore is "one of the great landmarks of New York life"? If so, let me know. Also, she clearly loses her train of thought right before she talks about Mary Lynn Rajskub. Nora's scatterbrained-ness is 10x more entertaining than Julie & Julia will ever be.

When we did the movie, one of the things I said to the actors was thatI didn’t want anyone nibbling. That this was a movie about people who were completely insane about food and talked with their mouths full and would never ever forgo a meal just because something terrible had happened or whatever. I just hated in movies where you see an actor just sort of drinking water at the table because they… and I feel bad for them because they have to eat for 12 hours... you have to shoot the scene over and over and over. But Chris Messina really… really, really took what I said seriously… and you see it here.


The story of Julia’s boeuf bourguignon… I could never say this word correctly and neither can almost anyone else in this movie, but the story of that beef stew… is in… Julie Powell’s book… Julie & Julia and… it really was a chance to bring for me my cooking experiences with Julia together with hers, because you really had a sense when you cooked with Julia that she was there with you. And she was kinda watching over you—her instructions were so explicit and… and perfect.

So maybe the "great big good fairy" line wasn't a Julie Powell original. Maybe all of Julie Powell's perceived space cadet-like personality was actually a direct result of Nora Ephron's early stage dementia. That changes everything. I did enjoy how no one could pronounce "boeuf bourguignon" correctly though. +1 Nora.

This is almost a complete replication of the famous moment when Julia Child dropped a fish on the floor… only she never did drop a fish on the floor. What she did was that she dropped some potatoes on the stove just as you’re about to see. This assumed, kind of legendary thing—and everyone forgot that it was potato and the story got, sort of a long nose, but that’s exactly what it was and she put it back in the pan and says exactly what Meryl Streep says in this scene.

I can't believe this whole time everyone else thought that Julia had dropped a fish on the floor. What ignorant fools we all were. Thank god for this director's commentary or we would have never been set straight on this very pressing factual concern.

Incidentally, the music for the French chef theme, which is playing now, is something that no one knows who wrote. Its author is unknown.

Oh. So if no one knows who wrote it, that means the author is unknown. Her logic checks out.

This is a… sort of a joke. But I believe it completely since I have ADD and I can never… keep track of what I’m doing in the house and therefore nothing is ever tidied up, because I am in the middle of cleaning one thing up when I notice something else and then I have to sort of go… sit down and look at it and nothing gets done.

I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Ephron--this is most definitely sort of a joke. I don't think you can definitively classify it as such though. You know, because most people laugh at jokes. Seriously, I had thought that this weird ADD bit was another eccentricity of Julie Powell, but apparently it's ALL NORA. I'm going to have put a limit those on all those JP death threats...

I had cooked so faithfully from Julia Child that I really thought… I had cooked a huge amount of the recipes and I was stunned when I looked at the book when I started working on this script… how many recipes I hadn’t cooked. How many recipes I wouldn’t have been caught dead cooking. Like kidneys and aspic. And I was just overwhelmed with it--what a huge task Julie Powell set for herself. Holding a full-time job, cooking these things that are in no way—almost any of them—easy to cook. Many of them aren’t hard and the instructions are explicit, but… but oh my god, they—some of them take 2 or 3 hours.

Only some of them take 2-3 hours? Do you realize that just watching this movie takes 2+ hours out of my day, Nora? Then I have to come up with something to say about it! Why aren't you impressed by that? Where the fuck is my movie?! (Editor's note: I realize that the Lawrence & Julie & Julia movie would be terrible. Also, I realize that it's bizarre to have an editor's note when I am the only person who writes/edits this blog.)

We shot this scene on the roum mouf targ (sp?), one of the great market streets in Paris and we picked it for a lot of reasons—one because it had that charming uphill thing and it was narrow and… and we could make it look as if it were 1950 very easily.

Definitely got that "charming uphill thing." Can you imagine if this scene was shot downhill? Wouldn't have been as nearly as charming, if it were charming at all.

Julia just fell in love with Paris when she got there and charmed everyone. She’s the tall American that everyone knew.

Charmed! Again! Nora sure likes her descriptors! Also, "tall American that everyone knew"? I'm pretty sure she meant to say Abe Lincoln. Or Paul Bunyan. Or Conan O'Brien.

That moment you just saw is what makes her such a great actress… just that tiny moment of regret that passes over her face when she sees the baby carriage.

Finally, something that can be agreed upon. MERYL STREEP IS THE GREATEST ACTRESS OF ALL TIME.


Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "On top of which, the whole idea of writing a blog is to get away from what I do all day."


  1. Not that I live in New York anymore, but the Strand is TOTALLY a landmark of New York life. For one thing, it's huge--so many books, so many good finds at good prices, so many unexpected treasures, and in an age when bookstores are disappearing all over the place, that very fact represents something larger than itself. It's also big-city-idiosyncratic, with, for example, a section in the basement where you can buy books by the foot to stage a room. But Ephron's still wrong--it's on Broadway and 12th.

    (Could this comment sound any more English-teachery?)

  2. o em gee! i love your blog, i got here via ultraculture- you were featured, idk if you know,
    this is great, i watched j & j with my mother as a bonding thing or someshit but we both thought it didn't live up to our expectations. but i appreciate pedantry and obsession A LOT. also links as well, like how julie cooked everyday and you watch J & J everyday. it's so meta.
    I wonder if you still actually watch it, or just have it on in the background while you check out dix on chatroulette.
    hmm maybe i'll know, or maybe i never will
    365 film watches is a lot
    i salute you in your endeavour!

  3. rouf mouf targ = Rue Mouffetard

  4. plus there is no 4th Avenue in NYC. It goes from 3rd to Madison, then Park!

  5. So random! I saw that Mary Lynn woman on a flight a few weeks ago and have been trying to place her since then. I'm not a huge movie person so I couldn't figure it out until I read this post. So thanks, ridiculous blog! You can add changing lives to the list of benefits of writing this :)

  6. There is a 4th ave in NYC, in the village before the start of park ave. The strand (one of them anyway) is in the village and you're not a real NYer if you don't know what it is.

  7. I get that this is way past, but I'm commenting anyway. Strand is amazing, and located on 12th and Broad, just putting it out there. :)

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