Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 244 - Julie & Julia & Shark Week

Day 244.

We are now officially 2/3 of the way through the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project and I, for one, am pretty... happy? Happy, I think that's the right word... yeah. The nightmare is almost over! We're in the home stretch (sort of).

That being said, I don't like thinking too much about the 121 more viewings of this little movie that I still have in front of me. All I can say right now is: Thank God it's Shark Week.


I might have to watch 2 hours of mindless, insufferable, boring drek every day, but at least this week I'll be able to fill the other 3-4 hours of free-time outside of work with NON-STOP ULTIMATE SHARK ATTACK FEEDING FRENZY ACTION.

I was originally going to re-imagine Julie & Julia with sharks playing the main characters in the vein of Julie & Julia & Dinosaurs & Robots & Beavers, but then I was all like "Yo fuck dat, I'mma just photoshop some shark fins/heads onto characters' backz instead!"


THIS WEEK IS GONNA BE JAWSOME!!!
(The shark part of it, that is. The Julie & Julia part will not be jawsome at all)

The big takeaway here? Live every week like it's shark week. And if that's not enough for you? Live every day like you have to watch Julie & Julia again and then fucking blog about it and try not to kill yourself.

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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "Okay. You don't have to bite my head off."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 243 - Senator McCarthy

Day 243.

You wouldn't usually think of Julie & Julia as a prototypical political drama, and I'm here to tell you that you would be absolutely correct in thinking that. However, there is a surprising amount of political discussion between Paul and Julia's parents at Dorothy's wedding reception.


Julia's Mom: How are things at the embassy, Paul?
Paul Child: Fine. Thank you, Phila. Thank you. Well, not fine, really, because
they've cut our library allowance by 90º%. It seems that Senator McCarthy has very long arms.

A normal person wouldn't think twice about this bit of dialogue. After all, the expression "has very long arms" most obvious refers to the fact that those who are in power can always catch and punish people who have opposed them, no matter how far away those opponents may go.

But to no one's surprise. I am not a normal person. Every time I hear Stanley Tucci say this line, I think of... well... this...


Imagine how many midgets he could tickle with those things!

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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "Surely you're not suggesting that the French government is any better."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 242 - Fuck The Cordon Bleu

Day 242.

Given the nature of this blog and its super, super niche audience (people who've seen Julie & Julia/people who appreciate an endless barrage of jokes about a guy looking like Mark Ruffalo), I get a lot of various companies asking me to promote their products/services in this space. And I usually decline their offers--because ads aren't cool (Do you know what's cool? A billion dollars). But when the Cordon Bleu--yes, the very same Cordon Bleu so prominently featured in Julie & Julia--came knocking, I was inclined to respond.

Hi Lawrence,

I recently discovered your blog The Lawrence/ Julie & Julia Project, and found it to be very funny and well written. I couldn’t read all 239 posts, but what I did read made me laugh aloud, and I was impressed by both your single-mindedness, anarchic humour and clarity of expression. I work with Le Cordon Bleu, which I’m sure having seen this film as many times as you have done now, you definitely know about! I’m trying to get the word out on an amazing new scholarship which Le Cordon Bleu London is now offering - a life-changing opportunity for a young person aged 16-19 to study at the famed school and even get their accommodation paid for too! They don’t even need great technical skills, the ideas is that they bring the passion and Le Cordon Bleu will turn them into a great chef!

Would it be possible for you to please mention this on your blog? I would love to reach your audience, and feel as though this is the kind of opportunity many of them would find intriguing and appreciate learning about. Please find the press release attached. I have also included some publicity pics for you.

Looking forward to hearing from you, and continuing to enjoy the blog,

With best wishes,
David

Such a flattering email! A what a classy guy--that David. Such a cool opportunity too! A cooking scholarship for an aspiring young chef! What could be better than that? I'd absolutely love to plug your little press release here on the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project, David. Oh, but there's one little thing that's been bugging me..

JUST LAST WEEK, I CALLED THE CORDON BLEU IN SAN FRANCISCO TO ASK IF IT WAS OKAY TO TAKE ONE OF YOUR FRENCH COOKING CLASSES WHILE FULLY DRESSED IN JULIA CHILD DRAG AND FILM IT FOR THE BLOG AND YOU TOLD ME NO!!!

So fuck you, Le Cordon Bleu! It's nothing personal, David--but your sister branch in San Francisco deprived L/J&J readers of what was surely to be a great piece of performance art. So no, I will NOT run the press release (seen below) on this blog.


What? Just because I am a lowly blogger, you don't think I have integrity? This is a one-stop shop for quality Julie & Julia-related entertainment, David! There's no place for your aesthetically pleasing, carefully lit press photos of the Cordon Bleu (seen below) on this blog! I am not the media's whore, GODDAMMIT!


And there's ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I'm going to encourage all of my younger readers who may be interested in the culinary arts to check out this scholarship program and apply ASAP.

What do you think I am, a sellout?

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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "Why don't I go to cooking school?"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 241 - ailuJ & eiluJ

Day 241. 

I recently stumbled upon a cool little thing while perusing reddit called backwards movies. A really simple idea, but really brilliant and funny in its execution. See below.


Pretty good shit, right? Naturally, right after I saw this, I knew what had to be done.


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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "I'm a producer at the CBS Morning News."

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.



**COMPLETE SILENCE FROM NORA EPHRON**

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. Lawrenceandjulieandjulia@gmail.com. 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.

NOT. MARK. CHEW-FALO.


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.

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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."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 239 - Random Actor Tuesday: Tom Stratford a.k.a. Gangster

Day 239.

According to imdb, there is apparently some guy named Tom Stratford who plays a so-called "gangster" in Julie & Julia.


Now it's safe to say that I have seen the film Julie & Julia a considerable amount of times. And I can also say with some confidence that I have never seen a fucking gangster in this movie. Like, what scene could possibly feature a gangster without me noticing? Surely not during Julia's stint at the Cordon Bleu. And at Dorothy's wedding? Forget about it. There are definitely no gangsters in this movie. It's fucking Julie and fucking Julia for christssakes!

"I'm gonna make him a Bavarian creme he can't refuse."

Time for some hardcore sleuthing. With a quick google search, I immediately located Mr. Stratford's actor homepage and discovered this little gem of a pic.


So not only does this guy exist, he actually did play the purported role of "gangster" in Julie & Julia. And he was proud enough of his role to put it on his personal website too! Along with those other awkward, obviously self-shot portraits... But wait, I don't think I've ever seen this fucking guy ever.

I mean, I don't exactly question the fact that he's in the movie--I just don't think I've ever noticed him before... and I notice pretty much everything...

Oh wait, that background in the photo looks somewhat familiar... Could it be?

THERE HE IS! Right above Dorothy's left shoulder!

Don't see him? Lemme zoom in on that.

GANGSTA

Boom! Mystery solved! There is our gangster! Tom Stratford! Actor at large! The best movie gangster portrayal since Marlon Brando in The Godfather!


Seriously though, what about this dude makes him a gangster? The fact that he smokes and wears an old-timey hat? Does that make Sherlock Holmes a gangster then?

Straight Outta Compton

Maybe I'm being a little mean, but dammed if it's not hilarious that this guy put his Julie & Julia "role" on his own website, as if he were more than an inconsequential extra. I like to think that he fabricated this entire "gangster" character/persona and added it to imdb himself in order to feed his delusions of being a legitimate actor. Like, he probably stayed up all night crafting a detailed character history and origin story in order to help inform his totally unremarkable performance as "some guy with a cigarette walking in the train station."

But then again, if any of us were presented with the same role, who's to say we wouldn't rather choose to live the lie? To tell the other extras to go fuck themselves, because we are better than that. To don a hat and cigarette and play pretend just one more time. To act as though we were the stars of our own movies. To fully embody the "gangster" in all of us.


Kind of sad, really.

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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "I paid him. $3,000."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 238 - Director's Commentary Commentary (pt. 1)

Day 238.

Even though I've owned the Julie & Julia DVD for ages now, I've never really done much with it or its special features... until today. I've read your many comments and emails and I've finally decided that it's about high time I started watching this movie with Nora Ephron's writer/director's commentary.

DUN DUN DUN.
***

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

Hi, this is Nora Ephron and I’m here to talk about Julie & Julia 
Good intro. Doesn't beat around the bush, this one.


This is a movie that is based on true stories and to make matters more complicated or interesting or boring or whatever, the suitcase you just saw being put into the back of that car actually belonged to Paul Child. Umm… It’s one of the props that our propmaster came up with.

That was neither complicated, nor interesting. Definitely boring and whatever, though. 2 for 4 ain't bad, Nora. I know you can do better, though.


Um this is a ruonn (sp?) umm and this is the place where Julia Child in fact, had the epiphany that launched her into an obsession with French food. It was a soulmoigneires (sp?) , and if you’ve had soulmoigne (sp?) in France, you know that it is heaven. And I knew this shot had to be in its way just as beautiful as the experience of eating it had been for Julia and Steven Goldblerr our cinematographer did a brilliant job of backlighting that bone as it came out of the fish and I think it is an absolutely beautiful fish.

Backlit bones! This is the kind of insight that ordinary viewers of Julie & Julia would never have were it not for this director's commentary. Thank you, Nora Ephron! Side note: I had enough trouble trying to transcribe this part word for word without all those tricky French things getting in the way... Also, I could easily look up the cinematographer's actual name, but I'm just that lazy with these things. Look at the backlighting on that bone though! Simply delightful!


This is one of the only parts of Paris, the one we just saw, that looks like Paris then. That’s a little… still a little dirty… so we deliberately shot that bridge so we could have some sense of Paris after the war when it wasn’t quite as spanking clean as it is now.

Oh shit, that is supposed to be dirty Paris? Dammmmnnn... I needs to go to Paris ASAP so I can see what it looks like when its "spanking clean!" Really thought that dirty Paris looked quite good.


This is Julie moving from Brooklyn to Queens and the not quite Eiffel Tower she passes in Queens.

Never actually noticed that. Cutesy little parallel there. Well done.

We originally had two cats in the movie, but one of them never got out of the cat carrier so I had to fire it and that’s how we ended up with only one cat in the movie.

Just read that sentence over again. Proof that a director's commentary is more often worse than the actual movie (And I didn't think that to be possible 2 hours ago).


Julie Powell, in fact, had three cats and a boa constrictor but I just couldn’t see how I was going to do that—it’s hard enough to work with one cat.

This movie would have been 10 times better with a fucking boa constrictor. Think of all the boa constricting hijinks we missed out on!

This set was uh, kind of a version of the apartment that Julie actually had but we made the kitchen just a little bit smaller. I really wanted it clear to the audience that… that this was an amazing feat that she managed to achieve and that it wasn’t anything resembling a decent kitchen… and her real kitchen wasn’t much bigger than this.

All of these pauses in Nora's delivery are hilarious. There's no way of knowing for sure, but judging from her hesitation and slow cadences, she does not seem to think much of the real Julie Powell.

And here is Julia’s apartment, which is, reproduced almost as closely to the original as we could. We had lots of pictures of Julie and Paul and their amazing post-war rental. Um, this beautiful apartment actually had a couple more rooms than we had and its odd kitchen upstairs with a dumbwaiter where you could send the food down. And in fact, the bed was too short for Julia, who was 6’ 2”.

Hmm, sort of interesting, I guess. I like that it is reproduced "almost as closely to the original as we could." You know, not "as closely to the original as we could." They almost got to something pretty close. Almost. But instead it was just totally fucking different.


We shot this at ground zero and reproduced the wall of flowers and notes that was there and would have been there in 2002. And the day we shot it, many, many people thought it was the real thing and put more notes and mementos down.

Oh that's great, you lied to everyone and made people think that 9/11 happened again. Real sensitive, guys. Letting people put real tributes and memorials next to fake ones for your dumbass oscar baity movie--very respectful to the victims and their families.

Of course Julie Powell actually did work at the LMDC and umm… I think had taken the job thinking that she was really going to be able to help… and I’m sure she… did help, but it was in a climate that was very difficult. And the kind of job that really saps you at the end of the day when you’re quite not sure you’ve done anything or managed to make anything happen for anyone.

Again, more indicative pauses. Nora doesn't actually give a shit about how hard Julie's job was. I can almost visualize a cue card guy at the recording of this director's commentary, wildly gesticulating at these parts, as if to encourage Nora to try to say something nice about Julie Powell.


This is my chocolate crème pie recipe. Just wanted to say that.

Hah.

Well, that was only the first 10 minutes of my little director's commentary commentary. I'll probably continue it tomorrow and see how much you guys like it. Eventually, we'll make our way through the whole thing. But until then, fuck you Nora Ephron!

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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "I'm so happy you like it, darling."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 237 - A Julie & Julia Eating Game

Day 237.

I've always wanted to do a Julie & Julia drinking game for the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project, but the fact of the matter is, due to my horrid Asian genes, I can't really drink at all. Therefore, I don't even have a basic comprehension of how much to tell people to drink (it only takes me a beer and a half until I'm done for the night).

Luckily for me, a reader named Neil tipped me off to two of his students (Youtube user hedgehogsRkewlLOLZ) who have gone ahead and made one for me. And they've done a hell of a lot better job than I would have. See for yourself.



Well done, hedgehogsRkewlLOLZ Well done. I tried doing something similar on Day 4 with my By the Numbers Post, but I really enjoyed the visual presentation of these stats. Very revealing of the movie as a whole, though I am surprised the Julie Powell Whine Count only ended up being 56. I'm going to have to double-check that tomorrow when I watch it again. For some reason it always seems like way more than that...

Oh, and for those of you who are going to tell me that linking to someone else's Julie & Julia-related content is a huge cop-out, I say--c'mon, mang! It's summer! Plus, as long as the J&J jokes are there, right? What's the difference? I still watched that fucking movie today. What if I don't feel like being your court jester for just one day? Huh? What if I want to PRETEND I HAVE A NORMAL LIFE?!?

Who am I kidding? It's much too late for that.

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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "We could renege on the lease, repack everything and live in the Jeep."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 236 - Is "Servantless" a Word?

Day 236.

"This has got to be a cookbook that makes French cooking accessible to Americans who do not have cooks. Who are servantless... Is that a word? Servantless. I think it is a word."

 --Julia Child, from the film Julie & Julia
I'm Julia Child and I'm such a baller cuz I cun just pull wordz outta mah ass!!!

This is always a funny and endearing scene for Julia Child. I know what most people end up thinking after this one: "Oh what a whimsical notion! She's going to author a cookbook and doesn't even know whether or not 'servantless' is a word!" This scene is the definition of light-hearted and inoffensive. But the question remains.

Is "servantless" a word?

Spellchecker certainly doesn't think so. But fuck spellchecker. Wut dos its no abbout speling neways? Let's consult the always trustworthy internet, shall we?

Wiktionary: YES


Merriam-Webster: YES


Dictionary.com: YES

Final Verdict: "Servantless" IS a word.

Sure, the idea of Julia Child "inventing/not giving a shit about" a word is rather novel and kind of fun, but "servantless" was in fact, a word long before Julia Child was ever born. Kind of takes the magic out of it, doesn't it?

But whatever. By featuring the phrase "For the servantless American cook..." so prominently in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia popularized the word and introduced it into the cultural lexicon. Or something. Yeah, cultural lexicon. We'll go with that.

Julia Child: Wordsmith Extraordinaire

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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "Here's my final word on the subject."