Sunday, August 23, 2009
Thoughts on Weekend Movies
I saw three movies this weekend; two on DVD: Knowing & The Soloist; and one at the theater: Julie/Julia.
I talked about Knowing below (and about Cheating - which I will talk about in my "cleaning your manuscripts" this coming week).
The Soloist There were inspiring messages about friendship and sacrifice; however I was sad and disturbed all the same. Mr. Ayers, this musical genius, a prodigy -locked in a world that only he understands. Sometimes the line between genius and "madness" is a fine one. The movie was intense and the acting extremely well done. Do not expect a traditional hollywood "happy ending" . . . although it does have a version of a happy ending.
As for Julie/Julia -- I adored the Julia Child parts - Streep is brilliant in everything she does and J/J was no exception. She WAS Julia Child. Stanley Tucci was wonderful as Julia's husband. Their interesting story made me laugh, cry, love food and cooking. Julia Child's story inspired me! Her "never give up" attitude-Bravo! I adore her more now than I ever did before, and I admire her more than I ever did.
However, unfortunately, as for the present day "Julie" parts - I'm sorry to say that I wasn't as much inspired. This is not a reflection on the author, because I have not read her book; however, for how it was portrayed on screen, the Julie character was sometimes whiny and one-dimensional. My friend said she's listened to author interviews and thought the on screen interpretation in no way portrayed the depth of the real Julie, or the real story of her depression or pain that she worked her way through with "Julia by her side." I can believe this - how many times have books to movies failed in some way? I am tempted to go back to her blog and read more about the author, as I visited it only briefly before watching the movie. When your books go to movies, you do lose some control of content.
Every time the Julie character's husband ate, I wanted to retch. The loud smacking, the chewing with his mouth open, the oozing food out of the mouth, the cake smashed all over the face - it was disgusting. It was distracting to me and I didn't find it cute or funny, and certainly not appetizing. However, when Julia Child ate, and when she cooked - I wanted to be there with her! I wanted to be enjoying food with her. She loved food and she made me love it with her. When she failed and then jumped back up on her feet, I was inspired. When she thumbed her nose at naysayers, I was inspired. When her dreams finally came true, I wanted to jump up and say YES!
Then there was the "thing" about Julia Child snubbing Julie (and the part about "guess who is coming to dinner was really strange - I won't give it away, but . . . huhn? Why make it seem as if one thing is going to happen when it did not?).
Perhaps Julia Child felt exploited. Well, Julie did exploit Julia Child for her own ends. What writer does not do this at some time in their writing life, knowingly or unknowingly (mostly knowingly)? Even when done with the best of intentions, with a heart full of admiration, it is exploitation when another person's life or character is so blatantly used to another's means to an end (becoming well-known). And Julie wanted to be a well-known writer, adored by others, and she wanted a quick way to it (who doesn't? *smile*).
Perhaps Julia Child snubbed Julie because she felt Julie didn't pay her dues. Julia Child spent eight years trying to publish her cookbook. She worked her ass off. And suddenly, here comes this young woman who rides on the back of Julia Child's hard work to "stardom" by writing a blog over the course of a year based on Child's hard work and dedication to something she loved: food and cooking.
I wonder how Julie felt about the way she was portrayed on screen? If she felt the missing parts that would have given more depth to her on-screen character? Or, if she really doesn't care because she achieved her goal of becoming "famous and well-known." After all, we can't please everyone - I know this from my own small experience in publishing. We just do what we love and do it the best we can and hope for the best. In fact, good for Julie for having such a wonderful idea and sticking to it! That is inspiring.
I wonder, though, if we can lose something of ourselves when it becomes about how much exposure and "fame" we strive for to be successful. As authors/artists/musicians, things can become about other things; will we sell or give away what's precious to us to "Make It" even if we think we won't do something that? In the end, does the means justify the end, or is it the old "laughing all the way to the bank" thing? I can't make a judgment on something I haven't experienced myself, but I do fear the answer.
All in all, I did have fun watching the movie-I laughed, I cried, I was hungry as hell.
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