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I can always tell by the opening credits if a movie is any good. Title and credits in a well chosen font indicates a director or producer with the smarts to hire a good art director and the wisdom to let him do his job. OK, I admit to being a font snob, but really it works. Remember this, good opening credits=good film.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a movie is good even after you’ve seen it. Films are so slickly produced these days, it’s easy to be dazzled by brilliant technique into thinking the film is on the whole brilliant; then, 2 weeks or 2 months later find it completely unmemorable. I have a rule of thumb here as well. If I find myself thinking about the movie the next day, it’s a keeper. It’s a film I’ll be able to recall a year from now and will want to see again.
This morning I woke up thinking about Julie/Julia. I went to see the film for the acting. I even did my homework the day before, renting and watching Doubt, an excellent piece that also stars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. When I saw Julie/Julia the following day, I hoped to be blown away by Meryl Streep’s handling of 2 very different characters; Sister Aloysius from Doubt, a grim nun who considers sugar in tea to be a shameless indulgence and Julia Child, light hearted gourmand for whom too much was never enough (at least in the case of butter). I love the whiplash that occurs when good theater craft is able to yank viewers from one reality to another. I was not disappointed.
Much about food and cooking, the movie itself was a feast, a visual one. Naturally, Paris was beautiful. It’s almost obscene how perpetually photogenic that city is. And then, there were the hats. The 1950’s was the last decade in which most women wore hats on a daily basis. Julia Child and her associates Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle wore a parade of wonderful hats in the movie. The fashion of the time called for small, close fitting head wear. These clever little hats were worn nestled in the short wavy or curly coiffures of the day. These designs took up very little space yet were fashioned in such rich, interesting materials and were so inventively designed as to approach sculpture. I was just charmed. I have a mind to chop off my hair, learn how to do pin curls and buy a whole wardrobe of cunning little vintage hats.
Some early scenes in the movie are concerned with Child’s pre- Cordon Blue days as she cast about for a hobby or vocation. In one scene she’s taking bridge lessons, in another, trying her hand at hat making. Neither pursuit was a success. Barbara Vacheri of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quipped,
“Thank goodness Julia Child found hat-making a bore. Otherwise, she might never have pursued her passion for food — she ate and cooked with gusto and joy — ”
On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder, had the amazing Mrs. Child taken to millinery with her customary gusto and joy, can you imagine what delicious confections we might be wearing today?
by Jan Masters Yon
in memory of Bob McPheeters who would have loved the movie.