Am I the only one who thinks that Amy Adams wasn’t that bad in Julie and Julia? Other critics get reductive when talking about her performance, pronouncing it as one nail in the coffin of her career – the other would be “Leap Year.”
It looks as if some of the critics were just watching the trailer. An actress’s look pigeonholes her, so she’s gonna look cute until she reaches an age. Her performance wasn’t aiming for cute, she was aiming for outright misery bathed with obsession and narcissism. I’m projecting a bit yes, since she’s part of the lost generation. You have no idea how many married people I see who are twice my age yet dress like freshmen skateboarders. Just like her.
Julie belongs in that cover of New York Magazine. She is the face of her generation, a carte blanche that has assigned herself to live up to the archetypes of a previous generation. She aspires to become a great cook like Julia Child, who has already made a mark on an already over-saturated American culture. Julie can only fawns and sighs at this unattainable perfect vision. How can she top that? She also covets what she sees every week – her suit wearing, phone call interrupting bitch friends. The only redeeming part of this table of friends is that Casey Wilson is a good character actress and is funnier here than she was in SNL.
You know who else is awkward, Julia Child (Meryl Streep). So much has already been said about her part and performance on the movie. I’m also the only person who thinks her accent goes in and out, but the stature and mannerisms are there. I still feel the same sentiments when this movie came out, that having Streep in a movie is almost lazy casting. That I don’t know if, say, a more deserving Kathy Bates too on the role and would have gotten the same nomination.
There are so many parallels with the characters Julie and Julia. Both are fish out of water in the recovery periods of tumultuous eras. Both were miserable at the things they were doing before they found their paths. Both adopt the American frontiersman attitude. Julie wasn’t the first blogger nor Julia was the first cook, but they were the right persons at the right time. Some critics just wanted to drop the Julie thing altogether, but Julie makes Julia more human and relatable by showing that Julia was at one point lost like we are lost now.
Also, Jane Lynch and Stanley Tucci steal their own slices of the show from Meryl. Fun movie.
Fighting words from possibly fictional Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage, looking like what Jonah Hill might look like in 20 years) to fictional Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) in “Adaptation.” Those words are more effective than anything Kevin Kline ever says “Sophie’s Choice,” because Charlie’s coming from pain, from a connection and a relationship finally consummated in its own strange way with a woman he’s never physically met until this time. In that scene, both lose important men in their lives. Charlie loses his fictional brother Donald (Nicholas Cage) in an out-of-nowhere car crash, while Susan loses John Laroche (Chris Cooper) to a croc. Their confrontation is both hilarious and sad. The two deceased characters have been Charlie and Susan’s crutches, alter egos, dumber, more oblivious versions of themselves with delusions of grandeur. Charlie unlearns the Susan who’s been both myth and sexual fantasy and sees her just like him, a writer stuck after letting go of an obsession. And now that that part of them is gone, they can fictionalize this part of their lives and move of to other projects.
I also think this is the first movie I’ve seen where Tilda Swinton looks normal. She’s always been a beauty from another world, but as Valerie Thomas in a light sweater she refreshingly looks more conventionally pretty. There’s also the warmth in her, that as much as Charlie’s repulsed by himself, beautiful women don’t just tolerate but actually accommodate him. Her ‘breathing down his agent’s neck’ only happens off screen.
I kinda wanna talk about Amelia (Cara Seymour) and Donald’s girlfriend Caroline (Maggie Gyllenhaal) too. These two women, as well as Valerie and her doppelganger Alice the Waitress (Judy Greer) don’t seem to be repulsed by Charlie, but that’s only because the romantic barrier hasn’t been broken. That only gets broken with Alice, who isn’t as accommodating by then.
I’m not sure if I totally love the movie, but it’s not as jolting in its surrealism as “Eternal Sunshine” or “Synecdoche,” as much as I like those movies. A part of it is probably due to listening to the characters’ voices or seeing what cars they drive before actually seeing them. The characters here are humans instead of aesthetic elements filling up the mise-en-scene.
FACT! Meryl Streep’s other movie in 2002, “The Hours,” partners her with Alison Janney, the latter coincidentally plays Chris Cooper’s wife in “American Beauty” three years before. Sluts.
FACT! Meryl Streep stoned and her calling people fat are longer traditions than previously thought.
FACT! Nicholas Cage was once good.
(Finally saw this after putting it off for three months.)
I hope my opinion on this movie doesn’t stem out of a bias towards kids’ pictures, and that if by chance I hated this movie I would have been like those people who hate children and have no souls. At the same time this might not be considered a kids movie because Wes Anderson’s voice seeps it movie so much. At the same time adult themes seep into other media targeted for children (Flintstones), and as my old-enough-to-be-parents friends can attest, sarcastic language and tones have been prevalent in children’s media in the past decade.
The first moments of the film did delightedly overwhelmed with cuteness, but nonetheless, the Wes Anderson influence within the narrative was distracting in the first half (I have yet to read the book, and apparently it’s better for someone who writes about film to read the source material). I wanted something universal, and I wanted to see if he could make a film that has different themes from what he’s used to. I couldn’t see both aspects of kids movie and Wes Anderson movie together.
What probably convinced me to were the performances. This movie probably has George Clooney’s best performance of the year. He’s familiar with the heist-y, witty, fragmented masculinity and he’s familiar with these spins on the genre (Soderbergh). Behind the animation is someone perfectly conjuring a character with explosive excitability.
And his leading lady comes to task. I can’t believe I’m admitting this to the internet, but Meryl Streep almost made me cry in that movie. Her character and performance is more motherly and isn’t as fierce and combative as the other female characters in Wes Anderson’s movies (Anjelica Huston comes to mind). She even comes off as motherly in the first scene when she and Clooney portray a younger couple. But she does scratch his face, and it’s hinted that her character has a mysterious past.
Michael Gambon is also enjoyable as always, and Willem Dafoe disappears into his Rat character. And if you’re wondering why animals in n English countryside are speaking with American and Southern accents, I let it go.
What also caught my eye was how textural and sculptural the film is. The hair and the fur on the foxes’ faces, the detail of every set created and the gorgeous scene in the sewer waterfall added to this movie.