Sunday, September 20, 2009

Julie and Julia and Kristin

I admit, I'm late to the movie Julie and Julia. I'm surprised that I managed to see it at all. I usually miss movies altogether, and I can't even remember which movies I wanted to see long enough to catch them on DVD when they're released months later.

But I did go see it on a rainy Saturday afternoon, and I loved it. Yes, I loved it. It made me want to go home and cook. It made me want to write down my recipes and perfect them into a cookbook that would change the world. It made me happy that I, too, have a gem of a spouse, like the two title characters did. It made me resolve to start greeting all my friends by saying, "My Darling Friend!," as Julia Child did in one scene.

O.K., I probably won't do that, but I might make Boeuf Bourguignon once the weather cools off enough to have the oven on for several hours. I won't cook my way through the book (no calf feet in my kitchen!), but I might return to it with renewed interest.

I was interested in the movie's depiction of women as creative people who have to remake themselves periodically--in fact, that seemed to be the movie's message about the world of work--we'll all have to reinvent ourselves periodically.

I was interested in the idea that each woman was adrift and found herself through cooking--and through writing about her cooking. I spent a lot of time thinking about how small changes in trajectory changed each woman's life so completely.

I had no idea that it took Julia Child so long to write Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The movie shows the multiple times that she had to make major revisions and how she coped with each twist. I loved the scene where she's thoroughly dejected--nice to see a bit of realism.

I have always thought of Julia Child as a cook and a television personality, but never really as a fellow writer. How nice to discover that side of her.

Was the movie a chick flick? I don't even know what that term means anymore. Many critics have pointed out that it's one of the few movies centered on women that doesn't focus on their romantic lives--very refreshing. Yet at the same time, these women are allowed to have healthy relationships as well as creative ambition--and they're not punished by horrible torture, dismemberment, or death. I loved the fact that Julia Child's body looks like a normal woman's body on the screen--a tall woman's body, but a body with a bosom, with hips, with a large behind--the kind of body one would have as one cooks with all that animal fat. I love the fact that her husband clearly desires her, well into their middle ages. I love that he sees her as a treasure, even as the society in which they live sees her as a bit of a freak.

Perhaps I won't wait for cooler weather to cook up something delicious that needs to stew for hours in the oven. Maybe I'll turn down the AC and heat up the kitchen. Maybe I can heat up my creativity by cooking too. I'm feeling anxious because I've spent the month of September writing an academic essay, instead of writing poems. Maybe cooking can gently correct my life's trajectory.

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