Saturday, March 07, 2009

Reel People: Amy Adams is Julie Powell

The movie is Julie & Julia directed and written for the screen by Nora Ephron, based off the books Julie and Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Childs.

Julie Powell

Julie Powell was born and raised in Austin, Texas and attended the Amherst College where she received a double major in fiction writing and theater.

With an eye for adventure Julie and her husband to-be, Eric, moved to New York City. Where Julie Powell worked a variety of temp jobs.

Julie's last job of this nature was with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation which was responsible for distributing funds post-9/11. Powell's need to work jobs of this nature gladly became a thing of the past after Julie took on a unique project. In 2002 Julie Powell created a unique blogging project, "The Julie/Julia Project" a blog which was chronicling her attempt to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's famous cookbook, Mastering The Art of French Cooking. This in itself a huge project being that Julie had never even cooked an egg before, and had a small poorly equipped apartment in Queens.

Julie claims to have started the project because she had an intrinsic feeling about Julia Child’s book: “Though it had been there as long as I could remember, I’d never seen Mom take this particular thick, cream-colored tome out of the pantry. Actually, it was one of a matched pair: two fat books, both called Mastering The Art of French Cooking, both with a pattern of spangled floral shapes on their covers.”

Of the course the experiment not only did Julie Powell's cooking skills improved, but her unique, open, and often-coarse style captured a large blog audience, as she shares about her husband, friends and family.

Julie never met Julia Child in the process of creating this book, but instead through the project begins to imagine about not only the cooking of Julia Child, but also her relationships with her husband Paul.

This blog audience resulted in a book deal for Powell with Little, Brown and Company. Powell reformatted the work she had done on her blog and crafted the 2005 published book Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen . (The book was later retitled Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously)

Julie's popularity only grew with the movie a deal for a movie adaptation of her story in 2009, making the movie, based on her book, based on her blog, the first movie ever to be based on a weblog.

Julie Powell's second book Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession is set to come out in conjunction with the release date of the film. This book focuses on Julie's attempt to learn butchery.

Julie & Julia

Writing a bio for Julie Powell is complicated, not because she doesn't have a life, but because the film, the story, and the premise are so tightly woven, that I feel like the power of the blog and book are based on the experience and Powell's writing, while so much of the power of this film relies on the way that Nora Ephron will find a way to tell this story in a way that fits the medium.

In the film, Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, Chris Messina plays her husband, and Mary Lynn Rajskub plays her friend Helen. The story of Julia Child and Paul Child some how gets intermingled into the film (Meryl Streep plays Julia while Stanley Tucci plays Paul).

Julie Powell describes her reaction to the film at an early screening last November on her current blog and said: "somehow seeing yourself - or a Rom-Com-ed, slimmed-down, considerably less foul-mouthed version of yourself - on a movie screen is a whole different thing. Well, it's not so much that, even. 'Julie Powell' is a character, played by Amy Adams, who is lovely and great - I understand that, ingest it, am fine with it. It's stranger hearing Chris Messina (Yummy!!) referred to as 'Eric Powell,' and see him in an office tricked out with posters and books poached from Eric's actual office. It's stranger to see a set of our apartment, built by people who never saw our apartment, and see how creepily right it is in some particulars - the red cowboy hat, the brand of digital kitchen timer, the particular lamp or cookbook or poster on the wall. "

Amy Adams, a two time Oscar nominee (Junebug and Doubt) is one of Hollywood's hottest commodities, but also someone who has been criticized for playing the same sugar-sweet roles. Will Amy Adams receive critical attention or even an Oscar nomination/win for portraying this Real (Reel) Person?

Related post: Julie & Julia, thoughts on the book (that is, the book based on the blog, that is the source material for the major motion picture)

37 comments:

Grete said...

I've had this book for about a year now, but I haven't yet had the chance to start reading it... Now that a movie version is coming out, I'd better get-to-it!

Peter Chan said...

I say bring on those Amy Adams criticisms. :P I'm just glad I get to see a new film with her in it every three months this year.

crackers and cheese said...

I'm getting a Julie Andrews vibe from Adams' hair in her portrayal of this Julie.

Anonymous said...

Julie and Julia is a HORRIBLE film! Do NOT go see it. Julie and Julia is TWO HOURS too long! The parallels that the film tries to draw between Julia Child, publishing cooking books in an era for women who were expected to cook (and not publish books) with that of a young woman today who's blog leads to fame and fortune is a stretch. The fact that Julie Powell skips out from her job helping survivors of 9/11 (and while at work) spends the time crafting recipes and blogging about herself is rather embarrassing. It trivializes 9/11 and the fact that Julia Child didn't respect Julie Powell's work could have, at least, led the filmmaker Nora Ephron to think twice. There are scenes ripped off previous Nora Ephron films and others (like the much funnier lobster scene in Annie Hall.) There is no arc to the love affair between the characters Julie and Powell, and you wonder how many actors passed up this role (Good thing Grenier learned from Devil Wears Prada that playing a one dimensional character on Entourage is funny, playing one repeatedly is worrisome.) Julie's husband seems to have no sense of direction outside of responding to his wife's every move. There is no chemistry between the two and Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci cannot save this film from itself. In it's vain quest to satisfy the young women who flocked to Devil Wears Prada and still appeal to epicureans, foodies and true fans of the great Julia Child is impossible. Either serve a gourmet meal or serve fast food.

Anonymous said...

(to the first anonymous post) Wow...you obviously didn't read the book. And if you did, I feel badly for your lack of comprehension. Really? You see Julie's story as skipping out from her job at helping 9/11 survivors? You probably also think WMDs still exist in Iraq and if we just look harder, we'll find them.

Do us all a favor and go away...quietly.

Anonymous said...

The movie isn't very good, but I'm sure the lemmings will love it. I don't understand why a negative comment draws a comparison with WMDs? Julie Powell isn't a particularly great writer, but her blog was appealing, and the book felt more forced. I don't know that I need to know more about her in order to enjoy either the movie (which I didn't) or her writing.

hollarback said...

Wow Anon#1 really hates Julie.... passionately and rather incoherently...

Maybe he/she should actually read the book? I myself loved the book and am little apprehensive at the Ephron-izing it has gone through to reach the screen. But I'll give it a shot.

Opiefred said...

Goodness....the haters! Didn't read the book...or the blog....the movie however, is charming!

The scenes in France are terrific. And I am of an age that I remember Childs when she was doing her show. Streep is spot on!

Amy Adams is.....Amy Adams; cute and competent.

I agree...might have benefitted from about 20 minutes less but...if you like Meryl Streep, food, France and Amy Adams.....you'll like tis movie!!!

Anonymous said...

(Marlene said) those who can't...knows only to complain. Anon # 1 you are entitled to your opinion. In my opinion you were very harsh about the book, the movie, and your tone. But its okay... Not everyone can be pleased

Anonymous said...

Amherst College, not University of Amherst.

RC said...

@ anon (Aug 4), I have corrected the post to reflect the correct title of Julia's College. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Just saw the movie and Anonymous 1 has no idea s/he is talking about. No one is trivialized, the relationships interplay beautifully. This was a movie that is as generous in spirit as the two women portrayed obviously are. It's uplifting and enjoyable.
Anonymous 1: Keep your cranky pants and opinions to your bitter, angry self.

LKay said...

This movie was very entertaining and at times poignant while simultaneously portraying the parallel lives of two women. Julia (Meryl Streep) is the inspiration behind Julie’s (Amy Adams) self-challenge to cook each of the 524 recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and then blog about it. Streep gives yet another multi-dimensional performance while mastering the mannerisms and dialect of this renowned non-fictional icon. Undeniably big shoes to fill. Adams never disappointments with her stripped-down vulnerability and likeability.

Frightening that Anon #1 saw this movie (or may have only cast judgment from a preview) and concluded it "trivializes 9/11." Julie is portrayed as wanting to help families of victims of 9/11, sometimes in tears, while trying to stay within corporate boundaries. Her job is a backdrop to the story and only frames her personal quest for meaning and to help others.

Very entertaining indeed.

Bryan said...

It's very shocking to see some peoples reaction to a film that looks at the brighter side of 2 true stories. Not many "based on true events" films ever come completely non Hollywoodized. The film is supposed to be entertaining to a mass audience and not just ones who have read the book. In addition, although the movie clocked in at 2 hours it never really felt like it dragged at all. As a 30yo male I am not in the main demographic for this movie, but I enjoyed it and felt it was a very romantic portrayal of the Child's marriage. Also for the Julie Powell story was inspirational and proves that finding an outlet for your frustrations can be found in many places.

Timothy said...

Also being a 30 year old male, I'd like to echo Bryan's comments. I too found Julie and Julia to be quite entertaining and never felt the 2hours in length. It flew by.

I figured when I heard "9/11" there would be complaints, some people just have a knee-jerk reaction. I think it gave credit to people like Julia who had to deal with all the emotional fallout from grieving families (with out any grief counselor training).

Obviously Meryl's portrayal of Julia Child is great and greatly praised but I also enjoyed the character of Julie in the movie- I understand the character is cleaned up for the masses but the idea of a mere mortal actually going thru and cooking every recipe is quite an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the movie is that you don't give hoot about Julie Powell, I wish they would make a movie just about Julia Child and the life she lead! It would have been much more interesting!

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to know more about Julia Child, and was completely bored with Julie Powell.

The whole winning of the second highest civilian award, the Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service, when Julia was head of the Registry of the OSS Secretariat, was glossed over as her "spying in China" (for example). Paul was a cartographer who did a lot of illustrations for Julia's books. What a love story they had. I wish the whole movie was about them.

Julie Powell was just ... a self centered wench with a blog. She just wrote a new cooking book with details on an affair she had after her first book's publication. I was mortified. Bad enough to be fooling around, but then you write a BOOK with details about it? Yikes. Her man must have no balls.

Anonymous said...

The movie was good. Something nice to see with your spouse. Even the spouse who can not cook at all, and I have one of those.

I met Julie and Paul once at a cooking demonstration at the French Library in Boston. She was in her 80's then and looked it. The surprise lasted about 20 seconds as she kept going on with the demonstration and you went along with it. Time stands still on video, but not in the here and now.
As for Mrs. Powell, I could not say. She got the hollywood treatmetn certainly. The scenes of the subway and world trade center (where I stayed in 2001) brought back memories and was very accurate.

Braintree, MA

Anonymous said...

I found myself feeling "treated" to a lovely afternoon at a movie that was everything our world is lacking these days........... Lighthearted yet real feelings about two very different human beings finding some true joy from the simplicities of life.
What a relief from the mindless violence and ugliness most of todays films seem all too interested to portray.

Manin said...

I just like the movie, it has some lapsus but made me think about food and cook becasue I love cook, so enjoy it

Stefano / The Catcher said...

NiFinally, the movie J&J arrived to Italy (you know we have to translate a movie before seen it) and I find it delicious, nice, pretty. Funny!
Maybe because I am Italian and in Italy we like to spend our time eating and speaking and we really appreciate the good cuisine and who loves it.
I like tremendously all the movie, Jule Powell with is tender love and sincere admiration for Julia the TV cooker, and I love the sincere personality of Julia Child played by the great incomparable Maryl Streep.

Great movie... really.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved the movie!! Hadn't had such a good laught at a movie in a long time. Being from Australia, I had not heard about Julia Child, but it seems like she would have been one of the first, if not the first person to present a cooking show on television??!! Julie child must have been a pioneer of the genre? It is the first movie I have loved Meryl Streep in, I tend to find her boring in a role, but in Julia & Julia she broke away and I loved her for it. I thought the inter-weaving of the two Julia stories so well done, (it can be so annoying if done done right - like when you are geting rapt up in the events of one character and there is a sudden switch to the other!!) Julia & Julia flowed so well I thought :)

I'd bought my daughter a Les Creuset blue casserole a few months ago, which she hasn't used,. After the movie she was thinking she wanted to change it to the orange!! lol Next morning she sent me a txt saying she loved the blue :)

Thank you Julia Powell for writing the blog, and to these who saw it to be worthwhile to make into a movie.

Rick said...

I found the movie quite entertaining; Meryl Streep is spot on, and Amy Adams does an excellent job of portraying the "lost-about-30" angst that some of my friends felt around that time. OK, me too. I am about 1/3 of the way through the book, which I purchased only a few hours ago on my Kindle, and am enjoying it thoroughly. (This is not Tolstoy, but then it isn't pretending to be, it's a quick romp through one year in this woman's life.) My wife enjoyed the movie, too, although not as much as I did, but I suspect we'd both give it a thumbs up.

Anonymous said...

As a 34 year old male and a big fan of the films of Ritchie and Tarantino, I found this film to be very charming. It was humorous and I really enjoyed the relationship between Streep & Tucci. It was very entertaining and heartfelt. It was also a fantastic movie to snuggle up with my wife and watch in bed, not a minute of time wasted. If you want to see a movie about 9/11 this is not it and if that's what you expected to see then you're on the wrong track. I definitely recommend this movie and yes, I was kind of bummed that Julia didn't appreciate what Julie was doing. Kudos to Amy Adams and Jane Lynch as well.

Anonymous said...

Have not seen the movie but just read the book. It was the most boring, pointless thing I have ever read. Fell very flat; I'd give it a 2 out of 10 on the cleverness scale. As non engaging as white toast without butter.

Scott said...

Watching the movie right now with my wife and sons. Very enjoyable and funny! Now my wife wants a Julia Child cookbook. Good! I needed an idea on what to get her for Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I have just finished watching the movie and reading the Wikipedia page on Julia Child and Julie Powell. I have also read the article “Judith Jones and Nora Ephron talk about the book's power to influence young cooks” by by Lynn Andriani.

It is such a fun project to do in one year and blog about it – Julie Powell’s idea is very “today”. The fact that Child became her inspiration and role model across time and space is great. However, there is an obvious time and space gap – Julia Child’s comment "I don't think she's a serious cook." reveals that Child did not like to be a role model this way. Robert McCloskey once said “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” This story really shows that modern day thinking has departed from perseverance. No offense to Julie Powell, this is a common problem our society is facing today. I really do not believe the media should endorse this movie.

Dawgsrulz said...

My wife and I just saw this movie. It was a very good movie. Very well done. We would definately recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Not remembering much about Julia Childs and knowning nothing about Julie Powell, I found the movie delightful! Being a retired French teacher, the scenes of Paris and France and attempts of French were a pleasure.

Kathy Olson
Baldwinsville, NY

Fearless55 said...

As a action flick kinda guy I will tell you that I thought the movie, book, and story line was just fantastic. I sat through the entire movie thinking about life and times of the late fifties and early sixties. Julia reminds me of my great aunt with her mannerisms and zest for life. I know I would watch this again. Well done. I would whole heartily recommend the movie to anyone...

johnny said...

great blog! I invite you to write me what you think

Sabrina Messenger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sabrina Messenger said...

Last night I watched Julie and Julie and though the movie was just adorable. Both Meryl Streep and Amy Adams did a fantastic job in it. Mind you, I've not bothered to look at a Julia Child cookbook in 20 years, but now I'm inspired to dust it off and try some of those recipes. It's a shame that Julia snubbed Julie's efforts and there are some here who are panning this movie. To me such attitudes speak of elitism, and wasn't Julia's original plan to bring the art of French Cooking to more American tastes in the first place? So I don't understand why she would be so dismissive of Julie's efforts there. Also, there are people who study the Bible in a year, it is a perfectly legitimate spiritual exercise yet no one is panning them or questioning their religious convictions and I'd say in the grand scheme of things that the Bible is a far more important book than Mrs. Child's cookbook will ever be. Nevertheless, I'm going to read Ms. Powell's book and then get my booty into the kitchen...and all because of this movie :)

Jenifer said...

Until the movie came out, I had never heard about Julia Child or the Julie/Julia project, book, etc. The movie alone is very inspiring. I am tempted to order my own copy of Julia Child's recipe book and even pay for international shipping. I appreciated how the stories of two very different women were brought together in such a beautiful way. At first I didn't like the ending, but after learning more about Julie and Julia it makes sense.

Anonymous said...

The person who stated that the Julie/Julia movie was horrible by far does not know what he/she is talking about. The movie was incredible as was the book. Keep your bitter comments to yourself.....

Gail said...

Gail's comment...
I loved the movie.I couldn't wait to see the movie.I love to cook and the movie inspired me to cook different varieties of foods. For Anonymous #1, sorry to tell you this,but women in that era could do both cook and write, it was and still true today that people like you only see the glass half empty.You diffently need to stick to fast foods. A fine prepared meal should be eaten by people who deserves it. My point of view about the movie wasn't about the two would meet, just one person appreciating what the other had accomplished and admiring her cooking. It was a true story, that's what real life is about. So get out of fantasy land. The movie was based on facts.

essay papers to buy said...

Thanks for the post! I've never known such fact about Julie Powell. It changes my opinion about her.

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