Julie & Julia meet Inglourious Basterds. One movie features Nazis, the other Beef Bourguignon. One has sadistic scenes, and to stay engaged with the other can be a sadistic challenge at times.I’d heard good things about Julie & Julia, and I always liked watching Julia Child on TV cooking some complex recipe mere mortals would never attempt. So, I walked into the theatre with great expectations. Exiting the theatre, my expectations were crushed like a one egg souffle. Julie & Julia didn’t deliver for me.
Yes, Meryl is phenomenal as Julia, but Meryl is always terrific and this performance is more impersonation than character creation. Stanley Tucci brings a nice performance as Julia’s hubby and Jane Lynch steals every scene as Julia’s sister. But, the story of making a French cookbook for English speaking people is hardly interesting and rarely entertaining.
NOW, gently fold that story in with another story about a frustrated writer who cooks the entire Child cookbook over a one year span and blogs about it, and well, you have an odd stew of a film.
Julie is played by Amy Adams, who is usually fun to watch. Her character here is an insecure narcissist in an apron. She’s married to a milquetoasty guy played by Chris Messina who is supportive but frustrated by the blogging project. Wah wah wah.
The movie written and directed by Nora Ephron, usually a gifted writer. The screenplay was based on two separate books, Julia’s memoirs from 1949 and Julie’s book of recent time recounting her blogging project. But just because the subject matter is common to both, the flavors do not belong together. This movie is like vanilla and vinegar. A disappointment, a bad taste. Pity.
Now let’s cleanse our palates with a sorbet of Basterds.
Like the Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino makes films you have to see for no other reason than to get his unique perspective on whatever the film’s about. This time it’s about Nazis and a history re-write with a band of Jewish American soldiers (Inglourious Basterds) giving the goosesteppers what-for behind enemy lines. Even ol’ Adolf gets his comeuppance.
Like any Tarantino film, the dialogue is terrific in developing memorable characters as plotlines intertwine like origami figures. Like any Tarantino film, there’s tension built to keep your eyes riveted to the screen, followed by hyper-violence that begs you to look away. Like any Tarantino film, it is a celebration of film genres, movie magic, cinematography and interesting camerawork.
Yes, it’s chatty at times, but with Tarantino dialogue you won’t mind. Brad Pitt is wonderful as the Tennessee Basterd leader, Lt. Aldo Raine. He lays on a southern accent thick as cold molasses on dog fur. The powerhouse performance comes from Austrian actor Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa. Waltz may be shaking hands with Oscar for this gem.
While not Tarantino’s best film, the Basterds are worth spending some time with and will give you plenty of images to replay for a long time afterwards.