JULIE & JULIA: “If no one’s in the kitchen, who’s to see?
By Roger Ewing
I put on my sunglasses and fake moustache, and walked quickly through the parking lot with my head down, thinking no one would recognize me when I went into the theatre. For two weeks my wife had been asking me to see the movie Julie & Julia with her and my 86-year-old mother-in-law. Not that I mind going out with the two of them, but being seen entering a theatre in my home town to see a movie about Julia Child and cooking was, well, somehow not very macho.
The Nora Ephron written and directed movie features Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell. The film is actually two stories in one. It flashes back and forth between Julia, as she begins her cooking career in 1949 Paris, contrasting her life to Julie, a woman in 2002 Queens, New York who aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child’s cookbook. Stanley Tucci, brilliantly plays Julia Child’s husband Paul Childs, opposite Streep.
Less than ten minutes in, I suddenly realized this film is the first major motion picture based on a blog. Off came the sunglasses and fake moustache; on went the light bulb inside my head, blogging is something I could wrap my brain around.
It turns out, the real life Julie Powell started to blog as a means of getting in touch with her inner desire to someday become a writer. Her life had led her to an unhappy place. She lived in an apartment above a pizza parlor and spent her days in a sad cubicle-job working for the city of New York. She was in desperate need of some self-realization. Blogging became Julie’s passport to a meaningful existence. Her goal was to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes inside one year and to blog about it each day. The project quickly became an obsession for her.
I checked out Julie’s original blog, The Julie/Julia Project. Not that impressive. No exotic links, no theme, other than her first person rambling about life and cooking. Which leads me to an important conclusion for my own blog, http://www.rogerewing.wordpress.com.
There is no need to be fancy in delivery, only a desperate requirement to connect to your readers on a level they understand and identify with.
Compelling content is a constant requirement for successful blogging. Julie’s blog is very conversational. It’s as if I am in her kitchen listening to her while she cooks. Her written words are merely the extrapolation of her thinking onto a computer screen. Why is this so readable and why is everyone so interested in what she is thinking on any given day?
On Friday, August 13, 2004 Julie writes, “Without you here (Julia Child), I would be a different person – a smaller, a sadder, a more frightened person.” There were 238 comments posted to this particular blog. That’s impressive. It is clear she is willing to expose her true feelings to the world and has no fear of transparency. This is an important point.
One must blog from their true heart, without fear. Be willing to commit to treating the world as a welcome friend.
Julie Powell’s blog became a memoir for “Everywoman”. Julie’s writing is simply a revealing expose of a year in the life of someone just like you or me. She writes about herself, a real person, whose life is filled with joy, sadness, fear, pain, exhilaration, passion, and every other emotion that makes the human condition so complicated and entertaining.
This is a wonderfully simple film that is filled with delights, as well as a realistic sampling of the kind of challenges we all face in our everyday lives. It is also a lesson on the strength of social media and the power of the written word. I highly recommend Julie & Julia.
See it, you’ll be better for it.