FIRST: I’ve explained my issue with movies before on this blog, but it was a while ago, before I went all WWW and dot com so I’ll explain again.
For much of my life, my taste in movies has been a conundrum, even to me. Saving Private Ryan was never even an option, while Kill Bill is one of my all-time favorites. I’ll watch Aladdin over and over. But I avoid Lion King like the plague.
Why is this?
It’s all very simply explained by the Greek drama system (as interpreted by Aristotle).
I cannot handle tragedies.
Early on, I couldn’t articulate this, because I had a very narrow view of comedy and tragedy. In primary school, all they teach you is that comedy has a happy ending, and tragedy has a sad ending.
Which is inaccurate.
I know, I can’t believe it either. That people are simplifying the complexities of centuries of Western Civilization’s drama and literature for our nation’s youth?! Horrors. How dare they?!
Sarcasm aside, I was a smart kid, and the simple explanations often just caused problems for me later. But I digress.
Know what the essential difference is?
Comedy portrays a rise in the hero’s fortune. Tragedy is a fall. And a sad ending (or death) doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a tragedy. A happy ending doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a comedy.
Which is why I don’t like Lion King. I don’t care that he gets to be the king at the end. His dad dies two minutes into the movie and it just goes downhill from there until the last thirty seconds. That, my friends, is a tragedy. At least the way I define it.
Julie & Julia (written and directed by Nora Ephron) was awesome. It’s two movies in one, really, with similar story lines. The “Julia” part follows Julia Child and her husband (played by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci) right after they land in Paris, and through the next 8-10 years as Child’s famous cookbook comes to fruition. The “Julie” portion follows a New Yorker in 2002 (played by Amy Adams), who begins a blog and starts cooking her way through the cookbook. The common thread between the stories is that both women are trying to figure out what to do with their lives, searching for some meaning.
Most reviews are of the “pretty good” variety. I think it was great. Not like “WOAH! What a STUNNER of a MOVIE!” But it’s the kind of movie I will buy as soon as it comes out on DVD. And I will watch it regularly for years and years.
I went to see it after my epic doctor’s visit that I referenced earlier this month. Not knowing that much about it, I ran the risk of leaving a highly volatile appointment and walking into a highly emotional movie. Which would have been a disaster.
But it wasn’t a disaster (thank goodness), because the movie was simple, sweet, and avoided cheap tugs on the heartstrings. If there were parts that spoke to one personally, they were profound but swift. This sounds weird as I read it back to myself. But haven’t you seen a movie where something kind of hits you, and then the movie just stays on that for a while? I hate that stuff. I consider that a cheap trick by the director/editor to milk your emotions as easily as they can for as long as they can.
That didn’t really happen in Julie & Julia. At most, there were issues in the women’s lives at the start, and they were still issues at the end. But the movie didn’t dwell on them. Just kind of said, “this is how life goes.”
Julie & Julia is the kind of film where everyone will walk away with something different. Here are the two things that really appealed to me.
The two women are both married to wonderful, supportive men. And not the, “do whatever you want honey, I’ll pay for it all.” But more like, “you can do anything, and I want to help.”
Even when they were struggling, both couples had that us-against-the-world relationship that I just delighted in. I haven’t seen a lot of that in modern movies, especially not movies about women who are “doing something” with their lives.
Also, both of the women followed their husbands to a new land of sorts. A lot of the plot was driven by them hitting that “early life crisis.” I’m married, I’m done school, I’ve established that I can work. But what do I DO with my life?
Duh, this appealed to me. And I liked that both women looked to what they loved, and what would keep them happy for a while, and went all-in. Also that their decisions involved eating and blogging!
I’m rambling. Short story: I saw it, I loved it, I think you should also go see it. It was sweet.