Tag Archives: Nora Ephron

Movie vs. Book: Julie and Julia

Recap: As her 30th birthday becomes frighteningly close, Julie Powell realizes she’s unhappy with her life. She has a wonderful husband who she’s been with since high school, but her job leaves her unfulfilled, she and her husband live in a tiny apartment and she has a condition which will likely make it extremely difficult to have children. Doctors continue to push her to have children before turning 30 since that would be her best chance for success, but she’s not ready for kids yet. Her dissatisfaction with her life leads to a fairly irrational decision. She likes to cook, so she will cook….the entire first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julie Child.

She gives herself a one-year deadline, which sounds feasible until you realize that’s 524 recipes she has to cook in 365 days, and most of them are obscenely difficult and…well…French. They include killing, cutting and cooking lobster, boning ducks and hours and hours of stewing in ovens and stovetops. The challenge is beyond difficult. She has no choice but to employ the help of her husband to buy groceries and meat. She invites friends over to enjoy the food. She keeps a blog which suddenly has readers she feels she must entertain and please. The media picks up on her blog, and Julie’s Julie/Julia Project blows up across the nation. All this happens as her friends deal with the trials and tribulations of love and lust and while Julie’s own marriage takes a backseat to her goal.

Each chapter is also interspersed with bits and pieces about the life and love of Julie Child. Her loves — like Julie — are both cooking and her husband. Much like Julia Child learning to cook at age 37, Julie is also on a search to find herself and does after quite a bit of time and hard work.

Analysis: The movie Julie and Julia is a decent adaptation of the book, cutting back and forth between Julie (Amy Adams) and Julia (Meryl Streep) as they find themselves through food. The movie includes much more of Julia Child’s story as she works to publish her first cookbook. (Right from the start, the movie acknowledges it’s sharing the stories of two different books : Julie Powell’s Julie and Juliand Julia Child’s My Life in France.) Because the movie has more Julia, it therefore has less Julie than in the book. Her fertility issues are not mentioned in the movie, nor are the side characters (Julie’s friends) and their crazy love lives. Those cuts help to make the movie a little more upbeat and uplifting and better parallel the journey of both Julie and Julia.

The best parts about both the movie and memoir are how funny they are — Meryl Streep portrays Julia Child impeccably, and Amy Adams is great at bringing Julie’s frustration, rage, determination and humor to life. Both also end in a more moving way than you might expect, but the movie’s end pales in comparison to the book’s final pages. Powell’s powerful writing about Julia Child’s death and what she ultimately learned through this journey moved me to tears and made clear that this challenge was about much more than just cooking and writing about it; it’s about the journey we all find ourselves on, and sometimes you just need to force yourself to take the first step.

Get Julie and Julia in paperback now for just $3.35.

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Review: I Remember Nothing

Recap: Contrary to what the title of this book may seem to imply, I Remember Nothing is not a story about Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. On a much lighter note, I Remember Nothing is a nonfiction memoir, penned by the late, great journalist /writer /producer /director /screenwriter Nora Ephron. The book is a collection of essays about the past, present, and future, some personal, some more an outlet for Ephron to vent. Most are funny, some smart, empowering and thought-provoking, others sad, and a few are quite frankly odd.

In the chapter entitled “Journalism: A Love Story,” Ephron explains how she got her start writing as a journalist, from working in the mailroom at Newsweek to writing for the New York Post. The themes about sexism in the workplace and hard work paying off prevail here and feel inspirational. Other sections of the book discuss her divorce, friendship, and death. This is where we learn more about Ephron as a person and how she sees the world. Commentaries round out the rest of the book, including funny bits about email and short, odd, disposable chapters about things like Teflon.

Analysis: In all, reading about the life of one of the smartest, most successful, and iconically remembered creative female minds of our time was enjoyable. She is brilliant, and more importantly resilient. That comes across in her chapters on divorce and industry “flops” that she suffered. But if you read between the lines, Ephron not-so-subtly implies the state that she was in while writing the book. That is to say, Ephron had been diagnosed with leukemia a few years before penning I Remember Nothing. That information was not made public until after Ephron died in 2012. In retrospect, that knowledge better explains chapters like “What I Will Miss” and “What I Won’t Miss.” It’s lists like these that make it clear Ephron knew what road lay ahead. And what’s more, she faced it head-on.

In some sections — like the one about Teflon — I scratched my head in a state of “what the eff?” But other parts made me laugh out loud. And still others made me view the world in a different way. As a journalist, I felt that the journalism section of I Remember Nothing allowed me to connect with Ephron on a deeper level. I feel as thought I understand her quirks, and I respect her for them. But now, two after she’s passed away, I Remember Nothing helped me understand this great woman who I wish I had learned more about when she was still alive. We may not have Nora Ephron anymore, but we do have her words.

Get I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections in paperback for $11.71.

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Two Nora Ephron Books Will Be Re-Released This Week

When producer, director, and writer Nora Ephron passed away this summer, fans fells in love with her work all over again. Unfortunately, some of Ephron’s best remembered books weren’t available, but they will be starting this week.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Ephron’s Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women and Scribble Scribble: Notes on the Media have been out of print since 1991 and 1984, respectively. Now Vintage is re-releasing the classics. They will be available as a single volume book, starting this Tuesday. They’ll also be available as e-books.

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