I hate listing my favorite movies. I love too many stories to rank them well. But if I was forced to name my favorite movies as of May 2014, they would be as follows:
- The Return of the King (because that’ll always be my all-time favorite)
- Man of Steel
- The Help
- Julie and Julia
- Les Miserables
Yup, Les Mis got bumped from Number 2 to Number 5. Sorry. And Man of Steel and The Help are currently warring for Second Place, just so ya know. The only reason The Help is at Number 3 is because I’ve only seen it twice and I’ve seen Man of Steel . . . uh, never mind, you don’t want to know.
The Help and Julie and Julia are the ones I’ll be chattering about today. Both are the kind of movie you want to watch over and over again, just to let all the delightful details and lessons seep into your soul.
Both of these films contain language, and Julie and Julia has several scenes of Husband-And-Wife-Lovey-Doveyness that are inappropriate for Unmarried Viewers. If you decide to check these films out, please watch with discretion. Thank you!
The Help, as I mentioned in my last blogpost, is the story of a young white woman, Miss Skeeter, and two colored women, Aibileen and Minny, who secretly write a book about the plight of African-American maids in 1960’s Mississippi.
The Help is a fictional story, but the cruel treatment of black people in the Deep South was, I’m sorry to say, very real. If anyone finds out about Skeeter’s authorship of this controversial book, she could go to jail; if anyone finds out about the maids, they could be thrown out of their homes, beaten, even killed.
Ultimately, the bravery of Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny changes their little Jackson neighborhood, but even that promising change comes at a high cost.
This movie (and the book, which is even better!) inspired me. Skeeter, for good or for ill, is my fictional twin; I don’t think I’ve ever met a character who I could relate to so much, at least as far as writing aspirations and personality go.
On the other hand, Aibileen’s quiet, steadfast bravery and her ability to encourage others (especially poor, neglected little Mae Mobley) are qualities I certainly aspire to.
And you can say one thing for Minny: she’s an excellent friend. She will defend and protect you till the cows come home. That said, she’s also a terrible enemy. Don’t get on her bad side: you never know what she might put in that chocolate pie she claims she made just for you 😉
One thing The Help taught me is to be more sensitive to the needs of others. The quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about,” reminds me of Minny’s employer. On the outside, Miss Celia Foote is just a ditz; she wears gaudy clothes and she’s always giggling far too loudly for more refined tastes.
What Minny learns, however, is that poor Miss Celia was thrown from poverty to riches after her marriage to Mr. Johnny, and doesn’t know how to handle her sudden abundance. Not only that, but Miss Celia has borne, alone, the tragedies of four miscarriages. There’s a lot more to Miss Celia than anyone thinks, and when the society ladies of Jackson reject and mock her, it just about breaks her heart. Brusque, opinionated Minny soon becomes Miss Celia’s only friend. Love transcends societal barriers and prejudice, and Minny and Celia feed one another the confidence each woman needs to face her own struggles.
Julie and Julia is a movie I’d heard of but hadn’t seen until my dad got it for my mom as a Mother’s Day present. And since it’s directed by Nora Ephron of You’ve Got Mail fame, we had a feeling it would be along the sweet-and-humorous lines. We weren’t disappointed. Julie and Julia is just plain CUTE.
Julia, the wife of an American diplomat stationed in Paris, wants to do something with her spare time, but the only thing she’s really enthusiastic about is food–especially French food. So, encouraged by her husband Paul, she decides take a rigorous course in French cooking. The school inspires her, and before long she’s helping two friends write a book on French cooking geared towards American women.
Skip forward 50-60 years to Julie Powell, a young housewife who’s been disappointed in her aspirations as a writer. Her husband Eric encourages her to write about something she’s interested in. Julie enjoys cooking, so she and Eric come up with the idea for her to go through Julia Child’s cookbook in a year and blog about the experience.
Not only are the parallels between Julie and Julia’s lives so interesting, but the lessons they both learn were very encouraging to me. Both women take their God-given interests and use them to enrich the lives of those around them. Both rely heavily on the encouragement and patience of their husbands. Both delight in making something beautiful.
Julia Child is also an admirable example of someone who pursued her gifts without neglecting her highest calling: being a good helpmeet to her husband. Julie, a much younger wife, isn’t always so good to poor Eric, but when her own selfishness threatens their marriage, she’s reminded of Julia’s example and becomes much more humble and loving.
Julia is completely comfortable in her own skin. The real Julia Child was 6’2, rather boisterous, and rather clumsy, but she loved life. From everything I’ve seen or read about her, she brimmed with joy and lived like everyday was an adventure. She was also unfailingly optimistic: “One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.”
Meryl Streep looks, sounds, and acts so much like the real Julia Child, it’s downright shocking. She is truly a fantastic actress and pulled off Julia Child’s unique character flawlessly.
If Julia is the character you aspire to be, Julie is the character you relate to. She starts off depressed and insecure, but thanks to Julia’s distant influence and the lessons Julie learns during 365 days of cooking and blogging, she becomes more confident, joyful, and content. Her character development is so fun to watch. You can even see the change in her wardrobe: at the beginning of the film she’s rather frumpy, and by the end she’s wearing a lovely white lace dress as she serves up the grand finale of her cooking project.
I confess to some mental fangirling when Amy Adams first came on the screen, seeing as how this was my first time seeing her in something other than Man of Steel. And if you want me to crack up laughing, just replay the lobster scene for me. That was good acting, screaming and jumping six inches off the ground like that. “Lobster killer! Lobster killer!”
So that’s my review of my two new favorite movies. I know we talked about The Help a little bit in my last post, but how many of you have seen Julie and Julia? Here’s a better question: how many of you have cooked any of Julia Child’s recipes or watched her cooking show? I’d love to know!