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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

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07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

07.04 On reflection: how the 'albedo effect' is melting the Antarctic

07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn

07.03 Deep-sea mining to turn oceans into ‘new industrial frontier’

07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]

07.02 American Medical Association sues North Dakota over abortion laws

07.02 'Committed' CO2 emissions jeopardize international climate goals, study finds

07.01 New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

07.01 Freak summer hailstorm buries cars in Mexico's Guadalajara [0:50 video]

07.01 Climate Change is Devastating India With Heat Waves and Water Shortages [13:48 video]

06.30 American farmers can't afford this administration's climate apathy

06.30 The US military is a bigger polluter than more than 140 countries combined [Could a world-wide moratorium of military activity dramatically slow the climate crises?]

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07.16 Describing 'Future We Want to Live In' Scores of Groups Unveil New Blueprint for Reproductive Rights

07.16 'Do not take the bait': congresswomen denounce racist Trump attack [3:50 video]

07.16 Money Laundering Scandal Forces Puerto Rico’s Governor to Cut His Vacation Short — Just in Time for Another Scandal

07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]

07.15 Finding the Future in Radical Rural America

07.15 Sanders Accuses Biden of Parroting Pharma and Insurance Industry Script With Attacks on Medicare for All [Like Trump, Biden explains why he's unelectable every day.]

07.15 If there is an 'immigrant' who has failed to integrate in America, it's Donald Trump

07.15 Trump tells Ocasio-Cortez and other female progressives to 'go back' to 'original' countries

07.15 Trump Takes Pelosi's Side Against AOC and The Squad as Intraparty Fight Over Immigration Continues [Its about much more than immigration, its about the Corporate Dominance—by many of the same companies, even—over both major Political Parties. With too few exceptions, neither party has represented The Public since Nixon generously raised the minimum wage (Part D Medicare and ACA both became Frankenstein legislation due to excessive corporate price-fixing influence), and that has to change!]

07.14 Trump: People like Paul Ryan almost killed the Republican Party [Then it's too bad he didn't stay to finish the job!]

07.13 Trump's POS Labor Secretary, Acosta, Out. POS Number 2, Linked to Abramoff, to Fill Role [A willingness to perform criminal behavior seems the only competency required...]

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07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]

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07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

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07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

07.14 Kasich: The chilling effect of British ambassador's leaked memos

07.14 'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar

07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]

07.13 New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Prompted by Mosque Attacks

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning

07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]

07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]

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  Nora Ephron: Julie & Julia (2009)
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FILM REVIEW:

Nora Ephron: Julie & Julia (2009)

Better at the first blush than the long follow-through

by Chris Knipp
19 August 2009

Ms. Ephron takes a questionable step in choosing to toggle back and forth between scenes in the life of Julia Child and the drab outer-borough strivings of Julie Powell.

The whole trouble with the otherwise charming and very well acted new Nora Epron movie, "Julie & Julia," is that it's totally lopsided. There's one half that we'd love to have much more of, and another we could quite easily do without. This is several great performances, but only half of a great movie.

This happens because of two gimmicks, neither of which seems particularly brilliant. Julie Powell, an ambitious and frustrated women in Queens who wanted to escape her job and become a writer, in the year 2002 devised the gimmick of preparing all the 500-some recipes of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days and describing the process in a blog. And now Ms. Ephron has devised her own gimmick of splicing scenes from the book made from this blog together with scenes from Julie Child's book, My Life in France, which takes place mostly in the late Forties and Fifties. The cookbook came out in 1961, and at the end there's a scene set then when the book comes in the mail to the Childs' house in America. Ms. Ephron takes a questionable step in choosing to toggle back and forth between scenes in the life of Julia Child—an American icon with a revolutionary effect on American sophistication about food, whose life in post-war France was glamorous and amusing—and the drab outer-borough strivings of Julie Powell. Though Amy Adams, who plays Powell, is cute and appealing and even subtle, her scenes can hardly hope to compete with the ones celebrating Meryl Streep's joyous, irrepressible version of Julia Child.

Chris Messina, who plays Julie Powell's husband Eric, again is appealing—both stories concern good marriages with understanding husbands who nurtured their wives' difficult paths to fame and success—but he can hardly compete with the likes of Staney Tucci as Paul Child, Julia's husband. Tucci and Streep are a already a team, though there could hardly be more of a contrast between their roles this time and their earlier triumph in "The Devil Wears Prada," in which Meryl plays the ice queen fashion mag maven and Stanley plays her very gay right-hand man.

Julia Child is a character full of joie de vivre, an enthusiast fazed by nothing and nobody. It must be admitted that, force of nature though Streep's Julia is, and delightful though it is to watch the scenes in which she wrestles with the mean Paris Cordon Bleu woman director Madame Brassart (played by former French Vogue editor Joan Juliet Buck), or delights in restaurant food, or gets sexy with her husband, of bones a goose or flops an omelette, the fascination of evil is such that Streep's Miranda Priestly is even more fun to watch in "Prada." Guilty pleasures are the best, and nice characters finish last.

There is a failure in Ephron's pleasing but bland writing here, too. Her protagonist might have had a bracing dash of wickedness in her. There are obvious hints—even in the end of the film itself—that the real Julia Child could have snits or be pretty darn mean, for all her ebullience. When Julie's blog gets publicized, Julia disapproves of the whole project, as if to say that the important half of this movie has no use for the other half. In her dramatization of the Forties-Fifties-Sixties Julia Child (the later periods quickly rushed through) Ephron doesn't dare show us that. She is more successful at pumping up the giddy level of sophisticated comedy, as happens when Julia's even taller sister Dorothy (Jane Lynch) comes for a visit and quickly finds a husband.

Nor does it dare show all the depths and shallows of Ms. Powell's year-long struggle with an increasingly impatient husband and a heartbreaking job with the Lower Manhattan Development. We know from the screen version that Julie burned her Bœuf bourguignon and lost some aspic. But out of 524 recipes in 365 days, more must have gone wrong than that.

The value of this film remains the very real though partial one that Streep is wonderful to watch. So is Tucci—so reassuring, like a well-tailored suit. Streep's Julia towers (the original was 6'2"), a large, robust woman with a lusty chuckle, and she has a "flutey" voice that stays high but has a hearty lower note in her famous, almost threatening way of exclaiming "Bon appétit!" The way she sang that out at the end of her hugely successful cooking TV show, "The French Chef" (which Ephron and Streep also recreate) seemed silly but irresistible. The woman had such fun! She loved life. Streep's impersonation isn't meant to be an exact one, but you buy it. Her character comes to life, even if the film depicts her by playing only on a few bubbly notes.

The best times in the film are the early ones, when Paul and Julia first arrive in France in November of 1948, because he's been posted to Paris in a State Department job (they met while jointly serving in the OSS in China). The film nicely captures that magic moment when they savor sole meunière swimming in butter in a restaurant in Rouen, and she tells Paul to taste it and he just says, "I know. I know." In retrospect, these moments, and Julia's cooking triumphs, seem frustratingly few, as the film goes on to schematically work through her struggles to put together a French cookbook for Americans in collaboration with Simone Beck (Linda Emond) and the lazy Louisette Bertholle (Helen Carey). Movies, especially the kind that constantly interrupt themselves, are better at showing us the first blush than the long follow-through. But Julia Child, who was more serious and less exclamatory than Streep's appealing impersonation reveals, was not only a great enthusiast but a methodical and determined person, with the patience and the reverence for quality that any practitioner of the art of French cuisine must have.


©Chris Knipp 2009. Visit the author's website to read more of his work.



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This story was published on August 19, 2009.

 

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