Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amelie Poulain.

Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amelie Poulain, or just simply Amelie, comes from the famed Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The movie tells the story of Amelie, a shy and introverted girl, who falls in love with a complete stranger, and guides him to her with the help of clues. But that's not all the story is about. It has quite a few sub-plots, each no less interesting than the main plot - we have Amelie's father and his depression, we have the mean shopkeeper who gets paid back for all his bullying, we have Georgette in the Cafe who worries about never finding love, we have Dufayel the brittle-boned painter, and we have the Concierge of Amelie's building, a woman still in love with the dead husband who left her for another woman.

Perhaps the best aspect of Amelie is the direction. It's, in a word, fabulous. Each scene is perfectly directed, each shot is well-crafted, each expression focused upon, and while the story-line crosses the borderline between 'Plausible' and 'Implausible' many times, it's still a movie that works - perhaps because of its pure artistic feel? It doesn't pretend to be anything. No, Amelie has all the crispness and honesty of a photograph, it's a simple story, simply told, through a great script, and absolutely amazing acting along the way.

Flawless and perfect, even after taking into account Amelie's rather ridiculous haircut and shoes. Celebrating the hidden joys of life - watch out for the scenes of Amelie dipping her hand into sacks of food, and breaking into a creme brulee. Audrey Tatou plays the role of Amelie to perfection - adding just the right combination of innocence, mystery, and pathos to the role. The movie draws you in with its images of fantasy, its turn to childhood joys, and its bright, vibrant colours. Amelie invites you to fall in love all over again, it draws you in, into a world of its own.

Amelie is hands-down one of the best films I've seen. With themes like childhood nostalgia, love at first sight, and lost love - it's a film that has all the prettiness of a picture postcard, the warmth of a sunny winter morning, and the magic of a fairytale. It's a movie that stays with you not just for a heart-warming story, but for reminding you that life can be beautiful, if one only cares to look beyond the mundane.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Julie & Julia.

Think picturesque-1950's France. Think food - lots of it - cheese, beef, cake, and lobster. Think blogging. Put in Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, and you have Julie & Julia, the 2009 film directed by Nora Ephron.

Julie & Julie simultaneously tells the story of Julia Child (Streep) and how she became the cooking icon of America, influencing many housewives to turn to French cooking, and of Julie Powell (Adams), a 21st-century New York woman, who takes it upon herself to complete all of Child's recipes from her book, within a year, blogging about it all the while.

I have to confess, I'm a big IMDb aficionado. I always log on to that site to read others' viewpoints and analysis after watching a movie. And this evening, after reading the Boards on Julie & Julia, I'm stunned at how I've come away with a far different reading of the movie than most out there. Generally, the talk and debate seems to be focusing on how Child made herself the cooking legend she remains today, and how Powell capitalises on her fame- to blog and cook, basing it all on her 'inspiration', with lots of whining and neurosis along the way.

Like I said, I'm stunned. Because I have a completely different reading of the movie. To me, Powell doesn't seem to be latching on to Child for her fifteen minutes of fame- rather, it's about her looking up to someone for inspiration. Powell, irritated by her friends' hectic schedules and overtly busy lives, realises she needs something to do too, to fill her up her own. And she discovers cooking. The movie juxtaposes her life with that of Child's, and it depicts two women, from two different time periods, discovering their love for the culinary arts.

At a deeper level, this movie is about finding yourself, defining a purpose of your life, and finding your passion. Life without passion is just plain empty, and once you've found that joy, that drive, that something-or-the-other that makes it all worth the while - you've begun to live.

All said and done, I adore movies about cooking, and while Ratatouille still remains at the top of my list for food-movies, Julie & Julia remains with you for depiction of characters that are human. Julie is the woman you can identify with, the woman who fixes upon a hobby and decides to see it through, and it is only once she continues with the cooking classes that she realises it has become a passion. Julia is also a woman you can identify with - the woman who is frustrated at her job and irritated at the showing-off of her friends, you empathise with her struggle to complete her project - because you realise it is what keeps her going.

While Meryl Streep's overtly enthusiastic and chirpy voice does get a little jarring, the movie is a must-watch, not just for lovely cinematography and tempting cooking scenes, but also for the impending realisation that life must be lived, in whatever way. And if we choose to be inspired by someone else to do something similar, then that is not being a copycat- it is, in a way, finding purpose and passion.