Marshall & Julie: Day 6

2 08 2010

You’re in for a real treat today.  “Marshall and the Movies” punctuality at its finest.  Seriously.

As always, don’t be afraid to leave a comment.  I know it looks long, but trust me when I say that it is full of humor and entertainment.  All sarcasm aside, for real!

Day 6: “Disaster/Dinner Party, Dinner Party/Disaster: A Study in Duality” / “Disaster/Movie, No Such Thing As a Movie/Disaster”

If you thought my confession of being one day late back on day 4 was bad, do I have a treat for you.

Day 4 was November 4, 2009.

As I purposefully type (a la Natalie Keener), the iCal icon on my laptop’s dock reads December 28 – still 2009, though.

54 days have gone by since I last picked up Julie Powell’s book.  Those days were filled with 75% perspiration and 25% lethargy.  What would have been the second week of the project had four tests lying ahead, and the book got brushed aside in order to get good grades.  I probably could have picked it up the next week, but I still had tons of work on top of musical auditions.  By the time Thanksgiving break rolled around, I knew I wouldn’t have time to finish the project before mid-terms; thus, the book continued to gather dust on top of my desk.

This ends the studious portion of my hiatus.  We here at “Marshall and the Movies” hope you had a smooth flight, and we are glad that we got you to “lethargy” in one piece.  But be careful when opening the overhead bins because their contents may have shifted while in flight.

As soon as school was out, my time was spent in three places: asleep in a bed, transfixed by a DVD, or stationed in a felt-covered chair munching on some healthy popcorn.

I watched the movie “Julie & Julia” on December 20, yet I still couldn’t find it in me to start the project up again.  I let Christmas come and vowed to begin with vigor once the holiday passed.  Well, two days and three matinee tickets later, I finally re-immersed myself into the world of Julie Powell.  It feels good to be back.

Perhaps this setback is the perfect segue into Powell’s sixth chapter, which documented two meals that were disappointing for different reasons entirely.  The party flopped in the first, and the food was a catastrophe in the second.

In Julie’s introduction, she talked about Samuel Pepys, the equivalent of a 17th century blogger.  He kept a diary in which he wrote every day for over nine years.  She draws the contrast between the feelings conveyed in a diary and the feelings conveyed in a blog.  Certainly we wouldn’t have the full scope of Pepys’ feelings had he been writing to an audience of potentially billions of people (I say potentially because billions of people could read my blog, but only a few hundred will).

Julie and I have elaborated on privacy in the past, but here she brings up an interesting point.  By blogging, we bear our feelings and ourselves to the entire world assuming someone cares.  But why care about Marshall and his cocktail of neuroses mixed with movie reviews?

It’s not just that there are other people out there doing what I am doing, like Kayla Aimee who wrote this in her blog about being neurotic:

I spent the entire day looking at my left hand in a panic and thinking that I’d lost my wedding band. In the midst of that extra stress, I forgot to stop and pick up more milk.

What keeps me up at night (not really, but I love this expression) is how little importance a few movie reviews has in the grand scheme of things.  There are so many blogs written about much bigger things, like Darlene Barriere, a victim of child abuse who blogs about preventing other children from sharing her same fate.

And even among the movie blogs, there are plenty that do the same, if not more interesting stuff.  There is an entire blog network of movie bloggers that are working their way through the “1001 Movies You Need To See Before You Die” book.  Why didn’t I come up with that?  (Actually, I know – you need time to do that.)

When you expand the world, it’s amazing how small you can feel.

Julie also suggested something that really hit home for me.  What we do may be trivial, but the act of writing them down gives them significance.  Sometimes I wonder if the blog has perpetuated because it seems to justify the amount of time, energy, and money I put into movies.  I don’t think I would have gone to nine movies over Christmas break had I not written a review for each of them.

All foreplay aside, now it’s time to unravel a yarn or two.  Or more.

Julie recounts two dinner parties she held while blogging, both tied together by some kind of disaster.  At the first, the food was excellent but the party was a disaster; the opposite was true for the second.

The first dinner was arranged after a reporter from the Christian Science Monitor called and said that Judith Jones, the editor who discovered Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, had heard about the blog and wanted to dine with the cook herself.  Julie, of course, could only respond with euphoria.  She set out to make Boeuf Bourguingnon, Julia’s first recipe made on-air.

A crisis nearly happened when Julie forgot to wake up when her alarm went off to check the dish, but by skipping work the next day, she managed to pull it together.  However, inclement weather kept Judith Jones pinned up inside her apartment, and it was just the Powells and the reporter dining on some delicious meat.

Before I get into my own movie/disaster, I’ll share with you a moment in my blogging career that is comparable to Julie’s (almost) encounter with Judith Jones.

Roger Ebert, the be-all and end-all of movie critics, wrote an article predicting the demise of cinema because of a younger generation of moviegoers only wanting to throw their cash at the loudest, most explosive movie.  I, of course, felt the urge to comment, being a part of this generation.

I left this comment on the article:

My name is Marshall. I am a 16 year old movie fanatic, and I recently started a blog about my love of all things cinema.

I read this article a few days ago and I was instantly struck by it. So many emotions shot through me that it took me a while to get them on paper … er, screen. It is too long to post here on the forum, so I will attach a link here:

My overall reaction is yes, we are partially responsible, but no, we are not headed into a Dark Age because of that. There will always be bad movies. But as director Roland Emmerich says, “No one makes bad movies on purpose.”

Thanks for your consideration and happy moviegoing!

I’m not sure if Ebert actually read my post, but he commented, “So many readers like you have greatly improved my outlook.”

I was humbled and awe-struck.  It almost seemed to real to be true.  The natural next step would be to share my good news with Facebook, and that is exactly what I did.  I took a screenshot, quickly posted it to the blog, and then let 800 or so more people know by saying “Roger Ebert commented on my blog, no big deal.”  Perhaps a little humility would have served me well.

My first comment on the link was, “You gave ‘Julie & Julia’ 3 ½ stars???”  Only later did that person add the comment, “Well, kudos on giving Roger Ebert hope.”  Most others who bothered to leave a comment were much more on-topic and laudatory.

Julie came across a similar modesty problem when she told her readers.

Cooking for Judith Jones was a major achievement for her, and she knew she had to tell her readers.  But the tact of doing so kept her on edge.  She had to make sure she didn’t come off as being really conceited, yet she couldn’t make herself seem coy about the whole thing.

So rather than come right out with it, she left her readers with a simple guessing game, merely slipping that “Someone Important” was coming to dinner.  Wild guesses abounded and frustration followed.  She let these grand predictions and over-the-top comments inflate her ego, and as I have already informed you, the disaster brought her back down to earth.

Although this was a great moment in the history of my blog (and among the first things to truly legitimize it), it probably didn’t match the rapture of Julie knowing that she would be cooking for Julia Child’s editor.  Had it succeeded, it would no doubt have forged a true connection between the two.  A comment through the Internet is very impersonal, and connections are fuzzy.  For me to get that same feeling, I would need to watch a movie with one of these people.

Julie laid out numerous possibilities on her blog of things that she would love to do or people she would love to meet.  As her readership grew, people came along that had the power to make them come true.  So, in the hopes that perhaps someone might be able to make my dreams a reality, here are my top 5 movie fantasies:

  1. Watch a movie with Roger Ebert (NOTE: Really, any major film critic would do here.)
  2. Watch “The Dark Knight” with Christopher Nolan
  3. Watch “Pulp Fiction” with Quentin Tarantino
  4. Watch “The Departed” with Martin Scorsese
  5. Watch “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” with Brad Pitt

Now, onto the disasters.  I do have a fairly good memory of going to see movies, but it does help to have a ticket collection when you need to recall moviegoing experiences.  I always find it amazing to see how much I can remember just by looking at a piece of paper.


The movie: “Finding Nemo.”

The date: can’t remember.  I don’t have the ticket; this story is coming from the noggin.  I want to say it was a Saturday…

What went down: During the movie, I had a throbbing headache, felt sick at my stomach, and the sound seemed awfully soft.  If you were worried at all about me missing out on a great movie, this was my third of five trips to see “Finding Nemo,” so don’t you fret it one second.

Fast forward a week.  I am in the Monterrey County Hopsital (that’s right, Pebble Beach) with viral pneumonia and a double ear infection.  Ouch.


The movie: “Radio”

The date: Friday, October 24, 2003 – I do have this ticket!

What went down: I had my 11th birthday “party” with three friends to see “Radio” and then wrap a few houses.  About halfway through the movie, one of my friends ran into the bathroom.  My dad came back in a few minutes later to report that he was puking the burger that we had fed him just a few hours ago.


The movie: “Funny People”

The date: Thursday, July 30, 2009 – I don’t have the ticket because it was an advanced screening.  Huzzah!

What went down: I was dying to see “Funny People” and I managed to get my hands on some advanced tickets.  I was at the theater over an hour early to ensure that I not only got seats, but good seats.  After I sat down, a woman with an infant slid down and occupied the seat to my left.  I should have seen it coming.

During an intense emotional scene of the movie, the baby starts screaming its head off.  The mother isn’t doing anything.  She is sitting there and letting her baby wail and ruin the movie for an entire theater.  After a minute passes, she finally took the baby outside, but she severely disrupted my focus.

And I’ll be honest – I can’t even think of a time where I’ve enjoyed myself watching a really bad movie.  Because a bad movie is still a bad movie, and it’s really hard to enjoy yourself watching one.  Sometimes there are those movies that are so bad you can laugh at them; unfortunately, I usually find these on iTunes when I’m watching them alone on my laptop.  And that’s hardly like going to a movie.

So that makes me envious of Julie that she can make a semi-crummy dinner and still have a good time.   I guess cooking and moviewatching really aren’t that similar.

But this chapter finally confirmed what I had been assuming about the Powells the whole time.  THEY DO WATCH MOVIES!  I guess that puts me at the same level as Julie with her imaginary portrait of Julia Child.  My Julie is a lot like Amy Adams with her saintly charms, but I’ve come to learn that the real Julie Powell is a little coarser with her fair share of imperfections.  My Hollywood whitewashed Julie is slowly beginning to fade with each chapter I read.  And I’m surprisingly OK with New Julie, or Real Julie, as I should be calling her.  She’s not digestible in a cute, feel-good kind of way, but I find her flaws and frustrations very relatable.

Anyways, I’ve always imagined Julie and Eric curling up on their little couch together popping in a DVD (or maybe a VHS tape, considering when she wrote the blog) and enjoying a movie together.  Although when I was reading Julie’s actual blog, one of her last posts describes she and Eric falling madly in love with Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” a movie that I cannot stand.  It probably flew way over my head, which would make Julie much more of a New York art snob than she’s willing to admit.

First, Julie references Meryl Streep in “The Hours” while making some sort of a potato dish.  I got a good laugh out of this, considering the irony that Streep wound up playing Julia Child in the movie “Julie & Julia.”  The irony only gets better when you realize she referenced going to see a play with Stanley Tucci, who played Paul Child in the movie, just a few chapters before.

So maybe I should start peppering in some suggestions for the not-so-inevitable movie adaptation of my own life and blog.  Take note, producers and casting directors, I’m willing to fictionalize my life a little bit if you can give me Carey Mulligan or Anna Kendrick as a love interest.

But the Meryl Streep reference was fairly casual, doubtfully said out loud.  Perhaps it was just a descriptor that she sprinkled in to spice up making a dull recipe.  Later, though, I got absolute confirmation that they were movie lovers when Julie quotes “The Silence of the Lambs” and absolutely confounds Eric.

Talk about relatable.  I’d say that roughly one in every five times I open my mouth, some sort of movie quote spills out, and it’s nice to find a kindred quoter in Julie.  Eric suggests that they put Jonathan Demme’s classic horror movie on their Netflix queue, which strongly implies that the Powells are movie lovers.

I’ve gone on the record and said that I don’t use Netflix in Random Factoid #260:

I don’t have Netflix, and I really don’t know why.  I get e-mails all the time offering me free monthly subscriptions, but I have only taken one of them.  I didn’t end up using it during the free month.  I’m usually just so sporadic with renting movies that Netflix doesn’t provide wiggle-room for my spontaneity.

(Guilty August addition: My dad extended his free trial and I actually enjoy using it…)

But now that I know that Julie watches movies, maybe it’s time that she knows that I cook.  I’ve decided now that in order to really complete this project, I need to go out of my comfort zone and cook.  Does it have much relevance to movies?  Absolutely not, but it will be something out of my comfort zone.  I’m sure it’s going to taste terrible.  But it’s the thought and effort that counts, right?




One response

8 08 2010

Intersting. I’ve had a few movie disasters, but one stands out more than the rest.

Before Slumdog Millionaire hit a wide-release, it was playing at a art-house theater in town just weeks before I was to leave for basic training. A friend from back home was interested in going. Although we grew up in the same area, we didn’t really know each other all that well. The few times that I do actually go to movies with people, I tend to make a dinner and movie thing out of it. So before we go to the movie, we go to a spaghetti place just down the street. As we are waiting for the food, I realize that my wallet isn’t in my pocket.

Panic settles in. There I am, sitting at a table with a girl with no means of paying for the food that we had ordered, nor a way to get into the movie. Not only am I the type of guy who doesn’t let a girl pay for anything, date or not (which i was under the assumption that this wasn’t…who starts something just weeks before leaving for 6 months?), but I am one of those people that can’t stand somebody else paying for me, even if I know I can pay them back someday. She assures me that it’s okay. By the time things settle down, I realize the food is taking alot longer than I had anticipated. So I get out my phone to double check on the movie time. And then a left hook after the jab of forgetting my wallet.

The movie had been moved up 30 minutes, in which the movie had already started. Disappointed and ashamed that I let the night go so horribly wrong, we ate our dinner and then left after she payed for the both of us. As we walk up to my pickup in the parking garage, there lying on the garage floor is my wallet, wide open. Luckily there wasn’t anything taken out of it. Evidently it had fell out of my pocket as I had squeezed myself out of the pickup, which I had to fit tightly into the parking space. We eventually went bowling to fill the void of not watching the movie (which we had to go back to her dorm first because she hadn’t worn any socks), and I was able to repay her. I eventually was able to catch Slumdog in theaters a couple weeks later, but with myself as usual. Which I don’t mind, but there I can’t ever think of that movie without thinking of how horribly that night went.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: