Good story in the NYT this morning on food styling for the movies, pegged to “Julie & Julia,” of course. I’m not sure I’ll be seeing J&J, at least not in theaters. I can’t think of a person whose work I enjoy so much in one place and dislike in another other than Nora Ephron. I find her journalism marvelously entertaining; her early pieces were the sort of thing that gave me strength to try writing essays. And yet, I’ve been meh-at-best over nearly every one of her movies, with a few exceptions — “Silkwood” annnnd….I guess that’s it. “When Harry Met Sally” was one of those movies that went down like a bag of potato chips, but gave me the same feeling afterward. (Self-loathing.)
I’m just not a rom-com girl, I guess. My favorites are the off-kilter ones like “Flirting With Disaster,” which can still make me laugh after ten million viewings. Films like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” — in which I am expected to identify with Meg Ryan and her big blue eyes and her adorableness — make me break out in a rash. (Also, Tom Hanks, love object? Please.)
Here’s the thing: I never believed that a woman as smart and sophisticated as the Ephron on display in her journalism could ever be the women in her movies, despite all the interviews she’s given about staying up late to cry over “An Affair to Remember,” or whatever. I just don’t. It always seemed she was doing it for the money.
Here’s a movie I’d like to see Nora Ephron make: One based on her fabulous ’70s-era Esquire essay, “Dealing With the, Uh, Problem,” about the formulation and marketing of the first vaginal deodorant. Talk about unplowed ground. From that furrow could sprout a hilarious comedy about relations between the sexes, Madison Avenue, feminism, love, sex, period outfits and everything in between. Or what about her equally fabulous piece about the Pillsbury Bake-Off? A movie about the Pillsbury Bake-Off, either documentary or fiction? I’d be there on opening night.
She once eviscerated Rod
McLuhanMcKuen and Erich Segal in a piece entitled “Mush,” about how with the right amount of egomania and savvy marketing, you can sell pretty much anything to the American public, especially when the egomaniac doing the marketing is the type we’ve come to call a SNAG (sensitive new-age guy, HT: Christine Lavin). That’s what I think of “You’ve Got Mail” — mush. In fact, now that I think about it, I recall a passage from the vaginal-deodorant piece, in which an ad executive names the target market for FDS: Secretaries and stewardesses. Ephron pauses to say something like, Well, that figures. Scratch a trend no one you know is into, and you’ll find secretaries and stewardesses. Too many of Ephron’s movies seem pitched directly at that demographic.
Oh, well. Everyone has to make a living. I just fear “J&J” will be a little too sugar meringue-crusted, if you follow my drift. Still, the food-styling piece is great — Kim Severson is rarely anything else — with the sort of details I love:
For stylists, the game is all about reading the actors’ appetites and knowing when to employ a few tried-and-true tricks. But really, food styling for movies boils down to doing more prep work than a Hamptons caterer in August.
Mr. Flynn had to debone 60 ducks over the course of “Julie & Julia.”
And, of course, there are other problems. (Eye roll.) Actors:
Two actresses in the 2008 cop thriller “Pride and Glory” were vegan. So Ruth DiPasquale, an assistant property master for the film, called in a vegan chef to help style a big Christmas dinner scene that had a ham as the centerpiece. She ended up piling slices of sham ham made from soybeans near the real stuff, careful to make sure the two versions never touched.
By the way, if I could go to any movie this weekend? “The Hurt Locker,” followed by “Humpday.”
I love college towns. This one was mine. Southern Ohio is a beautiful place.
There’s nothing like seeing a headline like this — “A Long, Long Post About My Reasons For Opposing National Health Care” — followed by “by Megan McArdle” to make a girl say, “Don’t click on that.” So I won’t.
I’d rather read about William Vollmann than read anything by him. In fact, I tried, once, and couldn’t get past page 10. I’m stupid, I guess.
It’s getting late, and work must commence at some point. Have a good one.