I hadn't been to the movies lately (aside from The Hangover, nothing earlier this summer really piqued my interest), but this week I saw two newish releases, both of which I liked a lot.
1. District 9 is a sci-fi movie about aliens, with a twist. Unlike most blockbuster action films, this one's not set in New York City or London, but in Johannesburg, South Africa. The premise is an overt allegory to apartheid: when a large number of insect-like aliens (quickly dubbed "prawns") become stranded in the city, they are sectioned off from the human populace into a large slum-like refugee camp known as District 9. The movie is set up as a faux documentary about a government employee Wikus Van De Merwe, a friendly, bumbling clerk assigned to lead a prawn relocation project. Like most humans, Wilkus has a palatable disdain for the creatures, but he also understands their language and behavior. The day of the operation, something goes awry, and the second half of the movie becomes something of a Kafka-esque character study. Overall, I liked District 9 and found it to be interesting, creative, and entertaining.
2. Julie & Julia is based on the story of a blogger named Julie who decides spend a year cooking every single recipe in Julia Child's first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The movie contains two interwoven stories: Meryl Streep portrays Julia, who while living in France with her diplomat husband, decides to enroll as a chef in the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school and discovers her true calling, cooking and the teaching of cooking. Decades later, Amy Adams plays Julie, a frustrated writer stuck in a cubicle and an apartment she hates in Queens, who takes on the Julia Child cooking project as a way to get herself out of a slump. Meryl Streep is a delight to watch in the film- she absolutely nails Julia's voice and mannerisms, and I must admit I preferred the Julia plot line to the Julie one. Julie could be annoying at times, with all of her self-pity and narcissism (maybe her being a blogger hit a little close to home.... Do I act like that? Wait, don't answer that.) and the chemistry between her and her husband couldn't match that of Julia and Paul Child (played by Stanley Tucci). And the movie was a tad on the long side. That being said, I did really like the movie, and it definitely inspired me to try out some of Julia Child's recipes...if I can find any that don't require a ton of butter.