Julie & Julia
According to analysts at the Department of Stating the Obvious, to declare that Meryl Streep is a magnificent actress is a type 1 offense, roughly comparable to "Wow, chocolate sure is tasty." And still, we can't resist paying tribute to the latest turn by Her Streepness, as Julia Child in the new biopic Julie & Julia. Directed by Nora Ephron, the film cuts back and forth between 2002 New York City (where writer Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, prepares all 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days—and lives to blog about it) and 1950s France, where Child is studying at Le Cordon Bleu and working doggedly on that landmark first book. Streep's performance is a little symphony of perfectly blended gestures and tones, capturing the lumbering dignity of Child's carriage and that wondrous trilling voice—like an accordion imitating a flute.
But the film's most gratifying element is its glimpses inside the great chef's long, passionate marriage to diplomat Paul Child (the drolly endearing Stanley Tucci). We might see the movie's heroine as the brilliant, slightly dotty aunt we never had, but Tucci's Paul gazes at his wife as if she were Venus herself—and Streep, needless to say, earns that gaze. Mrs. Child delivered French haute cuisine to the average American kitchen and inspired generations of food lovers worldwide, but perhaps only Meryl Streep could give us Julia Child, sexpot.
In a remote Danish fishing village, a no-nonsense stranger arrives on the doorstep of two lonely sisters and starts changing their lives—especially with the mouthwatering dinner extravaganza that supplies the title of Gabriel Axel's stirring film (based on an Isak Dinesen story).
Like Water for Chocolate
In this voluptuous Mexican fable, everyone believes in magic, specifically the magic of food. The right ingredients make the characters weepy, crazy, or intensely amorous in this sexy tale of thwarted romance and sibling rivalry.
Eat Drink Man Woman
The refrain of this emotionally acute drama from director Ang Lee (whose film,Taking Woodstock, is out August 14, 2009) is provided by the tense but sumptuous Sunday suppers that an aging Chinese master chef lovingly creates for his three restless, conflicted daughters.
Food prep accounts for a sizable portion of the scrumptious action in this 1950s-set comedy-drama about a pair of Italian immigrant brothers (Monk's Tony Shalhoub and Julie & Julia's Stanley Tucci) who wage an endearing battle of wills to save their faltering New Jersey restaurant.