Julie & Julia appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The movie boasted a strong transfer.
Sharpness excelled. The movie always looked concise and accurate, without a hint of softness on display. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no signs of edge enhancement. Source flaws also were absent, as I witnessed no specks, marks or other defects.
Colors fared very well. The movie featured a warm natural palette that delivered some sumptuous hues. The tones showed terrific vivacity and looked great. Blacks were dark and firm, while shadows showed nice smoothness and clarity. This was a simply terrific image.
Expect a pretty restrained mix from the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Julie. The flick failed to demonstrate a lot of activity, which made sense given the film’s character-based tale. In truth, the track focused on general ambience and little more. We got some decent environmental material from streets and whatnot, but this was a consistently subdued piece.
At least audio quality seemed fine. Music worked best, as the score appeared lively and dynamic. Effects also showed good range and clarity, though they rarely did much to establish themselves in a prominent manner. Speech was concise and crisp. Overall, this was a decent track but not anything memorable.
When we move to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Nora Ephron. She provides a running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, cast and performances, and various facts and liberties.
That’s a pretty limited overview, and Ephron never does much to make this an engaging commentary. The veteran of many similar tracks, she knows how these work, but that experience doesn’t show in her dull conversation. Tons of dead air appears, and we only occasionally find interesting nuggets. The piece does improve a bit as it progresses, but it remains a generally boring, uninformative commentary.
A few featurettes follow. Secret Ingredients: Creating Julie & Julia goes for 27 minutes, 44 seconds as it provides notes from Ephron, producers Eric Steel, Laurence Mark and Amy Robinson, My Life in France co-author Alex Prud’homme, Julie & Julia author Julie Powell, Dorothy Cousins’ daughter/Julia Child’s niece Philadelphia Cousins, culinary consultant Susan Spungen, executive chef Colin Flynn, production designer Mark Ricker, costume designer Ann Roth, and actors Jane Lynch, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Chris Messina, Stanley Tucci, and Mary Lynn Rajskub. “Ingredients” examines the project’s origins and development, how Ephron came onto the film and adaptation notes, cast, characters and performances, the food featured in the flick, set and costume design, cinematography, and the movie’s themes.
With almost half an hour at its disposal, one might expect a pretty good level of depth from “Ingredients”. Alas, that doesn’t hold true. Sure, we learn a few nice tidbits here, especially in terms of some technical details. However, way too much of the show does little more than praise the flick and all involved. Too much happy talk and too little information makes this a mediocre featurette.
Family and Friends Remember Julia Child goes for 47 minutes, 39 seconds. It features Prud’homme, Cousins, the Julia Child Foundation coordinator Susy Davidson, Mastering the Art of French Cooking editor Judith Jones, TV host/Gourmet magazine’s executive chef Sara Moulton, cookbook author/La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine founder Anne Willan, chef/cookbook author/PBS cooking series host Jacques Pepin, French Culinary Institute founder/CEO Dorothy Cann Hamilton, Bon Appetit Management Company director Jim Dodge, and PBS TV series executive producer Geoffrey Drummond. The participants discuss Child’s life and career.
Don’t expect a particularly objective, concise discussion of Child here. Instead, “Remember” essentially just acts as a fairly random collection of invariably positive thoughts about Child. I don’t mind the glowing viewpoint – I figured “Remember” would consist of that attitude – but I don’t think we get a particularly good summary of Child here. While we find some interesting tales, there’s not enough to keep us interested over 47 minutes.
Next comes the 22-minute and 31-second Julia’s Kitchen. It features Prud’homme, Drummond, Cousins, Jones, Moulton, Pepin, Smithsonian Institution project manager Nanci Edwards, Smithsonian project director/curator Rayna Green, and Smithsonian curator Paula Johnson. We learn how the Smithsonian acquired Child’s kitchen for display and take a tour of it. This is one of the more interesting components here, as we get a nice look at Child’s workplace.
Finally, we get some Cooking Lessons. Five clips appear: “Poaching Eggs with Julia Child & Jacques Pepin” (4:14), “Making Hollandaise Sauce with Julia Child and Jacques Pepin” (2:38), “Mark Peel Prepares Scrambled Eggs” (4:50), “Suzanne Goin Prepares Braised Short Ribs” (5:44), and “Steven Lewandowski and Drew Nieporent Prepare Butter Poached Maine Lobster” (5:26). If I were to write a cookbook, it’d include chapters such as “baking a frozen pizza” and “heating a can of soup”. This should indicate that my interest in cooking lessons is next to nil. Because of that, only the first two clips possess any value for me, solely because they let us see a little of the real Child. It’s too bad the disc doesn’t provide any excerpts from Child’s famous TV series; the shots here show her very late in life, so it’s more difficult to compare that Child to the one seen in the flick.
Nonetheless, it’s fun to see Child as she cooks and interacts with Pepin. As for the other three “Lessons”… well, maybe someone will enjoy them. They do nothing for me.
Under Previews, we find ads for Angels & Demons, Michael Jackson’s This Is It, Coco Before Chanel, An Education, Every Little Step, Whatever Works, Bewitched, The Holiday, Made of Honor, Damages Season One and Blu-ray Disc. No trailer for Julie appears here.
Meryl Streep seems destined to receive her umpteenth Oscar nomination for her fine performance in Julie & Julia - and she deserves it, as she delivers a rich turn that easily could’ve become nothing more than parody. Unfortunately, Streep’s side of the movie fills half – or maybe less – of its running time; otherwise we’re stuck with a boring tale of a narcissistic blogger. Man, I’m living that; why would I want to see it on my TV?
As a Blu-ray, Julie works acceptably well. It provides lovely picture quality along with adequate audio and a mix of fairly unexceptional extras. This is a pretty good Blu-ray, but the movie itself only succeeds half the time. If you watch it, keep the remote handy so you can zip through the “Julie” segments; stick with “Julia” and you’ll enjoy it much more.