Julia Child Shows How to Edit Videotape with a Meat Cleaver, and Cook Meat with a Blow Torch

Julia Child changed the way Americans eat. Before Julia, French cooking was seen as something reserved solely for fine restaurants. Recipes for home-cooked meals stressed hygiene and convenience over freshness and taste. Thus, as was the case at my grandmother’s house, dinner would often involve a pork chop cooked within an inch of its life and a horrific jello salad concoction.

But with the launch of her hugely influential PBS TV show, The French Chef (1963-1973), Julia Child started to change America’s mind about what good food is and how it should be prepared. It’s hard to imagine the recent foodie revolution with its emphasis on seasonal, fresh ingredients without Child.

While the series was a showcase for her cooking prowess — honed by years of training at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu and with some of France’s most famous master chefs – Child’s playful, eccentric personality is what turned the show into a hit. The French Chef was videotaped live from start to finish, so every screw up was recorded for posterity. And yet those mistakes — along with her particular way of speaking and her enduring love of wine — endeared her to the audience. She was always poised, resourceful and surprisingly funny.

You can see that sense of humor on display in the video above, which was made for the staff’s holiday party just after the show premiered. With tongue squarely in cheek, Child demonstrates how to edit video with masking tape and a meat clever. (Note: do not edit videotape with masking tape and a meat cleaver.) When asked by her interviewer (in this slightly longer version here) whether the tape she was using was special, Child retorts, “Well, it’s just a nice sticky tape.”

Another example of Child’s keen sense of humor, along with her skills with a blow torch, is this late 1980s appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. Child originally intended on showing Letterman how to make a hamburger, but when the hot plate failed to work, she quickly improvised a brand new dish – beef tartare gratiné.

Indie Pick of the Week: ‘Pieta’ Brings the Pain (Thanks, Ma!)

Too bad “Pieta” didn’t come out last week for Mother’s Day. Because South Korean director Kim Ki-duk’s film, which won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, manages to capture the terrible, elemental power of mom like few films before. Continue reading ‘Indie Pick of the Week: ‘Pieta’ Brings the Pain (Thanks, Ma!)’

Indie Roundup: ‘Sightseers’ – Pitch Black Comedy in the British Hinterland

Ben Wheatley’s first feature, “Down Terrace,” was a blood-soaked domestic tale. Think a Yorkshire version of “The Sopranos” as shot by John Cassavetes. That film showed Wheatley’s knack for teasing out undertones of primal rage beneath the tedium and the sniping of a suburban home. The result was an uneasy mixture of kitchen-sink drama, black comedy, and gnawing dread. His follow-up, “Kill List,” which was of my favorite flicks of 2012, developed and amplified this queasy sensibility as the movie spiraled from domestic chamber drama to gory crime thriller to bizarro horror flick. The ending left me unnerved. For his latest film, “Sightseers,” Wheatley delves back into familiar thematic territory, though he tells the story with less genre-bending, experimental verve than in his last outing. On the other hand, this film is a lot funnier. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Sightseers’ – Pitch Black Comedy in the British Hinterland’

‘Angels’ Share’ Director Ken Loach Slams Margaret Thatcher, Launches a Meme, and the End of Capitalism

I was planning on talking about whisky, but Ken Loach was more interested in talking about the end of capitalism.

Loach is a legendary filmmaker in British cinema, known for his gritty, brilliantly crafted dramas like “Kes,” “Poor Cow,” and “My Name is Joe.” He is also an unapologetic leftist, something of a rarity these days. His films are in turns touching, troubling, and occasionally funny, but they are all rigorously from the point of view of the working class.

This week, following the death of Margaret Thatcher, Loach issued a fiery full-throated indictment of Britain’s first female prime minister, which garnered headlines and turned into an Internet meme.

“Margaret Thatcher was the most divisive and destructive Prime Minister of modern times. Mass Unemployment, factory closures, communities destroyed — this is her legacy,” he wrote in a statement. Continue reading ‘‘Angels’ Share’ Director Ken Loach Slams Margaret Thatcher, Launches a Meme, and the End of Capitalism’

Indie Roundup: ‘My Brother the Devil’

It’s a story as old as cinema itself: a criminal who struggles to shield his loved ones from the allure and brutal realities of life on the wrong side of the law. You can see it in classic Warner Brothers gangster flicks starring James Cagney and in ‘The Godfather.” Director Sally El Hosaini’s debut feature, “My Brother the Devil,” gives us a bracing new take on this archetypal tale. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘My Brother the Devil’’

‘Upstream Color’ Director Shane Carruth Admits That He’s a ‘Control Freak’

Shane Carruth’s first movie, “Primer,” takes all the paradoxes and mind-bending possibilities of time travel and distills them into one 77-minute-long head trip. If you saw it, you’re probably still trying to figure out what that all was about. Carruth wrote, directed, shot, starred in, and composed the score for the movie, making him easily one of the most independent of all independent filmmakers out there.

Carruth’s follow-up movie, “Upstream Color,” is much stranger and more biological. If David Cronenberg and Terrence Malick ever got together and made a movie, it might just look something like this. The world that Carruth creates is as maddeningly opaque as it is compelling. This is not a flick that is easily summarized, but it centers on Kris (Amy Seitz), a woman who, after suffering a devastating if baffling crime, finds herself seeking out safety and comfort in the equally damaged Jeff (Carruth). But they both seem to be part of a surrealist ecosystem that involves worms — which petty thugs use to create some kind of mind-controlling drug. And there are those menacing blooms of blue organisms. And a band of orchid thieves. And then there’s that pig farmer who may or may not be God. ‘ Continue reading ‘‘Upstream Color’ Director Shane Carruth Admits That He’s a ‘Control Freak’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Room 237’ – Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ is a Much Weirder Movie Than You Might Think

Upon the first viewing, Stanley Kubrick’s classic “The Shining” is completely terrifying, filled with images that brand themselves on the brain: That cascade of blood from the elevator. Jack Nicholson’s bizarrely monotonous creative output. Those creepy twins. Yet upon a third, fourth, and fifth viewing, the movie starts to become really strange. What’s the deal with that dude in the penguin suit at the end of the film? And why is Nicholson reading a Playgirl magazine when he’s waiting in the lobby? Rodney Ascher’s entertaining documentary “Room 237,” which comes out this week, includes interviews with a series of people who give wildly divergent interpretations of the movie. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Room 237’ – Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ is a Much Weirder Movie Than You Might Think’

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