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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 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’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Hyde Park on Hudson’

“Hyde Park on Hudson” is a movie that at first blush has all the hallmarks of a prestige awards-friendly movie. It stars a beloved veteran actor — Bill Murray — playing an even more beloved American legend — FDR. It’s set on Roosevelt’s estate in upstate New York, giving the film shades of “Downton Abbey.” And it features the same stuttering monarch from best-picture winner “The King’s Speech.” Yet beneath all that decorousness and good taste, there’s something perverse about this movie. (Note: If you feel that movies about historical events can contain spoilers, give this article a miss.) Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Hyde Park on Hudson’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Wake in Fright’ — Ted Kotcheff’s lost masterpiece

The 1971 Australian thriller “Wake in Fright” is a sunbaked fever dream that had long been considered lost before a negative was discovered in 2004 in a warehouse in Pittsburgh. The movie is now finally getting an American theatrical release. Forty-one years after it was made, the movie is still shocking and deeply unsettling. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Wake in Fright’ — Ted Kotcheff’s lost masterpiece’

Indie Roundup: Director Fernando Meirelles talks about ‘360’

Director Fernando Meirelles first garnered international attention in 2002 for his propulsive crime drama “City of God.” That movie, which nabbed him an Oscar nomination for best director, sizzled with the violence and passion of the favela, and it featured, hands down, the best performance by a chicken in the history of cinema. For his subsequent movie, he swapped Rio for the slums of Nairobi, detailing a different kind of violence in “The Constant Gardener.” The movie earned Rachel Weisz an Oscar for her role as a woman who railed against the evil activities of an international corporation. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: Director Fernando Meirelles talks about ‘360’’

Movies and real life blur for Anthony Hopkins in ‘360’

Anthony Hopkins has won just about every acting award under the sun, including an Oscar for his legendarily creepy turn as Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs.” He’s also memorably played Richard Nixon, John Quincy Adams, and Thor’s dad. He has his pick of movie parts. So why did he agree to play a small part in the upcoming indie film “360”?

Director Fernando Meirelles know the answer. “Anthony Hopkins was drawn to the story because his character in the film is really similar to his own personal story.” Continue reading ‘Movies and real life blur for Anthony Hopkins in ‘360’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Bullhead’

If you see only one movie about the Belgian bovine hormone mafia this year, make it “Bullhead.”

The film, which was nominated for a best-foreign language Oscar, opens with a tough in a leather jacket intimidating a terrified citizen. Only instead of taking place in some blighted bodega, the shakedown happens in a rustic Flemish cattle farm. And instead of demanding protection money, the thug, Jacky Venamersenille (Matthias Schoenaerts), is bullying the farmer into juicing his cattle with illegal steroids. Jacky is a hulking beast of a man who not only pushes the stuff but also dopes himself up with a bewildering variety of growth hormones. The reason why becomes horrifically clear as the movie’s plot unfolds. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Bullhead’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Kill List’

British director Ben Wheatley’s latest movie, “Kill List,” starts out as a claustrophobic domestic drama that at first blush seems something out of a Ken Loach movie. Jay (Neil Maskell) — the sort of guy you might see at the end of the bar at the local pub — has been out of work for 8 months and the money is starting to run out, something that his wife, Shel (MyAnna Buring), is not shy about pointing out. Jay proves to have a volcanic temper and little in the way of impulse control; in a botched trip to the grocery store, he buys 10 bottles of wine but fails to get the one item that was absolutely needed: toilet paper. This section of the film has a very loose, improvised feel to it, which grounds the movie in the mundane. Yet through editing and framing — the camera always feels just a little too close for comfort — Wheatley creates this eerie undercurrent. This subtle, deft layering of the quotidian and the creepy pays dividends later when the movie starts getting very, very strange. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Kill List’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Declaration of War’

Declaration of War” — France’s selection for an Academy Award this year — opens with a scruffily handsome young man who bares a passing resemblance to James Franco locking eyes with a pretty lass from across the room. He throws a peanut towards her and she catches it in her mouth. They meet, kiss, and realize with disbelief that they are named Romeo (Jeremie Elkaim) and Juliette (Valerie Donzelli). “Are we doomed to a terrible fate,” she muses. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Declaration of War’’

Christoph Waltz Talks About ‘Carnage’ and Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s latest movie “Carnage,” based on an award-winning play by Yasmina Reza, is about two New York yuppie couples who meet after their sons are involved in a schoolyard scuffle that leaves one injured. Alan (Christoph Waltz) and his wife Nancy (Kate Winslet) visit the Brooklyn apartment of Michael (John C. Reilly) and his wife Penelope (Jodie Foster) to smooth over any ill feelings from the incident, but as the night evolves, their veneer of civility slips, added in part by a shocking breach of decorum and liberal amounts of alcohol, revealing them all as venal and mean-spirited. Penelope, a tightly-wound do-gooder, is left in sobbing hysterics. Alan, the cynic of the bunch, on the other hand, spends much of the time on his cell phone in part as a gesture of contempt at the efforts at conciliation. Continue reading ‘Christoph Waltz Talks About ‘Carnage’ and Roman Polanski’


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