26 Thursday, 10 September 2009 London Lite T elevision chefs, eh? Weve had our share over the years. From the Galloping Gour- met, Graham Kerr, through Fanny Cra- dock, Delia, nigella, Jamie and Gordon effing Ramsay, the UKs Tv screens have rarely been short of a flambing cook in an apron. But would any make for a decent biopic? i dont think so. Julia Child (Meryl streep), however -- a 6ft 2in American who revolutionised her nations cuisine with cookery book Mastering The Art of French Cooking -- she had a life worth recounting. indeed, so influential was she that Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a wannabe writer work- ing at a thankless post-9/11 office job and living with her husband eric (Chris Messina) above a piz- zeria in Queens, spent a year cooking all 542 recipes in the book and writing a blog about it. The film adroitly combines two separate stories told by two dif- ferent books (Powells blog led to a memoir, while Child co-authored a biography) and, despite focusing on a culinary celebrity who had almost no influence over here, it is quite sensational fun and already one of my favourite films of the year. Why? Five words -- Meryl streep and Amy Adams. The film opens as streeps Child, imperious, magnificent, overbear- ing, arrives in France in 1948. Her good nature and effervescence dictate that shes not content to be merely the wife of American embassy attach Paul Child (stanley Tucci, understatedly bril- liant) and she soon alights upon cooking, enrolling in the Cordon Bleu cooking school, one woman in a sea of men. This fires up her competitive spirit and leads to one of many funny moments, an onion- chopping frenzy that is literally eye-wateringly funny. she then embarks on the mammoth task of popularising French cooking for Americans by writing her book. Meanwhile, more than 50 years in the future, Amy Adamss pre- posterously perky Powell strives to give her life meaning by trying to cook all of Childs recipes in one year. And thats pretty much it. Yet its a total delight because all the actors are tremendous (if streeps portrayal is as accurate as people say, Child was a cross between Hyacinth Bouquet and Dame edna everage) and the script is deft, smart and witty. Julie & Julia is not just about food, its also about love and how supportive relationships bring out the best in everyone. A joyous feelgood feast of a movie. REVIEWSCINEMA Julie & Julia Cert 12A, 123 mins HHHHH Simplerecipe is perfectlyserved REVIEW BY PAUL CONNOLLY Apassion forfashion isinVogue Its no surprise that this fly-on-the-wall documentary, directed by RJ Cutler, about Vogue editor and queen of fashion Anna Wintour (who was also the inspiration for the Devil Wears Prada), is already on the hot list of fashionistas everywhere. the central relationship between Wintour and Vogue creative director Grace Coddington is compelling. the womens passion for their careers is clear, but it comes at a cost to their 20-year friendship. the crew follows Wintours team from shoots with sienna Miller in Rome to meetings with nervous designers. the power Wintour wields becomes apparent when she tells Prada to change the material of garments in their new collection. Likewise, we get to watch stefano Pilati squirm as Wintour rolls her eyes at his designs for YsL. Even if you dont understand the world they live in, its hard not to admire these women for their sheer hard work. PHOEBE BROOKES Bleakbutbrilliantdrama withchavsandhave-nots Fish Tank Cert15,124minsHHHHH Alsooutthisweek... Cooking up a storm: Meryl Streep as Julia Child Icon: Vogue boss Anna Wintour The September Issue Cert 12A, 90 mins HHHHI KAtIE JARVIs, a teen mother with no previous acting experience, was talent-spotted at tilbury station yelling at her boyfriend. Now shes won deserved acclaim in this stunning Cannes Jury Prize w-inner as wild, foul-mouthed Mia. In the first minutes she leaves a gobby message (Ring me back, you bitch) and headbutts a girl, breaking her nose. At home Joanne (Kierston Wareing) isnt a stellar mother-figure either, more concerned about her parties than if lippy tween daughter tyler (Rebecca Griffiths, superb) is off the fags and booze. so when Joannes new man Connor (Michael Fassbender) offers them an (albeit inappropriate) inkling of affection, the kids show a little encouragement goes further than anyone expects. the bleak Essex landscapes and dark plot make Andrea Arnolds drama much more than just gritty realism: its easily one of the films of the year. LAUREN PAXMAN IN&OUTTONIGHT FILM Wild child: Mia (Katie Jarvis) with Connor (Michael Fassbender) in oTHeR weeks Adventureland (Cert 15, 107 mins, HHHHI) would have been one of our big films, but such is the quality this week, this brilliant teen movie (directed by superbads Greg Mottola and starring Jesse eisenberg and Kristen stewart as messed-up lovers) set in a fairground and with a pin-sharp script, has been relegated to spend company with the atrocious Miss March: Generation Penetration (Cert 15, 90 mins, HIIII) also aimed at teens but without so much as two brain cells to rub together. Much was expected of Kate Beckinsales Whiteout (Cert 15, 101 mins, HIIII), a murder mystery set in Antarctica, in which she plays a Us marshal, but as soon as she gets her kit off after three minutes, you know that director Dominic sena is going to struggle with this drama-free thriller. Becks in undies is no bad thing but it doesnt make up for the rest of this tosh. There are more undies, lots more, in Sorority Row (Cert 15, 101 mins, HHIII) in which Rumer Willis, the daughter of Demi and Bruce, stars. This remake of a cheap eighties slasher may plumb new depths of trashiness -- in a fun way -- but if you want knife-to-the-throat scares, rather than frightened girls in lingerie, this is not for you. nor will anyone be too excited by Dorian Gray (Cert 15, 112 mins, HHIII), a fairly uninspiring take on the oscar Wilde tale of a handsome young man (Ben Barnes) who remains forever young while a portrait in his attic ages for him. Rachel Hurd-Wood is predictably excellent as sybil, as is emilia Fox as lady Wotton, but a ridiculous climax spoils everything that comes before. 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