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‘Julia’ review: Documentary about the woman who changed television

The art of changing television.

Julia is a documentary about the iconic cookbook author and television host. It documents how Julia Childs changed the way people think about food and television. It also is a story about her impact on how people view women. Using archival footage and interviews, it is an interesting look that will appeal even to those that do not have an interest in cooking shows. 

It is not hard to come across a show about cooking in today’s television/streaming landscape. Even if a person manages to avoid seeing something about what to do in the kitchen, there is no way they can also get around seeing something about food itself. It is easy to take for granted just how much a part of the viewing culture preparing what to eat has become. 

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In modern society, social media can make and break trends. Before the internet, television played a big part in affecting what was thought to be cool or necessary.  Julia explains how American eating habits were based on convenience. Childs wanted to get people away from eating pre packaged and pre made TV dinners. She wanted people to enjoy what they were eating.

Julia also does a great job of showing off its subjects personality. The high-pitched voice and mannerisms have been parodied, but it is the wit and tenacity that are on display. On air mistakes were quickly converted into lessons for viewers and she was quick to stand up for what she believed in. It is a side of that is rarely talked about and is nice to see. 

The documentary also shows what Childs did for the women’s movement. This is done in a subtle manner throughout Julia. The footage and interviews capture a women who is coming into her own while becoming a pop culture fixture. In a great moment, a male journalist essentially criticizes Childs for not supporting the feminist movement. When she reminds him she is a working woman, the reporter seems dumbfounded. 

Julia is a wonderful documentary that chronicles the life of the first celebrity chef. Based on the number of books and films about Childs, it would seem strange to call her underappreciated. While she has certainly carved out a place in pop culture, many overlook just how much she has meant. This documentary goes to show she pioneered more than just cooking shows.

Julia comes to theaters in New York and Los Angeles November 12

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