Phil: Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs. Lancaster?
Mrs. Lancaster: I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.
Meet Lawrence Dai. Lawrence is a student at Northwestern. Lawrence is in the process of completing a leviathan task: Lawrence has vowed to watch the 2009 comedy-drama Julie & Julia every day for year (which I have never seen, but which my mother assures me is a delightful film that has something to do with Meryl Streep and cooking something every day for a year). Lawrence began his journey on November 30. That puts him at—gulp—Viewing #42. He is blogging the ordeal here, which he has creatively titled “The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project,” and where he provides little if any fathomable insight as to why any self-respecting human being would resign himself to such a miserable fate. But maybe that’s all for the best—who needs existential justification when the blog’s brilliant? (See: PrettyColors.tumblr.com.) (Okay, Lawrence does offer a sorta coherent genesis for the project in this interview with the AV Club, which describes his blog as beyond meta: “a blog about a movie about a book about a blog about a book about a life.” But, you know, still—who would follow through with this?)
Thankfully, Lawrence is a hilarious (and insanely devoted) internet personality. He approaches the task with grace, determination, and self-deprecating wit. By which I mean: he hasn’t killed himself yet. With each post comes a new Julie & Julia quote of the day. With each viewing, a groundbreaking new lens through which to approach the film. Like that time he tried to synch up the film with Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, à la Dark Side of Oz (sample analysis: “‘I saw the devil in a Chrysler LeBaron‘—Not Mark Ruffalo is driving a jeep. I guess he’s not the devil”). Or when he offered some prime commentary on his viewing setup. Or yesterday, when he set out to count the precise number of chews taken from start to finish. He arrived at this chart, which may actually be a cry for help. (Read: it’s definitely a cry for help.) But never mind that. If you’re still not sold, here are some favorite quotes from the blog:
- “Even though I’ve already seen Julie & Julia 37.9 more times than the average person, I almost always catch something new upon each viewing that I hadn’t noticed before.”
- “All the pizza I could eat and semi-regular sex with a guy who looks like Mark Ruffalo? That’s pretty much all I’ve ever wanted in life.”
- “Not to imply that Julie & Julia is a bad film, but I’m still trying to deal with the fact that 2 hours of my day has to be set aside doing this instead of, oh say–getting a girlfriend or studying for finals.”
- “. . . a side effect of this project has resulted in me only being able to pay attention to news involving people named Julie and/or Julia.”
- “Watching 80 hours of Julie & Julia will wreak havoc on your Netflix recommendations.”
- “I am not a religious person by any definition of the word, but that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate Christmas the best way I know how: by trying to find Christian symbolism in Julie & Julia.”
Okay. I’ve only spent two hours scourging this blog for highlights (compare that to the, oh, 90 or so Lawrence has spent watching the film by now), and already I feel like some awful voyeur taking sick amusement from someone else’s nervous breakdown. I wonder if Lawrence will end up in an asylum somewhere, caught in some unprecedented feedback loop, unable to physiologically detach himself from daily viewings of Julie & Julia. I wonder if he’ll be able to differentiate the film from reality in another month. Or if he’ll just go on Oprah. Probably all of the above.
Check out the blog for yourself here if you haven’t already (it has made the rounds on the interwebs a bit), and you can contact Lawrence at lawrenceandjulieandjulia(at)gmail(dot)com. In fact, do that. He’ll need the human contact at this point.