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There's something about the midnight hour, something special, mystical,
and magical. In the case of this marvelous movie, its impact is fully
realized, as we see our protagonist suddenly realize that he has the
opportunity to face that which he truly admires, treasures, and dreams
about. In the opening scenes, he expresses his desire to settle in the
city of lights, and we know it's not going to be an easy thing to do.
His girlfriend and he are quite different in their appreciation of what
being in Paris means. She understands it's special, maybe from an
aristocrat's point of view. He might be looking at it, as the dream
place for an artist to find aspiration to fulfill his artistic goals.
One night, he wanders into the streets of Paris and finds himself lost, only to find himself rescue by a party of night socialites who turn out to be quite famous in some literary circles. Soon, the screenwriter/aspiring writer has an opportunity to see himself living one of his dreams as well as slowly come to some surprising epiphanies as he discovers more and more who his new acquaintances might truly be, and most important what their dreams really are.
The film is set in several time periods, and Paris glows intensely and seductively in everyone of those. From its overcast skies and reflective streets, showing lovely architectural details and its magnificent landmarks to the superb and lovely recreations of older time periods, one can't help being seduced, charmed, and inspired to find a way to show what a special place, and consequently what a truly magical film this might be.
Performances are outstanding all around, with Cotillard once again stealing every second she is on the screen. Through her eyes and carefully delivered lines, we understand what attracts us to this special time and place. She is a gorgeous and very talented performer, one who might be truly aware of her standing, yet she doesn't dwell on it. She attracts many types, but her philosophy is unique, move on, enjoy, live the moment. In a way, she is like the city that has inspired Allen, and many others before him. Paris as a place might not be aware of its magnetism, its beauty, and its power. Cotillard's muse is the perfect human equivalent, a dazzling and potent woman, who moves from man to man, place to place, time to time, and who surprises us with her own wishes near the end of the story.
Wilson inhabits the Allen persona, and he does a very good job, not creating a tired imitation, an annoying cliché that could have ruined the perfect balance of sight, sounds, and insightful dialog, keeping this masterpiece way ahead of the best Allen has offered before. For those of us who gasped during the fantasy sequences of "The Purple Rose of Cairo", the marvelous recreations of the stage in "Bullets Over Broadway", the dissection of relationships in many of his best films, get ready to see it all finally come together, as he picks from the best, and adds his personal touch, with many a funny and clever observation, uttered by Wilson with a honest and complete sense of wonder. Unlike many of his leading men, Wilson displays an innocence which allows him and us to see his adventures in a fresh light.
"Midnight in Paris" is a beautiful display of what movie magic can truly create, a sense of wonder long gone from contemporary cinema; This is a movie that entertains, teaches, and wears each one of its elements, like Paris bewitches us with every light, every facade, and every heartbeat of its music.
Woody Allen's love affair with France, which goes back decades, finds its finality with "Midnight in Paris," the latest of Allen's Parisian brochures, which recently opened at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday. The good news is that Allen seems to be paying attention in a way he hasn't always done in recent films, and has found a way to channel his often-caustic misanthropy, half-comic fear of death and anti-American bitterness into agreeable comic whimsy. The nominal point of "Midnight in Paris" is that we've all got to make the best of life in our own time while longing for a past that probably never existed. If anything, Allen seems to be rebuking himself, ever so mildly, for his compulsive romanticism, his obsession with the past and his disconnection from contemporary American life. Allen has baked us a sweet, airy Parisian dessert with just a sense of sentimental substance in the finish. One of his better films in his latter years.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Woody Allen's latest is beautifully written and a charming story that
belongs in the top ten of his all-time greats. From the opening montage
of lush, picturesque Parisian scenes the film is a love letter to the
city of lights. Owen Wilson is perfectly cast as Gil Pender a Hollywood
writer who has penned his first novel about a man who owns a nostalgia
shop. Throughout his stay in Paris he hearkens back to the iconic
characters who once roamed its winding cobblestone streets.
For everyone who sometimes ponders how life would be in another time, this film through whimsical storytelling and pure fantasy transports us. Perhaps that elusive world does not really exist or we are never truly content in whatever station we reside. Gil is enraptured with discovering the bistros where Ernest Hemmingway once wrote or the idea of living in garret with a sky light.
His fiancé played by Rachel McAdams who adroitly depicts a character both shallow and blasé and content to listen to the pseudo-intellectual musings of her onetime flame. To discuss the plot much further and divulge the magic twist would be a shame.
Midnight in Paris is a gourmet meal of delectably charming and playful scenes. Adrian Brody is riotous as a surreal artist and Kathy Bates deftly evokes a wise and famous writer. A character in the film remarks of seeing a movie but, she cannot recall what it was about or who was in it, not so with Midnight in Paris. It is a sweet, endearing and thought provoking film that will whisk you away into a sublime magical world.
"Do you think it's possible to love two women at the same time?," asks
our protagonist Gil Prender to a tour guide discussed Auguste Rodin's
love for his mistress and his wife. Like that's the first time we've
heard that question in a Woody Allen movie. Infidelity, gorgeous women,
and neuroticism are some of Allen's favorite motifs, so it's really not
too much of a surprise that they all appear in Midnight in Paris.
That said, Allen's rendition of those ideas feels fresh this time. Midnight in Paris is a sweet, fun romp through the art world of France. This light comedy may not have some of the heavier messages about adultery and art that previous Allen films have had, but Midnight in Paris is, nonetheless, an enjoyable exercise in allusion to the Lost Generation and artists of the 1920s.
Midnight in Paris begins with the same idea of a man, in this case a screenwriter named Gil played by Owen Wilson, searching for connection with the real world. The protagonist is clearly a projection of Allen's self, but no matter. Gil is engaged to the Inez, played by a blond Rachel McAdams who coincidentally (or is it?) looks like Scarlet Johansson from Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Inez bores Gil with her pretentious friends and spiteful parents, which ultimately causes Gil to seek inspiration on his own time by drunkenly wandering that streets of Paris. One night, he is invited into a car that takes him back to the 1920s where he meets his favorite writers and artists, something that eventually leads to a breakthrough in his work. A large supporting cast includes Kathy Bates, Allison Pill, Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen, and Marion Cotillard.
Allen's conception of Paris is just as romantic as the story itself. The film's physical look matches some of the complexities of the women in that it appears to be almost splashed in gold. It is, after all, the City of Lights. It's a beautiful movie that matches the pretty faces of its starring women.
Allen's screenplay leaps right off the page thanks to his cast, but this too is something that isn't unusual for a Woody Allen film. At his best, Allen picks actors that play their parts with a sense of realism that, when combined with some elements of the fantastic, charm the audience. Just about everyone here manages to do just this, with the exception of Rachel McAdams, who tries her hardest with an underdeveloped character. Marion Cotillard is the best of the cast (as per usual) in her role as Picasso's mistress. She's bursting with sexuality yet she's grounded in her ability to deliver her dialogue with her natural French accent.
Midnight in Paris is fantastique. In comparison to Woody Allen's previous tales of lust and spite, his newest film feels like a dessert rather than a filling entree, yet this is exactly how a good, highbrow summer movie should be. The cast shines just as bright as the lights at the top of the Eiffel Tower and Allen proves himself worthy of his place in society as a master director once again. By no means a classic, Midnight in Paris is a pretty little diversion, one that is grounded in a theatrical gimmick that totally works every time. This, along with The Tree of Life, will be one of a few summer movies that will dazzle visually (without explosions) and somehow manage not to insult the viewer's intelligence.
I loved this movie! It blends film noir with Stardust Memories, The
Purple Rose of Cairo, and a bit of Annie Hall. The scenes of Paris were
enough to make one fall in love. The music was superb! Having all the
artists and writers show up was the ultimate name dropping contest!
Their caricatures were hysterical! Casting Adrien Brody as Salvatore
Dali was mind blowing, along with the surreal discussion about a rhino.
I think Owen Wilson is the best Woody Allen by far. He has a kind of naivete that seems to fit perfectly with who Woody seems to be and the combination of Owen's good looks with Woody's humor is riveting!
Of course the "nostalgia" theme and the -I really want to be somewhere else because it's too boring here- give the story a whole other layer of meaning. For we artists and writers it's one of the things that sparks our creativity, so I loved this discussion and the never ending unraveling the story provokes. While he's entertaining you, getting you to laugh hysterically about it all, you're actually getting the point he's trying to make! There is no one who is so brilliant! Enjoy!
The love between the French and the Americans has always been mixed with an element of dismissal even contempt but the love is real. Woody Allen walks that fine line in truly inspired fashion. "Midnight in Paris" is a delight. This is he first time I actually loved Owen Wilson. He is terrific as Woody's alter ego. Rachel McAdams superb. Her mean American girl is hilarious and frighteningly recognizably, so are Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy as her parents. What a chillingly awful, normal pair. I loved the moment in which Owen Wilson, in a great close up, comes to accept what's happening around him. I accepted it too. Happily. Another stand out moment: the meeting with Salvador Dali, played brilliantly over the top by Adrien Brody. Highly recommended.
Quite a lot of great lines carrying life's wisdom; Profound reflection and insight of living the precious present expressed in a light-hearted touch! If you have your own 'Golden Age' fantasy, you will likely enjoy it. This movie seems to be relatively more straightforward in communicating its message than some of Allen's other works, such as "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger." As a plus, lovely cinematography of the city of Paris - Mr. Allen has apparently fallen in love with the 'good old (and charming)' European major cities; e.g., London, Paris, Barcelona and etc. Very likely, you will leave the movie theater with a big and warm smile on your face...
Woody Allen takes Paris and bathes it within its own glory all the while making one of his most entertaining films in decades. Great cinematography, classic music, french food, french culture and Allen's trademark humor are pure magic. You may see some of the familiar character types from other films, but they only add to the mixture. Odd man out is Owen Wilson, but somehow he sheds his B-movie past and encompasses the Woody Allen humor without mimicking Allen. The ever-evolving plot twists will have you laughing as well as entranced. This is the first Allen film (in a long time) where he doesn't pontificate about life and death, but only celebrates the present while ironically, living in two eras. This is beyond Oscar material.
I love Woody Allen, so already I'm biased. But even I will admit that he's been spotty for the last...my God!...twenty years or so. "Curse Of The Jade Scorpion" will forever be his lowest moment, and in his later phase "Match Point" and "Vickie Christina Barcelona" remain the highlights. Well, we can add another to that list. By no means is this movie an "Annie Hall" or a "Manhattan", let alone a "Husbands and Wives". But if you've been bored by what you've been seeing at the Multiplexes lately, if you think "The Hang-Over 2" sucked and you've despaired that the romantic comedy is dead...than I'm delighted to tell you to go see this movie right now. See it on a big screen! It's gorgeous to look at, fun to watch, romantic, sweet, smart, and pleasantly old-fashioned. This movie is not a masterpiece, and yet I'm giving it 10/10 because it was perfect for what it was -- a modest pleasure that left me in a great mood, and even a little inspired.
"Paris, France is exciting and peaceful." Gertrude Stein
Welcome to the world of Woody Allen as he has always loved it: nostalgic, romantic, imperfect, and full of hope. Midnight in Paris is one of his finest treatises on the lure and delusions of the past: Like Zelig it depicts other times, like Purple Rose of Cairo it uses magic realism to deal squarely with the present. Allen has another of his surrogates, this time Gil (Owen Wilson),who virtually experiences the past (the twenties) while dealing with the troublesome present.
Gil, engaged to marry Inez (Rachel McAdams), is with her and her parents on business in Paris where he hopes to work on his novel while he is still a successful Hollywood writer. Although she is a materialist who would like him to become wealthy to enjoy the life his parents are used to, he dreams of escaping the hack work of LA and living in the City of Lights for inspiration, just as his idols Fitzgerald and Hemingway did in the roaring twenties.
Well, the twenties roar back to him as he experiences their friendship and the mentoring of Gertrude Stein, among just a few of the many expatriate luminaries he meets through the magic of nostalgia. Just one of the Allen signature touches that make him the equal of great European directors such as Rohmer and Godard is opening the film with music that reflects the allure of the twenties, the romance of Paris, and his abiding love for this city: "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" by Sidney Bechet combines jazz, the clarinet, the twenties, and Allen with a romantic nostalgia.
Owen Wilson catches the halting diffidence of the typical Allen persona without slavishly imitating him. Yet whatever little duplication Wilson employs endears as he sweetly visits his heroes, falls in love, and comes to terms with his writer's voice and his mismatched engagement. But that engagement is the troublesome present; the past offers the chance to experience history on a human level that only someone who writes for now and reveres the past can do.
The magic and the realism, both requiring hard work from the protagonist, lead to surprising understanding of human nature, the delusion of nostalgia and Paris, and hope for a present that brings love and inspiration.
"For all we know, Paris might be the hottest place in the universe." (Gil)
It's been at least a decade since I have enjoyed an Allen movie this much.
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