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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of only three Woody Allen films to be nominated for Best Picture,
this is an absolutely delightful romantic fantasy. In many respects, it
reminds me of one of Allen's best films "The Purple Rose of Cairo" as
both feature protagonists who would like to experience another world as
they find their real lives unsatisfactory and are given the opportunity
to do so through a fantasy conceit which does not require an
explanation. In the earlier film, it was the glitz and glamour that
existed in Hollywood films of the 1930s. In this one, the personal
Elysium in question is Paris in the 1920s. While the other world in
"The Purple Rose of Cairo" is pure fiction, it becomes clear over the
course of the film that the idea of an historical Golden Age is
likewise illusory. Allen's perfectly crafted script hits all of the
right notes and his direction is superb. The film is essentially a love
letter to Paris - past, present and perhaps even future - and it makes
me want to visit the city more than anything else that I have ever
The film stars Owen Wilson in a first rate performance as Gil Pender, a successful Hollywood screenwriter who has grown dissatisfied with the artificiality of Tinseltown. He does an excellent job of conveying Gil's unbridled enthusiasm for one of the numerous episodes in the City of Lights' history when it was seen as a major centre of art and culture. He was almost like a puppy at times. As is common in Allen's films, Gil is having an existential crisis as he has come to doubt the artistic merit of the Hollywood assembly line on which he has laboured for years. He seeks to make a real stab at what he considers proper writing through his first novel. At heart, Gil is a very romantic soul and he regrets that he did not move in Paris when he visited the city years earlier. In contrast, his fiancée Inez, played very well by Rachel McAdams at her most unlikeable and antagonistic since "Mean Girls", does not have a romantic bone in her body. A very good indication of the difference in their personalities is provided in their first scene when Gil comments that Paris looks gorgeous in the rain and Inez asks, "What's wonderful about getting wet?"
Gil would prefer to work on his novel but he is forced to spend a great deal of time with Inez's obnoxious Francophobic parents John and Helen, played in a pair of great performances by Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy, and her even more obnoxious, pedantic friend Paul Bates, played in a suitably smarmy and insufferable fashion by Michael Sheen. Paul belongs to that category of persons whom Allen seemingly despises the most: pseudo-intellectuals. He is a self-appointed expert on Rodin, French wine and Monet and even argues with a tour guide - played by France's then First Lady Carla Bruni of all people - over whether Camille was Rodin's mistress or wife. Unsurprisingly, he is in the wrong but refuses to accept it. Gil clearly wants to beat the bejesus out of Paul and I could relate to that. While attempting to avoid all of these people (for some reason...), Gil is picked up by a beautiful 1920s Peugeot. He is promptly taken to a party being thrown for Jean Cocteau, the other attendees of which include Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Cole Porter. It does not take him long to realise that he has been sent back in time to his favourite era. He is particularly starstruck when he meets Ernest Hemingway, who is as most people would picture him: bearded, brooding and drinking. At one point, Gil visits the nightclub Chez Bricktop. Although Bricktop is not depicted in the film, the genuine article had previously appeared as herself in another Allen film "Zelig".
In spite of all the attractions provided by all of these literary and artistic giants, Gil is most captivated by an aspiring fashion designer Adriana, who has a tempestuous relationship with her lover Picasso and is an object of lust for Hemingway. She is played in a brilliant performance by the simply enchanting Marion Cotillard. A romantic who idolises the Belle Époque of the 1890s, she has far more in common with Gil than Inez could ever have. Over the course of several nights, Gil falls in love with her and the feeling is mutual. He begins to wonder if he can love two women and then if he even loves Inez at all. Adriana is attracted to Gil's naive openness while he believes that he has found a kindred spirit and maybe even a soulmate in her. In a great sequence, the two find themselves back in the Belle Époque where they meet luminaries of that era such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Gauguin. The latter reflects that he would prefer to have lived in the Renaissance, dismissing the artistic endeavours of the 1890s. This shocks Adriana but it leads to an epiphany for Gil. He comes to realise that no era is perfect and people throughout history have wanted to live in a bygone Golden Age. More to the point, he decides that he can no longer live in the past - literally or figuratively - and decides to make the most of his life in the present, even if is unsatisfactory in many ways.
As well as the actors whom I have already mentioned, the film features great performances from Tom Hiddleston as Fitzgerald, Alison Pill as his erratic wife and muse Zelda, Corey Stoll as Hemingway, Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Léa Seydoux as Gabrielle and, in a wonderful cameo, Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali.
Overall, this is a wonderful film about the dangers of idealising or idolising to such an extent that it affects your life in the present.
This movie has something very unique about it. The ability to watch
this movie and not rethink your choices in life is quite hard. The
movie explores the idea of The Golden Age, where Owen Wilson character
is wanting to live in the past. As the movie progresses, he takes
inspiration from the people he comes into contact with in the past.
The acting is very well done by all the characters bar Rachel McAdams who seems a little out of place in this movie, but still portrayed her role very well. The score used adds so much to the movie and allows you to immerse yourself in the feel of the 1920's Paris and back to Reality.
Today I watched Midnight in Paris and I loved this movie and ended up
shedding a few tears. "Paris & Rains" I love both. I've never been to
Paris though but just like the character was in love with 20's so was
I. For past many days I have been thinking for a way to escape from
time. Creating and evaluating the philosophy of time.
My theory, "Present moment is a collection of events happening in association with people around. Time is an illusion. We live at once in Past, Present and Future."
The first question that came to my mind was, "why people first bring physical alignment and enter into toxic relations then struggle hard all their lives to align emotional aspects of the relation. It is common in many of our societies that, that people first align bodies and physical aspects then consider emotional and spiritual aspects. The writer in this movie is continuously being humiliated and emotionally abused by his partner. Only he knew that, that he was right. He struggled emotionally and found the way out Ah! Rains! Rains! Rains!
"It was an honest book and that's what war does to men and there's nothing fine and noble about dying in the mud unless you die gracefully and then it's not only noble but brave."
E.Hemingway: You'll never write well if you fear dying. Do you?
I believe that love that is true and real creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving, or not loving well, which is the same thing.
Hemingway: No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.
Hemingway: If it's bad because I hate bad writing. If it's good I'll be envious and I'll hate it all the more. You don't want the opinion of another writer.
Gertrude: We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist's job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.
Adriana: That Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me. Enter text Enter text Enter text Copyright Eeta Lone, All rights reserved 2015
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Very playful and upbeat story line. There's no real and genuine
conflict. It's all a little too perfect, in my opinion. I can't
pinpoint a really climactic event in the movie at all. I have a feeling
Rachael McAdams, Owen Wilson's fiancée, would have blown up and thrown
a temper tantrum instead of calling him a crazy lunatic whatever. I
think everything was tied up too nicely in the end. Aesthetically, it's
beautiful, but that's because it's Paris, not because of any special
camera work or anything. Honestly, the best part of this movie was
Brody as Salvador Dalí. Fantastic work on the accents, fantastic
representation of how weird he was. I think he really caught the
essence of Dalí. (On a similar note, would Hemingway really talk how he
writes? I feel like all that deep nonsense isn't Hemingway, the lusting
after a pretty French girl and the free and unabashed flirting is...)
That being said, I don't regret watching it and it was a nice little film. Just a bit too perfect.
Also, it occurred to me several times throughout the movie that the 20's time travel was all just inside Owen Wilson's head and that it was a metaphor for his self- discovery. In which case, the movie becomes a little bit less "meh." But not much.
So often we hear that Woody Allen is "back to his best" and that he is
producing work that maybe even matches that of his critically acclaimed
works decades ago, this movie I feel though does not match those
claims. Take nothing away from this film, it is a good one and it is
pretty fun with some well created characters and a witty script, it
isn't however a great movie and that I feel is the least it has to be
if it is to be considered one of Allen's best. The story is a fantasy
basically and how a Hollywood screenwriter visiting Paris (although
with hopes to live there one day) is whisked back and forth at the
stroke of midnight into the 1920's, full of famous faces.
The film feels like it's Woody Allen not just from the pretty quirky story but just the music that is used, if you walked in on this film and had no idea what it was, the music I feel would show you it is one of Allen's. The film explores the Paris of the past that inspired the very best of writers, painters and entertainers and really brings at least a fresh story with it, one that is fairly un- generic as well. I don't think the movie excels massively in the comedy area but does have the odd good laugh and when most jokes are done they are smartly done, but not always though that laughable.
Owen Wilson is Gil Pender the man who is travelling back, Wilson is pretty nice in the role and is extremely calm, I swear this is one of the most laid back acting performances ever. The cast is full of names like Michael Sheen, Kurt Fuller, Kathy Bates, and Marion Cotillard and also features Rachel McAdams who as Wilson's extremely annoying fiancée is really hard to like, but acted well though. Allen brings together a cast that can seem randomly placed, new people arrive around every corner and some are just never seen again, Allen paces this pretty fast but does manage to slow it down when it needs to be at least.
You know Woody Allen doesn't do a bad job at all of directing and writing this but also at the same time doesn't make this fantastic, even with the nice fantasy element he fails to make this completely charming. There is no doubt Allen is considered one of the masters of the romantic comedy genre but here is no mastery, it is good work but is far from the level most expect of Allen, some may find this excellent but for me this is just straight good and no more. I don't think Allen makes mistakes but this I just feel is not made at a great enough quality as all.
So Midnight in Paris is a Woody Allen work that probably won't rank highly in his catalogue but is easily a welcome addition and is recommendable, and not only to the fans of the man in the directors chair. I think it's the kind of thing that all can enjoy and it doesn't focus so much on the romantic element that it becomes bogged down in it, it mixes the fantasy into it very well too so that the story becomes nicely balanced, oh and add a little comedy to that balancing act too.
Owen Wilson plays a screenwriter called Gil Pender who goes to Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams). He has troubles finishing his first novel, and then all of a sudden he finds himself from the 1920's, his favorite era. There he has a chance to talk to people like the Fitzgerald couple, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso. Midnight in Paris (2011) is a movie directed By Woody Allen. This Jewish New Yorker born as Allan Stewart Konigsberg turns 80 today, and still comes up with a movie per year. Now there's an achievement! He has made most of his movies in New York, but in the latter years he has gone to Europe. This movie made in France works very well and is one of his finest movies made in Europe. I am a big fan of time traveling, and that's one of the reasons I like this movie. This is like Back to the Future, in Woody's style. It's most intriguing to watch this 21st century guy interacting with celebrities of the past. The meeting with Salvador Dali must be the funniest. The acting work works as it always does in a Woody Allen movie. Owen Wilson is really good as Gil. In supporting roles you can see people like Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard and Adrien Brody.If you want to see a time travel themed movie handled in an intellectual way, you should see this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The interesting thing about Midnight in Paris is that it sets you up
into thinking this is another Alvy Singer - in Gil's first lines are
those disparaging Hollywood hacks like himself and wishing to write
something real, something substantive that can be counted amongst the
literary canon. You know, the Hemingways, the Fitzgeralds, the Steins.
Then it sort of switches it around a little, and Gil becomes the
hopeless romantic who is forever entranced by the rainy streets of
Paris and Inez is the one who disparages him for this. And then finally
Allen settles on a happy medium, where both possess different types of
The city of love is established well, with the same loving treatment as the beginning of Allen's Manhattan. Before we are introduced to our couple, we are treated to a few minutes of a travelogue of sorts, postcard shots of the bridges, the streets, the park fountains, and of course the Eiffel Tower. Khondji bathes the entirety of these exterior shots in a warm golden glow, and we become aware of just how gorgeous it is. Later as Gil slips into the past, it becomes even more yellowy, the period sets becomes warm and homely, and the music fits - romantic saxophone, then the tender voice of Gale Porter. When Gil tries to hurry back to the party, he stumbles upon a sterile laundromat instead, lit harshly in blue green. The dream is over for tonight. When the group visit Monet's Water Lilies, Allen shoots them distantly, removed from its beauty in the sterile white oval room, and when we get a close-up, the painting is quickly obscured by the bickering of Inez and Gil, trying to get a word in. Some might call Allen's Paris too idealistic; you would be hard pressed to find a shot not in shallow focus, blurring the city lights, and the backdrop crisply clean. Well, the answer to that is, Gil sees what he wants to see.
From the first moment we are clear that this engaged couple is not meant to be. They exist on too entirely different world - Alvy Singer is not Gil, but in fact Paul, who is described as a pseudo-intellectual and pedantic. He is a professor of something, which allows him to be the expert on many things and drive a wedge between this engagement. Adams is fantastic; she certainly is sexy as designated by Gil, but there are little moments which make you wonder how she can be so sexy yet so infuriating. Gil is caught red-handed trying to pawn off her pearl earrings for some back-in-time sex, and here we have a scene in every romantic comedy, and it is so easy for Inez to get suspicious. But instead she vainly gestures at herself when seeing the present: "For moi?" Her parents are considerably more insufferable - right wing, high class and jealous parents stereotypes who dismiss chairs that are less than twenty grand, who set upon private detectives on soon-to-be son-in-laws, and from whom no doubt Inez learned her disdain for the help. That is one little line that speaks volumes of this relationship; another is the hilarious moment where Gil tries to justify it to Andriana, and mumbles out a compromise about "some types of Indian food".
The dreamy time travel sequences are not contemplative to their fullest extent. It's never easy to portray figures who have already been immortalised. Allen does it lightly and winks here and then; Hemingway drunkingly tries to spark a boxing match and talks pointedly of hunting and manhood, Zelda Fitzgerald is ditzy and given little time to really justify committing suicide, and that delightful scene where Gil offers up the idea of The Exterminating Angel, and Luis Buñuel is left bewildered at his own work of art. Gil explains his situation to a group of surrealists, and they seem fine with it. Another hilarious moment is when Kurt admits to having Gil tailed, and then we cut inexplicably to the poor man stuck and terrified in 18th century Versailles, and perhaps these events were real after all. The important thing is that Gil realises these legends aren't so much different than us all.
Of course, the detractors point at the twee and the remarkably idealistic romance of it all. Allen has Gil realise that nostalgia is denial, yet paradoxically places him within a very very beautiful modern Paris. In Gil's aspirational journey he uncovers another paradox; the endless cycle of nostalgia, and is shocked to discover that Andriana prefers the Belle Époque era to this wonderful period. So he departs for the inescapable present. Another director might have made Léa Seydoux's sweet character some sort of descendant of the Picasso mistress, because isn't that magical? But they make their own magic in the rainy streets of Paris. Up above, Van Gogh's starry night swirls. Everyone yearns for this sort of ending.
It took me several attempts to make it through this movie and I only
finished it out of curiosity how Woody Allen would find a plausible
ending to this ridiculous story.
Ridiculous not because of the concept - but because of the way it was implemented. Had there not been quite so many famous people from the twenties trotted out for our perusal, an interesting idea could have been turned into an enchanting movie.
Plastic prototypes almost shoved down our throats, all behaving exactly how someone like Woody Allen would have us believe they would. Notably awful was Corey Stoll as Hemingway, who delivered his lines as if he was reading them off a teleprompter.
In order to enjoy a story such as this it is imperative to suspend disbelief and immerse oneself in the events as they unfold. Never for one moment did I come anywhere close to this in spite of the enchanting views of Paris and the music, which is probably the best thing in the film.
In the past Allen gave us some wonderful trips back into the past, moments of unforgettable fantasy and characters who (although rather over-the-top) were engaging and believable.
Midnight in Paris falls down on almost all of these factors and I am sure that if it had been made by anyone other than Woody Allen, it would have been a total flop.
Before I turn to the film itself, a few facts about me: before
watching, I didn't like (and even a little annoyed by) the actor who
plays the main character (Owen Wilson). I don't know why. But I like
Rachel McAdams (the bride of the main character) and Marion Cothiar.
I'm not a fan of Paris. For some reason, I don't really sympathize with
him, even though he is so romantic. Sometimes I'm also nostalgic for
the past I was never alive for, but not as much as the protagonist, and
now very rarely.
Now about the movie: I find it difficult to get involved in the atmosphere. Аfter the first fifteen minutes I was sure that I would give him a maximum of 7 points and write that the movie was good, but nothing special, however... probably due to the fact that the movie is simply gorgeously filmed, I was impressed by its simplicity, romance, and dreaminess. So much so that after some time, I already loved the atmosphere, which I hadn't liked at the beginning of the movie. It seems that Woody Allen (the director of the film) was very much in love with Paris; otherwise I can't explain how he was able to make such a gorgeous film from this simple plot. In General, objectively I would give him eight points, but for the emotions - Nine! This movie has penetrated deep into my soul.
"Midnight in Paris" does not have Woody Allen on a screen - but his alter ego is present in character of gentle dreamer (Owen Wilson) who roams romantic streets of Paris with his obnoxious fiancé and her parents chained to his leg. Its obvious that this is not a good fit and why would they even insist of catching him as a bridegroom when they hardly bear him is not truly explained, but director suggest it would be just another marriage of convenience. "Well, we have lots in common..." muses Wilson "for example we love Indian food..." and as the city gets under his skin, this dream seems to vanish because he can clearly see himself living different, another life far from these materialistic people. What follows is another typical Woody Allen magical realism where characters get lost in time. If anyone else made this, it would be sacrilege because it has already been done - but Woody Allen has all the right in the world to play with his own older ideas and he does it with grace, humor and magic. There is a very interesting question somewhere in all of this, about meaning of "good old days" which are always imaginary Heaven when compared to present time, movie suggest that this is illusion because any time was difficult for people for whom it was present. The movie charmed the socks off critics and audiences around the world and reminded me how much I always loved Woody Allen.
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