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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I stopped going to Woody Allen movies several years ago, when they had
started to become pedantic (and let's be honest here) pretentious and
self-importantly "deep." Woody Allen is still a very funny man, and I
especially like his humor pieces in "The New Yorker." A couple of
months ago, for old time's sake, I watched "Sleeper," and found it
The reviews of "Midnight in Paris," both from the media and personal friends, made me hope that it was as good as his early stuff. Maybe the years have colored my delightful memories of gasping for air as I watched those hilarious situations and dialog, but M.in P. isn't at the level of an "Annie Hall." Allen's early movies were daring and sometimes outrageous in a way that this one isn't.
Nevertheless, "Midnight in Paris" is a charming movie, full of clever dialog and witty inside jokes Gil's suggestion to Luis Bunuel for a movie plot, and "recognizing" Hemingway's portentous dialog (it was spot-on Papa). Allen makes only a passing effort to cast actors who look like historical figures, which is fine, but Adrien Brody's riff on Salvador Dali, both the way he talks and the way he looks, is brilliant (I'm grinning as I write this).
A quibble, both about Gil's reference to people seeing Paris from outer space, and also from the perception of other reviewers: Historically, Paris is not "The City of Lights," it is "The City of Light." The original reference was by painters, who were drawn to the beautiful changes of natural light in the city. Anyone who has visited Paris knows exactly what they meant, and to assume that the reference is to a man-made phenomenon misses one of the loveliest aspects of Paris.
Woody Allen is getting better and better. This is one of his best preferred it to Vicky Christina and some of the London based ones. All the historic encounters are so fascintaing it needs to be seen twice to appreciate all the detail. Makes you want to know more details about the different people he meets. It's one of those movies you wish could go on longer. Owen is typical Owen I think the role was made for his laid back charm. Rachel is pretty and hilarious. Such a versatile actress. The cameo actors are interesting to watch from Brody to a slightly inexpressive Bruni. It's not just about cultural differences, it's about the magical past of the city. My favorite Paris film since Le Divorce. Can't wait to see how Woody handles Rome in his next movie.
Midnight in Paris is one of the only movies lucky enough to be rented
out by me and not returned with an expected refund...in respect for
this supposedly good title I merely stopped the DVD less than an hour
in, ejected it and placed it calmly back into its case. Now I
understand the concept of the film, it's quite a cool concept, however
apart from it already being unbelievable, as most movies are, making it
believable should have been the director's primary aim, unfortunately
it undoubtedly was and yet I didn't see it.
Luckily for director Woody Allen it was set in the beautiful Paris which sold the title to me in the first place, I was looking forward too seeing the stunning French backdrop to reminisce on my recent travels...and the horrendous long introduction covered this, and then began the script and the character introduction;
In short, the main characters, Gil (Owen Wilson) and the other one...his fiancé i think she was supposed to be (Rachel McAdams) are two people who live in the States and travel to Paris often, despite the obvious and constantly expressed dislike McAdams feels for the place which makes no sense to me at all. Gil, a script writer and keen novelist adores the city however and has a love for writing, art and the 1920s. So he often goes off without his fiancé which is the most believable part of the whole film as I do not understand how anyone would want to be around her, and at midnight every night he finds himself back into the 20s era spending time with Hemingway, Picasso and a bunch of other famous people he admires. Blah blah blah whats-her-name doesn't believe him but he keeps going back to get his novel proof read by some woman that's played by Cathy Bates of course and he finds out history's secrets and has a near affair with some chick who's with Picasso, whom we liked because she wasn't a winy brat like the other chick...OK, I didn't like her, much less whatever the wardrobe department kept dressing her in which included some horrific belts...never mind it was awful but um tangent city....
Now, not that I continued watching once I discovered the story had no peaks or troughs, just a monotone that started at the bottom and stayed there, I realized that for the type of movie it was, it had the worst possible casting. Clearly the famous names and setting for the film were its only selling point; however had they been unknown actors it would have been far better in my opinion...Wilson is a funny guy...and always the same funny guy, he was so not needed here, and McAdam's was just there to look pretty, but her character's attitude didn't suit her and i feel sorry for her that she thought she had to star in this.
All I really remember from this experience was turning to my boyfriend and sincerely apologizing for my choice of movie for which I begged but that's it! I have no idea what happened at the end of the film, or in the middle...but if anyone has the strength to find out it'd be nice to know if it actually ever went anywhere. Also, if you can stand the stupid (sorry) script, the uncomfortably annoying relationship between the main characters and Rachel's outfits then I commend you..but if you truly love Paris, maybe just watch the film on mute because it doesn't have much else going for it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Allen's conceit, if this movie is anything to go by, appears boundless.
Or maybe his advance into dotage has seriously diminished his powers.
It's not that he lacks imagination or flair, it's simply that he has
applied his skills to a movie that ultimately has no warmth and no
The movie does have a message -- the timeless "There's no place like home". Other movies have taken that moral and ended up with more convincing results. "Wizard of Oz", for example, comes to mind. In "Midnight In Paris", home refers to the present time the lead character inhabits, 2010, but he would prefer to live in a previous era, the 1920s in Paris. And he happens upon a method to whisk him back to that era -- a carriage which appears on a dim Paris street at the stroke of midnight.
I happily suspended disbelief to see where the story would take me. What eventuated, and what destroyed the suspension, was the name-dropping exercise involving most of the famous artistic characters who passed through Paris in the 1920s. Allen intentionally manipulates the audience by pandering to their need to appear knowledgeable in front of friends. At every entrance of another noted artist, a murmur sweeps through the audience as people in the know are unable to restrain the urge to tell their neighbour who the new kid is. "That's Cole Porter at the piano and there's Picasso."
And this is where I hark back to Allen's conceit. Well, two conceits. The first, that a dull, would-be writer could somehow befriend the likes of Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein. The second, that Allan is so taken with his own persona, so enamoured with his importance as an actor, that this movie just has to have himself in the starring role -- but being much to old to play the lead in this movie, he clones himself. Like "Mini-Me" from an Austin Powers movie (except this Mini-Me is the same size as the original), this film's cloned Woody Allen walks and talks just like the real thing. And just like the real thing, the clone is irresistible to every gorgeous young woman he meets. Allen's fetish for young women is clearly on display.
Entertainment at a superficial level is what this movie is about. On the surface it is not difficult to enjoy this film. The cinematography is clean and elegant: very little unnecessary camera movement, and no out-of-focus foreground that every camera hack overuses because they learnt at film school that that's how you give depth to a scene. The sound is crisp and appropriate, with little evidence of overly-zealous foley artists at work. And the basic story -- time travel -- is always of interest.
Scratch the surface, however, and pus oozes. This film is diseased. The acting is mediocre, especially by Allen's clone; and the story itself, though inherently interesting, is undone by its ludicrous proposition -- that a dull American would be of interest to some of the most creative people of the 20th century. Pre-production, Allen was let down by people who should have put their awe aside and warned him: "Hey Woody, it's probably not a good idea to clone yourself for the lead role. And rehashing scenes from "Manhattan" are you sure that's a good idea?"
The disease is narcissism. It's quite okay to feature yourself in the lead role of movies when the lead is an ordinary bloke surrounded by friends; it's highly suss to keep doing that when you are much too old to play the roles, and instead, hire a young clone and set yourself amongst the rich, the famous, and the gorgeous.
Having Hemingway in this film reminded me of a story about fantasy, lies, and Hemingway, in the book "Why We Lie" by Dorothy Rowe. The quote talks about the principles Hemingway used to guide his work:
"The first - derived from newspaper experience which had trained him to report only what he had witnessed directly - was that fiction must be founded on real emotional and intellectual experience and be faithful to actuality, but must also be transformed and heightened by the imagination until it becomes truer than mere factual events Engaging an audience and telling the truth requires considerable skill, particularly if you put the truth you want to tell into some kind of fantasy. You have to make sure that you never lose sight of the difference between the truth you want to tell and the fantasy. Only then can you control both elements of your material". (p147)
Unfortunately, Allen did lose control of this film because he lost sight of the difference between truth and fantasy.
Woody Allen was 75 when he directed this movie. If this is all he is now capable of he should step aside from writing and directing, and limit himself to producing. Bow out gracefully, in other words, before more movie failures expose his declining powers to even his most devoted fans.
Woody, if you feel driven to continue writing movies that star yourself, write them for a man of your age. Here's an idea:
1. An elderly Woody Allen realises his creative powers are diminishing.
2. While wandering the streets of New York at night with three friends, talking about his mental decline, Woody heads off into the darkness by himself.
3. He jumps in one of those horse-pulled carriages that roam New York and ends up back in 1979 on the set of "Manhattan".
4. The older Woody and the younger Woody interact in some interesting way.
Forget the science fiction, forget the women young enough to be your granddaughters. Act your age and your movies will probably turn out okay.
I failed to make it beyond the first 20 minutes of Midnight In Paris. That miserable time was filled with a ever-increasing pity for such hopelessly self-absorbed people. Sadly, every Woody Allen movie I have seen, which is by no means all, has been populated exclusively with characters devoid of the quality that I cherish in real people; a recognition of some thing which is greater than themselves. Allen's characters always seem to follow the same, circular, shallow lives: It starts with conflicting introspection, then false-awareness, always followed by the deep, wallowing creep of a search for a self-induced problem that would not have existed had their self-absorption not been their best quality. Is Allen incapable of writing a character that has faith? Surely he must have met a person in his life to draw upon, SOMEWHERE, that was not endlessly bumping into other people's psyches, constantly wondering what is wrong with themselves! Well, maybe not...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For any senior creative person trying to keep dry eyes during Midnight
in Paris is almost an impossibility. It brings back faint memories and
romantic desires wished for but often unfulfilled.
Woody Allen takes the viewer on his own eye view of a city he long has loved more as a fantasy than a reality. He does this through atmospheric lighting and evocative music that creates tourists out of cinema goers.
Owen Wilson, in the of his best performances, takes on Allen's role and he is given a gift of experiencing what he had missed by being a bit too young for the Lost Generation of the 1920s.
When Wilson and Marion Cotillard stroll through a misty Parisian street to some richly romantic French music, it was like the joy of all man's desiring...a truly beautiful moment in cinema.
Modern-day Hollywood screenwriter and novelist, on vacation in France with his fiancée and her parents, travels back in time to Paris in the 1920s via a magical taxi-cab, meeting legendary literary and artistic figures who help the writer put his work and his love-life into focus. Writer-director Woody Allen, seemingly in love with Paris himself, appealingly uses fantasy to both confuse and clarify reality...but without interesting, disarming central characters, the confection seems to cool early on. Stepping in for Woody, lead Owen Wilson doesn't have a dynamic screen presence (he fades into the foreground), and even the comedic scenes that should work the smoothest--such as a bit involving Rachel McAdams' missing earrings--have a bland denouement. Allen's nostalgia for the past is fun for awhile, but he doesn't use it to build momentum; fairly soon, we're stuck in a revolving door of personalities and romantic couplings, sequences which have an attractive sheen but ultimately feel a little underwhelming. ** from ****
"And actually, Paris is the most beautiful in the rain."
Probably the most charming and fanciful Woody Allen movies that I've seen, and also one of the most enjoyable. Owen Wilson is great as a proxy Allen, transported back to the streets of 1920's Paris and looking for his "Golden Age" amongst the famous writers and artists that wafted through the city at that time.
I really don't have any criticisms about the movie. The script is trademark Woody Allen, full of musings about life and happiness, but it's more subtle and natural than his dialogue can often be. The cast is great (Corey Stoll as Earnest Hemingway and Adrien Brody as Salavador Dali being two of the most memorable examples), and Paris looks so beautiful that it often can distract from what's going on with the characters.
Fully recommended for Woody fans, Wilson fans, romantics at heart, and those who love Paris (both past and present).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Woody Allen has done it again! A witty and funny comedy is set in the
most romantic city of the world, Paris.
Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a writer who is on a vacation with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) when he gets absorbed in the magic of the Parisian midnight. Pender is stuck in the rut with his script because he's afraid to show it to anybody. Then he has a colorful blast from the past when he meets his idols, a group of various artists from the 20's. Naturally nobody seems to believe him. He finds himself wanting to spend more time with Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald than his girlfriend. He also meets a lovely lady Adriana (Marion Cotillard). Gil starts to question what's really important to him.
Allen's story brings back the glamor of the 20's. The script's insightful and the maestro's vivid imagination and humor are flourishing once again. The cast is great, especially Wilson has a fantastic role for a change. Also Marion Cotillard and Adrien Brody as a surrealist Salvador Dali are brilliant.
"Midnight in Paris" is the best Allen since the great "Match Point" and lovely "Vicky Christina Barcelona".
MIDNIGHT IN Paris sounds good on paper and looks in ads. The film opens
with a long sequence of views of the sights in Paris - no actors, no
story, just the breathtaking magnificence of the City of Light. For
this viewer that section i the most rewarding of the entire film. Once
the film starts Woody Allen imposes an improbable story with stereotype
characters and with a few notable exceptions, it gets stuck in its own
VERY briefly screenwriter wannabe novelist Gil (Owen Wilson playing Owen Wilson) and his bride to be Inez (Rachel McAdams) are in Paris with Inez' parents (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy) who in turn are on a business trip. Inez is a bore: Gil wants adventure. As Inez sees the touristy places with her friends, the hideously boring pedantic Paul (Michael Sheen) and his flaky partner Carol (Nina Arianda), Gil escapes to walk the streets of Paris and fall in love with the history and the magic of the city. At the stoke of midnight he is picked up by an elegant car and is taken to the 1920s where he encounters Cole Porter (Yves Heck), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), F Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and his Zelda (Allison Pill), Josephine Baker (Sonia Rolland), Alice B. Toklas (Thérèse Bourou-Rubinsztein) and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo) and his current flame Adriana (Marion Cotillard who seems to have phoned in her performance), Djuna Barnes (Emmanelle Uzan), Salvador Dalí (Adrien Brody - in probably the only convincing performance in the film), Man Ray (Tom Cordier), Luis Buñuel (Adrien de Van), TS Eliot (David Lowe) - in other words all the famous artists of the 1920s. Gil is captivated by the opportunity to share his work with these greats, though he finds it difficult to understand time travel. He falls for Adriana who in turn wishes she could live in the time of Le Belle Epoque so of course Gil and Adriana time travel again meeting Henri Matisse (Yves-Antoine Spoto), Toulesse-Lautrec (Vincent Menjou Cortes), Paul Gauguin (Olivier Rabourdin), and Edgar Degas (François Rostain) at Maxim's. Gil by day grows less enamored with Inez and by night more infatuated by Adriana and in the end there is a permanent schism between Gil and Inez and we are left with the moral 'Don't wish to live in another time than your own.'
Sounds like a run through of famous names? It is. Wilson is inept at romantic comedy, and Woody Allen's script is fairly boring for Allen's works. BUT Paris is Gorgeous - and that is enough!
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