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Allen's Dreams are Magical
aharmas30 May 2011
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.
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Midnight in Paris
fandbnoir12 May 2011
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.
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Parisian Holiday
alexart-130 May 2011
"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.
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A Magical Mystery Tour De Force
GeneralUrsus23 May 2011
Warning: 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.
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French Woody, at last!
littlemartinarocena16 July 2011
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.
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vouty30 May 2011
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!
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Ah, they don't make them like this any more…
barry_mooney21 October 2012
I'd been meaning to watch Midnight in Paris for ages but, I have to confess, I was put off by the presence of Owen Wilson, who I could not really envisage as the lead in a Woody Allen film. He was actually surprisingly good though and did a decent job as the vessel from which Allen's brilliant dialogue could be heard. However, this is not an actor-driven film or even a story-driven film; its beauty lies in the simple but clever script and the easy-going laid-back style that you'd expect from a Woody Allen film all about nostalgia.

To be fair, I can completely understand why there have been so many negative reviews of Midnight in Paris. There isn't a great deal going on superficially and the characters are all gloriously stereotypical. This doesn't matter though because, although the film is quite simple, it is at the same time wonderfully clever and thought-provoking. However, you do probably have to be in the right mood to watch it. I saw this film on a lazy Saturday afternoon and wasn't expecting too much, so when I was left both entertained and thinking about the past, the present and the future, it was a pleasant surprise. There are few films these days that still have you thinking about them several days later – this is definitely one of them. What do you want from life, with whom do you want to experience it, and why are we always so dissatisfied with where we are and what we've got? Like I say, quite thought-provoking!

It's incredibly ironic that some critics go on about how Woody Allen films aren't anywhere near as good as they were back in the seventies and that he's a has-been pseudo-intellectual, when here he is making a film about nostalgia and poking fun at pseudo-intellectuals in both an obvious and also a more subtle manner. Midnight in Paris is full of self-parody and interesting contradictions, but not everything is immediately apparent and I believe that some viewers of the film may have simply taken it at face value and consequently been left thinking "is that it then?".

On a slightly more negative side, I am perplexed that some people have praised the cinematography and the wonderful images of Paris in the light, in the dark and in the rain. To me, the use of colour and imagery are not too impressive and I would argue that Paris has looked far better in plenty of other films. The music can be a little annoying too – especially in the opening sequence, which seems to go on for ever!

As I said before though, Midnight in Paris is primarily about the dialogue and the interesting ideas that it throws out to the audience. Catch them if you like, and run with them. It's a great easy-going relaxing film that'll hopefully leave you both entertained and thought- provoked.

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A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Woody Allen's ode to the City of Love, and its most celebrated denizens of the past
murtaza_mma17 February 2013
Midnight in Paris is a subtle romantic drama with a comical touch that has a little bit of almost everything: be it magic-realism, romance, phantasm, voyeur, surrealism or even noir. It wouldn't be a hyperbole to proclaim that everything that Woody Allen learned and gained during his long stint in cinema culminated in form of Midnight in Paris – An ode to the City of Love, and its most celebrated denizens of the past. Driven by the very impetus that gives cinema its resonant charm, Woody Allen the auteur has seen his art go from strength to strength, taking new shapes and forms, being completely oblivious of the existence of his larger than life alter ego, Woody Allen the showman, whose stimulating works have been a treat for us all for last so many decades, and who himself has been a force to reckon with, right throughout his long and illustrious career that still seems to be in its prime.

I have grown up watching works of legendary Dev Anand, whose iconic movie career spanned well over six decades. Being an Indian, I guess it comes naturally to one! The first that I heard of Woody Allen was when someone eloquently referred to Dev Sahab as the Indian Woody Allen. It indeed seemed revolting! A showman, whom not only you but also your grandparents have grown up watching being compared to some run-of-the- mill movie maker form the Occident. But, it did succeed in getting me hooked. Today, I find the comparison to be much more apt. Dev Sahab was oblivious to the changing trends in the India Cinema, and remained royal to his idiosyncratic style. The same can be said about Mr. Allen, who became the champion of a resurgent parallel stream in American Cinema— inspired by the avant garde works of European auteurs like Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman—while others kept busy figuring out their new roles in rapidly changing American movie circles.

Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris Vintage Woody Allen, watching Midnight in Paris is like savoring the great city of Paris from the eyes of Mr. Allen himself. Midnight in Paris made an emphatic debut at the 2011 Cannes Festival, and succeeded in leaving a lasting impact on most of those present at the screening. During a press conference at Cannes, Woody Allen had said that he wanted to show the city of Paris emotionally, and wanted it to be the way he himself sees it, and he indeed succeeds in fulfilling his dream by bringing the city to life, thanks to his perspicacious eye.

Midnight in Paris presents a chapter in the life of a successful but disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter, Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), who yearns to break the shackles of monotony by writing a fiction novel, but is perplexed by his slender prospects as a writer beyond the glamour and razzmatazz of the sequestered world of Hollywood, while he is out on a vacation to the breeding ground of creativity and talent, Paris, and accompanying him are his ravishing fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), and his affluent future in-laws. The perfunctory relationship that Gil shares with his fiancée seems to be a result of Inez' perpetually disinterested outlook towards Gil's ambition of graduating into a full- fledged writer by making a foray into fiction writing. The beauty of Midnight in Paris is that it poses several questions, and while many of them may be answered in the due course of the movie, the true onus truly lies with the viewer to fathom the reality based on his own understanding. One major question that would continuously perplex the viewer is whether it is the yearning for creativity or the want for true love or the search for something even more profound that's haunting Gil?

Midnight in Paris has loads to offer even to the average viewer, especially to ones who are willing to delve deep into realm of the unknown to savor the real delight that awaits them. The dreamlike sequences that depict Gil interacting with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, and Pablo Picasso are an absolute treat to watch. While I greatly admire Hemingway and Fitzgerald for their indelible contribution to English Literature, I just absolutely idolize Luis Bunuel not only as a Surrealist, but also as a movie maker par excellence. Who can dare to overlook Bunuel's decorated oeuvre right from his maiden venture, An Andalusian Dog (1929), which he collaborated with another pioneer Surrealist, Salvador Dali to his surrealistic magnum opuses, The Exterminating Angel (1962), to which Mr. Allen pays a tribute in the movie, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), which won the Best Foreign Picture Oscar for the year?

Woody Allen's inspired direction and inciteful screenplay are well complemented by a very fine ensemble of support cast that includes the likes of Kathy Bates and Adrien Brody. The music and cinematography are awe-inspiring to say the least. Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams perfectly fit in their respective caricatures, and the charming presence of Marion Cotillard adds a whole new spark to the movie. Midnight in Paris has already managed to bag a handful of accolades, and the Oscar nomination is indeed an icing on the cake. Midnight in Paris crosses genres, and presents cinema at its most colorful, while also serving to be a delightful cinematic experience that has something for almost everyone. 9/10

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You can do some thinking while laughing!
klassepige20 May 2011
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...
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"We'll always have Paris."
jdesando3 June 2011
"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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Allen back on form...
cat_ranchero8 December 2012
We begin with shots of Paris (yes, some of them in the rain) and I think I'm looking at a travelogue; but I'm wrong. Once it gets going this film is very witty and even whimsical at times, and I really enjoyed it. Woody Allen's writing is spot on here with some great dialogue and some marvellous characters. The plot has just the right amount of mystery to keep me interested and even has some important points about living your life in the past. All the performances were excellent with Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard getting top marks from me. Over all I found it very entertaining, amusing and even a little profound in places… Well worth a look!

SteelMonster's verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

My score: 8.5/10

You can find an expanded version of this review on my blog: Thoughts of a SteelMonster.
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Midnight Magical Movable Feast
Galina_movie_fan10 September 2011
It had to happen sooner or later, and finally it did. Woody Allen and Paris "fell" in love with each other, and, as the result, we, the viewers, received a precious gift from the master of subtle, intelligent and charming dra-medies, gentle and charming "movable feast," the new movie "Midnight in Paris ".

I have been a fan of Woody Allen for long time and seen all his movies, those that he made, and those in which he starred or only wrote the screenplay for. I look forward to each of his films and I am ready to love them before I even see them. I knew I would like Midnight in Paris, but I had no idea how good it was. From the first frame, following the Darius Khondji's camera on such familiar but uniquely beautiful streets, alleys, boulevards and quays of the City of Light, it was hard not to fall in love with Paris and with the film of Allen, his love letter to the most famous city in the world, capital of love and Mecca for writers, artists, musicians and artists to whom Paris gave inspiration during all times and epochs - Belle Époque 1890s, the Golden days of the 1920s, and today, right now...

Midnight in Paris is a delightful, kind (yes, this is Woody Allen), light, and charming film, which can be described as A Paris Midnight Magical Movable Feast. Paris in the film is beautiful during day light, night time, bright sun, and rainy hours. Oscar nominee, the master cinematographer of many remarkable films, including Panic Room, Se7en and Evita, Darius Khondji worked with Allen on three films: Anything Else (2003), Midnight in Paris (2011), and the next film, the Roman project Bop Decameron (2012).

Soundtrack consists of Allen's favorite songs from the 1920s-30s by such songwriters as Cole Porter, Glen Miller, and Enoch Light, and from the repertoire of Josephine Baker and Juliet Greco. For the original film theme, Allen picked the guitar composition of the French jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel "Bistro Fada". Wrembel's influence and source of inspiration has been the music of the famous French Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, whose longtime fan and admirer is Woody Allen himself. According Wrembel, Allen was searching for a typical French-Parisian melody, reflecting the spirit and atmosphere of Paris. I can confirm that the film theme and the songs that Allen picked up for Midnight in Paris are important, integral component of the film's charm and add to the romantic and joyous feeling that the film brings to the viewers.

As always, in Woody Allen's movies, the actors give uniformly good performances. Owen Wilson is very convincing and likable as Gil, Hollywood's successful screenplay writer who works on a first novel, a protagonist, a much younger, attractive, and funny Woody Allen stand-in. Adrien Brody played the best role since The Pianist (very small cameo, but memorable and hilarious). Kathy Bates was very believable as a famous literary critic and friend to the struggling talented writers and artists. Alison Pill was impressive as the bright, outgoing but showing the signs of instability wife of the celebrated American writer. I hardly recognized Corey Stoll but liked him a lot as another famous American writer. Watching Marion Cotillard, I had no problems believing that the character she played, Adriana, could have been the muse and the girlfriend of not just one but three amazingly and uniquely talented world renowned painters. Rachel McAdams (Inez, Gil's not so romantic fiancée), Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy (Inez's parents on the business trip in Paris who don't seem to approve their daughter's choice), and Michael Sheen (Paul, Inez's pedantic and arrogant former boyfriend from college) were quite good as not very likable Americans. The First Lady of France, Carla Bruni appeared in a small role of a museum guide.

The story itself was so lovely in using the time travel as the plot device and brought so many funny and sharp one-liners, dialogs and scenes as well as the plenty moments of recognizing the beloved literature and art figures of the past, that I sat and smiled happily during the whole film. Like I mentioned in the beginning, I expected to love the film even before I saw it and knew from the very first scene that I was in for something very special but my husband, who is much more reserved in his ratings and not often calls a film a masterpiece, used the word for Midnight in Paris and asked whether the film has won some prestigious prizes. Well, the awards season is several months away, but for me, and I am sure for all Woody Allen's fans, Midnight in Paris is a great prize from the writer/director.
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Pretentious, moi?
timsmith3712 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
After an interminable opening montage of establishing tourist shots of Paris (if it had been London there would have been red phone boxes and double decker buses; not a North African mugger or traffic gridlock in sight), all to the accompaniment of Woody Allen's horn-blowing, we have Woody Allen directing a Woody Allen script in which Owen Wilson plays a writer of scripts who talks, acts and dresses like Woody Allen; after half an hour or so of by-the-numbers comic clichés about culturally insensitive Americans and pompous pseudo-intellectuals (oh the irony!) the plot stumbles into Goodnight Sweetheart territory as Woody, sorry Owen, stumbles through a time porthole into a 1920s Paris where you cannot order a coffee without Salvador Dali asking "Have you met my friends Luis Bunuel and Man Ray?" Just when you think it cannot get any crasser Woody, er Owen, er Woody, trowels on a Hallmark moral about living in the present before ditching his materialistic American girlfriend to take up with a French chick who shares his love of walking in the rain...
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Allen Is Back In Fine Form
martyhogan31 May 2011
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.
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This movie includes Gertrude Stein; therefore, it MUST be good!
Tug-38 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
While I'm sure some moviegoers did find this film enchanting, I think the greater majority of critics and viewers who claim it's a masterpiece are just afraid to admit that a film that name-drops so many intellectuals is just not very good. For a film whose list of characters includes some of the greatest minds of the early twentieth century, "Midnight in Paris" has little to say about the creative process or inspiration.

Maybe I've just gotten sick of Woody Allen's gimmick. Every film he makes includes the same list of players: the shrill wife / girlfriend, the overbearing other man / father, the nebbishy Allen stand-in (played this time by Owen Wilson, who makes a valiant, stuttering effort but is far too likable and easygoing a screen presence to really come off as neurotic and quirky), the ravishing young girl who finds the nebbish irresistible. And every film he makes includes terrific actors reciting their lines as if they're at the script's first table read.

Possible spoiler territory: Allen starts the film with a five-minute travelogue of nice places to visit in Paris, then introduces us to characters we'd never be able to stomach in real life. They have affairs and spend $18,000 on chairs and attend wine-drinking parties. We meet Gil and his fiancée, whose engagement is a complete mystery, and the fiancée's father, who must be evil because he's Republican. After watching these people amble around Paris for a while, we join Gil as he journeys back in time somehow to meet the artists he claims as personal heroes.

Many episodes of "Doctor Who" deal with time travel better than this film does. I'm not saying this to score a cheap point: The Vincent van Gogh episode from season 5, for example, introduces us to a world-famous artist as a brilliant but troubled thinker who has passion and ideas he struggles to express, and whose work in turn is shown inspiring those in the future.

Not so here. Gil seems to take no inspiration whatsoever from this amazing blessing, responding to his ability to travel through time with what can only be described as nonchalance. He encounters Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, and other writers we all read in college. Here's where I began to find the name-dropping irritating. These are CliffNotes versions of these great thinkers. Hemingway is brash. Zelda Fitzgerald is loony. Gertrude Stein is heavyset. We get it. What does this movie have to say about their work, their influence, their passion? What draws them together and makes their work vital?

Certainly we don't find out by watching Gil. At first, he's kinda happy to show Stein his novel, but then once he meets Marion Cotillard as a Lost Generation groupie, he shifts his ambition to sleeping with Marion Cotillard. I can't blame him, but I have no idea what the movie's statement becomes at this point. Something involving nostalgia, but even Gil admits that it's not a very compelling epiphany. Big spoiler: This amazing time-traveling adventure of self-discovery ends up not with Gil reinvigorated and pursuing his dream, but deciding to hang around in Paris because it's pretty in the rain, and meeting a nice hot young girl who likes Paris because it's pretty in the rain. What I'm trying to say is: Shallow movie.

To its credit, this movie did make me question, at about the 75th verse of "Let's Fall in Love," why Hemingway didn't punch Cole Porter in the jaw.
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Old Fashioned Fun!
changmurakamireader30 May 2011
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.
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over-rated fluff
mberliner127 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I went to "Midnight in Paris" full of warnings that I'd like the scenes of Paris but the film wasn't much. The warnings were basically correct. Although inoffensive and even occasionally humorous (e.g., the Hemingway parody), the film was just too silly and unbelievable to be a paean to a great city. The moral of the story is hardly original or profound: don't live in the past, and the time-travel gimmick was cute but more cleverly done in Back to the Future. Worst of all, Allen confuses characterization with caricature, from the protagonist's uncaring fiancée and her right-wing father and money-consumed mother to the comic-book pseudo-intellectual ex-boyfriend. As to the Woody Allen main character: he was so naïve that no one could possibly believe he was an experienced and successful Hollywood writer—he seemed more like the editor of his high school newspaper. Why any women (let alone two perfectly normal Parisian women—the only appealing characters in the whole film) were attracted to him was a mystery, as was why he and his fiancée ever got beyond a first date, having so little in common. As I was walking home from the theater, I was trying to figure out why even the many scenes of Paris didn't particularly affect me emotionally. After all, it's a city I love, my favorite in the world and one I've visited many times. Then it dawned on me that the Paris I love could not be the same Paris loved by that doofus of a main character. The only remaining mystery is why the critics have lavished praise on this very mediocre film, one that they'd probably trash were it not a Woody Allen film. My only answer is that they are somehow relieved that the Woody Allen who has produced so many pretentiously "intellectual" films is reduced to turning out routine Hollywood fluff.
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Insufferably shallow characters
howard.schumann5 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In an interview with L.A. Weekly, Woody Allen said, "The human predicament is so tragic and so awful that, short of an act of magic, we're doomed." Given his questionable view of the human condition, one wonders what the word "magic" means to him. There is little indication of it in his latest film, Midnight in Paris, a love letter to an imagined Paris in the 1920s. Set to the music of Sidney Bechet, the film opens with a 3 1/2 minute montage of Paris by cinematographer Darius Khondji's that is little more than a travelogue showing the usual tourist sights rather than the true Paris beyond the Eiffel Tower and the five-star hotels that Mr. Allen seems so enamored with - street vendors, bookshops, cheese, bread, wine, and pastry shops, outdoor cafés on the Left Bank, and quaint streets loaded with charm - the Paris of the Parisians.

As the film begins, we hear disembodied voices chattering away over the credits. It takes a few minutes to find out that we are listening to an engaged couple, Gil (Owen Wilson), a hack screen writer turned novelist and his shrill fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) talking about plans for their wedding. They are visiting Paris at the behest of their wealthy parents, businessman John (Kurt Fuller), who Allen lets us know right away is a right-wing Tea Partier, and his charmless wife, Helen (Mimi Kennedy), whose interests seem to lie in spending thousands of dollars for antique furniture. Almost immediately we can sense that the engaged couple may not be right for each other.

Inez is always on schedule, making plans and demanding that Gil go along with her every whim. Gil, on the other hand, (at first anyway) is adjustable, willing to go along to get along, not a good beginning for a marriage. As if we did not have enough of insufferably shallow characters, however, (Allen's desultory persona is there in spirit), the director throws in old friends of Inez, Carol (Nina Arianda) and Paul (Michael Sheen), her pedant of a husband, who Inez used to have a relationship with. It is not a mystery why, after a few failed attempts at socialization and sightseeing, Gil insists on being alone to take walks at night to get his so-called creative juices flowing.

The conceit of the film is that Gil, while out walking at midnight, is picked up by an antique cab and enters a time warp, traveling back to Paris as it was in the Twenties, presumably an invigorating and exciting time to be alive when ex-patriot Americans and Europeans interacted with innovative artists, writers, and musicians in a Bohemian atmosphere. With an "Oh gee, Oh gosh, Oh golly" expression on his face, Gil meets and hangs out with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Cole Porter (Yves Heck), Pablo Picasso (Marial Di Fonzo Bo), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody) Luis Bunuel (Adrien de Van), all shown together like the director was testing the audience to "Name that Tune". Naturally, they are all so fascinated with the exotic Gil.

What could have been a wondrous and entrancing experience becomes a stupefying cliché in Allen's hands. The 1920 artists are mostly one-dimensional caricatures delivering "clever" dialogue without spontaneity or wit, except for Stoll's lively discussion with Gil, a scene that begins to show promise for the film's direction but is soon dropped. With some exception, most of the characters resemble the cardboard cutouts from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Hemingway, the macho man, talks about his war exploits and challenges Gil to a boxing match, Dali pounds his chest shouting "I am Dali! Dali!, Picasso feuds with his lovers and so forth on into the night. Meanwhile, Gil becomes smitten with Picasso's lover, the entrancing Adrianna (Marian Cotillard) and makes his return every night at midnight in the same vintage car.

Gertrude Stein agrees to read and comment on Gil's novel about a nostalgia shop. What else would she do with her time? The film gives the impression that life in that era was one big party with important artists never doing any work, never feeling lonely and depressed, and never seeking the quiet places, suitable for reflection and serious thinking. Of course, Adrianna isn't satisfied with the glorious Twenties and travels with Gil further back in time to the "Belle Époque" of the 90s. If all of this sounds superficial and dull rather than full of mystery and fun, it's because it is. Allen has nothing meaningful to say about the human condition, witness his philosophy from Match Point that posits that life is all about luck and little else.

His facile message here is that we should appreciate our present circumstances rather than long for something unattainable, (especially if we live in the lap of luxury as do most of Allen's characters). This is a worthy if banal message but it is lost on Gil whose actions on returning to present time negate whatever value the message might have offered. Traveling to a distant time should have a calming effect such as in Rod Serling's Twilight Zone episode from Season 1 called "A Stop at Willoughby" where a train stops in 1888, allowing a harried businessman to experience an illuminated world filled with simplicity and serenity, qualities nowhere to be found in Midnight in Paris, a film about as magical as shopping at Walmart.
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A cultural romantic reconciles his intense nostalgia for the 1920's modernist French scene through magical rendezvous with its key figures
keith-loeffler127 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoyed this film for a number of reasons, though it is certainly a "love it or hate it" story. Myself being quite interested in the modern era and all of the creativity that it inspired, I was immediately drawn to the interpretations of iconic figures like Gertrude Stein and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Seeing these icons in a mystified version of their everyday escapades had a particularly interesting effect; of course the plot was carried along as Gil became more and more enthused with his surroundings and longing for a change (which he of course later renounces for a huge character arc) as well as provide literature dorks with a chance to see their heroes as actual people doing actual things. Hemmingway was hilarious; his dry humor, fighting spirit, and obstinate take on the nature of good prose (brave and true!) was done very well. Gil's journey is filled with humor and good mirth and his eventual realization that nostalgia is more of a flaw in logic than a life purpose is illuminating. All of us employ the "Golden Age" principal in our daily lives but its an actual challenge to move on and make our next days better than days past. He is a perfect representative of the proverbial "green grass" idea and Wilson wonderfully portrays a man who is passionately preoccupied with his own convictions who ultimately makes an extremely wise choice. Great performances, beautiful cinematography, and wonderful story. Thanks for giving me another classic Mr. Allen.
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Charming and feel good
sugar_lump200823 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This film is a genuine feel good film with a unique plot and a genuine character development. The beginning of the film sees the main character Gil a bumbling, confused and lost man but as the film goes on becomes more confident and sure of himself and what he wants. The 'famous' characters he encounters such as Hemingway, Dali, Ella Fitzgerald were very cleverly portrayed. The scenes in Paris are beautiful and magical, the music a tad monotonous but I got used to it and it soon added to the charm. This film was simply charming, clever, well acted and well directed. After watching it I felt a warm happy feeling that not so many films have managed to do. Good job Woody!
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Shallow and Unconvincing
Nigelees5 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I am astounded that this film is amongst the Oscar nominees for 2012. If there was a category for Best Travel Film it would win hands down as the cinematography is first class in its depiction of Paris. But the plot is so shallow as to be transparent. The characters are likewise and define the term cliché. Owen Wilsons whiney portrayal of what is clearly supposed to be Woody Allen himself is irritating in the extreme, except when he puts Michael Sheens character in his place with a critique of a Picasso painting, which I admit was the highlight of the film. I am aware of Allens politics but surely he is more intelligent than hitting us over the head with his obscenely wealthy American 'sledgehammer' of a Republican family. The film is worth the nomination for Art Direction but the other three nominations are undeserved and to think that this sorry apology of a film has been nominated for best film when Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has been overlooked is nothing short of scandalous. If you want some good shots of Paris see the film otherwise pass it by.
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A film so mixed it requires a detailed review to "summarise"
warthogjump22 October 2011
Woody Allen has done an excellent job in Midnight in Paris (MIP).

There are a lot of special features about this movie. The dialogue (script), the acting, the score, the cinematography.

Midnight in Paris provides a lot entertainment without essentially "going anywhere." It isn't an extraordinary story. It doesn't provide some deep meaningful message. It's merely a bunch of interesting dialogue mixed with outstanding acting put together to provide good entertainment.

The kind of entertainment I speak of in MIP isn't the ordinary type of "entertainment." It's a rare kind of entertainment and can only be found in certain movies. Pulp Fiction is the other prime example that springs to mind. Although very different in genre and script, there was one broad striking similarity I noticed between the two movies. They both have no purpose, no story (or at least, the "story" is used as a scapegoat to present the desired script in the movie), there basically isn't any real "reason" to see the movie. It's just about nothing. But what both movies succeed to do is just make you watch the movie, immerse yourself in it, provide you with a different kind of "comedy." It isn't comedy that makes you laugh out loud (for the most part) and it isn't failed comedy. It's the kind of comedy where you simply get subtle enjoyment from, you let out an occasional smirk or smile, but the smirk isn't necessarily in relation to the a specific comment in the movie, rather it's a smirk signifying your quiet enjoyment towards the film generally. You can sit there continuously for hours and days following repeated viewings of the film and not get bored simply because its so enjoying to watch. That's the kind of entrainment MIP offers and for the very same reason, it will attract negative attention from certain viewers, but not from me.

Next, the cinematography. Oh my gosh! I could have given this movie a 10 without the rest of the movie being so good. I, having visited Paris, for unfortunately not too long a period, fell in love with the city. It is the most romantic and beautiful city I have ever seen. It really is the city of love and all expectations were not only as good, but better. I hold this thought even though some friends I know of have had, well, not as great an experience as myself.

Woody manages to capture the beautiful presence of Paris like no other director. I felt like I was back in Paris and it sometimes managed to put a chill down my spine because of the amount of beauty I was both witnessing and remembering. I really can't say anymore about the cinematography except that it is the best, it is flawless, it is exceptional and if you have ever been to Paris and loved it, you'll definitely love this movie.

Moving onto the acting, I'll settle this briefly. Although MIP has a lot of very solid small roles (Rachel McAdams was very average, but I think that's how her character was intended to be), Owen Wilson is the complete stand out. Although I can't quote statistics, I think this may be the first movie Owen Wilson has been in which has scored and 8+ on IMDb. To put this bluntly, I'm not an Owen Wilson fan. I generally don't like his comedy. But in MIP I have never met any other actor who fits the lead role so perfectly. To put it metaphorically, Owen fits into MIP like a glove. I have never seen such an flawless representation of Woody Allen himself. Owen is Woody. And therein lies the perfection of his acting. He barely needs to act, because I know all he's doing is being himself and dishing out lines given to him, but it fits so perfect with a Woody image. All in all, MIP is Woody Allen movie, with a Woody Allen touch, a Woody Allen script, a Woody Allen cinematography and a Woody Allen leading actor.

Unfortunately, I can't express a very specific audience to which I would recommend this movie to. If you have been to Paris and loved it, chances are you will love it. It captures the beauty, the fashion, the culture and personality of Paris like it really is Paris. However, like I stated before, the dialogue in this movie and the "story" and "purpose" is something which will attract mixed feelings. I, for one, absolutely loved it. All I can say is that, if you agree with my comments above or if they touch an emotional nerve, then the chances of this movie doing the same to you is very high.

It is nothing too special. It doesn't provide a great message. It doesn't have a extraordinary story. But it provides for a rare kind of entertainment, coupled with exceptional cinematography and for these reasons, I cannot give any less than a 10.
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Woody Allen, you can do much, much better
IElbert4 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Shallow and cliché'd this movie made me pine for a 'Kung Fu Panda 2' showing next door for a more meaningful experience.

Mr. Allen, please find your own Gertrude Stein who'd read your scripts and tell you the truth. Meanwhile, take it from this disappointed moviegoer that one simple idea is not enough to fill 90 minutes even if repeated three times.

Contrary to the movie's claim, there was a better epoch where your films did have depth, humor, and acting. "Midnight", with all the recognition it received, sets the bar so low that aspiring directors feel like nouveau Buñuels with their 'Hangover 2'.

As Ernest Hemingway said (although not in this movie): "The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shock-proof $#%*-detector."

Please get one.
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Unbelievably bad
lex-292-58066214 February 2012
I really fail to see how this film can attract so many decent reviews. I'm no film buff but I've seen a fair few in my time and this is probably one of the worst. The scenes of Paris are more like a 1980s ministry of tourism project - if you want to see sumptuous Paris then look no further than Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie. The plot is absurd - it's like a school film project - hey why don't we cram in as many famous people from the past as we can and then have the main character miraculously be able to go back in time whenever he wants! Even this could be tolerated if it weren't for all the cringeworthy lines such as when the main character walks into a room to meet Gertrude Stein and she leans over and says "hey Pablo what yer paintin" or something equally painful in order to shoehorn in another famous character. Wooden acting, appalling script, truly terrible stuff.
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Weak for Woody
schahmatist8 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Usually Woody Allen movies maintain certain artistic level: acting, humor, avoiding cliché, music, etc. Usually Woody Allen movies are made for intelligent viewers, with intelligent viewer in mind. Unfortunately Midnight in Paris is not one of such films.

Instead of a light, dynamic, full of irony and natural acting "smart" comedy, we get a cheesy, predictable, and oversimplified "Hollywood" style flick. All the characters are so primitive, and overemphasized, that it's boring like hell. Snobism of one of the characters, lack of understanding between a main character and his bride , eccentricity of "great artists", naive character of a main character, etc, etc, etc - all of it - is so exaggerated and so dull, that I could not believe, that it's for real. I thought that maybe in the end there will be some twist, or some justification of such bad acting and such terrible script. But no, everything was for real, and a movie ended with the most predictable and boring end.

I would never believe, it's a Woody Allen movie. The only good thing about the film is music, but that's definitely not enough.
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