Monday, May 30, 2011

Movie / Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris (PG-13) is the best Woody Allen film since "Annie Hall." It's funny, romantic, warm, and amazingly creative. The theater was packed. Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), a successful screen writer who longs to write a novel (about a Nostalgia Shop), is on vacation in Paris with his fiance (Rachel McAdams) and her parents.

Bored with socializing he takes off on long evening walks, and finds that when he stands on an obscure street corner when the clock strikes 12, a car full of party goers from the 1920s drives by and picks him up. At first he's thinking "man, these costumes are amazing," but then he realizes he's really in clubs and salons of Paris in the 1920's with famous writers and artists, including Cole Porter, F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Luis Bunuel, Salvadore Dali, Henri Matisse, Man Ray, Alice B Toklas, and others.

Not only that, but they all engage in long, sophisticated repartee. Stein and Hemingway read his novel MS and give him much needed advice. Carla Bruni, wife of French President Sarkozy, has 3 scenes as a museum guide, one of which provides a plot step. In a deeper historical excursion (shades of "Inception") Gil and a lady friend also meet Degas, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec at Maxime's in the 1880s.

Whatever might be criticized about the plot or acting by the main characters is more than made up by the dazzling performances of the many historical figures, whose dialog seems true to life. I plan to see it again, and recommend it as a history lesson. It earns its PG-13 rating with various romantic and bedroom situations, but there is zero violence and the actual sex is no more than a few kisses. My worst criticism is that the musical score is often too loud and repetitive. Perhaps Allen is going deaf.

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At 5/30/2011 9:35 PM, Blogger Luly said...

Hi Frank,
I saw this movie today myself. It's a "best" for Allen. I also intend to watch it again.
There was a lot of subtlety. I too enjoyed all the historical personages. And Wilson's performance showed new depths for him, while nonetheless playing the stereotypical southern Californian male, which isn't far from so many of his usual roles.
I wonder what the impressions of a second viewing will be.


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