on 23 July 2012
Have only just watched Midnight in Paris but feel moved to give a few impressions after a first viewing. There's an awful lot one could say about this movie, as in spite of its lightness and easy going charm there's a lot going on here. Firstly, I really enjoyed it and Owen Wilson was perfect in the lead role as the American abroad, slightly disaffected, sad, romantic, and yearning for something lost, yet deprecatingly funny and ironic. He's always been a wonderful comic actor with a natural and unforced subtlety, and here he plays the Woody cipher to great and touching effect. Allen's love of early jazz and his great clarinet hero Sidney Bechet gives the opening a wonderful lift-off to the exhilarating sound of genius against the images of the City of Light, an intoxicating blend of sound and vision. The dream sequence begins beautifully with Wilson 'lost' and slightly drunk at night in the city, with more than a hint of the washed up writer Joseph Cotten (The Third Man) about him. The magnificent vision of the 1920's Peugot sweeping up in front of him takes us into a 'Gatsbyesque' haut-monde of the expatriated Americans in Paris. Although the film doesn't have as many laughs as classic Allen, it is in these early dream scenes where Wilson gets to deliver his funniest lines. The joke about Djuna Barnes was just one wonderfully comic moment, and Wilson is so adept at Woody's style of humour.
The film does have some weaknesses; the director does tend to overpack his suitcase with perhaps a few too many literary and artistic characters (We really didn't need Gaugin and Degas as well), and there are too many unfeasibly good looking women abounding on screen. More could have been made of the Alice B Toklas / Gertrude Stein relationship, and there really was some blistering comedy to be had there. Also I feel the second dream sequence where Gil and Adriana go back to the Belle Epoque was unnecessary and a mistake, giving us some trite conclusions which we didn't need. Even the soundtrack, after the opening Sidney Bechet, never quite again evokes the mood and atmosphere that it could have done, and Allen has done more elsewhere with the music of another of his heroes Cole Porter. However my biggest regret about the film was that it didn't fulfill its real potential and remained rather lightweight when much more could have been achieved. Woody didn't pull off what could have been his late masterpiece, and a more searching and perhaps heartbreaking examination of love and nostalgia across time and cultures. He obviously didn't set out to do this and what he does achieve is a hugely enjoyable and nicely crafted piece of cinema, but perhaps like Gil, I long for the lost opportunity and beauty in sadness that is really at the heart of this lovely movie for those who still dream.
on 8 April 2014
A beautiful fantasy based around the idea of living in 'The Golden Age', and learning to live in the present, while looking back at the past.
I admittedly haven't seen many of Woody Allen's films, but after watching this it has urged me to watch many more. It is a charming and funny film, that works on it's simplicity.
It is wittily written, and perfectly paced.
It doesn't ever feel the need to go into unnecessary details over the science of the time travel, except that it's Paris. And it doesn't surprise them.
There is a romance to the film, even though there is not always a romance on the screen. The presence of Paris is enough, coupled with the orange ambience that fills every night scene. It oozes love and romance.
The performances are enjoyable to watch also. Owen Wilson reminded me that he can actually act, after watching one of his worst performances in 'The Internship'. There are also some fun cameos and supporting characters, such as Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali.
There is nothing that wrong with the film, except that it just didn't blow me away. But it didn't need to.
It is a brilliant piece of escapism.
on 3 September 2015
‘Midnight in Paris’ starts with some very nice scenery and some rather too loud jazzy music, which went on surprisingly long for an opening sequence without any titles.
Then we meet an American family who are visiting Paris. The parents - caricatured materialistic types - are there for business; their daughter Inez (Rachel McAdams) decided to tag along, as did her fiancé Gil (Owen Wilson). Right from the start they seem like an ill-matched pair; he’s evidently a romantic, who loves the nostalgic feel of Paris, and the beauty of the buildings. She likes the fact that he's wealthy.
Much is made of the way Gil finds himself meeting famous artists and writers in the 1920s. I thought it was a dream at first; then I realised that, essentially, it’s a surreal plot. Whether or not these forays into the past were a dream, or reality (so to speak) is left open. But the contrast is made between Gil’s romantic nature and Inez’s materialistic side; he becomes more inspired to write, after being given advice by people who care, and also begins to fall for a girl in the 1920s...
There’s an underlying message or theme to the film about being contented with one’s own era, taking life as it comes, going with one’s heart. There’s some humour, nicely mixed in with the story; once or twice we even chuckled aloud. The scenery and filming are gorgeous, the costumes stunning, and despite the oddness of the storyline, I was left feeling both nostalgic and uplifted.
Rated 12 due to several sexual references, although there’s nothing explicit, no violence, no nudity and only mild bad language. It's unlikely to be of interest to anyone under the age of about fifteen or sixteen anyway. The literary and other historic allusions would go over the heads of a younger child.
So, ok. You want to watch a Woody Allen film, but you're not sure which one. Mighty Aphrodite, with its oddly supernatural-imbued ethos, or maybe Manhattan, because it's so evocative. But then there's Hannah and Her Sisters, with that great scene with Michael Caine. But isn't all this a bit too serious and (maybe) even depressing? Are you sure you're not overthinking this one? I mean, how can you know?
If you're in a dilemma, then Midnight in Paris may well be the one to watch, because it's got almost all of the hallmark Woody Allen ingredients, only more so. Owen Wilson gets the character that Allen would have played, if only he were still young enough, absolutely right. There's the set-piece argument with the Republican, the feelings of intellectual inferiority, the oppressive fiancée, the yet more oppressive mother-in-law to be, the romance that could have been so much more, and, finally, the pay-off, where Allen/Wilson meets the manic-pixie-dream-girl who perfectly fits his personality.
All of these are great things, but it's the involuntary time-travel riff which really makes this film hum. Allen has experimented with time travel before, of course, but in this film his alter-ego gets to meet more of his heroes than even Bill and Ted do in their extraordinary adventure.
This is a maturer film than many. In the earlier Allen, his main character's weaknesses are exposed and exploited, and the protagonist is so often left with only might-have-beens. Perhaps Manhattan Murder Mystery was the turning point, but this one takes it right to its conclusion. The extremely quirky quirks of fate lead Allen/Wilson not to his destruction, but to escape from a marriage which every viewer can see would not have worked, and from the parents-in-law from hell, to a fulfilling future as a confident, no longer neurotic writer who has found his muse.
Oh, and if you look carefully, that red-headed lawyer from Spiral is in the caste.
WARNING: I GIVE YOU HEAVY CLUES/HINTS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS AT MIDNIGHT WHICH TAKES PLACE EARLY IN THE FILM. I DO NOT CONSIDER THIS TO BE A "SPOILER" BUT OTHERS MIGHT.
The film opens with a lengthy jazz tune while showing us the splendor, romance, and fantasy of Paris to set the mood. Owen Wilson plays Gil, a role Woody Allen wrote for his alter-ego. He is a Hollywood hack writer wanting nothing more than to be a struggling novelist living in Paris in the 1920's. He is engaged to Inez (Rachel McAdams). Like Woody's other main characters, he recognizes when people are pretentious and pseudo-intellectuals such as Inez's friends. This is a running theme in his productions either in front of or behind the camera. Hint: If you couldn't understand why Allen is a genius from his other films, feel free to skip this one.
Gil desires to move to Paris. Inez is somewhat Republican and can't imagine living anywhere but the USA. One evening the two couples are out. Three of them want to go dancing while Gil does not. Instead he opts to take a nice leisurely stroll back to the hotel. Unfortunately he didn't drop any bread crumbs and like too many Americans in Paris he doesn't speak French so he can't ask for directions. (If you have ever been to Paris you know all those French can speak English, but won't because they enjoy watching us struggle with their language.)
Then at midnight...Allen creates a whole movie around one of his old stand up comedy bits come to be known as "The Lost Generation" which goes like this:
"I mentioned before that I was in Europe. It's not the first time that I was in Europe, I was in Europe many years ago with Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway had just written his first novel, and Gertrude Stein and I read it, and we said that is was a good novel, but not a great one, and that it needed some work, but it could be a fine book. And we laughed over it. Hemingway punched me in the mouth.
"That winter Picasso lived on the Rue d'Barque, and he had just painted a picture of a naked dental hygenist in the middle of the Gobi Desert. Gertrude Stein said it was a good picture, but not a great one, and I said it could be a fine picture. We laughed over it and Hemingway punched me in the mouth.
"Francis Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald came home from their wild new years eve party. It was April. Scott had just written Great Expectations, and Gertrude Stein and I read it, and we said it was a good book, but there was no need to have written it, 'cause Charles Dickens had already written it. We laughed over it, and Hemingway punched me in the mouth.
"That winter we went to Spain to see Manolete fight, and he was... looked to be eighteen, and Gertrude Stein said no, he was nineteen, but that he only looked eighteen, and I said sometimes a boy of eighteen will look nineteen, whereas other times a nineteen year old can easily look eighteen. That's the way it is with a true Spaniard. We laughed over that and Gertrude Stein punched me in the mouth."
Light, funny, entertaining...a romantic comedy by a stretch of the definition.
on 21 January 2013
Woody Allen's latest film is a beautiful and amusing homage to Paris in the 1920s. It follows Gil (Owen Wilson) and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) on their holiday in Paris. Both Wilson and McAdams played their parts fantastically: McAdams plays a beautiful and spoilt, all-American blonde who is exasperated by Gil's romantic and fantastical musings and Wilson plays a whimsical Hollywood script writer,who is desperate to escape America and move to Paris to become a successful novelist.
Wilson plays the Woody Allen protagonist wonderfully, capturing Allen's signature neurotic intelligence without becoming a cheap imitation of his acting. From the outset is it obvious the two characters are a mismatch and Gil soon leaves Inez' company to go on solitary late-night walks through Paris. As the clock strikes midnight, a vintage car pulls up and he is transported back to his favourite era, the 1920s. He meets all the major artists of the period: the Fitzgerald's have fantastic energy and Allen's depictions of Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali are hilarious.
I loved the lavish and indulgent, nostalgic celebration of the 1920's complete with jazz music, beautiful dresses and wild partying. Marion Cottilard, the 'art-groupy', loved by Hemingway and Picasso is beautiful and captivating, perfectly suited to the glamour of the 1920s. The shots of the cobbled streets of Paris in the dusky street-lit darkness are stunning: the film is a touching and beautiful musing on time, nostalgia and love and you cannot help but follow in Gil's footsteps and fall in love with the city in this beautiful and inspiring film.
on 30 December 2012
It is probably ill adviced to take midnight walks in Paris. Our Hero in Midnight in Paris does it all the same. He is, literally, blue eyed and spontaneous, and we immediately love him. Rather like romantic heroes from two centuries ago, he finds himself in a crisis: he suffers anxiety attacks, and questions his decision to marry.
Immediately we dislike his bride-to-be. Though beautiful and delicious, she is far too materialistic and un-romantic, and she has an almost uncanny likeness to her unsympathetic mother.
We hope for him that he will SEE her for what she is before it is too late.
Like other, romantic heroes he is in need of a benevolent father figure, or two, to help him steer free of his crisis.
He finds the mentors he needs in the writers of his favourite era, the 1920ties: Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald ad Gertrude Stein.
Hemingway gives him som sound advice about how to be a man, and Scott Fitzgerald serves as a bad example - you can learn from bad examples - of a brilliant writer who to some extent got sidetracked by his infatuation with Zelda.
Gertrude Stein is another useful "father figure" who gives him advice concerning the novel, he is struggling with.
She pushes him in the direction of the beautiful, charming and alluring Ariana, who may be seen as a double to his fiancee: delicious and captivating, but superficial: she will leave him as soon as someone/something else takes her fancy.
Now, you and I would just read the novels by the afore mentioned, literary icons, but our Hero meets up with them when the clock strikes midnight in Paris. His girlfriend suggests brain tumor, when told about his time travels.
Like other, romantic heroes, our Hero hallucinates and doubts his identity. Whenever he is with these literary icons, it is worth noticing that their lines have the quality of literary clichees.
So, what helps our Hero is really his high school/ university knowledge and education!!
The ending is a happy one - symbolically on a Parisian bridge he meets..............see for yourself, do it, get hold of this film, one way or other.......but SEE it, please.
Bodil Marie - A Romantic, and a Woody Allen Worshipper.
Midnight in Paris marks a return to comic form, certainly, if not quite to the level of Woody Allen's very best films. It is dazzlingly entertaining and very imaginative, and has you smiling all the way through, and often laughing out loud. However, having watched it three times I have found it doesn't live on very much in the mind - a bit like the 20s opening up in the film, you find yourself back in the real world afterwards and the magic seems to have evaporated a bit. I wonder if it isn't partly because Allen doesn't really engage with the location of his film in more than a picturesque way; this has been the case in all his European films, whereas his New York films, particularly of the 70s and 80s, seem to get a deeper sense of place. It confirms that he is, really, a brilliant writer, and less a visual sort of director. There is a lack of intensity in the visual aspect, in spite of the beauty of some of the actors (as always) and the very good acting. The picturesque style extends, however, to the characterisation as well, with everything being subservient to the basic premise and based around witty set pieces involving luminaries of the 1920s. It doesn't matter that the whole thing is impossible, but it does matter that it is psychologically shallow, at least if you're looking for something that goes on vibrating in the mind after you've seen it. You don't notice this too much at the time of watching because it is well covered over by an impossibly catchy tune - a musette played on the guitar with a jazz backing - which pops up as soon as there is a gap in the dialogue. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable 90 minutes while it is running, but to really get a sense of midnight in that city, and also of the human heart beating with more passion, a film like Les Chansons d'amour succeeds rather better.
on 25 October 2012
Well,one-star reviews for this film?.I can't believe there so many well-spoken people with a lack of imagination and ability to receive such a brilliant comedy. I have just red a review by s.one saying he was more convinced by "Inception" and found a plot of this film unbelievable. Well, it's a metaphor rather then sci-fi movie!:) It's a way to emphasize nostalgia for the Paris of the 20's and the flowering world of modern art. The structure of this films is similar to the one of"Purple rose of Cairo" and they are not time-travel movies! Going back in time is just an excuse to introduce the artistic world of the 20's, a satirical way to expose a romantic nature of the main character(a writer-to-be) also a manifest against conservative view on life,art,love,relationships with its lack of creativity,spontaneity etc.The story is very light, there is no heavy intellectual stuff and the characters are hilarious (especially Salvador Dali played by Adrien Brody).The Paris of the 20's is very vivid and you will see many real characters including Picasso,Hemingway and many,many others.Becoming a friend of Hemingway or having your book reviewed by Gertrude Stein it's all humorous ,witty. And if you never liked american Conservative Party supporters you will love to hate Gil's fiance parents.The structure of the film is perfect,there are no weak points in the the plot whatsoever.Arguably I can agree with those who complain that there is not much tension in this film.But for me it's not the tension that keeps this story going.
I have to say I never liked Owen Wilson(based on his previous roles)but he turned out to be a perfect Woody Allen's alter ego.I also like a beautiful Marion Cottilard famous for her role as Edith Piaf.Not to mention Kathy Bates,superb as always. The casting is perfect,the director's name as always attracts the best actors and actresses, even ex-president Sarcozy's wife,surprisingly good in her small role.
If you are a Woody Allen fan you will love "Midnight in Paris".If you are not familiar with his films and you are probably expecting romantic comedy you will be disappointed.But I can't give less then 5 stars,it's a brilliant comedy and a brilliant film.Sadly is so rare to see a film like this this days.
on 1 May 2014
Without doubt, the finest and most original Woody Allen film scripts of all. Set in Paris, it is also beautifully filmed. I would have no problem seeing this film again and again.