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 1 October 2016
My god did I enjoy this film, I will watch anything Woody Allen does and I've seen all of his works , some I still love to this day and some have fallen by the wayside ...this is one that I'm glad to have on my shelf for rainy days !
By anybody's standards I am an old romantic and this film has plenty going for it ...the whole idea of just entering a time slip and meeting famous folk from the past, especially your heroes ...it's a compelling idea,
Add to that a tryst with a jitterbugging . good looking woman or two and it just does it for me, there's also a great sense of magic in this film, the hero gets the girl in the end ...the hero is Woody Allen's alter ego, no surprise there.
Loved the soundrack too, right from the off it sets the mood really well....
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.
on 9 February 2012
It seems that Woody Allen was simply not at home in London - and Barcelona was only a little better. On the evidence of this movie Paris is clearly his second city after New York. The story is intriguing : Gil (Owen Wilson), a Hollywood scriptwriter, is on holiday in a picture-postcard Paris with his fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdams). He is struggling with his first novel and somewhat distracted when it comes to sightseeing and socialising. Then, alone in a street at midnight he finds himself mysteriously transported back to the Paris of the 1920s where he meets the likes of Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso. Enchanted, if bemused, his enchantment increases when he falls in love with Picasso's mistress, Adriana. Together, they go back to the Paris of the 1890s, visit Maxim's and the Folies-Bergere and meet Toulouse-Lautrec and other French Impressionist painters. Returning to the real world of 2010 Gil decides to break with Inez and stay in Paris, whereupon he finds a potential new love with a pretty Parisienne who has a connexion with some old Cole Porter records. This is a cinematic conceit in the manner of Back To The Future, Pleasantville, The Truman Show and Allen's own The Purple Rose of Cairo. Quite delightful - and it's not every movie that boasts France's First Lady in its cast list.
When one lives in and loves a city with an ancient history, such as Paris or Rome, it becomes very easy to sense the existence of an imperceptible permeability between past and present. It is as if one only has to wait for the light to change a certain way, or for a bell to strike a certain hour, and the magic will happen--for those who are receptive to magic, that is, and are willing to believe in the Magic of Place.
This is the premise of Woody Allen's latest whimsical flight into the imaginative world of Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), a self-acknowledged Hollywood screenwriting hack, who dreams of writing a novel, the protagonist of which owns a nostalgia shop. "What is a nostalgia shop?" asks one of Allen's characters. Anyone who has to ask such a question is assuredly immune to magic, and will probably not enjoy this film. Since I am a romantic and firmly believe in the Magic of Place, I enjoyed it immensely.
Woody Allen clearly loves Paris. His opening scenes, in fact, represent a paean to The City of Light, as for almost four minutes the camera, with an evocative jazz accompaniment, moves from point to point along the Seine, the Luxembourg Gardens, Montmartre, the Champs Élysées, the Tuileries, the Left Bank, among other locations. We are treated to views of great boulevards, narrow streets, steep stairs, roofs with chimney pots, as the camera's eye glances at brasseries, cafes, fashion houses, fountains, the pyramid of the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Opera, and the Tour Eiffel. Paris in the sunshine; Paris in the rain. And all that is before the opening credits, in which we see that Allen, as usual, has assembled an ensemble cast. And for a special treat, the actual film begins among the lily ponds at Monet's Giverny.
Although I enjoyed all the performances, I particularly liked Adrian Brodie as Salvator Dali (He seemed so perfectly at home in Dali's surrealist skin), and Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein (She brings a convincing panache to any part she plays). Marion Cotillard is charming as Pender's love-interest from the past, and her costumes--in fact, all the costumes--are splendid. Michael Sheen, looking a bit like Tony Blair with a beard, plays Paul, a pontificating academic, who cannot resist showing off his knowledge--never mind that he is mistaken--to their Rodin museum guide, played in an engaging cameo, by the glamourous Mme Sarkosy.
"Midnight in Paris" deals with themes similar to those in "The Purple Rose of Cairo" in which the lines between past and present, between illusion and reality, become delightfully blurred. Magic, in fact, comes along in the form of a 1920 Peugeot, which stops and opens its door in invitation. If you accept unreservedly, it will take you along for an enchanting ride!
Woody Allen made some great films in the 70's. Bananas, Annie Hall, Manhatten and made some pretty good films through the 80's like Hannah And Her Sisters but since Sweet And Lowdown and Small Time Crooks he has hardly made a decent film despite making 1 film a year it had seemed that the once great director had lost the plot as it were but Midnight In Paris while not quite up there with his all time great films is a very pleasant surprise showing that Woody Allen has indeed still got it. Very well shot and very well acted with a great performance from Owen Wilson in the lead as a frustrated writer who while out walking in present day Paris at night suddenly finds himself in the Paris of the 1920's and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ernest Hemmingway. Rest of the cast are also very good but it's Owen Wilson's film all the way who does an excellent impression of a young Woody Allen throughout who you could imagine if he had made this movie in the 70's or 80's would have been playing the lead himself. There's no explanation as to why he can suddenly find himself in the 1920's he just can and as long as you can swallow that and just go with it you should enjoy this fun film.
on 1 November 2011
Many of the reviews of "Midnight in Paris" describe it as return to form for Woody Allen. We've all heard that many times before but I was still persuaded to see it as I hadn't seen one of his movies in years.
I did enjoy the movie though it hardly a classic. It begins with a title sequence featuring views of Paris, often in the rain, that reminded me of the beginning of "Manhattan".
The movie is about an American screenwriter, played by Owen Wilson, who is in Paris with his fiancée, played by Rachel McAdams. He is trying to write a novel, feeling he is wasting his time making easy money from writing movie scripts. He is a sentimental soul. He loves Paris but imagines it would have been ideal to live there in the 1920's with the likes of Picasso and Hemingway. His fiancée is only there for the pre-wedding shopping with her mother and thinks he should be delighted to have such a lucrative career.
His wish comes true when, as he walks back to the hotel alone one night, he is magically transported back to 1920's Paris and finds himself socialising with his artistic heroes. He meets and falls for a French model played by Marion Cotillard and starts to return every night to see her and get advice on his novel from the likes of Gertrude Stein. Allen populates the movie with as many famous artists of the period as possible - Dali, Bunuel, Man Ray.
He is convinced that he doesn't want to return to his old life, only to find that his new love hates the 1920's and imagines that life must have been so much better in Paris during "La Belle Epoque" when Gaugin and Lautrec were around.
This leads to a conclusion where the moral is pretty clear - Even if times were better in times past (and maybe they weren't) you still have to make the most of the times you are living in.
Owen Wilson is well cast as the confused writer. The beatnik persona he has in most of movies his perfect here. McAdams is wasted a bit in the one-dimensional character of his rather unpleasant fiancée. Cotillard is lovely and superb as the world-weary model. As usual with Allen's movies there are plenty of cameos. Adrien Brody's over the top Dali is especially memorable.
I'm sure I missed most of the literary and artistic references in the movie but this didn't stop me from enjoying this well written and beautifully filmed movie.
on 29 September 2016
One of my favourite films! In my opinion, nothing can rival the charm and nostalgia that comes along with this film, which is brimming with so many famous actors. A definite 'must-watch' that I would recommend to everyone!
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.