June 12, 2011

Midnight in Paris

I love the movies. And I love Woody Allen movies. Even Scoop.

So I went into the theatre (which was sold out for an earlier viewing) with pretty decent expectations for Allen's newest film Midnight in Paris, but I have to say, it surpassed them all.

The film was stunningly shot, another one of Allen's perfect homages to one of the world's great cities. And he doesn't let you forget it. From the opening sequence of Paris' amazing monuments and cultural sites in the sun and rain, which throughout the film, seems to make Paris all the more beautiful, Allen makes sure that we know that this is freaking Paris and magic can happen.

Owen Wilson plays Gil Pender, a Hollywood screenwriter who wants to write a novel on vacation with his fiancee, Inez (Rachel McAdams). And the novel seems to be off to a good start, for like him, his protagonist wishes he were part of a different era - Paris in the 1920s. So one night, when the clock strikes midnight and Gil is whisked away by a mysterious car with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, it seems like a dream come true.

And he gets to escape Paul (Michael Sheen), an overly pretentious proponent of intellectual snobbery and grade A know-it-all prick. Which is great. The look on his face when the tour guide (France's first lady Carla Bruni) and Gil knock him down a peg (or two, or three) is absolutely priceless.

So he goes every night for a walk through the twenties, even trying (and failing) to bring Inez with him. Each night as he goes on his magical adventures, he meets new and amazing people, from Hemingway (Corey Stall) to Picasso to Man Ray to the scene stealing Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and many others. And then he meets Adriana (Marion Cotillard) a stunning muse to the artists around her and the object of Gil's fantasy who wishes she could have lived during La Belle Epoque. Yet, as they continue their journey together, Gil begins to realize that perhaps everyone wishes to live in the past and at some point, one must embrace the future.

Essentially, the film is witty and funny, even if you aren't rolling on the floor - on par with many of Woody's greats. I would be very surprised if the film doesn't at minimum grab Allen his 15th nomination for Best Original Screenplay nomination. It's paced with a snap in its step and never really seems to drag. Honestly, I was shocked and saddened when the movie was over. It didn't feel like an hour and a half. Still, I left the movie feeling uplifted and a little hopeful that even though I won't be transported back into the twenties, there is still the chance that I can meet some incredible and interesting people who may just place a  carousel in the middle of their party.

So it's not quite going to be Annie Hall, which, let's be real, we knew is never going to happen. It's Allen's magnum opus and even he knows that. Still, Midnight in Paris had a magical feel that whisked me away on the adventure of a lifetime, an adventure I wish I could have.

Because even today, I would love to dress up and do the Charleston and go to a party with lights that dazzle and people who sparkle with the same energy as they down glasses of champagne or drink some gin without once using the v word (vodka). Maybe it will happen. Who knows?

Light, whimsical and charming, but with enough depth to matter. I give it a solid A.

PG-131 hr. 34 min.
 Woody Allen
 Woody Allen

 Jun 10, 2011 Wide
Sony Pictures Classics

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