Thursday, January 12, 2012

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen, 2011 (9.0*)
Woody is back! This is a light romantic fantasy in the same vein as The Purple Rose of Cairo and Alice, which mixes reality with a fantasy world that obviously comes from the mind of the protagonist.

Owen Wilson is a young American, on a trip to Paris with his domineering fiance, Rachel MacAdams, whose right-wing parents are wealthy capitalists there for a business deal (naturally - why else would capitalists go anywhere but for some tax deductible reason, because the wealthy don't have to pay taxes since they can deduct everything from travel to meals by claiming they are 'for business purposes' - then the rest of us have to make up this shortfall).

Wilson is a screenwriter attempting to write a serious novel, while everyone urges him to do what he's successful at already. He seeks solitude at night by wandering around Paris alone. After midnight, magic happens, and he runs into people he assumes are in costume, but finds out that he's been transported in time to Paris of the 20's, first being found in the streets by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, who introduce him to Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates). He later meets Picasso, and his beautiful model, played by Marion Cotillard, a muse for all the famous artists of her era. Naturally, the two strike up a platonic romance.

Wilson's fantasy world is centered around creative artists who spent time in Paris: Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Luis Bunuel, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali ("I paint you, with your lips melting into the sand - and of course, a rhinoceros!" - hilariously played by Adrien Brody), Paul Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec are just a few of the famous artists who come alive for Owen Wilson on his post-midnight walks around Paris.

This film is superficially a light romantic comedy, but beneath all that is the underlying and beautiful idea that art not only is immortal, but will influence and inspire future generations of creative people. It also contains the protagonists desire to live in another era (don't we all?) he imagines is greater than his own (for Wilson, Paris in the 20's).

As an artist (painting and writing) this film reinforced my lifelong belief in the power of creativity. Most of the awards are for Allen's screenplay, which should be a favorite for an Oscar®. I would elevate this work above Woody's other output of the last 15 or so years.

Note: in the rating, PG-14, in the beginning, it is mentioned that "features smoking" - holy smoke, are we now warning people when there are cigarettes in films? what's next, "characters eating pork", or "loud noises emitted by fireworks", or "capitalist merchants overcharging for coffee"?


film February 7, 2012 at 2:27 AM  

I love the blog & I also love the fact that Woody is back! I hope he wins the Oscar for best Screenplay he deserves it.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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