on June 5, 2011
Best Woody Allen film in many years. I'm a big fan of Allen, and enjoy all his work, but this movie is a return to his sublime magic with films like Manhattan, Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters. And in fact, may be a bit better, or perhaps just very different but equally captivating. Owen Wilson turns in a great performance, as does the entire cast. I found myself swooning during the film, actually falling in love with it as it unfolded on the screen. Lovely surprise. I'm buying this as soon as it is released. It's a keeper.
on June 7, 2011
"Midnight in Paris" is one of Woody Allen's enchanting forays into cinematic fantasy. While it isn't quite up to the fantasies Allen made in the 1980s ("Zelig," "The Purple Rose of Cairo"), it merits a solid four-and-a-half stars, and I'm happy to kick in the extra half-star to give it the highest rating.
"Midnight in Paris" is the story of Gil (Owen Wilson), a Hollywood screenwriter dissatisfied with his career, visiting Paris with his snippy fiancee (Rachel McAdams) and her dreadful parents (Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy). One night, wandering alone through the Rive Gauche, he sees an ancient Peugeot limousine; the passengers stop and invite him in. This is Gil's entry into the Paris of his dreams--the Paris of the Twenties, in which Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald (Alison Pill, Tom Hiddleston) and others cavort in a magical city of abundant promise and possibility. There is even more promise and possibility in the person of Adriana (Marion Cotillard), a beautiful fashion designer and artists' groupie with a passion for the Belle Epoque of Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Allen doesn't try to make "Midnight in Paris" anything more than an airy little souffle of a movie. But the film is far more optimistic than any that Allen has made recently, and he sustains its magical mood brilliantly. (He grabs us with the opening few minutes, a wordless mini-travelogue of Paris accompanied by a lovely, slow Dixieland blues.) Owen Wilson brings a joyous, puppy-dog eagerness to the lead role, and the rest of the cast is equally fine; Michael Sheen has some wonderful moments as the sort of pompous pseudo-intellectual Woody has been skewering at least since "Annie Hall." "Midnight in Paris" has a pointed yet painless moral--that it's up to us to create our own Golden Age, right here and now--and envelops its viewers in a lingering, enchanted glow.
on November 7, 2011
"All men fear death. It's a natural fear that consumes us all," says a character in "Midnight in Paris"... "However, when you make love with a truly great woman, one that deserves the utmost respect in this world and one that makes you feel truly powerful, that fear of death completely disappears."
Paris is her name. She has seduced writers for centuries, and in "Midnight in Paris" writer/director Woody Allen makes love to her with his camera, in the most poetic of ways.
Or perhaps he's referring to art, to achieving such intimacy with your craft and such artistic climax that you become immortal, like Hemingway, Matisse, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Dali, or Allen himself.
Gil Pender, the protagonist in Allen's new film, has never experienced that kind of artistic height. Played quite convincingly by Owen Wilson (in a surprising and refreshing role that Allen had to re-write for him), Gil is an aspiring novelist who is visiting Paris with his girlfriend (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. But while they prefer to shop and visit museums, Gil chooses to wonder about. "No work of art can compare to a city," he says.
Pender is actually mesmerized by the City of Lights and fantasizes about what he believes was Paris' Golden Age, the 1920s with the Lost Generation of American writers walking its streets, writing in sidewalk cafés, and frequenting smoky bars and flamboyant parties. One evening at midnight, trying to find his way back to the hotel, something magical happens to Gil. Really! But no reviewer should give that magic away.
Getting lost in the city seems to be a symbol for how lost he really is, as a person and as a writer, and although he's somewhat insecure and anxious (he even carries a bottle of Valium with him), he's actually a likable guy and soon meets a few bohemian friends (played by Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, among others) who give him much-needed advice about life and the creative process.
From the beginning, "Midnight in Paris" grabs you with its witty and sophisticated dialogue about art, culture and literature, and in the second half the dialogue gets even better. For instance, my favorite line comes from one of the bohemian characters, who believes that: "the job of the artist is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence."
Another piece of wisdom comes from one of the antagonists who criticizes Gil for being infatuated with the past: "Nostalgia is denial...a flaw in the romantic imagination of people who find it difficult to cope with the present." Think about that one while watching the film, for I believe, there lies the moral of this fabulous fable about the past and the present.
At age 75--with more than 40 films under his belt--Allen has created a film that literally glows. Its dazzling cinematography, inventive plot, and Parisian score, combined with the top-notch acting and set-design, makes for an almost-perfect film, one that's not only clever and thought-provoking, but also entertaining and accessible--even to mainstream audiences.
on June 12, 2011
"Midnight in Paris" is the best Woody Allen film I've seen in years! I absolutely loved it! It's part-fantasy, part-romance, part-comedy, and part-time travel. And it brought back fond memories of American literature, film studies, and art history classes I had in college.
The star of Allen's film is Owen Wilson, who plays Gil--a Hollywood screenwriter who is engaged to Inez (an awful materialistic blond beauty, played by Rachel McAdams). They are in Paris with her parents (who are as awful and materialistic as Inez). Gil wants to walk in the rain and soak up the romantic atmosphere of the city; Inez wants to shop and hang out in museums, and go dancing and wine-tasting with a couple, with the male an annoying, pedantic fellow. Gil really wants to finish his nostalgic novel and live in Paris, not go back to California and his movie scripts.
Somehow, Gil winds up in the Paris of the 1920s--his "golden age"--with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Cole Porter, Salvador Dalí, Luis Buñuel, Man Ray, Josephine Baker, and others from the period. He even spends some time in the 1890s with Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Wilson is wonderful as our romantic hero, as is Marion Cotillard, who plays Adriana (who has been a mistress of Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani). Also outstanding in other supporting roles are Kathy Bates (as Stein), Michael Sheen (as the pedantic character), Corey Stoll (as Hemingway), and Adrien Brody (as Dalí). And Léa Seydoux is charming as Gabrielle (a love interest).
This is a film that I will be sure to purchase when it comes out as a DVD. It is warm, funny, romantic, clever, and entertaining.
This review may contain minor spoilers...
Woody Allen's 41st film opens with several minutes of exquisite shots of Paris set to Jazz music. Cinematographer Darius Khondji elegantly captures these beautiful sites and effectively sets the tone for the film in which Owen Wilson plays Gil Pender, a Hollywood screenwriter working on his first novel while in Paris with his fiancée Inez. After running into old acquaintances Paul and Carol (Michael Sheen and Nina Arianda), Gil goes on a walk to get away from it all and finds himself transported to the 1920s France, an era that he adores. There, he meets literary and cultural giants such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and Salvador Dalí, among others. He also meets and becomes fascinated with Adriana (Marion Cotillard), Picasso's mistress, whose ideas about time are in synch with Gil's own.
From the first frame, Midnight in Paris is one of Allen's most charming films in years. I've never seen a Woody Allen film I didn't like and there are only a few I wouldn't bother watching again. The general consensus is that his recent films are weak, especially in comparison to his earlier work. I am of the opinion that he's never made a bad film and each new film he made would be held in higher regard if not for the (many) films that had come before it. Whatever your stance is on Allen's films, both past and present, I think you'll agree that this is one of his best films in years. All of the elements; the casting, the setting, the style, and the story come together perfectly to create a magical romantic-comedy/fantasy. Midnight in Paris has many references to classic literature and film that certain audiences may not catch, but this movie is just so likeable that knowledge of the subjects involved is not necessary to enjoy it. It may cause you to seek it out after the film has ended however, but since when is knowledge a bad thing? It's certainly an accessible film, make no mistake about it, but it's also for a certain audience. If you're the casual moviegoer, you'll find little to dislike about it. If you're part of the audience this is intended for, you'll find almost nothing to dislike about it.
The musical score is so brilliant that it couldn't possibly be original. While many parts of the score are recognizably made of classic jazz music and some Cole Porter songs, I figured the main theme was original; alas, there is no original score for the film. The use of music and the music used is brilliant, as well as essential to the effervescent tone of the film. I can't rave enough about Khondji's cinematography as it truly evokes the beauty of Paris and captures it in exactly the idealized way that Gil sees it. The whole film is beautifully shot, from the first frame to the last. The cinematography is a loving testament to the otherworldly beauty of Paris and the beautiful sites that the camera lovingly lingers on makes the film work almost as a visual tour of the city, but don't think for a minute that this is a bad thing. This is a fantasy film and Khondji makes Paris appear as the ultimate fantasy.
As usual, Allen has assembled a wonderful cast lead by Owen Wilson in the Woody Allen role. Wilson shares some of the same mannerisms and speech patterns we'd expect if Allen played the role, but brings a distinct giddiness that only Wilson can convey. Gil is a memorable, extremely likeable protagonist whose wide-eyed wonder reflected my own. Allen never misses a chance to take jabs at pedantic, pseudo-intellectuals and Michael Sheen plays one perfectly, providing some great back-and-forth banter with Gil. Every actor makes an impression with their characters, with Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy being especially funny and well utilized as Inez's judgmental, materialistic parents. The historical figures throughout the film are given wonderful characterizations, with Corey Stoll turning in a vivacious, poetic performance as Hemingway and Kathy Bates making Gertrude Stein exude warmth and intelligence. Adrien Brody has an inspired cameo as the great surrealist Salvador Dalí and his scene was certainly a highlight ("I see...rhinoceros"). With the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni, making an appearance as well, Allen's strong group of actors are one of the driving forces behind the reason this movie works so well.
Midnight in Paris features some of Allen's best writing years. The characters are well-developed of course, but the story is more inspired than usual. The dialogue is clever and witty (one of my favorite examples being Gil suggesting the plot of The Exterminating Angel to director Luis Buñuel). Allen even takes a moment to take some light-hearted jabs at Tea Party politics. The "earrings scene" meanwhile is the most well-executed comedic scene that Allen has filmed in some time. This is Allen's 41st theatrical film since 1972 and while he's admittedly had some hits and misses, he proves that at the age of 75 he's still capable of churning out a genuinely great film. After making a huge per-theatre average on only six screens, Sony slowly expanded Midnight in Paris and it has consistently remained in the top 10 movies at the box office since. This is a huge feat for a Woody Allen film. Audiences have responded because Allen has made a charming, lovely, whimsical fantasy film that shows Allen at his most accessible and most consistent. With 41 films under his belt it's hard to say where Midnight in Paris fares amongst those other releases, but based on sheer likeability and quality I can safely say it's my favorite film of 2011 thus far.
on October 28, 2011
A much welcomed escape. Went to see it at the movies twice and will buy a copy for my DVD library. Romantic, great story, excellent characters and depictions of the late-greats are tops. I'll refrain from fawning over this movie too much as I don't want to spoil it for the others. It's magical. What can I say but go see it and that we need more movies like this. Refreshing break from melting buildings, crumbling sidewalks, 50 car pileups, crude, rude humor and stacks of shot up bad guys. A breath of fresh air.
on May 31, 2011
I have to admit that I have always thought of 1920's Paris as a golden time, an ideal time to be in the City of Light. So it was only natural for me to want to see Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. Without a doubt, Mr. Allen loves Paris. It is clear from the opening minutes when we are transported to all of the familiar spots in Paris. Owen Wilson gives a splendid performance as Gil, a screenwriter who desperately wants to write novels. After Gil's first time travel episode, meeting the likes of F.Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Cole Porter I found myself looking forward to his nightly travels into the past. Rather than writing cliché-ridden dialogue for his famous characters, the conversations are very natural. Perhaps the most memorable and humorous performance goes to Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali.
Midnight in Paris is a romantic comedy, with Gil on the verge of marrying the wrong woman (nicely played by Rachel McAdams). Gil wants to show her why Paris is such a special place and she wants to go shopping. Midnight in Paris is a charming, funny and thought provoking film that certainly was a hit with the audience when I saw it.
If you love Paris, then you owe it to yourself to see the new Woody Allen film.
on November 21, 2011
This is the best movie I've seen in years! Finally an entertaining movie with intelligence, humor, lovely scenes of Paris, great music - and a message. No crashing cars, burning buildings, or blatant and meaningless sex. A marvelous and intriguing story line....And one could actually hear the dialogue in the absence of background noise so increasingly annoying lately. I saw it in a theater and recommend that if it's still out near you but I will also have to own this one. Woody Allen....a master.
on November 13, 2011
Midnight in Paris is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable films that I have seen in a long time. Masterly crafted by director Woody Allen, it is a well paced film, full of beautifully shot and magically captured moments of Paris. A film of romance and love, Midnight in Paris also uses the science fiction device of time travel to create a very fun and compelling story. The ensemble cast is wonderful and entertaining. This could easily be considered one of Woody Allen's best films.
on December 20, 2011
If you like well written, acted, and directed fantasies, this is a movie for you. I was expecting a chick flick and got a fun show of people traveling back in time to meet fabulous icons from the past. Don't let a few bucks stop you from adding this to your library. Great casting also!