Friday, June 3, 2011
Midnight in Paris
There are few things in this world you can count on, but one thing that's a pretty safe bet is that each year we'll get a new film from Woody Allen. Few filmmakers are as prolific as the Wood-man, having written and directed around 46 films over the last 45 years. If you can't already tell, I'm a fan. A big one. But certainly, as he himself has freely admitted, some of his films are better than others. Sometimes his ideas don't translate as well to screen as he or his fans would have liked. But he certainly has made more hits than misses, and has more memorable, classic films under his belt than most esteemed writer/directors. And regardless of how good his last one was (and in the case of 'You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger', not very good) I always look forward to his next one, hoping that it'll be the one to give me that feeling that is hard to describe in words. Well, 'Midnight in Paris' did that in spades. I not only loved this movie, I wanted to live in this movie.
Owen Wilson stars as the Allen-esque lead as a successful Hollywood screenwriter and struggling novelist vacationing in Paris with his fiance played by Rachel McAdams. But she doesn't get him. She doesn't understand why he wants to move to Paris (preferably in the 1920's while it's raining). She doesn't understand why he wants to write books that mean something to him rather than bad screenplays that pay ridiculously well. In short, she doesn't get that he's a romantic.
Woody Allen tends to make similar themed movies and that provides a certain comfort. This one is probably closest to 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' which is a good one, but I think this one is even better. And, like many of his films, this one is visually beautiful. He has a terrific eye for beauty and Paris was clearly his muse here. In recent years he's taken his films out of Manhattan, of which his name used to be synonymous, and has filmed most of them in the most beautiful parts of Europe. I liked to think this was a creative choice to spur his creativity, but I read it really had to do with fewer tax credits offered in New York. I kind of wish I hadn't known that. (And now you do too. Sorry!) But New York's loss is our gain, because Paris is such a key character in this film, and Europe has added a new renaissance to Allen's filmography.
I love this film. I love the setting. I love Owen Wilson's character and performance, and really the entire cast including McAdams, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, and Adrien Brody. I love that, while it certainly didn't make me laugh nearly as hard as some other films this year (like 'The Hangover Part II') it kept a consistent smile on my face the entire film and I left the theater feeling great, wishing I could get sucked into the movie itself. I love that Allen understands that longer doesn't mean better, and that 90 to 100 minutes is a good length and any more might be overindulgent. And, of course, I love the music (as I do in all of Allen's films) and wish Woody Allen would put together a soundtrack for me that follows me everywhere I go. However, I do acknowledge and caution that most people will not love this movie as much as I did. Most people will like it and find it enjoyable enough, but that's all. And that's ok. But me? I loved it.