Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday's Movie - Midnight in Paris

A delightful and magical Woody Allen film starring Owen Wilson as Gil Pender, an accomplished American screenwriter working on his first novel, which his wife, Inez (Rachel McAdams) dismisses as a flimsy daydream. They join Inez’s wealthy, right wing parents on a business trip to the city of love, Paris. This film is a gem for those infatuated with classic American literature and iconic 20th century artists.

Gil is obsessed with the romance of Paris, the sidewalk cafes, markets, gorgeous parks and wonderful art scene, while Inez is an obsessive planner, shopper and money spender. McAdams depicts herself absorbed rich, whiney character flawlessly, and it’s quite sad to realize how many women out there are so similar.

Gil goes along with Inez and her stiff, oh-so-boring parents for the first few days, shopping for chairs costing $22000 and dining at Paris’ finest gastronomies. They are joined by Inez’s friend Paul (Michael Sheen) and his wife. Inez finds Paul wonderful and intelligent, while Gil, and most viewers should too, is annoyed by his constant pretentious intellectual remarks.

One evening after a boozy dinner, Paul suggests they all go dancing. Sick of his constantly pedantic personality, Gil declines the offer and goes on a little stroll. This is where the magic begins! Gil is picked up by an antique car, and goes along with the passengers to a party. Upon arrival he meets a couple by the name F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. At the piano is Cole Porter, singing songs declaring his love for Paris. Very much confused, the evening carries on, with Gil meeting Ernest Hemingway and other writers from the era. Gil slowly puts two and two together, figuring out what is happening.

The next evening he tries to explain what has happened to Inez, taking her to the spot he was picked up at, hoping to show her this fascinating phenomenon. She tires of waiting and leaves in a taxi.

Ten minutes later, the clock strikes midnight and another antique car, this time with Hemingway as passenger rolls up. He takes Gil as promised to meet Gertrude Stein, to read and give her opinion on Gil’s novel. Kathy Bates plays the no nonsense American just as I have always pictured her – strong, wise, opinionated and practical.

Gertrude introduces him to Pablo Picasso and his lover Adriana, who is played by the wonderfully seductive Marion Cotillard. Gil starts to fall in love with her, and she shows him the Paris he has always dreamt of, the smokey bars, the music halls, the cocky waiters and the inspirational art scene

There is incredible attention to detail in this film. The costumes and scenery are perfect – adding an overwhelming sense of authenticity. One can almost smell the fresh croissants and espresso in the street scenes.

Marion Cotillard’s performance is outstanding. Her portrayal of the whimsical Adriana is romantic, and to the tee. She yearns to live in the 1890’s just as Gil hankers after the Jazz Age.

Adrien Brody is brilliant as the over the top Salvador Dali – for me this is the star performance of Midnight in Paris. He is eccentric, wild, intelligent and just as strange as Dali was.

This is Woody Allen’s 41st film as well as one of his most highly acclaimed films in the past twenty years or so. I imagine him to have had a lot of fun writing and directing this, as he is known for his love of Paris and literature.  Those who share his love of art and literature will fall in love with this captivating story.

My favourite quote of the entire movie:
Man Ray: A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph! 
Luis Buñuel: I see a film! 
Gil: I see insurmountable problems! 
Salvador Dalí: I see rhinoceros! 

Here's the trailer. 
Til next time 

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