Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Midnight in Paris (2011) [PG-13] *****-

Gil and Inez are on a pre-wedding shopping trip in Paris, traveling with Inez's father and mother, who are there on business. Gil (Owen Wilson) is a successful Hollywood screenwriter, who would rather be a successful novelist, and who is struggling with his first novel. Gil loves Paris, especially Paris during its romantic Golden Age, the 1920s. He would like to live in Paris with Inez (Rachel McAdams) after they are married, but Inez has little patience with Gil and his fantasies about Paris, and her parents simply don't think Gil is right for their daughter.

Then, by coincidence, Gil and Inez meet Paul and his wife. Paul is a former college professor of Inez's, on whom she had a serious crush. At the moment, he's a visiting professor at the Sorbonne, and while Paul and Inez renew their friendship, Gil roams the streets of Paris by day and by night, soaking up the ambience and wishing he were living there during the 1920s, and could enjoy the company of his favorite writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

Then late one night, as the clock strikes midnight, a 1920's-vintage, chauffeur-driven limousine stops before Gil. The door opens and Gil is invited to join the champagne party inside the limousine. What happens next is a fantastic journey, a journey that gives Gil an understanding of what Paris really is, and the inspiration he needs to write his novel.

Written and directed by Woody Allen, this is a wonderful romantic fantasy. The casting is outstanding, especially Owen Wilson who perfectly channels Woody Allen himself, and a large, talented supporting cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Sheen, Corey Stoll, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody and Léa Seydoux. The cinematography is incredible; I have never seen a film that so perfectly captures the beauty of Paris, the lights and shadows of its streets and buildings, bridges and landmarks. If you have enjoyed romantic fantasies like Kate and LeopoldPeggy Sue Got Married, Pleasantville, Somewhere in Timeand The Time Traveler's Wife, you will feel right at home with Midnight in Paris. And, if you love Paris and the films of Woody Allen, you are in for a real treat. 

Labels: comedy, fantasy, Paris, romance, space-time    

Internet Movie Database 7.7/10  
Metacritic 81/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=78, viewers=80)    
Wikipedia (caution: spoilers)
Sidney Bechet - Si Tu Vois Ma Mère (Midnight in Paris)

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars out of four. He ended his review with this quote: This is Woody Allen's 41st film. He writes his films himself, and directs them with wit and grace. I consider him a treasure of the cinema. Some people take him for granted, although "Midnight in Paris" reportedly charmed even the jaded veterans of the Cannes press screenings. There is nothing to dislike about it. Either you connect with it or not. I'm wearying of movies that are for "everybody" – which means, nobody in particular. "Midnight in Paris" is for me, in particular, and that's just fine with moi.

NOTE: I recently discovered that, in 1923 the French franc collapsed. Suddenly, ordinary Americans could afford to live in Paris, by converting U.S. dollars into newly devalued francs. This event encouraged a wave of U.S. expatriates like Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. So, without the devaluation of the French franc, we might never have had the Lost Generation. Who knew? Currency Wars by James Rickards

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