Posted by: ckckred | February 18, 2012

Midnight in Paris makes you fall in love with the city

Note: For the Oscars next week, I’m reviewing all of the nominated films.  After this, I’ll be writing up a review for The Help.

Woody Allen is perhaps the greatest comedy director ever.  His humor comes from awkwardness, stilted situations, and banter that have inspired countless bits comedies like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Allen’s main subject for his films, though, has been the city backgrounds, which the characters usually love and admire.  He enters each film he makes with shots of the city he is examining.  For Midnight in Paris, it is Paris (though it’s pretty obvious to tell from the title).

This has been a common thing said among critics, but Midnight in Paris is Allen’s best film in years, maybe even decades.  It’s a humorous yet artful look of the city from the past to modern day.  And this is strange because Allen’s best subject for his films has usually been New York City.

The movie opens off with Gil (Owen Wilson), an American visiting Paris with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents.  Gil loves Paris and imagines living in the city back in the 20s when art and writing filled the air.  Inez cares more about living in an upper-class suburb in California.

Gil is a screenwriter in Hollywood, but he really wants to be a novelist.  He bases his story off himself as a young writer who imagines himself in the past.  However, Gil refuses to take any criticism for the book, especially from Inez’s friend Paul (Michael Sheen), who Gill feels is an arrogant snob.

One night after Gil declines to go with a dance hall with Inez and her friends, he walks to a corner, partially drunk.  When the church chimes midnight, an old fashioned car pulls up and the passengers invite Gil to a party.  When Gil accepts, he discovers he’s in the 1920s, meeting all his favorite artist and writers, such as Scott Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway, Alice B. Tokias, Picasso, Dali, and Tom Eliot.

The movie does not give a reason how Gil manages to travel back in time nor does it need to.  The movie is based off of Gil’s love for the art of Paris and he is amazed by the city back in the 20s.  When Gil walks the street alone, he discovers himself back at the present.  He soon learns that by traveling Paris at night he can travel back in time and meet his favorite artistic heroes.  Gil gives Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) his manuscript for his book for her to edit, which solves his writing blues.  And in Paris Gil discovers a romantic interest named Adrianna, whose previous lovers include Braque and Modigliani.  Gil falls in love with her, and struggles to keep a relationship with her and Inez.

Gil is, of coarse, a Woody Allen character who Allen would play himself if he were younger.  Gil gets in many Allen-like situations (a running joke in the movie is that Gil is a democrat while Inez’s father is a strict republican), and Wilson plays the role well.

To be quite honest, I think I’ve been to hard on Woody Allen.  I was a little annoyed that he got nominated for Best Director at the DGA and the Oscars, but I was really upset because Steven Spielberg wasn’t nominated.  I actually do think now Allen deserves the nomination (not to say Spielberg didn’t) and that Allen has succeeded in making what probably is the Best Comedy of 2011.  This is Woody Allen’s 41st film, and it is definitely one to be satisfied with.

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