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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Surreal Realizations

Director: Woody Allen

Writers: Woody Allen

Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, Corey Stoll, Tom Hiddleston, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard

Midnight in Paris movie

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SYNOPSIS: On a trip to Paris with his fiancee, Gil begins to question his life decisions as he wanders around beautiful city at night and meeting an interesting host of characters.

REVIEW: Woody Allen writes and directs Midnight in Paris, a film that defies Allen's recent works and defines many of Allen's works. From Sleeper where the protagonist is revived in the future to fight an oppressive government, to Play It Again, Sam where a film critic tries to return to the dating scene with help from an alter ego in the form of Humphrey Bogart, to any one in a laundry list of visual and deeply meaningful films, whether the backdrop is New York City or abroad. Filled with dialogue that is anything but empty, Midnight in Paris is at once transcendent, beautiful, quirky and meaningful.

Considered to be a romantic comedy, Midnight in Paris is more Gil's (Owen Wilson) romance of Paris and the images it invokes than a romance of his fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdams). Gil is an in-demand Hollywood screenwriter, but aspiring novelist who wonders if his earlier decision years previous to move out of the French capital in favor of the California Sun Coast. He romanticizes the "Golden Age" of art and literature of 1920s Paris and yearns to use present day Paris to inspire and help him succeed in finishing a book worthy of those earlier masters.

One night as his fiancee wants to go out dancing with a friend Paul (Michael Sheen), a tipsy Gil wanders the Paris streets to clear his head and take in the nuances of each cobblestone road and centuries old corridor. At the strike of midnight, a 1920s era Puegot pulls up and beckons Gil to come for a ride with them. Little does be realize, but Gil has travels to the 1920s era to mean and interact with the likes of F. SCott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston from Thor), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll from Salt), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) and the enigmatic Adriana (Marion Cotillard). First Gil is doubtful but then embraces each midnight rendezvous with his literary and artist idols, even bold enough to ask for help with his relationship and manuscript.

The story is filled with the glorious beauty that is Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to a forgotten alleyway. Allen takes the most mundane event of Gil, Inez and her mother hailing a taxi in the starts of a rain shower and fills the backdrop with a cathedral's dome and terraced landscapes. Gil's nostalgia of 1920s Paris is felt when a cafe where he meets Ernest Hemingway disappears in the blink of an eye and is replaced with a modern day laundromat. Allen even captured the nuances of French life when Inez's father John (Kurt Fuller), at the restaurant where they met for lunch, keeps glancing behind him because of a man with a dog sitting at the table. Anyone who has experienced Paris firsthand can appreciate the culture, the city and the romance it commands.

Owen Wilson is his typical roguish, self-effacing self as Gil, excited for the city and what it holds, but differential to the wants and demands of his fiancee Inez. Marion Cotillard, most recently from Inception, plays Adriana with a wisp of artist's muse and a wistful passion for the nostalgia that both she and Gil long for. Among the colorful characters from Gil's past, most notable are Stoll's Ernest Hemingway as his courageous and poignant prose smoothly comes through Allen's script, Adrien Brody's cameo as Salvador Dali who when Gil meets him is obsessed with rhinoceros, and Vinccint Menjou Cortes's quiet lonesome portrayal of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Any Woody Allen enthusiast, any creative individual, or any fan of quirky romantic comedic misadventures will appreciate Midnight in Paris. Some people may look only to the future with no regard for the past or present, and others may only long back to an age that cannot exist in the present, know that there is both beauty and substance in the here and now.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

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