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15 July 2011, 12:00 pm No Comments

Cinespastic: Midnight in Paris

This post was submitted by Ben K.

 

Midnight in Paris posterMidnight in Paris is the prolific Woody Allen’s 41st film, and simply one of the loveliest films he has made. It is funny, sweet and sentimental (in a good way), while still maintaining those punctuations that are hallmarks of a Woody Allen film, particularly in the writing. It deals with a past that existed, but shows how waxing nostalgic for such times and places may only be creations of a past reality that exist in our own minds.

It tells the story of Gil (Owen Wilson), a successful Hollywood screenwriter, who yearns to leave a more lasting impression with his writing in the form of a novel of literary importance. He is engaged to the vain, spoiled, bossy Inez (Rachel McAdams) who cares little for his desires; her and her conservative family just want Gil to keep bringing in the bucks.

But, Gil is bored with this life. Paris excites him and fills him with meaning in a way that causes him to act like, well, an overly romantic American fool visiting Paris in a movie. He dreams of the Paris of the 1920s, when literary and artistic luminaries from around the world gathered in cafes, salons and taverns to discuss the world and have a great time.

He is obsessed with the Paris of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast (and here’s your homework, read this book if you haven’t), a wonderful book about Hemingway’s life in Paris during this time, with all of the soon-to-be world-renowned legends that Hemingway kept as his company.

One night, on a tipsy stroll through the streets of Paris, Gil gets lost. He finds himself alone sitting on the steps off of an unknown street, when the clock strikes midnight and a car out of the past pulls up, with guests beckoning him to get in and join them. And suddenly, Gil is transformed to Hemingway’s Paris of the 20s, with his literary and artistic idols all around him, right on the brink of fame. They’re all there: Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dalí, Picasso, Fitzgerald and, of course, Hemingway.

From that night forward, Gil goes back to those same steps, awaiting his car every midnight. He meets the people he’s only dreamed about, conversing with them, enjoying life with them. He meets a woman who understands him and his work and he is entranced. The only problem is that she longs for a Paris of the past in her own imagination — turn-of-the-century — Paris, and cannot see the paradise that Gil sees as he travels back in time.

The culmination of this is simply one of Woody Allen’s most enjoyable movies in years. It brings together his wit and great skill for comedic writing, with his love for the movies and ability to take a city and make it really be alive on-screen. He did it for years in New York, did it recently in Barcelona with the excellent Vicky Cristina Barcelona and has done it masterfully with Paris in this film. For any Woody Allen fan this is a must see, and for anyone with a love of entertaining, smart film and great literature, Midnight in Paris needs to be your next movie-going experience.

 


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