Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Midnight in Paris

I am a movie person. I teach Literature and Film for heaven's sake. However, if I'm in a pinch, I will always choose reading over TV watching or movies or anything else. Seeing as there are slim windows of opportunity for me to read in any given day, everything else of the hobby variety gets shoved aside. Needless to say, I haven't seen too many movies lately.

BUT (here's the but, see), my mother has been on a movie renting kick. For the last couple of weekends she's come in with movies to watch, and when she called this past Friday to ask if there was anything I wanted to see, I chirped up about Midnight in Paris.

I should probably go ahead and throw this out there: I'm an idiot when it comes to Woody Allen's films. I haven't seen Annie Hall, I haven't seen Alice. I think the only Woody Allen movie I'd seen before this one was Match Point--not his most critically acclaimed.

Midnight in Paris was dreamy. I mean that literally and figuratively. Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) and his fiance, Inez (Rachel McAdams), travel to Paris on a tag-along vacation with Inez's parents. Gil is a successful Hollywood screenwriter, but he's unfulfilled by his work and desperately wants to write a successful novel. He loves Paris, unlike the snotty Inez and her Tea Party parents. While he's out walking one night, Gil discovers that Paris changes at the stroke of midnight. He's picked up by a cab full of famous writers and hustled off to a party from the 1920s. He meets the Fitzgeralds, Hemingway, and along the way on return visits, Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, T.S. Eliot, and anyone else worth mentioning in 1920s arts scene.

Gil idolizes the writers and the mystique of Paris in the 1920s and his trips back in time are his desires made reality. He continually returns to the present day to his crazy fiance (who I wanted to SHANK), but he learns a great deal about himself and what he wants out of life. He also learns to trust himself as a writer and write with more truth and conviction in spite of all the naysaying around him.

It sounds very sappy and cliche but it was such a fun movie. Seeing as I idolize the 1920s--especially the American expat writers--it was easy for me to slip into Gil's position in the film. The writers themselves were a hoot--Hemingway was macho to the max, Zelda Fitzgerald was a charming nut, and Dali was just hilarious.

The interplay between Gil and his potential in-laws was also really well done, and it's possibly the first time I've ever intensely disliked Rachel McAdams in a role. It's a testament to good acting in this film. While I'm often not a fan of Owen Wilson, he was also perfectly suited to this quirky role as a writer looking for a place to fit in.

Finally, the cinematography added a lot to this film. We've all heard the "rose colored glasses" remarks. This film is really like seeing Paris through a rose-colored lens. The landscapes are warm and cozy. Even the streets at night seem to shimmer. And the characters are consistently bathed in pinkish light. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

It's a romantic story, exceptional characters, and it was enough to make me laugh out loud ("cryptofascist airhead zombies!"). Winner, winner chicken dinner. I WILL purchase this one.

23 comments:

  1. Oh, I loved that movie so much! I saw it in the theater and am itching to see it again. If you are not too experienced with Woody Allen but liked MIP, you should try Vicki Cristina Barcelona. Quirky and also a little touch of wanderlust. I loved that one, too. :)

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  2. I saw this at the theater and loved it too. I wanted to hop on a plane and head to Paris immediately after watching it. I'm not sure it deserves an Academy Award, though.

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  3. Please explain to me why I still haven't seen this movie?! It sounds ah-mazing.

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  4. Katie, I will definitely try Vicki Cristina Barcelona. I remember seeing trailers and whatnot for that one. I love quirky and wanderlusty!

    Kathy, it is fun, eh? I'll be curious to see how it does at the Academy Awards. It's most definitely the best non-drama I've seen this year, but that's not saying much since I've not been watching much of anything.

    Brooke, I have no idea! Get thee to the video store!

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  5. This does sound like the perfect movie for book lovers, and I love that it highlights a lot of the famous authors of the 1920's. I happen to think Own Wilson is a cutie as well, so that's another reason to add this one to my queue! Fantastic and enticing review today! I need to see this one!

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  6. Well, now I am officially dying to see this movie. I think I have a few Amazon credits left over from Christmas gift buying, so I think I know what I'M doing this weekend! Great review Andi-bug!

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  7. I loved this movie too & ended up buying it. I actually think this was the first time that I really saw the magic of Paris--it was just beautiful. Some of those scenes (esp. in the beginning) were so exquisitely awkward that I couldn't help but be impressed. And all those authors! sigh.

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  8. I admit I didn't love this movie. I have a beef with Woody Allen and the way so many of the women in his films are portrayed as being really snobby idiots that the men are just kind of stuck with. And this one was no exception- how did Owen Wilson ever get engaged to Rachel MacAdams' character? I didn't get it.

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  9. My online book club read A Moveable Feast recently, so I wanted to love it. I didn't. Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams characters got on my last nerve along with most of the cast from the "modern day" part. What is sad is normally I love anything they are in, but not this time. Maybe I'll feel differently in a few years.

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  10. Love Woody Allen and really enjoyed this movie, although I did feel like some of 1920s characters (particularily Hemingway) felt a little too much like caricatures than real people.

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  11. I literally just got off the phone with my grandmother, who insisted I see this film. "Rent it, go see it, download it -- whatever! You have to see it!" she said. "The whole time I was watching, I just kept thinking, 'This is so Megan.'"

    So needless to say, I really need to see this movie. Especially after reading your take!

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  12. I loved this movie myself - saw it three times in the theater, which I haven't done in a long time!

    I'm not always a Woody Allen fan, but this was spectacular - dreamy is the perfect word :)

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  13. Honestly, I dismissed this one as soon as I saw the trailer. I've really come to detest Owen Wilson and the movies he's in that all sort of blend together. This seems a bit different and I've liked Woody Allen stuff in the past. I just might give this a shot. :)

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  14. Sounds like one definitely worth adding to my Netflix queue.

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  15. I'm not entirely sure why I haven't watched this one yet. I've watched my share of Woody Allen and have even liked a few of his (!), but I just haven't gone past "wanting" to see this.

    Movies, these days, seem like a luxury. I know this sounds silly coming from someone who reads as much as I do, but there it is.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed it. This is one of my favorite literary time periods as well, so I need to get off my duff and rent it!

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  16. I adored this movie...mostly for all of the historical characters. I loved Hemingway. And Dali, in all his ridiculousness.

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  17. I'm not a big fan of Woody Allen films, but I've got this in my queue on Netflix. It sounds like a winner!!

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  18. Thanks, Heather! It is quite the book lover's movie. Highly recommended.

    Heatheroo, thank ya! I think you'll love this one, too. So pretty and so quirkily funny.

    Melody, awkward is a great word! I'm usually not overtaken by the beauty of Paris either, but this one really pushed the idea home.

    Aarti, I can relate to what you're saying. While I haven't had enough Woody Allen experience to know about the problem with the female characters, I did often wonder how in hell Inez and Gil ended up together.

    Kristy, the majority of the modern day characters were REALLY annoying. I guess for me that made it more believable that Gil would have an inkling to stay in the 20s and escape there every night. Sorry this one didn't work for you. How did you like A Moveable Feast?! I enjoyed that book a lot when I read it. Definitely worth a re-read.

    Rob, I can agree with you that they were very caricatury (new word!). I think that was largely for an audience who may or may not have been familiar with the authors. Hemingway, especially, cracked me up. He and Dali were the most overdone.

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  19. I have this, but I really don't watch a lot of movies unless the guy and I are watching together. I will have to make some time for this one, though. When it comes right down to it, though, I tend to read...

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  20. I have seen this a couple of times now, and really enjoyed it. I am not necessarily a Woody Allen fan, or an Owen Wilson fan, but I am a Paris fan and so thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Loved the portrayal of Hemingway! I am looking forward to buying the DVD and watching it several times more!

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  21. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner. Ha! I have this on the counter to watch but only after we rented it and turned it off as soon as I saw it was a Woody Allen flick. Didn't think hub would like and still not convinced. Vicki Cristina Barcelona is fantastic!

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  22. Jason and I went to the theater to see this one (one of the first post Gage and I remember checking my phone constantly to make sure my parents weren't calling, LOL) and we both really liked it. Having just visited Paris less than two years ago it was fun to go back and recognize. I totally agree with you about the casting, I don't usually dislike Rachel, but I did and I don't usually connect with Owen, but I did.

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  23. I saw this movie last month and I loved it. The movie was so fantastical, but something I strongly connected to. The life they brought to all the characters from the 20's really impressed me. Especially having just read Hemingway for the first time a few months prior, I really enjoyed seeing the way he was portrayed. I don't buy movies too often, but I might just have to get this one so I can watch it again.

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