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.

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