Midnight in Paris - Woody's latest

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Re: Midnight in Paris - Woody's latest

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:13 am

It's a comment on the overall year that this was one of the year's better films. I liked the look back at the 1920s and even more, the brief look at the 1890s, but didn't like the scenes in the present. I could take Owen Wilson in those scenes just barely but I couldn't stand Rachel McAdams or the actors playing her parents. Not having paid much attention to the film until I saw it on DVD this week I had mistaken McAdams for Scarlett Johhanssen and thought to myself that Ms. Scarlett had really come downin quality from the last time I saw her. I was glad to see I had her mixed up with someone else, although I had thought that McAdams was a much better actress as well. Maybe it was in the writing. Anyway, like so many other films this year I thought the obvious ending was a big letdown.
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Re: Midnight in Paris - Woody's latest

Postby Sonic Youth » Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:51 am

There are so many movies I haven't written about this year, and I don't have enough time to write about this one but here goes. When compared to Woody's career from "Small Time Crooks" on, "Midnight in Paris" is very much above average. But put the sliding scale away and judge the movie on its own terms, it's an enjoyable watch but disconcertingly insignificant. I appreciate it as a lark, but there's no aftertaste to it. And I don't think anything from or about France (whether it's movies, art, food or wine) should have no aftertaste.

But I should acknowledge that for me the two main reasons why the movie failed for me are casting reasons: a). I've decided I simply cannot stand Owen Wilson. How someone so luminous (if oddly detached from the rest of the movie) as Marion Cottilard could find this schmuck so fascinating is a mystery; and b). I don't necessarily mind the inclusion Carla Bruni, but he hurt the structure of his screenplay in order to fit her in... and then, I suspect (although I can't prove it), cut much of her out. And I'll bet the real Cole Porter was far more lively than the waxwork who portrays him.

Now, culture? Contempt? This would make for an interesting, involving post-Christmas discussion. Happy Holidays!
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Re: Midnight in Paris - Woody's latest

Postby dws1982 » Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:32 am

I thought I posted something about this somewhere when I saw it back in the summer, but I couldn't find it. I agree with Italiano. Midnight had a few charming moments during the 1920's sequences, but the movie never really went anywhere with that setup. Other than Michael Sheen (having a lot of fun as a pretentious wank), the modern-sequences are lousy--even by modern Woody Allen standards--and it seems to have nothing but contempt for anyone who doesn't want to be some kind of high-class artiste like Gil.

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Re: Midnight in Paris - Woody's latest

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:53 am

Simply the - no, not the worst maybe, but certainly the emptiest, most overrated movie of the year. Its critical triumph is a triumph of stupidity and "faux" culture.

Oh, and I officially love this American critic who, full of enthusiasm for the movie, even praises Kathy Bates because she speaks "English, French and Spanish" (isn't English her own language by the way?) - sure, she maybe says one word in French and one in Spanish in the whole movie... It's comments like this that show how wrong the admiration for Midnight in Paris. But this will definitely lead to at least one Oscar nomination.

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Re: Midnight in Paris - Woody's latest

Postby Reza » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:31 am

Mister Tee wrote:I basically love this movie.

It's a slight thing -- which Woody himself seems to acknowledge with a throwaway joke near the end -- but it's buoyant, satisfying, and doesn't seem to go on a second longer than necessary. The joke-quotient is not up to the prime (Annie Hall/Manhattan) years, but the ones there get consistent, solid laughs, and the gimmick never runs dry. Of course, the film assumes a level of knowledge about the Lost Generation era, but the references don't feel like just some in-group snicker at shared knowledge. (Anyway, they're things Americans ought to -- and used to -- know) There are lots of nice small character bits -- I don't think I've enjoyed Adrien Brody this much in a while -- but the only really full-bodied performances are from Marion Cotillard, who embodies loveliness, and above all Owen Wilson. Wilson is close enough to a Woody type that lines that a younger Woody might have rattled off don't sound foreign coming from his lips. But he brings his own persona to the role as well. It's his best work in some time.

When I saw Purple Rose of Cairo back in '85, I enjoyed it enough but felt disappointed it didn't have the bite of Woody's great films. In the interim, of course, he's floundered so much that you're grateful now for something simply that charming and effective. That's pretty much the category into which Midnight in Paris falls. It's a trifle, but a perfectly lovely one, and the most enjoyable movie I've seen this year.


I feel the same about this film as you Mister Tee. I would also like to mention the beautiful cinematography and production design.

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Re: Midnight in Paris - Woody's latest

Postby The Original BJ » Sun May 29, 2011 7:12 pm

What a delightful movie this is!

From literally the opening shots, the entire film is one great big love letter to Paris. (My audience actually burst into applause after the opening montage.) I don't think this element of Midnight in Paris should be understated -- the fact that the movie so lovingly captures the beauty of Paris is a huge part of its charm. I was pretty much ready to hop on the next flight to France once the credits rolled.

But the script is clever too, and quite smile-funny. (As opposed to, say, laugh-out-loud funny, which isn't a knock on smile-funny.) My two favorite in-the-know jokes involved Hemingway quoting A Farewell to Arms and Owen Wilson pitching the idea for The Exterminating Angel to Buñuel. And the movie isn't just a gimmicky joke either -- I think there's real poignancy to the the characters' feelings that they missed out on great time periods of the past. It can be easy for people to lament bygone eras (heck, we do it here with periods of movies all the time), but it's always important to remember to cherish the gifts of the present, and this movie celebrates that theme, even as it looks back in time with fondness.

Definitely one of Woody's better recent efforts; in my opinion, it's at least on par with (and probably superior to) Vicky Cristina Barcelona, if not up to Match Point level.

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Re: Midnight in Paris - Woody's latest

Postby Mister Tee » Fri May 27, 2011 3:23 pm

I basically love this movie.

It's a slight thing -- which Woody himself seems to acknowledge with a throwaway joke near the end -- but it's buoyant, satisfying, and doesn't seem to go on a second longer than necessary. The joke-quotient is not up to the prime (Annie Hall/Manhattan) years, but the ones there get consistent, solid laughs, and the gimmick never runs dry. Of course, the film assumes a level of knowledge about the Lost Generation era, but the references don't feel like just some in-group snicker at shared knowledge. (Anyway, they're things Americans ought to -- and used to -- know) There are lots of nice small character bits -- I don't think I've enjoyed Adrien Brody this much in a while -- but the only really full-bodied performances are from Marion Cotillard, who embodies loveliness, and above all Owen Wilson. Wilson is close enough to a Woody type that lines that a younger Woody might have rattled off don't sound foreign coming from his lips. But he brings his own persona to the role as well. It's his best work in some time.

When I saw Purple Rose of Cairo back in '85, I enjoyed it enough but felt disappointed it didn't have the bite of Woody's great films. In the interim, of course, he's floundered so much that you're grateful now for something simply that charming and effective. That's pretty much the category into which Midnight in Paris falls. It's a trifle, but a perfectly lovely one, and the most enjoyable movie I've seen this year.

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Postby Reza » Wed May 11, 2011 9:51 pm

Sonic Youth wrote:I just don't think "He gets to meet Gertrude Stein" will be enough of a hook to draw audiences in.

This one seems to be sort of on the same lines as 'Cairo'. There could be an Oscar nod for him, at least for the script.

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Postby Sonic Youth » Wed May 11, 2011 8:00 pm

I just don't think "He gets to meet Gertrude Stein" will be enough of a hook to draw audiences in.
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Postby OscarGuy » Wed May 11, 2011 3:43 pm

It seems that critical response isn't as important to Woody getting Oscar nominations as Box Office is. I made a comment last year regarding You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and I noticed that nearly all (maybe all, I can't remember now) of Woody's films that did more than $15 million in business picked up Oscar nominations. Critics do drive people to the theater, so there may be correlations, but I didn't look specifically at that.
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Postby Sonic Youth » Wed May 11, 2011 1:30 pm

Sabin wrote:Thanks for the posts, Sonic!

I'm more looking for a Woody Allen return to form than a Woody Allen return to the Academy Awards. I should rewatch Match Point again but I didn't love it, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona ranks among his worst, but with ten nominations both films would likely be nominated.

Release this film during the summer, and it could top VCB's box office take.

I don't think it's going to happen. He's too niche now and too much of a relic, and I'm wondering if it will be so well received outside of the glow of Cannes.
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Postby OscarGuy » Wed May 11, 2011 12:11 pm

I was mixed on Vicky and liked Match Point, but I would hope for a return to Bullets Over Broadway-and-prior era Allen to really get me excited.
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Postby Sabin » Wed May 11, 2011 12:03 pm

Thanks for the posts, Sonic!

I'm more looking for a Woody Allen return to form than a Woody Allen return to the Academy Awards. I should rewatch Match Point again but I didn't love it, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona ranks among his worst, but with ten nominations both films would likely be nominated.

Release this film during the summer, and it could top VCB's box office take.
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Postby Sonic Youth » Wed May 11, 2011 10:44 am

'Midnight in Paris': Could it be Woody Allen's return trip to the Oscars?
by Dave Karger
Entertainment Weekly


With 21 career Oscar nominations, Woody Allen can certainly be considered an Academy favorite. But in the five years since he scored a Best Original Screenplay nod for 2005's Match Point, he hasn’t been invited back to the big show. (Though Penélope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2009, Allen himself wasn’t nominated.) Allen’s latest comedy, Midnight in Paris, has just screened for the press at the Cannes film festival, and I’d say he could have a shot this time. I’ll leave the official critique to my colleague Lisa Schwarzbaum, but I’d say the consensus will be that Midnight is easily his best film since Vicky Cristina, while some critics will harken even further back to find an Allen film as witty and magical as this one. And (mild spoiler alert!) I think older Academy voters will be particularly tickled by Allen’s fictional presentations of artistic and literary icons like Gertrude Stein (played by Kathy Bates) and Salvador Dalí (Adrien Brody). While Best Picture or Best Director citations may be tougher to snag given all the promising films still to come this year, I’d say a 15th screenplay nod for Allen certainly seems doable.

As for the cast? Allen’s movies have garnered nine supporting actress nominations over the years, but none of the female performers (including Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy) has a showy enough role to go the distance. This movie really belongs to Owen Wilson, who gives a droll and charming performance that could contend for a Best Actor in a Comedy nod at the Golden Globes next January. It’s likely his only shot at awards glory next year: I don’t think Hall Pass will cut it, even at the Globes.




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Postby Sonic Youth » Wed May 11, 2011 10:31 am

Variety's review is a little odd, in the category of "I didn't love it, but I can see why others would." I'm guessing the review would be more negative if this weren't a Cannes screening, where ovations tend to be more enthusiastic?

Hiding spoilers is a pain. Just try not to read them.

Midnight in Paris
By Peter Debruge
Variety


Woody Allen's latest travelogue-cum-arthouse-truffle takes a jaunty turn down memory lane as a frustrated writer's premarital trip to Paris whisks him away to headier times, when the likes of Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Picasso drank, smoked and danced the Charleston in the City of Lights. Like a swoony lost chapter from "Paris, je t'aime" agreeably extended to feature length, "Midnight in Paris" is so baldly smitten with its rain-slicked environs you half expect to see Paris' tourism office listed among its backers. Yet and still, there's an undeniably populist appeal, light as meringue and twice as sweet, in the pic's arm's-reach sophistication.

Though the film's time-traveling secret was kept under wraps pre-Cannes, Sony Pictures Classics would do well to embrace it before releasing the pic on May 20 in the U.S. The device itself kicks in just as the second reel is picking up speed, injecting the right dash of magic into what might otherwise have been another of Allen's flouncy Euro-chic getaways. The plot itself has the simplicity of fable, with nostalgia-stricken scribbler Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) getting a unique chance to pal around with his '20s-era idols at the expense of being able to embrace the promise of his own era.

Like many an Allen protag, Gil doubts his own intellect. Part stuttering stand-in for the director, part shallow West Coast caricature, Gil specializes in screenplays, but aspires to putting his name on a novel. He's written one about a fellow who yearns for an earlier time -- that ever-elusive "Golden Age" that always seems a generation or two before. For Allen, it dates back to the Jazz Age, finally allowing him to use his favorite tunes in their original context.

Showing neither affection nor support, Gil's insufferable fiancee, Inez (a disappointingly flat Rachel McAdams), humors her husband-to-be, but spends most of their Paris vacation fawning over a former crush (Michael Sheen), who smugly schools anyone within earshot. "He's so knowledgeable," Inez coos, while unpretentious Gil squirms with discomfort.

Gil would clearly rather be exploring the city solo, and that evening finds him wandering Montmartre when the clock strikes midnight and a classic Peugeot pulls up full of insistent young strangers. The retro-dressed revelers beckon, inviting Gil along for an evening of carousing with yesterday's heroes -- the A-list of literary, music and art stars who rubbed elbows in 1920s Paris.

Rather than reveal the identities of his newfound friends further, suffice to say that Gil enjoys a rare audience with the era's intellectual heavyweights, whose low-key entrances become something of a running joke (as does the mix of lookalikes and Oscar-winning stars Allen enlists to play them). Returning night after night, Gil relishes his spot among this chummy fraternity of cultural giants, growing increasingly dissatisfied with the shrill realities of his future wife and in-laws (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy, giving their best Alan Alda and Diane Keaton impersonations).

But as New York writer Luc Sante once warned, "Nostalgia can be generally defined as a state of inarticulate contempt for the present and fear of the future." Gil wrestles with just this frustration, until the script's pat epiphany sets in, with the character disowning the present as he wallows in the insecurity of his own talent.

While Inez ignores him, a fetching French dame (Marion Cotillard, once again capitalizing on her classic good looks) worships Gil immediately, recognizing his genius from the first line of his manuscript. Such is the ego-stroking role Allen expects of his women, with special respect shown Zelda Fitzgerald (Alison Pill) for propping up her man. No doubt Inez would be a worthier character if only he'd written her to be more combative, though the less time the story spends in the present, the more fun the picture proves.

If "Midnight in Paris" feels like another of Allen's one-way fantasies, it ultimately manages to get off easy thanks to Wilson's unassuming charm. In one or two uncanny moments, the actor looks enough like Allen to trigger a quick double-take, but mostly, Wilson makes the role endearingly his own, grinning and nodding his shaggy head until you fear it might fall off. He's more re-actor than actor here, which works fine in a context where he is surrounded by the era's most famous faces (Corey Stoll proves especially commanding as Hemingway at his most earnest).

In essence, the director worries about death so the rest of us don't have to, spinning such concerns in such a way that the rest of us can sleep easy -- and enjoy a laugh in the process. Comparing oneself to the titans who came before can be crippling on creativity, though Allen soldiers on, and time will no doubt prove that even these later, lighter pretty-city escapes will outlive the attempts of lesser talents.
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