Friday, May 27, 2011


Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris Paris—it is more than just a name for a magical city, it is also a symbol for romance, art, culture, and intellect, no matter how pretentious that might sound. It is hard to find anybody who dislikes Paris. For auteur Woody Allen, his love for Paris is already quite evident in his "Everyone Says I Love You" (USA 1996). Fifteen years later, he writes a love letter to Paris—his delightful comedy "Midnight in Paris" (Spain/USA 2011 | in French/English | 100 min.). The film's scenery opening almost looks like a promotional clip from Paris Visitors Bureau. I can only imagine how it enchants the crowd as the opening night film at this year's Cannes Film Festival. In addition to paying homage to Paris, the film composes a nostalgic sonata toward the golden times in literature and culture.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is a Hollywood screen writer who wants to be a novelist. He goes to Paris with his superficial fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) to experience the magic of Paris before they get married. When Gil is walking on the streets in Paris, he travels back in time when he hops into a taxi night after night.

He hangs out with iconic Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Salvador Dalí (Adrien Brody), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), Zelda Fitzgerald (Alison Pill), and Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo). He gets advice about his novel from Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), and he falls in love with Adriana (Marion Cotillard), a beautiful woman who is friend of Hemingway and Picasso. Adriana instantly connects with Gil because she too feels that she does not belong to the era she lives in—she wants to go back in time even further than Gil does. Regardless which era Gil final stays, he is unlikely to leave Paris.

Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard in Midnight
                   in Paris

Even this lighthearted film seems snobbish from time to time, I enjoy it more than Woody Allen's other recent films. Of course, the funny and charming character Gil, played by Owen Wilson, is written for Woody Allen. Owen Wilson non-stop mumbles like Woody Allen, with witty and humorous lines—a trademark of Woody Allen.

The character is likable, because I can easily share Gil's anti-Hollywood sentiment. He wants to be among intellectuals and living in an environment surrounded by art and culture, where else should he go if not Paris? San Francisco or New York, perhaps?

"Midnight in Paris," a Sony Pictures Classics release, opens on Friday, May 27, 2011 at Bay Area theaters.

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