Midnight In Paris – Full Review
Some of my favorite movie include The Terminator, Alien, and The Matrix. Logic suggests that I shouldn’t even watch, let alone enjoy, a Woody Allen movie. Yet I’ll confess, Midnight In Paris hooked me (and if I’m being honest, I’ll admit it isn’t the first Allen movie I’ve enjoyed – there, I said it).
It’s the kind of movie that works simply because it’s operating on a number of different layers. On the surface, it’s a simple romantic comedy featuring the usual neurotic male lead that Woody Allen loves (and which he himself played in so many films). But underneath is a film that celebrates art & literature, while parodying the self inflated sense of intellectualism that seems to blossom among dilettantes and academics who revere the great works.
Owen Wilson plays Gil, an American screenwriter who travels to Paris with his fiance and her family, and finds himself swept up in the romantic notion that the French capitol holds the key to his desire for success as a serious novel writer. Allen uses a series of scenes where Gil finds himself transported back to parties during the 1920’s, during what he thinks of as the golden age of art and literature. He meets a number of famous faces from this era, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda, Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali, and Gertrude Stein. Gil’s conversations with Ernest Hemingway (played brilliantly by Corey Stoll, a relatively unknown bit actor) make some hilarious references to the larger-than-life persona surrounding the author. This role should open a lot of doors for Stoll.
Whether you love or hate Allen’s movies, one thing that’s undeniable is that he represents a dying generation of filmmakers who are still able to present a signature style. In an age where VOD and illegal downloading has reduced movies to disposable commodities made by interchangeable directors, you can still spot a Woody Allen movie miles away. Like Steven Spielberg and David Fincher, Allen is one of a handful of working directors who still manages to inject his films with a unique voice and vision that fans come to expect, and adore. Young hotshots who think that movies are all about jump-cuts and seamless CGI could take a few lessons from Allen. Midnight In Paris is one of his best in years.