Sunday, July 10, 2011

Midnight in Paris (SPOILERS)

My first thought, as we settled into two corner seats in the back row of the theater (because there were no other choices), was how happy it makes me to see so many people turn out for a Woody Allen movie on a Thursday night in Dallas. If I'm being honest, Midnight in Paris is a movie so up my alley that there's no way for me to not be biased, but I did go into it not knowing anything about the plot and being underwhelmed with Woody Allen's recent work -- so maybe that leveled the playing field a bit.

As a little reading around this blog will tell you, I'm something of an old soul. I love music, movies and fashion from a time long before mine (1939 to be exact). In college I studied British Lit: Wordsworth through Yeats and I've read far more classics than modern literature. I got a Masters degree in preserving old films and was roommates with someone who, I'm pretty sure, actually thinks she was born at the turn of the 20th century. I think we all have a little bit of that longing for an idealized time before our own (maybe most people on a more rational level) and, apparently, Woody Allen would agree with me. The message in Midnight in Paris is so simple and straightforward that it seems a little silly at first, but that's what's so beautiful about it. It uses a fun premise and simple love story to lay out universal truths, and never tries to excuse the fact that we're watching a modern Hollywood writer drive off in a streetcar with F. Scott Fitzgerald or give Luis Buñuel the idea for The Exterminating Angel (I like imagining that he makes it much later in his career because he finally figures out why they can't leave the dinner).

From the very first shot and line of dialogue I was reminded of what a fantastic writer Woody Allen is. The dialogue is perfect, the story is engagingly paced and the actors are used for their strengths. Rachel McAdams is so good at giving warmth and depth to awful, one-dimensional characters, and Owen Wilson's Gil reminded me of a grownup Dignan (from Bottle Rocket, his best character ever in my opinion). The gratuitous shots of Paris (I spent the first five minutes of the film swooning myself to death) and Marion Cotillard's face never got old. Instead they helped us see Paris the way Gil does -- romantic, alluring, beautiful, almost too perfect.

I know it's a very American movie (most of the modern characters don't even like being in France and those who do see it through an idealized American perspective), but it made me feel like there's no shame in romanticizing the city a bit. In conclusion, I want to go to Paris right now. And I want a time machine. Swinny, any progress in that department yet? Oh, and I want to go to the Woody Allen school of dialogue writing.

Who else has seen/been swept off their feet by this lovely movie?

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