Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen has made a film almost every year since 1977, when he made probably his best film, "Annie Hall". He was on a roll through the 70s and 80s but quality declined in the 90s and in the 00s of this century. The bureau chief, who at one time saw every Allen film that came out, adopted the wait for the reviews and see method after watching some truly wretched efforts. Expectations have been greatly diminished so it's a pleasure to be able to say that "Midnight in Paris", the director's latest, is a very enjoyable little film.

Owen Wilson plays Gil, a successful screenwriter who despises his own trade. He has a sexy but horrible fiancée, Rachel McAdams, and equally horrible future inlaws, and he wishes that he could be working on his novel, in 1920s Paris, among the Lost Generation. He gets his wish, after midnight, every night. It's an English Major's wet dream where he gets to hang out with Hemingway, Scott and Zelda and Gertrude Stein. He also meets a lovely French woman, Marian Cotillard, who, a woman of the 1920s, longs for the Belle Epoque of the turn of the 20th century. Clearly this is a wry meditation on the nature of nostalgia but with a light touch.

The film is funny. The biggest crowd pleaser is Hemingway, played by unknown-to-me Cory Stoll, as a Hemingway hero speaking Hemingway prose. But Allen gets humor from all the notables who appear, to the point where just their appearing is amusing. This film, and "Vicky Christina Barcelona" demonstrate that the director still has some things to show us.

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