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Monday, August 1, 2011

Movie of the Week... Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris
Image from Sony Classics
As you know, we like to tell you about movies, mostly old, that may have been forgotten or have flown under your cinematic radar.  However, we've just returned from seeing Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, and I wanted to let you know that for any Dapper and Dreamy ready, it's a must see.

I've never been a Woody Allen fan - perhaps because I don't think I've ever seen one of his movies - but this film could change my mind.  The photography is simply stunning.  If you've never particularly longed to visit the City of Lights, this picture will change your mind within the first five minutes.  The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, just about every notable Paris landmark, is shown to the very best advantage, and in views that we might not have seen before.  This is clearly Paris in the springtime, with bushy pink horse chestnuts in full bloom, and rain showers that, like Gil, the film's central character, will make you want to wander through the storied streets.

Paris at Midnight is a rare movie.  There's nothing in it that will embarrass or offend, but there's no shortage of romance or humor.  One of the chief elements in the film - time travel - is presented so charmingly that you can't help but be seduced by the idea.  You'll also find yourself completely convinced that if you, too, find yourself at a certain point in Paris at midnight, you'll be able to join the party with the flappers and American expats of the 1920's.  If you are particularly literary, or just a fan of Ernest Hemingway, you will find Papa's perorations especially funny.  In fact, the film is populated by many of the early 20th century's leading artists and authors - in addition to Hemingway, we see Picasso, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald - just to name a few. 

The performances by each actor are excellent, with Adrian Brody's hilarious moment as Salvador Dali stealing the scene .  Owen Wilson stars in the movie and is both likable and believable as the Hollywood hack who wants to give it all up to move to Paris and write his great novel.  His voice and accent along communicate such innocent naivete that you are rooting for him and his dreams of the literary life from the very beginning.  Rachel McAdams is ideal as the materialistic and status-obsessed fiance, setting your teeth on edge each time she appears on screen.  And, finally, Carla Bruni Sarkozy, France's first lady, takes a turn in a cameo that sets the plot moving, showing that Hillary Clinton isn't the only presidential wife with career plans of her own...  Bruni clearly demonstrates that you can be the wife of a president, a guitar-strumming folk singer and an actress all at once.

Carla Bruni singing You Belong to Me

I can't recommend Midnight in Paris highly enough.  We left the theatre feeling happier for having seen the movie, and inspired to seek out the work of the artists and writers who filled the screen so delightfully.

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