Saturday, February 11, 2012

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight in Paris (2011)
Rated PG-13
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Tom Hiddleston
Directed by: Woody Allen
Running time: 94 Minutes
Blu-ray

Nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Original Screenplay, Art Direction

Quick summary: While on a vacation in Paris, engaged couple Gil and Inez are forced to consider that their lives would be better apart.

I’ve never felt like I was all that interested in Woody Allen movies. Back when I was younger, his movies struck me as boring, or for old people. I don’t know exactly what led me to this opinion, outside of the fact that his name is Woody and that sounds like an old guy, but because of this, I have just generally avoided watching most any of his movies. The only one I had seen prior to Midnight in Paris was Vicky Christina Barcelona, and that was only interesting because of my Spanish degree. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t blown away by it either. And that’s kind of the same way I felt about Midnight in Paris.

At first, I was under the impression that it was going to be a pretty straightforward dramedy about a couple and their failing relationship. While it was about said couple and their failing love, it was not as cut and dried as I was anticipating, and until I realized what Woody Allen was doing with the surrealism, I wasn’t getting into it. Once I caught on, I was able to get into the movie a little bit, but it didn’t make it great.

I like Owen Wilson enough, but he’s my second favorite
Wilson, behind his brother Luke (but well ahead of any Wilson from Wilson-Phillips). He’s funny, but Luke is a better actor. He was actually very subdued and neurotic in this movie, and he pretty much nailed it. There may not be a better person at doing the “quietly having a conversation with himself after someone walks away” than Owen Wilson. From what I’ve learned about Woody Allen (not very much), I’d have to guess that Wilson’s character was just a version of Allen himself, since I’d have to guess that Woody Allen is neurotic as hell, probably a little weird and nostalgic for a different era.

Rachel McAdams, on the other hand, I didn’t really like to begin with, and her character in
Midnight in Paris didn’t do anything to help that opinion. She was just an awful person, and her parents were awful, and I just wanted Owen Wilson to stand up for himself and tell them off and leave. From the IMDB Trivia Section, Woody Allen wanted her to branch out and be that bitchy kind of woman, and I guess that’s what he wanted, but I wasn’t all that impressed with it.

Midnight in Paris felt like a very high-brow film, with all of its surrealism and literary references. Throughout the course of the film, writers such as Hemingway, TS Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Gertrude Stein and painters like Picasso, Matisse, and Salvador Dali made appearances. All the references and interactions gave the film feel pretentious and a bit snobbish, and if you weren’t familiar with the artists referenced, I’d imagine it would be even worse and would probably bore the crap out of you.

The film itself looked really good, with a nostalgic look and feel that no doubt was what Woody Allen was going for. The first 5 minutes or so of the movie played like a tourism commercial for the city of
Paris, highlighting every recognizable monument or landmark. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it made me want to go to Paris to visit, but it did make me wonder if it’s a requirement that if you film in Paris you have to show the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre Pyramid a certain number of times, or if you get a tax break for it? Every move that I’ve seen set in or with a scene in Paris, immediately shows the Eiffel Tower, almost as a way of saying “look, we’re really in Paris!” I get it, it’s iconic and instantly recognizable, but the film is titled Midnight in Paris, I don’t need constant reminders. 

Midnight in Paris was a decent movie, it certainly had some entertaining aspects, and was well done, but I don’t think it’s really Oscar worthy. It’s certainly no match for The Artist, The Descendants or The Help. It was certainly more interesting than The Tree of Life... 

3 out of 5 stars

Better than Avatar

The Trailer:

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