Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Peter T Chattaway

Midnight in Paris

63 posts in this topic

The film wants us to appreciate our current situation, but not to the point where the important and potentially troubled relationships that take up most of our present-day lives might be considered in a balanced way, let alone salvaged. As much as I want to just float along with it, I think its attempt at sincerity rings false.

Inez is a part of the trite Hollywood scene that Gil needs to leave behind to find the good in the contemporary society, and is less a person than a stand-in for an ugly way of life. The film, as far as I can tell, isn't really interested in relationships, per se, but in mindsets, and so all the women are representations of broader worlds/perspectives.

Edited by Ryan H.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The film wants us to appreciate our current situation, but not to the point where the important and potentially troubled relationships that take up most of our present-day lives might be considered in a balanced way, let alone salvaged. As much as I want to just float along with it, I think its attempt at sincerity rings false.

Inez is a part of the trite Hollywood scene that Gil needs to leave behind to find the good in the contemporary society, and is less a person than a stand-in for an ugly way of life that Gil needs to leave behind to realize that the present can be more satisfying than he gives the present credit for being. The film, as far as I can tell, isn't really interested in relationships, per se, but in mindsets, and so all the women are representations of broader worlds/perspectives.

Particularly the women--but not just them. Everyone in the movie is basically a mindset on legs. Heck, even Gil is little more than a collection of Romantic cliches: he likes walking in the rain, at night, in Paris; pretty much everything about him speaks of a twee never-neverland mentality. He's like a male Anne of Green Gables.

But if all the characters are essentially cardboard "types" set to collide against each other, they're at least vibrantly realized. They have energy, which makes up (imho) for their essential shallowness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Particularly the women--but not just them. Everyone in the movie is basically a mindset on legs. Heck, even Gil is little more than a collection of Romantic cliches: he likes walking in the rain, at night, in Paris; pretty much everything about him speaks of a twee never-neverland mentality. He's like a male Anne of Green Gables.

But if all the characters are essentially cardboard "types" set to collide against each other, they're at least vibrantly realized. They have energy, which makes up (imho) for their essential shallowness.

Agreed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Particularly the women--but not just them. Everyone in the movie is basically a mindset on legs.

And oddly, this is how I think about people from this era. The whole film is in sync with this construct I have always had in mind, for good or for ill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm kind of mixed on it. It is a lot of fun to float through the night with Wilson, but I was really turned off by how easy it was to hate Inez.

Spoilers ahead

I thought that the film faltered a bit with her affair. It seemed to be telling us that she was such a terrible shallow person for doing that to Gill, but forgets

that Gil himself had been well on his way towards having his own affair. It kind of set up a bit of a double standard.

Although eventually Gil didn't have the affair, I wish the film hadn't gone in that direction as there was a charming innocence to his trips

that was lost to a certain degree.

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with you, to a degree, on the Inez-is-a-shrew thing. I think it's lazy. I'm not going to be too hard on Allen for it, because, thematically, that was the easiest thing to do-- I agree with the "mindset on legs" thing. Inez just happens to be a particularly unattractive one-- which is okay, sort of, but it does take the wind out of the sails of any romantic tension.

However, if we're thinking in terms of archetypes, it doesn't ruin the film for me. It was just a lost opportunity for some subtlety.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like I missed linking to my review, here.

"The luxury of hope"-- exactly.

And "when ____ was _____"-- a great way of putting it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with you, to a degree, on the Inez-is-a-shrew thing. I think it's lazy. I'm not going to be too hard on Allen for it, because, thematically, that was the easiest thing to do-- I agree with the "mindset on legs" thing. Inez just happens to be a particularly unattractive one-- which is okay, sort of, but it does take the wind out of the sails of any romantic tension.

However, if we're thinking in terms of archetypes, it doesn't ruin the film for me. It was just a lost opportunity for some subtlety.

I wasn't all that bothered by the archetypes either, mostly because I became so caught up in other aspects of the film. Maybe the fantastical element in the story allowed

for the characters to be not as "real" and still work fairly well. At least for me.

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Particularly the women--but not just them. Everyone in the movie is basically a mindset on legs. Heck, even Gil is little more than a collection of Romantic cliches: he likes walking in the rain, at night, in Paris; pretty much everything about him speaks of a twee never-neverland mentality. He's like a male Anne of Green Gables.

But if all the characters are essentially cardboard "types" set to collide against each other, they're at least vibrantly realized. They have energy, which makes up (imho) for their essential shallowness.

Good point. If I see it again, I'll keep that at the forefront.

I'm with you, to a degree, on the Inez-is-a-shrew thing. I think it's lazy. I'm not going to be too hard on Allen for it, because, thematically, that was the easiest thing to do-- I agree with the "mindset on legs" thing. Inez just happens to be a particularly unattractive one-- which is okay, sort of, but it does take the wind out of the sails of any romantic tension.

However, if we're thinking in terms of archetypes, it doesn't ruin the film for me. It was just a lost opportunity for some subtlety.

No, it wasn't *ruined* for me either, but there is a certain disappointment to be found in the experience of watching a film begin to mature into a more subtle consideration of its themes, only to spell it out in the most literal terms and pull back into such a broad fantasy. Midnight seems aware of the possibilities offered by exploring a topic as broadly appealing and yet personally resonant as nostalgia, but its failure to engage those possibilities in a more subtle fashion isn't just some missed icing on the cake. I think it hints at a misunderstanding of the construction of nostalgia itself, as a collection of personally relevant subtleties, details, associations, moments, etc.

Edited by N.W. Douglas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of nostalgia etc., did that woman who sells the old antique stuff remind anyone else of a really young Mia Farrow?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of nostalgia etc., did that woman who sells the old antique stuff remind anyone else of a really young Mia Farrow?

Nope..... didn't connect to that. But that is an interesting idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haven't read this thread - I will - but I saw this last week and super-enjoyed it. Just a note here to say that IMO, it's well worth a trip to the (now second run) theater.

Some here will remember that a few years back I went through a fascination with silent film. The twenties in general fascinates me.

This might be a tough one for your average un-art-educated Joe... Even film directors like Buñuel and Cocteau are referenced or make appearances. I'm sure that added to my enjoyment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Persona wrote:

: Just a note here to say that IMO, it's well worth a trip to the (now second run) theater.

Actually, the film goes back into wide release on Friday the 26th, to celebrate the fact that it just reached the $50 million milestone in North America. (Presumably this marks the start of an Oscar campaign, too.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anthony Lane in his 2011 wrap-up:

I happened to watch “Midnight in Paris” at midday, in Paris, and, like it or not, those circumstances are fated to stick to the movie like glitter; to encounter it with a French audience did not lessen one’s enjoyment, yet it was, I must admit, rather like coming across an immaculately decorated but artificial Christmas tree in the middle of a real pine forest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I finally saw this, I have to say that this is a case of benefiting greatly from not reading much of anything about the film before seeing it. We have some great threads here, but once in a while it's worth saving reading them until after you see the film. Therefore, if you haven't seen the film, stop reading this thread and go see it first.

Spoiler Warning:

It was pure magic when Gil first meets F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald for the first. I was as surprised as he was. I don't know quite what I was expecting, but it wasn't that - time travel to visit and have conversations with artists of the past. As the film continued, I was looking forward to each midnight as much as Gil was. There was something Narnian/wardrobish to that '20s Rolls Royce that kept driving by that one particular street corner. Midnight in Paris may just be the film that perfectly illustrates C.S. Lewis's thought on fairy tales in the essay, On Three Ways of Writing for Children -

pgs. 29-30 -

... It would be much truer to say that fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise the real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted. This is a special kind of longing ...

And for Gil, his magical trips to the past world ultimately help him view the modern world as just a little enchanted. (Not too far off from the Tolkien quote SDG found for his review.)

And besides, I'm a sucker for films about writers (Barton Fink, Finding Forrester, Finding Neverland, How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Nostalghia, Wonder Boys), but this may be one of the most charming and innocent ones that I've seen yet. It captures the writer's search for something meaningful to think about - in order to have something meaningful to write about. Gil knows that there is something he wants to express, but he's struggling with being able to find the words - so it's by talking to his literary heroes that he eventually finds it. How fantastic is that? How many times when we are struggling to write does visiting old favorite authors end up helping? Lots.

My review-- yeah, I fell for this one.

Looks like I missed linking to my review, here.

Great stuff. Both were highly enjoyable to read after seeing the film. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Persiflage wrote:

: And for Gil, his magical trips to the past world ultimately help him view the modern world as just a little enchanted.

Really? If so, this is surely balanced by the fact that he comes to realize the past world was, itself, more ordinary than he took it for. That is, Gil comes to realize that everyone is dissatisfied with the time and place in which they live; I don't think that is QUITE the lesson that Lewis or Tolkien had in mind (unless they were trying to say that e.g. Earth is rendered just a little more magical by the fact that Narnians find their own world rather boring). And while the film isn't quite as explicit about this next part as it could be, Woody Allen himself has pointed out that the old world, no matter how much we romanticize it, actually had a lot of disadvantages compared to the present day, in terms of medicine or whatever -- so there, too, the point of the film is not so much how much magic we can find in the past, but how we need to temper our yearning for those "magical" worlds by realizing all the ways in which we already have it better than they did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And yet, coming to terms with one's own situation and world still does not lead to trying to make existing relationships work, but, as in most Woody Allen films, seeing the existing relationship as a lost cause and embracing some new whim. (And a whim that looks so very much like young Mia Farrow... which adds new levels of wistfulness and bittersweetness to this film's conclusion.)

Sure, in this case both partners seem ready to throw the relationship aside. And in this case, thank God, they're not already married. But I had to admit that, at the end of this film, for all that I'd enjoyed, it was still a Woody Allen film about giving up on one relationship in order to find life in another. And I'd sure like to see him come around to making a film about making a difficult relationship work. He kind of goes there in Hannah and Her Sisters, but it felt like a matter of "settling for" the existing relationship there.

Having said that, I do really like this movie.

Edited by Overstreet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Still Spoilers Here

Persiflage wrote:

: And for Gil, his magical trips to the past world ultimately help him view the modern world as just a little enchanted.

Really? If so, this is surely balanced by the fact that he comes to realize the past world was, itself, more ordinary than he took it for. That is, Gil comes to realize that everyone is dissatisfied with the time and place in which they live; I don't think that is QUITE the lesson that Lewis or Tolkien had in mind (unless they were trying to say that e.g. Earth is rendered just a little more magical by the fact that Narnians find their own world rather boring). And while the film isn't quite as explicit about this next part as it could be, Woody Allen himself has pointed out that the old world, no matter how much we romanticize it, actually had a lot of disadvantages compared to the present day, in terms of medicine or whatever -- so there, too, the point of the film is not so much how much magic we can find in the past, but how we need to temper our yearning for those "magical" worlds by realizing all the ways in which we already have it better than they did.

It is true that Gil does realize that there are science & comfort advantages to the newer world over the older worlds. But I don't get the sense that these are the actual reasons why he chooses to return to modern reality. It's the infinite regression that he realizes once he hears past characters discussing how their view of the past was so much better than their present - that's part of what helps him reach his conclusion. I don't know if that is realizing that the past is more ordinary or worse that he thought it'd be. It never really seems less than enchanting (the film purposely doesn't show us the darker sides of the other past eras involved). Instead, it's realizing that the fact of being nostalgic for the past is a part of the human condition that exists in all eras, regardless of where you are. It's significant when Adriana asks him to reject her present to stay in her idea of the glorified past that he doesn't reject it in order to stay in his idea of the glorified past instead. He's been encouraged and inspired by the past, but he's learned lessons there that make the present more delightful, in and of itself, if that makes any sense.

And yet, coming to terms with one's own situation and world still does not lead to trying to make existing relationships work, but, as in most Woody Allen films, seeing the existing relationship as a lost cause and embracing some new whim. (And a whim that looks so very much like young Mia Farrow... which adds new levels of wistfulness and bittersweetness to this film's conclusion.)

Sure, in this case both partners seem ready to throw the relationship aside. And in this case, thank God, they're not already married. But I had to admit that, at the end of this film, for all that I'd enjoyed, it was still a Woody Allen film about giving up on one relationship in order to find life in another. And I'd sure like to see him come around to making a film about making a difficult relationship work. He kind of goes there in Hannah and Her Sisters, but it felt like a matter of "settling for" the existing relationship there.

Having said that, I do really like this movie.

The number of unbelievable relationships in Woody Allen films is large and seems to be one of his standard staring out plot lines. I always find it difficult to imagine how some of the couples in Allen's films ever got together with each other in the first place. In Midnight in Paris, you hear what is a stereotypical Allen doomed relationship during the opening credits before you even get to see either of the characters. What is different in this one, however, is that the protagonist ends up rejecting not one, but two relationships. Perhaps the reasons he rejects his idealized relationship might have something to do with why he rejects the other one as well. Not that McAdams' character is treated fairly in the film, she's not. But she and Michael Sheen's character both express their views on "Golden Age" thinking at the beginning of the film - and there is a sense in which her character represents this modern way of thinking. I'd argue that Gil rejects their view while also still refusing to indulge in his prior nostalgia (ultimately also rejecting Adriana's opposite view).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tried to watch this tonight. I lasted 25 minutes. Wanted to give up after 5.

Edited by Tyler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tried to watch this tonight. I lasted 25 minutes. Wanted to give up after 5.

So the opening montage of Parisian scenes really turned you off, then?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pretty much. I usually like things like that, but I couldn't get into this montage. I think it was the music.

And then it became a movie about a frustrated writer (strike one) who isn't satisfied with the kinds of success he's had (two) and has zero chemistry with the woman he apparently wants to spend his life with (three), and has stilted conversations real people wouldn't have (four) with the caricatured parents and ex-boyfriend (five). I held on to see if the 1920 stuff would be better, but it felt just as artificial and forced. And I knew he was going to learn some lessons about how the past wasn't as rosy as he thought and people have difficulties no matter where/when you are, and I get bored fast when a movie telegraphs exactly what it's going to be that early on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
has zero chemistry with the woman he apparently wants to spend his life with

This is what killed it for me. I'm pretty sure this is the only Rachel McAdams movie I've seen, so I don't know if she's capable of acting or not, but I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and put all of the blame for her horrible performance on Woody. Because the modern day stuff is an obnoxious, off-balance, and not-funny farce, there's nothing at stake in the step-into-the-past sequences, which is a shame because Marion Cotillard is always awesome.

I only really enjoyed one moment in this whole film -- Owen Wilson's delivery of the line about how he and his fiancee have so much in common, like their love of the bread at Indian restaurants. "I guess it's called naan."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My biggest complaint about the movie is how it completely wastes Rachel McAdams. She's usually a joyful presence. A whiny and petty Rachel McAdams is a miscast Rachel McAdams.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A whiny and petty Rachel McAdams is a miscast Rachel McAdams.

Yes. Her character never had a chance.

Her name on a movie poster always makes me pay closer attention, but I don't think her work has born out that heightened interest. So far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My biggest complaint about the movie is how it completely wastes Rachel McAdams. She's usually a joyful presence. A whiny and petty Rachel McAdams is a miscast Rachel McAdams.

I dunno. I wonder if the casting wasn't based on the understanding that we expect her to be a joyful presence, and she is one a the very start of the movie. At the start they seem to have a good relationship and she seems to be very likeable, but we quickly find out that it's superficial. Sure she's miscast as being a nasty person in any film, but I'm not sure if she's miscast as having a seemingly delightful personality that Gil discovers is only a false persona. That's part of Gil's dilemna. He's stuck with somebody who is so charming, and who has a family with a good societal appearance, so that he often appears to be the bad guy in the relationship, or at least worse than he really is, and therefore is a little stuck.

Having Rachel McAdams in the role probably helps us to at first view that character through the lense of how everybody else in Gil's word sees her, only to later discover what Gil has/is learning, about what she's really like.

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0