Jump to content


Photo

Midnight in Paris


  • Please log in to reply
62 replies to this topic

#21 BethR

BethR

    Getting medieval on media

  • Member
  • 2,857 posts

Posted 14 July 2011 - 02:31 PM

...whether you're an English major thrilled by a Djuna Barnes reference...


Moira Macdonald must hang out with more rarified English majors than I ever have, and I can't imagine anyone being "thrilled" about Djuna Barnes, but be that as it may, the movie does sound decent. Since I've never been to Paris, it will, in fact, have to create nostagia in me. But that's what art should do (as some A&F sigline used to imply).

Saw the movie earlier this week & enjoyed it more than any Allen movie for a long time. The conceit of the many-layered historical city reminded me of my recent visit to London, which I guess is my Paris.

#22 NBooth

NBooth

    Magpie of Ideas

  • Member
  • 2,887 posts

Posted 21 July 2011 - 02:22 PM

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


Nice review; I like your thoughts on the "moral" of the story; if I had a major complaint, it was that we could see the "everyone wants to live in the past" stuff coming from the first time Owen Wilson opens his mouth. If (as you say) the real thrust of the film is toward "nostalgia for the present," the whole movie opens up as a far more intriguing experience (and one very much in the spirit of Dickens-by-way-of-Chesterton, which I can totally groove on).

#23 SDG

SDG

    Catholic deflector shield

  • Moderator
  • 9,054 posts

Posted 21 July 2011 - 02:36 PM

Looks like I missed linking to my review, here.

Returning from a trip to Paris sometime in the mid-20th century, a federal judge named Frank A. Picard once told a friend named Charley Manes, “It was a wonderful trip. Paris is a grand place. But I wish I had made the trip 20 years ago.”

“You mean, when Paris was Paris?” Manes asked.

“No,” Picard replied, perhaps wistfully. “I mean when Picard was Picard.”

When Paris was Paris. When Picard was Picard. Ah, the old days. It seems the present is always overshadowed by a remembrance of lost or faded glory, some golden age before which present realities are poor and unsatisfactory substitutes.

Woody Allen fans know it well. Sure, they’ll admit, Allen cranks out a lot of unmemorable and even poor work nowadays — ah, but they remember when Allen was Allen. Every once in a while, perhaps, he comes out with a film that shows them he remembers, too.

Midnight in Paris is such a film. It’s a nostalgic film about nostalgia — nostalgia for when Paris was Paris, for one thing. Even if you’ve never been to the City of Light, even if phrases like “the Lost Generation” and “la Belle Époque” hold for you none of the magic they do for Allen, the film makes you feel their power for his onscreen alter ego, appealingly played by Owen Wilson. For that matter, even if you aren’t an Allen fan — even if you aren’t convinced Allen was ever Allen — Midnight in Paris could almost make you nostalgic for the Allen that fans remember, or seem to.


P.S. Hat tip to David Smedberg for helping me track down that opening anecdote! (Short-term parking link - will expire soon)

Edited by SDG, 21 July 2011 - 03:09 PM.


#24 Attica

Attica

    Celtic Creation Mystic, Film Buff- -oon

  • Member
  • 1,935 posts

Posted 22 July 2011 - 01:15 AM

I really liked this one as well. While I agree with the reviews touching on the nostalgia in the film, what I pulled
out of it more, was a love for creativity and the arts.

It was everywhere, from the beautiful architecture in the city, to the wonderful soundtrack, to the portrayal of historical figures working on their projects.
The film even made gently falling rain seem like a work of art.

Of course it also looks at a writer who is attempting to write something worthy and memorable. To me there was a passion in this film.

Edited by Attica, 22 July 2011 - 01:20 AM.


#25 Nathan Douglas

Nathan Douglas

    Overeager beaver of the sacramental cinema.

  • Member
  • 519 posts

Posted 22 July 2011 - 02:35 AM

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. It's clear early on where they're going and the fact that Allen doesn't bother giving Inez anything more than enough to make her a shrew ruins any kind of conflict arising between Gil's (supposed) feelings for her and his love for Paris. 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.

There was a tracking shot early on that reminded me of this piece by David Bordwell. Allen's blocking in that shot is exquisite.

Edited by N.W. Douglas, 22 July 2011 - 02:36 AM.


#26 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,498 posts

Posted 22 July 2011 - 06:29 AM

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., 22 July 2011 - 10:12 AM.


#27 NBooth

NBooth

    Magpie of Ideas

  • Member
  • 2,887 posts

Posted 22 July 2011 - 07:06 AM

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.

#28 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,498 posts

Posted 22 July 2011 - 10:12 AM

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.

#29 M. Leary

M. Leary

    Member

  • Member
  • 5,472 posts

Posted 22 July 2011 - 11:13 AM

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.

#30 Attica

Attica

    Celtic Creation Mystic, Film Buff- -oon

  • Member
  • 1,935 posts

Posted 22 July 2011 - 11:21 AM

[quote name='N.W. Douglas' date='22 July 2011 - 01:35 AM' timestamp='1311320104' post='256219']
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, 22 July 2011 - 11:23 AM.


#31 Lauren Wilford

Lauren Wilford

    Working on my backwards walk.

  • Member
  • 90 posts

Posted 23 July 2011 - 12:02 AM

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.

#32 Lauren Wilford

Lauren Wilford

    Working on my backwards walk.

  • Member
  • 90 posts

Posted 23 July 2011 - 12:16 AM

Looks like I missed linking to my review, here.


"The luxury of hope"-- exactly.

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

#33 Attica

Attica

    Celtic Creation Mystic, Film Buff- -oon

  • Member
  • 1,935 posts

Posted 23 July 2011 - 12:36 AM

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, 23 July 2011 - 12:41 AM.


#34 Nathan Douglas

Nathan Douglas

    Overeager beaver of the sacramental cinema.

  • Member
  • 519 posts

Posted 23 July 2011 - 03:00 AM

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, 23 July 2011 - 03:11 AM.


#35 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,795 posts

Posted 23 July 2011 - 03:10 AM

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

#36 Attica

Attica

    Celtic Creation Mystic, Film Buff- -oon

  • Member
  • 1,935 posts

Posted 23 July 2011 - 08:24 PM

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.

#37 Persona

Persona

    You said you'd wait... 'Til the end of the world.

  • Member
  • 7,463 posts

Posted 20 August 2011 - 12:41 PM

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.

#38 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,795 posts

Posted 20 August 2011 - 01:50 PM

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.)

#39 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,271 posts

Posted 18 December 2011 - 01:34 AM

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.



#40 J.A.A. Purves

J.A.A. Purves

    Chestertonian, Rabelaisian, Thomist, Christian

  • Member
  • 3,129 posts

Posted 03 February 2012 - 01:12 AM

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.