Midnight in Paris (2011) Directed by Woody Allen
Since we watched Midnight In Paris last week, I've watched Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. I watched The Dark Knight Rises last Sunday in a very big screened cinema in Helsinki, two days after the Aurora massacre. To be honest it was always in the back of my mind and probably added even more tension (which it didn't need) to Nolan's fine film. I'm mentioning this because I've been somewhat Batman obsessed. I've been boring Astrid to death with Batman talk (she didn't see TDKR) And that's really unfair not only to Astrid but to Mr Allen's hugely successful film.
Personally, I've found Woody Allen's recent output pretty lame (some parts of both Match Point and Whatever Works had greatness). It's been a huge disappointment after another watching recent Woody movies, with Vicky Christina Barcelona being the worst of a sorry bunch. So, despite the great notices for Midnight in Paris, I wasn't expecting much. And for the first hour or so of Midnight In Paris, the recent tedium of Allen's movies, that bland middle class malaise that's so recognizable from other Allen efforts, was upon us once again. Only Owen Wilson as the best Allen-screen-persona-so-far made this watchable.
Allen takes notice from a couple of his older movies here, Zelig and The Purple Rose Of Cairo. Midnight In Paris almost has a sci-fi feel with its time-travelling conventions. As Owen Wilson's Gil starts to find a secret Paris on his late walks, Midnight In Paris slowly but surely starts to reveal magic as a movie. By the last half an hour the dialogue is in classic Allen territory and a few genuine laughs are to be had. I've not really mentioned some great cameos here from Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali (a movie stealing appearance in fact) and a pompous Michael Sheen. But Wilson really makes Midnight In Paris work and brings back feelings of some great Woody Allen presence from the past. So, Midnight In Paris is a late period Woody Allen gem. But I'm still lost in the Batcave.
It is easier to write about something that I definitely dislike, or something that sparks new ideas than something that is of a good quality average stock...
It is difficult to admit that I'm not sure what to say after Midnight In Paris. I was of course entertained, but I felt a little like I was driving down the same old gravel road that leads to the same familiar cottage on a lake – too familiar and holiday-y to really feel the fireworks. Neither Woody nor I experimented with anything new here, although Woody had changed his summer vacationing spot from England down to Paris (and I had a new night gown on [no I didn't that just sounded proportionate]).
So much of life and its reality disappears with the day gone and interchanged into a new day. What I mean to say is that even a record of something happening is in some way already a fiction. And memory is not to be trusted either, or a perception of the unfolding reality...the brain is a creator as much as it is a perceiver. This ramble does not only relate to being a little baby's emotional mother, it relates to Woody Allen's imagination: Midnight in Paris is delightfully flippant about time-travel and the time-space continuum in general.
Allen does not judge his characters or make them look like fools for travelling back and forth between now and the early 20th Century. Even deciding to stay and live in a past time instead of now is a choice one can make in this picture – not a silly mentally ill moment from which we need to be cured. This all works as metaphor and as fabulous storytelling and Woody has never claimed to be anything else than a storyteller. I watched this great documentary on Allen last winter (a lucky streaming find) and now you can go and see it in cinema here! I recommend it highly, maybe more so than this funny super well received film of his.