Friday, 24 February 2012

History In Paris

Every so often a film comes out that people are aware of, but no one seems to know what it is. For me, this was Midnight in Paris. I knew of it, but I wasn't sure what it was going to be or if it would even be any good. I sat down to watch it, completely clueless about what I should expect. Knowing it was nominated for four Oscars (Direction, Screenplay, Art Direction and Picture, and it being recommended to me by several people, I was getting rather excited for it. So does it live up to its, somewhat secretive, hype?

The film opens with a variety of shots showing Paris throughout the day, right through until midnight. We then get thrown into writer, Gil, (Owen Wilson) and his fiancĂ©e, Inez, (Rachel McAdams) life as they are visiting Paris. Gil wants to move to Paris once they are married but Inez disagrees. Gil truly believes that living in Paris will do wonders for his creativity so that he can move on from screenplays and write proper literature. While in Paris, the couple hit some speed bumps. Gil has problems with his novel, old friends Carol (Nina Arianda) and pedantic academic Paul (Michael Sheen) begin to take over their time, Gil and Inez’s parents disagree on very fundamental things. Gil gets stressed by all this and goes for a midnight stroll. On this stroll, he is picked up by a car on the dot of midnight that takes him back in time to the 20s, what Gil considers to be the Golden era. The film tells the story of a man meeting his idols and taking a journey of discovery in both art, and life. 

The Hangover Part III was going to be slightly more formal.
I think it is completely safe to claim that this is Owen Wilson's best performance to date. He is absolutely perfect in this role. Admittedly, Woody Allen did rewrite the role for him, but that's unimportant. He is a perfect combination of charming, lovable, accepting, and, most importantly, real. There's something very real about Wilson's performance. Gil is a hardly a character; he is completely believable as a real man. He comes to life through Wilson. The rest of the cast are excellent too. It's nice to see familiar faces popping up in supporting roles throughout the movie. Tom Hiddleston appears as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Alison Pill (a.k.a Kim (a.k.a the drummer) from Scott Pilgrim) is his emotionally unstable spouse. Adrien Brody appears as a very funny and surreal Salvador Dali, or DAH-LEE, as he exclaims when he meets Gil. Kathy Bates and Marion Cotillard play important parts in Gil's adventures as Gertrude Stein and Adriana respectively. Also performing to perfection is Michael Sheen as Paul. His perfectly agitating character is a brilliant example of a person who does nothing seriously wrong except conform to all of your pet peeves. A nice guy who you cannot stand captured perfectly.

'I swear, the fish was this big'

This is screenplay writing at it's best. A solid contender for the Screenplay Oscar. The dialogue is completely flawless and smooth (except when it's not meant to be) and it touches every emotion the heart can feel. It blends fiction and fact sublimely. This is Woody Allen on form. The score and soundtrack are absolutely wonderful. There's either a French heart or an upbeat 1920s rhythm to every song that plays and it is an example of the music perfectly setting the scene in a movie. The camera work shows some glimpses of beauty. There's a wonderful tracking shot early in the movie that perfectly follows Gil, Inez, Paul, and Carol as they wander French monuments. It's cheating I suppose, to shoot a movie in Paris, as every shot is guaranteed to look wonderful. This is some of Woody Allen's best directing in a long time and will be placed just under the likes of Annie Hall and Manhatten.

A delightfully charming, exceptionally witty, and wonderfully satisfying piece of cinema. It is submerged in art and literature and drips culture but doesn’t require its audience to be pretentious art collectors. At points it’s hilarious and at others, very touching. A great story told in a fantastic way. Owen Wilson at his best and Woody Allen returning to form. A perfectly solid film. Completely enjoyable. Definitely one of the most all–round decent films of 2011. A must see. 

Best bit? This is really hard. There's a wonderful laugh out loud joke at the very end, but I'll go with the discussions over Picasso's Adriana; firstly in the 1920s and then again in 2010. Classic. 

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