In Paris at Midnight is where I want to be…
Woody Allen has made over 40 films and I have now watched all of them with the viewing of Midnight in Paris. I first watched the film in preparation for last year’s Oscars so I can offer my two cents if asked. However, I missed watching it in a theater, and I am sorry for it. This film, you see, is glorious to look at, enchanting to listen to – a romance to remember. Like so many love letters the writer/director has sent to New York in previous films, this is one to Paris.
I’ve found, through the years, that Woody Allen is either greatly admired or greatly disliked as a filmmaker. I am happy to say I fall into the first category. I get and am deeply affected by his films. Midnight in Paris gets me from its opening montage, reminiscent of the montage that opens his 1979 film, Manhattan. In that earlier film, Allen’s voice speaks over the music stating, “He loved New York…he romanticized it all out of proportion.” Allen does the same for Paris in his latest film. I sighed at that wonderful music in its opening, while images of Paris roll by – a sigh that lasted approximately 94 minutes.
Included as standard operating procedure for these types of write-ups is the actual plot of a film. Honestly, I don’t feel like reiterating the actual story. Watch the film. I will tell you what Midnight in Paris is about, however – it’s about writing, it’s about art, it’s about writing as art and the subjectivity of those. Ensconced in a surreal tapestry, both visceral and through time, Allen takes his audience on a journey of romance. The glory of Paris remains constant as the main character in this story and her energy is palpable. I’ll venture to say all others, the people in this story, are incidental. Although the cast, a large one, is worthy of note – Owen Wilson in (by far) the best role he has ever played, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, the wonderful Marion Cotillard and many other notables in smaller roles playing some of the greatest figures in literature and art – Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, T. S. Eliot, Paul Gauguin and Edgar Degas, among others. All are part of a wonderful fantasy where eras collide – the Paris of today and the Paris of the 1920s. It’s wonderful stuff.
Midnight in Paris was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2012 - Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Picture and Best Writing/Original Screenplay (Woody Allen), for which it won its only Oscar. The film’s four nominations, however, made it the most Oscar-nominated Woody Allen film since Bullets Over Broadway (1994) which received seven Oscar nominations. Allen’s win for Screenplay was his fourth and the first he had won since Hannah and Her Sisters 25 years earlier. By the way, if you need a “refresher” on all the Best Picture nominees from last year, watch a short video montage here.
Despite the many things that make Midnight in Paris a standout, it is in many ways typical Woody Allen for more reasons that what I noted above. In style and theme, the film doesn’t stray far from many of Allen’s past glories. Miraculously, Midnight is also fresh and new. Allen is made up of a very special kind of genius and remains a wonder of American cinema. He had the idea to make a film in Paris. This gem is what he comes up with. He probably scribbled a simple “Paris” on a small scrap of paper years ago and this is what we get – a film to build your dreams on. Midnight in Paris considers golden ages as subjective ideas depending on the era lived. What is not subjective is that as a filmmaker Woody Allen is still living his golden age. In Paris at midnight is where I want to be.
Midnight in Paris is Un Beau Film.
This entry is part of the 31 Days of Oscar blogathon, an event I am proud to co-host from my classic movie blog, Once Upon a Screen, with two social media notables, Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club. The event coincides with the month-long Oscars celebration on Turner Classic Movies.
To read more posts dedicated to Oscars past and present, films and filmmakers that have left a mark, please visit any of the host sites. I can attest to the fact we have an impressive array of entries by great bloggers and passionate cinephiles, entries that span from the silent era to current nominees.