Friday, March 16, 2012

Movies To Travel By: "Midnight In Paris"

Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams at Giverny.
(production photos: Sony Pictures Classics)
We all likely have a romantic vision of Paris. Woody Allen captures that feeling in the first ten minutes of his 2011 film "Midnight in Paris" offering postcard view after view of the "city of light." It's almost worth the admission just to admire these picture perfect images of Paris even after the story begins and characters begin inhabiting the foreground.

"Midnight in Paris" is a romantic comedy fantasy and to reveal its story is likely to reveal its surprises. In his four-star review of the film, Roger Ebert indicates in his first sentence that the review contains spoilers and that he can't imagine a way to review the film without discussing the delightful fantasy at the heart of Allen's new film.

Without giving much away, here's an excerpt from Ebert's review: "The film is sort of a daydream for American lit majors. It opens with a couple on holiday in Paris with her parents. Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are officially in love, but maybe what Gil really loves is Paris in the springtime. He's a hack screenwriter from Hollywood who still harbors the dream of someday writing a good novel and joining the pantheon of American writers whose ghosts seem to linger in the very air he breathes...He'd like to live in Paris. Inez would like to live in an upper-class American suburb...One night, he wanders off by himself, gets lost, sits on some church steps, and as a bell rings midnight, a big old Peugot pulls up filled with revelers."

The story then takes a turn that is one of the most magical and whimsical in recent moviemaking years. It is one of the best films of 2011 and among the best of Woody Allen's career.

Rachel McAdams and Owen Wilson at the Palace at Versailles.
Owen Wilson perusing the street markets of Paris.
Film locations, beautifully photographed by cinematographer Darius Khondji, include the Palace at Versailles, Sacre-Coeur, Ile de la Cite, Giverny, John XXIII Square near Notre Dame, and the streets near the Pantheon. Even the Hotel le Bristol where Gil and Inez stay contains images of luxurious accommodations that we can only dream about. Quaint street makets and fine restaurants complete the wonderful locales in the film. The first scene with Gil and Inez includes images of a Monet painting come to life. Visit for more details of the film's various location.

"Midnight in Paris" is Woody Allen's highest grossing film domestically and internationally. Its global box office stands at over $151 million. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards including best picture winning the Oscar for best original screenplay.

Woody Allen took care in casting all the roles. Besides Wilson and McAdams, Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy play the parents of Inez. Great supporting work is provided by Michael Sheen, Alison Pill, Tom Hiddleston, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody and Lea Seydoux. Even Carla Bruni, who was the First Lady of France at the time of filming, is excellent in her few scenes as a tour guide at the Rodin Museum.

Two actors who should expect more roles to come their way are Corey Stoll (spoiler warning: he plays Ernest Hemingway) and Nina Arianda as Carol, a friend of Gil and Inez, both of whom make great impressions onscreen in their few scenes. But it is Wilson who carries the film with his quiet charm.

"Midnight in Paris" is available on DVD and Blu-ray and songs featured in the film is available on CD. On iTunes, click HERE to download the film or HERE to download the music.

Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda, Rachel McAdams and Owen Wilson
at Versailles.
Owen Wilson and Lea Seydoux on the Point Alexander III.
Left to right: Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Corey Stoll and Daniel Lundh.
Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson strolling the streets of Paris.
Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams at the Hotel le Bristol
Carla Bruni and Owen Wilson at the Rodin Museum.
On the set with Marion Cotillard, Owen Wilson and writer/director
Woody Allen.
Alison Pill and Tom Hiddleston evoking a style of Paris in the past.
Owen Wilson taking a stroll along the Seine.
Owen Wilson sitting on the steps of the Church of St. Etienne du Mont.


Midlife Kauai Sis said...

Thanks for reminding me about this movie. I did see it, but want to watch it again!

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