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Movie Time: Midnight In Paris - Or How I Wish I Could Go Back In Time

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dear friends,

**WARNING!!! This post contains a review of Midnight in Paris. It may turn out to be an extensive post so please grab yourself a cup of tea and a warm blanket and Enjoy! Be careful and read not this post if you did not see the movie, it is a huge spoiler ;)**

I am sure that you heard about Woody Allen before and that you have watched at least one of his movies. He is very particular and his style is singular so you can't have missed it. One of the first movies I have watched on the big screen, when I moved to Kraków,  was Midnight in Paris - released in 2011, the year I moved here :) it was also very close to the trip I have been (with a dear friend) to Paris, so I remember even now how much I loved this movie. The opening of the movie is a series of "postcards" - short moving images - of Paris. We watch the most important and iconic destinations: Notre Dame de Paris, Tour Eiffel, Louvre, small streets with small coffee shops, people rushing in a delicate pace, Paris under rain... Paris in all its glory with a soundtrack fitting, great to get you in the mood to love Paris even more.
I was lucky to see Paris more than 6 years ago, without any Charlie Hebdo issues or terrorist attacks or problems on the streets due to the immigrants... I was lucky to see Paris quietly and even romantic, under rain... I have friends that told me they would not go again to Paris, that Paris is now dirty and they even saw rats. I have to admit when I was there we saw no such thing and that we had a good time. We even had an impromptu picnic under the Eiffel Tour - cheese, grapes and baguette included! But that was a while back... and I did hear (sadly) that Paris has changed. But you will see nothing of that in this movie. Midnight in Paris focuses on all the bright and beautiful things that made Paris popular, that made Paris "the city of lights". I have told you once, that this is one of the movies that inspired/inspires me to travel more and more.
Midnight in Paris is the story of an American writer Gil Pender  (played adorably by Owen Wilson) that hopes to write his very first novel. Until then - as his fiancee informs us - he was one of the best Holywood  (re)writers when it comes to the movie scripts. Everyone loves him! I think this is what attracts his fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams) to him - his fame! You can constantly hear her nagging about his book and about his style and she has no issue leaving him on the Paris streets at midnight while she goes back to the hotel for a spa treatment and a good sleep... their relationship is so superficial that I ask myslef how they even ended up engaged! Do they even have something remotely in common?! That's why when they split, at the end of the movie, I just feel relieved that they went their own separate ways... they say opposites attract but there was no chemistry there!
There us though chemistry between him and the record shop (memorabilia shop) lady ;) but I'll leave you to enjoy that on your own :) I love the idea that the Midnight in Paris comes with: we will never be content with the present, no matter from what tine we come from. As Gil wishes he would have lived in the 1920s in Paris and meet Hemingway, the Fitzgerald's,  Pablo Picasso and many more... so does Adriana (played beautifully by the talented Marion Cotillard) wish she would have lived in the Belle Epoque, with Toulouse Lautrec and Rodin by her side... That made me think that loving period movies and books, as I do, makes me feel their pain. We all wish we would have been a part of some other time frame, that we idealise... we are never content with what we have now. Somehow though, I think Inez never asked herself this question... I think she is happy with the "here and now" American way of living... is that very awful for me to say? (Sorry...)
The whole cast of Midnight in Paris is fabulous and well selected, plus the way they interact with eachother is just brilliant! When Gil meets Hemingway and he asks of his opinion for his book, Hemingway refuses point blank saying that he would hate it either way - if it is good because it was better than his work & if it is bad because he is merciless when it comes to reviews. Yet, he does say what he thinks to Gertrude Stein, and she tells Gil. All this being in touch with the great writers and thinkers of that age, changes the way Gil thinks and makes him act more strongly based upon his beliefs. It makes him take huge steps forward to writing the novel of his life. It also makes him understand that living in the past, being nostalgic, will also drag you down and get you lost and pining forever, if you do not take the reins and build up your life the way you wish it to be. I believe that gives him the strength to let go of his time - travels and meet the love of his life, starting a new journey to the future :)
The Fitzgerald's :)
Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen's 41st film - he writes them, directs them and makes marvels out of each and every one of them. They are all like pearls on a string. The problem is that not everybody likes them (read: understands them). The ones who know nothing of the 1920s or the Belle Epoque will probably turn their noses... will not understand the humor or the situations that are so well played - eg. I have NEVER seen a more convincing Dali then Adrien Brody... take for example the scene below:
Man Ray: A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph!
Luis Bunuel: I see a film!
Gil: I see insurmountable problem!
Salvador Dali: I see rhinoceros!
Even Carla Bruni is delightful in her short role as a tour guide. And Hemingway is a revelation:
Ernest Hemingway:  I believe that love that is true and real, creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well, which is the same thing. And then the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face, like some rhino-hunters I know or Belmonte, who is truly brave... It is because they make love with sufficient passion, to push death out of their minds... until it returns, as it does, to all men... and then you must make really good love again.
How about you? Have you seen Midnight in Paris before, or any of Woody Allen's movies? How did you like it - what did you feel in regards to its subject? I would love to hear your opinions on this, and see if you feel as I do, for Paris :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves movies (especially on the big screen)