Thursday, December 29, 2011

midnight in paris [2011]

a thorough delight. i'd given up on woody allen and had not seen a movie of his since the early '90s. not that i don't like allen because i do. i recall auditing a film class on woody allen's movies with an old girlfriend way way back in the late 1980s and falling in love with his classic works. i also appreciated woody allen as a prose writer and read the books he published at that time.

but then the movies allen directed after the 1980s stunk! or so i thought. then this movie comes around and charms me with its lightness of touch. the angst of allen's earlier pictures is replaced here with a sweetness of character assayed by the wonderful owen wilson. if the movie is a rip on nostalgia, so what. who hasn't fantasized about living, or at least visiting, a bygone time populated with our heroes.

for wilson's character, a screenwriter who feels he is a hack who longs for the paris of the 1920s -- that generation of writers and artists gertrude stein dubbed 'the lost generation'. well wilson finds them, or they find him. whatever the turn-around wilson's character gets his wish and enters that hallowed era of his choosing.

woody allen populates his film with actors who look and sound like the real life figures they portray. or so i surmise. the dude who plays scott fitzgerald looks an awful lot like fitgerald. kathy bates plays gertrude stein to a t. at least i bought in to it. what might be a fault of this film is that it is played too sweet. stein immediately takes wilson's character under her wing with gentle support of his writing. even hemingway, that bastard of ego-driven mania, is assayed with a comradely spirit of supporting gentleness.

why not. it's allen's fantasy after all. paris is all eye candy. the script is mighty witty. wilson's novelist becomes a realist in the end but still manages to follow his dream. the movie ends on a happy note. i take that not because woody allen has grown soft but because maybe the demons he battled earlier in his career have taken a backseat to whimsy. allen in later age lets the darkness spread to light.

at any rate, i was delighted by the film. it is, as they say, my cup of tea even if 1920s paris wouldn't be my dream location in time and space. as i watched the movie i kept wondering where my dream of nostalgia would take me. perhaps 1970s paris with the poets paul auster hung out with. or maybe mid to late '70s nyc with its brown-outs, high crime, nearly bankrupted, garbage strikes, grindhouses and punk rock. hmm. . .i'll have to think about it a little more.


At 5:22 PM, Blogger John B-R said...

Some c20 dream locations: Wobbly camps and meetings 1900-1915; Moscow, 1917-21; New York 1920s; Paris 1930s; Mexico maybe, 1940s; New York 1950s, San Francisco 1965-67; Paris, 1967-75. London, 1975-78. New York downtown 78-late 80s; London again, 90s.

At 11:33 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

cool list, john. moscow certainly in the early part of the 20th century and meeting poets like mandalstam, ahkmatova and tsvaetava. you have londone down twice but during its swing 60s days. i'm curious. why london in the '90s?

At 11:38 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

um, i meant, john, you don't mention '60s swinging london, but afterward with london in the '70s and later the '90s. i remember london with a rising art scene in the '90s but some of those artists that got famous, like damian hirst, i thought were so much baloney. there were good artists that came out of that era, like tracy emin. don't get me wrong. i love london. it's a city i feel at home in. just curious why you chose those two particular eras.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger John B-R said...

London 75-8 was serious punk. I was there in 75 and, hippy that I was, had never seen anything like it. But I knew it was serious ...

London 90s - well, I spent a lot of time in London in the 90s (probably 4-6 months total) and loved it. It was just happening for me.

London 2010-2011 would have been great, too, I'd have loved to have been out in those streets ...

If I could live anywhere it would probably still be London.


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