Archive for July, 2011

New Woody Allen Film “Midnight In Paris” is a Refreshing Story with Little Filler

July 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Woddy Allen

“Simple but not simpler,” to paraphrase an Einstein thought. That is the feeling I had after walking out of  Woody Allen‘s latest film, “Midnight In Paris.” This is to say, I felt a little bit of relief after having seen 2 consecutive superhero movies on the big screen and fearing that Captain America was going to be next on the list.

This movie is set in Paris. A city that by all accounts is charming for it’s simplicity even amidst all the details. There are no big Broadway lights, 8 lane highways, monolithic billboards. Just street lights and … the street.

And this is where the movie takes us – to the street. To the old notion of, “where does that old sidewalk lead to”. Paris is a city that has been around long enough and windy enough to inspire those thoughts.

Walking around New York one has a sense that no matter where they turn they’ll be somewhere. Or even my beloved Philadelphia is so perfectly graphed out it’s difficult to get lost in the Center City area. Now, Sao Paulo where I live currently is maze-like, but it’s best to stay on the lighted path.

Paris, it seems, asks for you to make wrong turns and end up where you thought you would never go. This was what Allen was able to transmit through his lens – for we know that always in a movie by the director, the city where he films is less a stage than it is a character.

The story is quiet basic and linear – which is strange to say about a movie that deals with time travel.  And though I much prefer the schizophrenic Allen to the love-lust one – the film is charming in it’s way.

In a nutshell: a Hollywood writer is in France with his fiance and feels as if he missed out on life. That he shouldn’t even be living in the same time he is. And by happenstance he is transported back to the roaring twenties – the Golden Age of Paris.

There in the 20s he is met by every famous artist, poet and writer one can imagine. It becomes almost silly. And by the time Salvador Dali makes an appearance one sort of begins laughing along and taking the movie for what it is. Simple but lovely. There isn’t any very deep conversation (as a matter a fact, I felt the famous personalities from the 20s where written rather like caricatures than characters: they are more there to help the film move along than to offer any real insight), or tricky cinematography (the films looks like a moving postcard for the city – a rather gorgeous one at that), or even any usual Allen-isms (the quips, the one-liners are missing – the dialogue is straight and to the point). The movie simply strolls along as the main character Gil discovers what it is that brings him to take these journeys every midnight in the City of Lights.

Walking The Streets of Paris

The most appealing thing about the movie is knowing that Woody Allen – perhaps the most prolific of our directors – is still alive and imagining. He had been making some terrible films after regaining popularity with “Scoop”, but though his new films have been getting good reviews I wasn’t much interested in seeing them. I did try to sit through “Vicky Christina Barcelona” but felt it was too heavy handed.

The last fun and zany movie I remember watching by Allen was “Deconstructing Harry” and that was in 1997!  So though he does keep it low key in this film – it is Paris after all where extravagance is an ugly American notion – and though he has used the motif of time travel before (probably most famously in “The Purple Rose of Cairo”), this movie satisfies in an easy manner that should make one leave the theatre simply breathing lightly and saying to themselves: Perhaps love can truly overcome all … and instead of trying to find a place far from “the now” to be happy we should simply jump into what is directly ahead.  Here’s hoping there is more great Woddy Allen films ahead, because even at his worst he is better than most everyone else working out there in the business today.

Categories: Arts