Now Showing on Cable: “Midnight in Paris”

Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” made its debut on Starz this past weekend.

Last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Original Screenplay, “Midnight in Paris” stars Owen Wilson as Gil Pender, a man who idealizes the Paris of the 1920s. Disenchanted with his career as a Hollywood hack, disrespected by his fiancée and lightly regarded by his future in-laws, Gil wishes he had lived amongst the great literary, artistic and culturally important figures of that time.

Little does he know… something extraordinary is in store for him.

While vacationing in France with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams), Gil Pender finds himself tiring of her tourist agenda and her know-it-all friends. He longs to stroll the Parisian streets and admire the city. She prefers to hit tourist sites and clubs. Her parents don’t seem to connect with him well, either, and her friends are borderline obnoxious.

He longs to admire the beauty of the city, and spend his time longingly envisioning the bygone era of the 1920s. Unfortunately, he can’t get any of the people close to him interested.

So, Gil wanders the city at night, alone.

And at the stroke of midnight, something magical happens. While resting for a moment on some steps, an antique automobile pulls up and the passengers offer him a lift. Intrigued, Gil accepts… and finds himself transported back in time. It’s a conceit that would derail a lesser movie. If not pulled off with such a deft hand, “time travel” in a non sci-fi context could easily lose the viewer. Allen, however, plays everything perfectly and creates a fanciful, humorous atmosphere.

While back in the Paris of the ’20s, Gil rubs elbows with some of the most famous figures in literature and art. All of the luminaries of the “Lost Generation”, plus a few others to boot. Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, Salvador Dalí, Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso. Others as well. Gil meets up with a virtual parade of historical figures, each funnier than the next, all idiosyncratic and unique. The actors and actresses given the roles of the 1920s luminaries are all exceptional. Kathy Bates makes a tough den mother out of Gertrude Stein. Corey Stoll is hilarious as the over-tough Hemingway, and Alison Pill is great as the manic Zelda Fitzgerald. Gil’s love interests are also enchanting – especially Marion Cotillard.

But it’s Gil’s earnestness and enthusiasm that sell the story here. Owen Wilson is fantastic, and a perfect mouthpiece for Woody Allen. He’s sincere as a boy scout and drinks in the wonder and awe of what’s happening as if he were at a magic show. He feels completely natural speaking Allen’s dialogue… they’re an exceptional pairing.

Of course, Gil is a man who doesn’t belong in the 20s. So he has choices to make. About his career, about his relationship with his fiancée, about whether or not he wishes to continue to live in two worlds… Which could make for a heavy film, but not here. From the music, to the characters, to the setting, to the romance – “Midnight in Paris” is a lighthearted, whimsical, fun film that is sure to entertain. It’s enchanting. It’s never melancholy, even though it could have been. It’s just sweet and easy-going. I found it totally enjoyable.

In addition to Best Screenplay, “Midnight in Paris” was also nominated for three other Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Art Direction. It’s gotten tremendous critical acclaim, and virtually everything I’ve read is supportive of it. It’s highly recommended if you havent seen it. And if you have seen it, you probably don’t need me to convince you to see it again!

A

38 thoughts on “Now Showing on Cable: “Midnight in Paris”

  1. I’ve been wanting to buy this on blu-ray, but everywhere I look it’s still between $25 and $30. Where are the sales?

    • THAT I have no control over, but I suspect that this Blu is subject to the “Intelligence Tax”

      I dont believe I’ve ever shared my theory on the “Intelligence Tax”, but it goes something like this. Movies that appeal to more intelligent, affluent movie audiences will be more expensive, without fail. Movies with a “Broader Appeal” will always be cheaper. I call this the “Intelligence Tax”.

      I guarantee that Jack and Jill is less than $20 from the moment its released. While it’ll take MiP a good year to see discounts.

      It’s one of the many sucky ways they rip us off buddy.

      • “Intelligence Tax”. LOL Is that why Muppets hit the Walmart shelves at $20 instead of the regular $14? :)

      • Nahhhh…

        $20 isn’t “Intelligence Tax” territory. I think there it was a case of they probably sold like 3 discs and a digital download in it to make people pay for more… right? Thats my guess.

      • Yeah, the Muppets got the typical “Disney Combo Pack” treatment so that stores with limited shelf space could sell both formats while not using as much space… which of course, leads to a higher ticket price for consumers.

        Of course, this does make me wonder how the “Intelligence Tax” comes into play with, say, TV series. The one-season complete series box set of Brisco County Jr. was in the area of $80…

      • Well, that might be some simple supply and demand stuff right there. Demand is gonna be low, so they need to charge more in order to make their costs back…

        Which frankly, might be the true reasoning behind the “Intelligence Tax” but thats much less fun.

      • It’ll be in the discount bins in 3 weeks.
        :D

        Nahhh. I mean, that version wont do well, but the regular blu/DVD probably will, becasue no one saw it in the theatre. So they’ll be catching up at home.

    • Number 1, huh Dan? That’s cool. It made my top ten… I think even my top five.

      I’m not going to go relisten to my podcast to find out though. On my blog I didnt rank them. :D

  2. One of the great movie of last year! Just so utterly charming and lightweight :D Have already seen it twice in theater and twice on DVD.

    • Wow, dude. I’m going to appoint you head of the fan club! LOL.

      I believe you were the straw that broke the camel’s back on this one for me. Your top ten list…

      Andrew over at ACVF had the poster on his blog for like forever, but come top ten time I saw it so many places, then I finally saw it on yours I was like, alright alirght alright! LOL.

      I finally broke down and watched it – I’m glad I did!

  3. I think what I love best about this film is that it’s frothy, sweet, pleasurable, charming, romantic, and just plain wonderful, the kind of art that doesn’t demand heavy lifting from its audience, and yet Allen still manages to fit some truly cutting, sly commentary and criticism of nostalgia neatly among the folds of his movie’s more airy and light characteristics. I like the idea that Gil’s nostalgia and his very genuine passion for the 20s and the art of the period allow him to experience both in a very literal, real way (if we assume that the time-traveling cab is just a metaphor), while Paul’s pedantry always keeps him cold and distant from the material he’s so well-read upon. (And arguably he’s not even that well-read.) And at the same time, Gil’s ultimate catharsis lies in the realization that his nostalgia is an unhealthy indulgence.

    • LOL. Yeah, Paul. I didnt get a chance to work him in, but I thought about it. LOL

      What an ass that character was. I love when Gil shows him up at the museum :D Great moment!

      You’re right. No heavy lifting involved… pure entertainment. Obviously youre right Gil has a catharsis, so there is a bit of a “moral to the story” but its not anything heavy in any way.

      I liked this one a lot. Took me totally off guard.

  4. Loved the montage at the opening! Parisian scenes from POV of famous painters. The ultimate anti-CGI just great Photography. The film is littered with literary and artistic references. How about when Gil talks to Bunuel. Gil–“What if your actors are at a dinner party and when they get up to leave the house they can’t. Bunuel–“Why not?” Gil–“Because they can’t!” (name the movie folks). But it’s not just the 20’s! LA Belle Epoque, Wow! Carla Bruni, whens the last time a First Lady was in a film? Light hearted? Sure, but a really Symphony of art conducted by Woody Allen! Heh, didn’t you review this earlier? Or was that just a year end roundup?

    • No, I dont think* *I was blogging when it was out in theatres. It might have been really early when I was just doing one movie a week… It made my “MAJOR AWARDS” a couple of times, so I did touch on it then, thats probably where its connecting for you.

      Glad to see you’re enthusiastic about this one. :D

  5. My one word description of this movie: Delightful.

    What I love about this film is it’s unabashed literary nature. The more you’ve read, the more you get out of it, without it ever feeling exclusionary or elitist. If you’ve read nothing of the Fitzgeralds or Gertrude Stein or the Impressionists, you’ll probably still enjoy this film, but if you HAVE read anything about that era you will love it that much more. And speaking of Impressionists, how about Owen Wilson’s Wood-man impression? A blond, goodlooking, goyish Woody Allen? Who’da thunk it? (Obviously Woody Allen has. lol)

  6. So, here’s a question for you, then. As someone who hasn’t seen much in the way of Woody Allen films (the only thing involving him I’ve seen is Casino Royale), how well does this work as an introduction to his films?

    • Very well, IMO. Its one of his best.

      Is it representative of his entire filmography? I dont know that I’d go there that quickly… but it is an excellent movie that would probably encourage you to dig deeper. Which is a good thing for an “introductory” film.

      I’d say his signature film is still Annie Hall, of course.

      • I’d say his signature film for straight up comedy is probably Sleeper, followed by Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Play it again, Sam, and Casino Royale (in that order).

        For the 2nd stage of his career (Annie Hall – Hannah and Her Sisters), then Annie Hall has to take top place, but I’m very partial to Manhattan and Zelig.

        For the more recent era, Midnight in Paris is probably the best, but nothing wrong with BUllets over Broadway either.

      • Well, I haven’t seen EVERY film he’s ever made… but close!

        Also my brother’s been working on practically every Woody Allen film since the mid 90s, so… it’s sort of an obligation.

        But yeah, I’m pretty solidly in the Wood-man’s corner.

      • We couldn’t tell!

        Thats cool then that your brother continues to work with him, is it a comfort level thing for W.A.? Keeps the same teams together, that kind of thing?

      • Yeah, he has a pretty tight core group of people he likes to work with, from what I understand. He’s not fanatical about it, but there’s a comfort level about relying on people you know. It’s pretty common in ‘the Biz’

  7. LOVE this movie! I saw it on the big screen but have been meaning to rent it again on Blu-ray. I never thought I’d like Owen Wilson but he’s actually quite funny in this one. Nice to see Hiddleston as F Scott Fitzgerald as well, funny that two actors portraying the famed writer happens to be my favorite.

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