Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Midnight in Paris
"Midnight in Paris" is Woody Allen's personal fairy tale. For all its pristine Parisienne romanticism, its folksy cafes, its immaculate boulevards and its sparkling rain spattered streets, the setting may as well be Allen's beloved Manhattan Village. Like "Sesame Street" this a cutesy vision. There is no dischord here, no dirt, no homeless beggars or grime. This is Allen's Disney.
So begins this light Summer Idyll, as close to eye candy as Woody Allen gets.
Gil (Owen Wilson) plays a conflicted screenwriter about to get married to an energetic blonde Inez (Rachel McAdams). There is only one obstacle as this is a Woody Allen film: Gil is more interested in the bohemian history of Paris than the social flutterings of his fiancee.
During one family outing he begs off and wanders the historic Paris streets. Bells chime. A ghostly yellow auto from the 1920s arrives. Gil's adventure begins.
Here is Scott (Tom Hiddleston) and Zelda (Alison Pill), Hemingway (Corey Stoll) and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates). Gil is hesitant and bumbling, but he shows a boyish charm and just like Allan Felix in 1972's "Play It Again, Sam", Gil is at home when talking to living ghosts. Gil becomes consumed with showing his novel to Hemingway, who spouts off automatic passages from his well known novels. He says things like "grace under pressure" and talks about death and bullfighting. He seems little more than a self important hologram. But this is part of the fun. Ernest is so earnest in his dialogue that he makes for many chuckles. As does the amphetamine butterfly Zelda and the anguished Scott.
Adrien Brody plays Dali who appears to have the most fun with his rolling Rs and ecstatic eyes. Yes, it is a bestiary of antique celebrities, all of whom are only slightly more than caricature and some past artists are mere doodles, but it is sincere and heartfelt doodling. Easy on the eyes.
When Gil gets back to the present, neurotic conflict ensues. He wants to stay and write while Inez only wants to go from event to event accompanied by the know- it-all- square, Paul (Michael Sheen) who echoes the roles usually played by Tony Roberts. There is also a Republican father along with the status seeking mother of Inez thrown into the mix, providing the duly beloved comic tension. But it does seem as if we know what's coming before it happens. Such is Allen's anxious and folksy oeuvre that now is a cartoon within a cartoon. The style is so well travelled that we laugh anyway, given that this legendary auteur is so light and fast with his bohemian belly-laughs.
"Midnight in Paris" is indeed light fare. At times it even seems like this might be Allen's take on "Night at The Museum" given the sheer number of celebrities sketched about without any real conflicts. Yet it remains Owen Wilson's self deprecating performance throughout, coupled with his spaced out manner that makes this film and Paris in the Twenties worthwhile, if only for a brief trifle in time.
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