Midnight in Paris

This post may be a synchro in that the first movie we saw after returning from our Costa Rica trip was Midnight in Paris, a time travel movie in the Woody Allen sense. It felt right because Costa Rica is like traveling through time. OK, so maybe that’s a stretch.  But the movie is a total delight, pure Woody, from start to finish.

For anyone who has followed Woody Allen’s career since, oh, say, Annie Hall, then his usual themes are familiar to you. A fear of death, a sense that you aren’t worthy – of a relationship, a certain desire you hold, a dream. Owen Wilson plays the character that Woody used to play in his own movies. And it’s kind of eerie. He talks like Woody in his younger days, that same tone and texture, that subtext, that glorious imagination that always embraces more.

From a novelist’s point of view, the story is seamless, perfectly told, no complicated detours.  Owen Wilson, the protagonist, is vacationing in Paris with his fiancée, Rachel McAdams, and her family. He’s a Hollywood scriptwriter, successful, but thinks he’s a hack who would be better off living in Paris in the 1920s when the artistic greats glommed to this city like frogs to a pond.  Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso: Wilson knows that history.

And one night when he explores Paris on his own, he pauses on a particular corner and an odd car pulls up to the curb and Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald lean out the window and shout for him to join them. At that moment, he doesn’t know who they are, but he has had a lot to drink and laughs and climbs into the car with them.

Owen Wilson ends up at a party where the women are dressed like flappers and Cole Porter plays beautiful music on a piano. He meets Picasso’s mistress and falls for her. And then they all got to a bar where he meets Hemingway, who promises to give his manuscript to Gertrude Stein.

You get the idea the idea here, right? At some point, Wilson wonders if he’s lost his mind, his fiancée is sure of it. But night after night, he enters into this very magical world of time travel, and Woody Allen never explains how it’s possible. The car simply draws up to this particular corner just as the city clock chimes twelve for midnight, Wilson gets in, and is delivered to the past. The technique works beautifully.

Woody Allen is one of those artists with whom you come of age.  He captures the synchronistic weirdness of a particular time and place in such a way so that when you look back over your own life, you can say, Wow, I saw Annie Hall when…. Or: I was with so and so when I saw Sleeper….

There was a time when his movies were boycotted or banned in the U.S. because he deserted his partner, Mia Farrow, and married his stepdaughter, who was ridiculously younger, and fled the U.S. Yeah, okay, so what? Politicians do this daily. For me, Woody Allen remains a quintessential filmmaker who grasps the angst behind the façade, whose films urge us to question our mass reality and ask…what if?

Info on the film is here.

This entry was posted in movies, time travel, Woody Allen. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Midnight in Paris

  1. Darren B says:

    Oddly enough,two artists that I link to on my blog,have started doing paintings of Paris.
    Starr is currently working on new Paris works
    http://myexcenticartyworld.blogspot.com/
    and David Lloyd,who I just this moment bought a heap of prints off (at bargain prices) just put a sketch up called “Rainy Day at Cafe France”.
    http://lloydart.blogspot.com/

    Synchro weirdness all round !?!

  2. Darren B says:

    ***JUST A NOTE TO ANYBODY THINKING OF WATCHING
    “DECONSTRUCTING HARRY” ***
    I watched it again yesterday and must warn people who don’t like foul language…or Woody,that there are some quite nasty little swear words thrown about in this Woody Allen film.And if you don’t like Woody now…well,this film won’t do him any favours.
    Apart from that,I think it is still worth a watch,to see how we project our demons onto others,instead of working on our own demons first.

    • R and T says:

      Wow, you’re quick, Daz. Ours request just went on netflix. I have vague memories of this movie, but maybe I’m recalling a trailer.

      • Darren B says:

        I own a copy of the DVD,which was quite hard to come by over here.
        I have a list of books and movies that I have to get through,from a synchronistic pact I made,and that one was on it.

        I’m off to work now….I’ll catch up with you later in time.

  3. CJ — I’m with you on Woody Allen. I can’t stand the guy, which is why I haven’t seen many of his films. He did voiceover work on the animated film ANTZ and I even hate him in that (his neurosis is annoying). However, Allen is not in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, so there are no worries about that. Owen Wilson is the stand in for Allen and he does a better job than Allen would have. This film is great because of the location in Paris (a tribute to the city itself), the storyline, the tribute to the Lost Generation and the Belle Epoque, and the overall message: nostalgia is deceptive because the past was never as great as we imagine it to be. I highly recommend seeing this film.

  4. mathaddict3322 says:

    Oh, dear. I must be in a corner all by myself here! Can’t stand Woody Allen, have never even been able to look at his photos or watch his movies. Simply can’t stand him. Maybe some past life memory of someone resembling him or something. But, I don’t care for his brand of movies, either, so it’s probably just a matter of taste. Different strokes for different folks. Do love Owen Wilson, however. Interesting post, guys.

    • Darren B says:

      That last comment of mine ” It always amazes me how people say “I wouldn’t see that film,listen to that song,read that book,etc….” was meant to go here,but I cant seem move it,now that it’s waiting moderation.

      • I read your previous comment and feel that I must respond. As far as Woody Allen, when I posted a positive review of his latest film on my Facebook wall, several of my friends brought up his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, as if that disqualifies the film. I personally don’t like Woody Allen. Not because of his relationship, though, because that might be a spiritual pairing for all we know. Its his personality (neurotic) that I cannot stand to watch. Its very uncomfortable to watch him. I don’t like being around people like that in real life, so why spend two hours watching that on screen? I do plan to have a Woody Allen film festival this summer at home, watching his classics with an open mind.

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “boycotting” the films of some actor we don’t like. For instance, I will no longer see any new Mel Gibson films due to the ugliness that has come out in recent years. I was pleased that his latest film, “The Beaver” bombed at the box office. I don’t think it even made $1 million.

        I love Michael Jackson’s music…but I stopped buying it after 1995 because of the allegations against him. After he died, I bought the CDs and DVDs I had wanted to own, because I was no longer funding his lifestyle. The money I spent on MJ CDs and DVDs will go to his children or estate, instead of him. I can appreciate him as an artist, even if we’ll never know what he did around children when no one was looking.

        • Darren B says:

          Nicholas,all I’m saying is don’t let your prejudices for some artist’s lifestyle spoil your choice of whether or not you will view or listen to his or her art.
          Example: I had a dream one night that Charles Bronson was doing mickey-flips on my forklift tines
          (I’m a fork-lift driver by profession) over the edge of (about) a forty-story building.Now heights like that frighten the c#@p out of me,so I pretty much woke up right away.Then I thought this was one of those dreams that had a message for me,about my work (forklift) and Charles Bronson.But I’m not a Charles Bronson fan,I don’t really even like his movies.So,I started Googleing “Charles Bronson”, and out of what seemed like hours,I had two choices that seemed to feel right in some subconscious way.
          One was Po Bronson with his book “What Should I Do With My Life?” and the other was a movie that I had never heard of called “Bronson”.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronson_%28film%29
          The book sounded like it might be good,but I kept getting the feeling that I had to watch this movie,but it was about the life of notorious British prisoner Michael Gordon Peterson (who I had never heard of before) , who was re-named Charles Bronson by his fight promoter.I did not want to see this film because I generally don’t like films that glorify criminals and I don’t usually like films about boxing.But I reluctantly watched it against my better judgment…and I would have to say that this film is right up there with my favourite films of all times…not because I admire “Peterson” and his uncontrolled violence,but because I pity a man who has pretty much kept himself a prisoner all his life.All he had to do was change his ways a bit and control his temper,but he couldn’t see that he was the problem,he saw the system as the problem,not him.Which proved a very valuable insight into my own work situation,where I felt a prisoner of circumstance ,where in fact I was just as much my own jailer as “Bronson” was his.Now,I would never have seen this wonderful film if I had of let my prejudice dictate what I should be watching.
          And I may not think much of Mel’s big mouth,either.But he is a wonderful film maker. Apocalypto
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypto
          is one of my all time favourites as well.Why should I boycott a great film maker because he shoots his mouth off a bit and is a bad marriage partner? I still like his films and would like to see more.And I can’t wait to see “The Beaver” when it is released here later in the year.
          I’ll let God do the judging on Mel’s behalf,because I don’t really feel as qualified to judge Mel,just as I don’t feel Mel’s really all that qualified to judge me.
          You might not know this,but I’m not perfect, either…yes,I know that you probably find that hard to believe,and now the illusion has been broken for you…sorry. (that’s a real big [.-) ] )
          In the meantime I’ll throw him a few bucks in appreciation of his film making skills and see what else he can produce.
          Sometimes…like Bronson…you’re only making a prisoner of yourself out of your own prejudices.
          I agree that Woody’s characters are annoying,but so was Jerry Lewis in all of his movies,too.But as a kid (and even now,to some degree) I loved them…doesn’t mean that I want to hang out with him…and his mouth is just as big as Mel’s in real life,too.
          But hey…,if you really can’t stand an artist on moral grounds and think you’re hurting them in some way buy not contributing money to their art…it’s your choice,if that makes you feel better.

  5. Thanks for the tip on this WA movie, T & R. It looks fascinating, and will definitely see it – if they bring it out in Hong Kong. I saw Super 8. I really liked the kids aspect to it. The monster was almost irrelevant, I thought. They probably could have kept him (they are nearly always male – how sexist!) out of just about the whole movie, and it would have been better, I think. It’s kind of like Stand by Me meets Predator. Some really cute kids moments – but not really a kids movie. I wouldn’t take an under-10 year-old kid. Teens should be fine.

  6. I’m not a fan of Woody Allen at all. He’s too neurotic for my tastes. However, when I learned that his latest movie was set in Paris and involves a writer who gets to meet members of the Lost Generation, I knew I had to see this one! I LOVED IT!!! Its such a great film with a great message. I loved the jabs at the teabaggers and the human tendency towards nostalgia. It was hilarious. In fact, I laughed more times during this film than I did watching “Hangover 2”. I may have to do a Woody Allen film festival through Netflix this summer! I only saw a few of his films, but I think I’m ready to see what some of his classics are about.

  7. DJan says:

    Trish, I did notice the number of my followers (111) and think of you every time I see it. I will go see this movie soon, now that I know there’s a good reason. I love Woody Allen type movies, and this one sounds like it’s fun!

  8. Nicole says:

    I have heard of this movie, but didn’t really know what it was about. Now I will have to see it as it sounds delightfully magical, my favorite type of movie!

    I heard Super 8 was rather frightening. I will see it too, but I heard it is the kind of scary movie that leaves the spookiness to your own imagination. I love those much better than the graphic horror type of films. Alfred Hitchcock was the best at that.

    Anyway I love Woody Allen too, always did, which was funny as none of my other friends did, they didn’t get him or care too. But I think he is brilliant, strange, but brilliant. 1st movie I saw of his was Love and Death. Sleeper is a classic! So thanks for the review, I like Owen Wilson too, despite always wanting to reach into the film and tweak his nose. I know it’s a look that is his. Still in all, I want to fix it. Ha!

    Sounds like a good movie.

    • R and T says:

      Your description of Owen made me laugh! Love and Death: I remember that one. I remember all of them. He was always a nerdy actor, like Mike mentioned, but his movies are always weirdly delightful.

  9. D Page says:

    Thanks for the insightful review. I want to see it, for sure.

  10. Darren B says:

    I can’t wait to see this movie.It sounds right up my ally,after recently reading Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”,then watching the movie
    (Baz Luhrmann is remaking “The Great Gatsby”.Shooting is about to get underway http://www.bazmark.com/.I can’t wait to see that one)
    ,not to mention that I’m drinking coffee from my “Great Gatsby” coffee cup,while reading this post (I wonder if the coffee didn’t come from Costa Rica?-) ,and I also liked reading about Paris in Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” (and watching the movie of the same name),and I just love Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.

    Also I was listening to the audio podcast about “Men in Black” between Mike Clellend and Nick Redfern last night ;
    http://hiddenexperience.blogspot.com/2011/06/nick-redfern-is-back-this-is-his-forth.html
    and was intrigued when Dan Aykroyd mentions his own encounter with MIB in New York,where these guys dressed in black pull up in an old model car,give him a stare,then in Dan’s words “just vanish into thin air”.Suggesting that they might be time travelers…weird stuff…just like the above weirdness in Woody’s movie.

    By the way,Trish.Have you seen Woody’s “Deconstructing Harry”,I think you’d like that one.It’s about a novelist who lives his life through his novels and the characters ,who have been constructed from his real life (in the movie,that is) .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstructing_Harry
    Interestingly it stars ‘Tobias VINCENT “Tobey” Maguire’ as playing Harvey Stern / Harry’s character, and Maguire is going to be narrator Nick Carraway,in Luhrmann’s new film of Gatsby.
    Maguire also has a role in the movie “Pleasantville”,where he time travels back to a fifties TV show.
    All strange connections indeed!

    • R and T says:

      It seems like I did see deconstructing harry, but rob says he doesn’t think so. One more for netflix. I love tobey maguire in anything, but in pleasantville he was cast perfectly. Didn’t know about the new gatsy films. It remains one of favorite books.
      I’ll check out mike’s podcast. He always interviews interesting people.

      • Darren B says:

        Trish,
        I just realized this after sending the e-mail of the photo of the green frog on the bed in the magazine ad,and re-reading my comment “Maguire as playing Harvey Stern / Harry’s character”

        The ad in the magazine is for a store in Australia called “Harvey Norman (Normal Man?)” and Tobey’s character is Harvey Stern.Also the ad says “What are little boys made of ?” here’s the weird part ,”Frogs (your green frog with red eyes,and the frog in the ad ?),Snails (Paris,France?Midnight in Paris?) and Puppy Dog Tails (Tales?stories ?- Harry the novelist,you the novelist,Fitzgerald the novelist ?)

        “What are little boys made of ?”/Deconstructing Harry ?
        Maybe this is a sync telling us both to give that Woody Allen movie another spin through the DVD player ?

        • R and T says:

          Wow. What an odd sequence of things! We’re putting deconstructing on the netflix list. I think you’re absolutely right about seeing it – for you, again, for us – the first time (I think. We’ll know by the opening sequence!)

          • Darren B says:

            Here’s another little sync,I just went to check my mail,and Rob’s book “Psychic Power” along with Dean Radin’s book “Entangled Minds” were waiting for me.
            And on the back of “Entangled Minds” is the question in my favourite shade of blue
            (which is the same colour of the lightning bolts on the bedspread that the green frog is sitting on in the magazine ad) ,
            “Is Everything Connected?”

            • R and T says:

              Cool! He just received the galleys today for two of his novels coming out this year. Really rare for two to arrive on the same day. Just finished writing up the frog synchro. So inside out is like a decorating magazine for kids’ rooms?? That was the impresison I got. I sure like that kid’s room in the pic.

              • Darren B says:

                Re:
                “So inside out is like a decorating magazine for kids’ rooms?”
                No.It’s just a general decorating magazine for in home projects.That spread with the frog was two full page ads put in by a furniture retailer called “Harvey Norman”.
                The blurb on the cover,just underneath the title says “Inspiring Homes With Heart”.
                I don’t usually buy it,but there was a lot that caught my eye when I flicked through it,and when I saw the green frog,I knew I just had to buy it.

                • R and T says:

                  Thanks, Daz. Want to get the facts right!

                • Darren B says:

                  I also just realized that there is a goldfish in a bowl (my blog mascot) staring at the frog on the bed (I can send a better picture of the fish if you like).
                  Also there is an orange monkey right above the dog’s head…shades of the Orangutan and dog story you had posted the other day?
                  The pillow with the orange VW on them are called “Retro Holiday”
                  and the white drawer and beside table are called “Domino”.
                  This story sure seems to have a domino effect happening .-)

                  • R and T says:

                    This is getting progressively stranger. I just finished writing up the frog synchros and used that word: domino. Is this some sort of synchronistic groove or what?!

                    • Darren B says:

                      It always amazes me how people say “I wouldn’t see that film,listen to that song,read that book,etc…because I can’t stand the guy/girl and his/her views on life”.
                      Like it would be you giving that person some kind of absolution to lead the life you disapprove of,just by tapping along to their song,laughing at their joke,or enjoying one of their novels.
                      How many people “couldn’t stand” Micheal Jackson’s songs,when they thought he was a child molester,and now like his songs because he died fairly young ?
                      I hear people all the time trying to justify why they shouldn’t or should watch,read or listen to an artist,because he/she is gay,too straight,Christian,Jew,Anti-Semite,
                      Muslim,Masonic,Luciferian,Feminist,Fascist,Communist,New Age,Catholic,Right/Left Wing…on and on.
                      How stupid? If I listen to,and like Elton John songs,does that make me gay?If I like Mel Gibson films,does that make me an Anti-Semite (bit hard when I’m a Jew…oops! I just lost a part of my audience right there.-).Does it make me a bigot because I like to watch “Seinfeld”with Michael Richards is in it? If I like watching Oliver Stone movies,does that make me a conspiracy nut?…OK…you got me there.-)
                      Just because you watch a film,read a book,or listen to a song,by a less than savory person (by your standards),doesn’t mean that you have to endorse his/her lifestyle/beliefs as well.That’s where your ability to “think for yourself” should come into the equation,and not to be scared of what someone will think of you.

                    • R and T says:

                      You read, see movies, listen to music etc for the joy/insights it brings you…the creator is just another messenger. I still think Braveheart is a brilliant movie, for instance.

  11. Nancy says:

    I’m not a big fan of Woody Allen, but this movie sounds interesting. We went to see Super 8 and X-Men over the weekend, thoroughly enjoying both movies. It was nice to see movies that actually had a plot, while also being sci-fi.

    • R and T says:

      Super-8 is on our list. Megan loved it and we’re huge fans of JJ Abrahms (and Spielberg, of course!).

  12. I don’t think there is a UK release date as yet. As for Woody Allen: I don’t mind him as a writer and director but, as an actor, I never saw the appeal.

  13. I’ve been wanting to see this…and had no idea it was a time travel movie…only wanted to see it because of the Woody Allen connection…but now that I know about the time travel …I’m double in on wanting to see this!! Thanks for the suggestion.