Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), visiting Paris for unknown length of time, is so taken by the city that he considers moving in, be a perpetual tourist and write his novel. His fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) thinks that he should go back to Southern California and stay on as the moderately successful screenwriter that he is. His romanticized view of Paris gets intermittently interrupted by his fiancée’s parents, her older friend Paul (Michael Sheen) and the latter’s yes-woman of a fiancée. After a wine tasting party, Gil takes a rain check when Inez and Paul want to go out dancing. He wants to ingest the city and gets lost. While sitting on some steps, the bells ring midnight, a vintage car stops in front of him and inside are people dressed up for a 1920′s themes costume party. They wave him in, he follows, and they take a ride from one charming, drunken party to another in for real 1920′s Paris.
In his review of Woody Allen‘s new film Midnight in Paris for The New York Times, A.O. Scott says ‘critics…complain when he repeats himself and also when he experiments.’ The same can be said in his version of 1920′s France, the historical characters from that bygone era depicted like Coles Notes. Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates, because who else?) saying something quotable and eloquent! Ernest Hemingway saying something equally quotable eloquent on an awesome musky drunken haze! Zelda Fitzgerald (Alison Pill) and Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody) saying something coarse and/or surreal that no one rightfully bothered to write down! It’s a damned if he does or doesn’t scenario. The latter might have made history buffs and literati take their own nails out. But choosing the former makes history seem like pushing a button to reassure Gil, as he tells Inez, that the people in the past are exactly what he thought they would be, and that he might not learn anything new despite going into this different world.
Thankfully, history gets a different narrative through Ariana (Marion Cotilliard), a fashion designer originally from a smaller French city. Conventionally, no one in her time would write about her, the thankless muse and objectified trophy to many artists. She’s smitten by Gil’s writing and befriends him. Instead of the gilded tourist-y, antique shop present day France that Gil experiences in daylight, shot marvellously by Darius Khondji, his midnight strolls in 1920′s Paris with Ariana are gray, mahogany and smoke. She leads him to avenues with a whopping four prostitutes in one block. Four! She tells him about her relatively hard life and her encounters with sleazy people of that time.
Through Cotilliard’s commendable performance, Ariana talks about being these artists’ and writers’ lovers or working under revered couturiers as a measly job or a mere stop to a drifter’s journey instead of an honour that Gil thinks it is. Kindred spirits with differences attract, and it’s very convincing that instead of hanging out and being a sponge to ideas from these great writers, he is more fascinated with ‘some girl.’ Ariana is just one of the film’s female characters who are counter-subversive to Gil’s subversion, being able to see the cracks within his nostalgia. Gertrude Stein criticizes a painting that would end up in a gallery that Gil revisits in the present day. Inez’ mother questions his lack of taste in furniture.
Woody Allen’s previous takes on the past are more magical, an element greatly missed in this film. Sure, there’s that bit of dust touching the vintage car as they’re going to Cole Porter’s party, but instead of fully embracing the world where Gil finds himself, we instead see his eyes get bigger, the characters introducing themselves with names of people who have been dead for years. But at least he replaces magic with self-awareness.
- Movie Review – Midnight in Paris (** out of 5) (chicagonow.com)
‘…does he wear dresses?’
‘He doesn’t wear dresses. You’ll find out all the details when it’s your turn to see him.’
‘Don’t write this book, it’s a humiliating experience.’
‘It’s an honest account of our breakup.’
I’ve liked the slide show feature of the previous theme, Modulary Lite, but once in a while, I remind myself to look at the WordPress announcements to check out new themes. Most of them suck except for this one. Other commenters in the WordPress blog have already called it retro, which is why I chose it. It comes with a retro font, too, but I have to upgrade my Firefox to see the result. Nards.
Also, I have a heading like a real blog now! And it’s from Jane Eyre! Yay! But I might remember/forget to change it once every ten posts. Boo. The fact that my original blog name, ‘Brown Okinawa Assault Incident’ ran down to two lines in the header made me want to shorten my blog name. Still too esoteric, though.
Everything in this new theme feels too big, the header, the font. I don’t want the reader to have to scroll down to see my content. And I have to put more pictures in each post [UPDATE: which means it's probably going to take longer to load my site.] so that the visual and written parts are balanced within the computer screen. But meh. This theme stays for another six months, I guess. Or when something better comes along.
UPDATE: Because I’m not talking about this theme change again tomorrow, here were rejected suggestions for my new blog name, which blogspot hasn’t updated yet. I have the best Facebook friends.
Asian Woody Allen
- How To Add Rich Snippets for Reviews To Your WordPress Blog (makeuseof.com)
“I guess you don’t read the theatre section of the paper.”
Hit her, Marion (Gena Rowlands), hit her! There’s only the three of you in this block. However, unlike this classical period in his career, Woody Allen films have only been violent in the past six years and only twice within that time. Anyway, I’m criminally new to Gena Rowlands’ word. Someone give me a movie where she literally kicks ass. Gloria?
Also, I’d hesitate to do any physical harm to Claire. I love the actress playing her, Sandy Dennis, specifically because she can steal a scene from Natalie Wood. And Dennis actually looks better in 1988 than she did decades before that. I’m so bad in not knowing that Dennis did major work after Woolf.
I’m also reminding myself while watching bits of Another Woman that this is Woody Allen evoking American Ingmar Bergman. I’ll give Bergman’s right hand man Sven Nyqvist, this film’s cinematographer, in how empty New York looks, and I’ve never viewed that with suspicion until now. This won’t be the last time we’ll see New York so empty. And is that light bulb on top of that post or behind that window? Anyway, Bergman also influences Allen’s work here to the direction of subtlety and, well, passive-aggressive dialogue, secret emotions, distorted memory, women being unfair towards each other.
Let’s fast forward by four or five minutes, where we find out that adulthood is a series of broken friendships. Marion takes Claire and her husband to drinks in a dank pub with etched walls, Claire sulks and then tells her she’s an unconscious home-wrecker. Now we know why Claire utters that quote above. Imagine how hurt Marion feels by learning this. The way Claire gets destroyed makes it a dirty victory for Marion, but classy and newly introspective as she is, she does not take the trophy home. I can’t imagine anyone questioning her actions by this time.
No one can do blasphemy like Woody Allen. Thing is I’ve been looking for this scene while skimming Hannah and Her Sisters and couldn’t find it, and I was gonna post a still of Barbara Hershey permanently coming out of the shower or the atrocious fashion. Oh, you want me to do that too?
And when Holly and Mickey (Woody Allen) have a second chance. What kind of Jewish parent names their kid Mickey?
- Modern Maestros: Woody Allen (filmexperience.blogspot.com)
Fuck. So I’m gonna try to be like Oprah and tell 36 of you what book to buy. “Cities of Refuge” is the new novel by Michael “Papa” Helm and it just came out in Canada and I think England last week. It’s about a young female security guard for the ROM gets sexually assaulted, and that event adds to her colourful life as well as the lives of those around her. It’s been highly praised already. My broke ass actually bought the book and there’s something factual yet psychological about his tone, so far. It’s also very urban, multicultural story and he makes us walk with the characters in the spaces they go through and think about the city like they do.
Helm is also gonna be a part of the Harbourfront Reading Series and he goes on Wednesday. He taught me Creative Writing in UofT until he defected to the enemy at York. He’s cute, he kinda sounds like Johnny Cash, go buy his book and see him read it.
Lars, who I was in the Creative Writing class with (here’s his un-updated blog by the way), also linked me to Empire’s List of 40 Great Actor and Director Partnerships. It’s a very dry list and there are a few glaring omissions (Allen and Farrow), but at least the website didn’t turn it into a fucking slide show. Also, I’m gonna buy this magazine. My friends will know that I barely buy movie magazines because I can access the same information on the net, as well as other reasons that I’ll probably never get to.
Also, The Playlist via London Times gives us the first look at Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. I’m really excited about this because Michael Fassbender plays Rochester, the same role played by Orson Welles and Ciaran Hinds. I also didn’t know whether or not Mia Wasikowska is British or American (she’s Australian), and hopefully giving her Jane Eyre will give her something more to chew on than her role as Alice early this year.
Lastly, today’s gonna be really busy. I saw three movies last night, all strangely about May-December romances.
An uneven start for Woody Allen. Only two of the segments were really funny. Three if you count the sodomy scene, which was hilarious until it went a little too long. Four if you count the aphrodisiac scene, showing that he can do Marx Brothers better than the Marx Brothers. But that scene has foundations on base humour. But the good outshines the bad.
My favourite sketch would have to be the perverts sketch. The whole movie is full Holy Batman Gene Wilder/Burt Reynolds, but here we have Regis Philbin, looking and sounding the same. It takes a bourgeois and banal approach to sexual perversion, as Regis and the panel take guesses, nobody snickers or passes judgment. Both perverts featured on the show are male – most of the film focuses on male desire and trying to figure out women. The gag is that this show would have never made it on television even if this is the sexy 70′s. Add a masochistic ending involving a Rabbi’s fetish and we have a winner. I don’t know why I love Jewish humour but I do.
My other favourite is the female orgasm scene. Woody’s best acting is probably in this movie and this scene, perfectly embodying the cool Italian lover instead of the awkward New Yorker persona that he has. His early career has films showing his take on European auteurs, this time taking on Antonioni but making it hilarious. Sure, the character still has insecurities but those insecurities don’t weigh him down. He and his wife in the scene look good together. She can only reach orgasm in public places, and that’s the only thing we know about her.