No matter what your thoughts are regarding Woody Allen’s private life, there’s no denying that he is an American treasure as a writer and filmmaker. As the quote goes, “I guess you can’t have all the gifts.”
I’ve been a fan of Woody Allen for quite a while, mostly because my father was a fan and we would periodically watch his movies. I remember seeing SMALL TIME CROOKS and TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN as a young teen and enjoying them, but I never really watched a lot of Allen’s films until college. That was when I finally made the effort to sit and watch some of his classics, such as ANNIE HALL, MANHATTAN and CRIMES & MISDEMEANORS.
Considering he releases a film every single year, it is sometimes tough to keep up with his films because the misses tend to disappear rather quickly and by the time it’s out to rent he has another one coming out.
I was lucky enough to see his latest film, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, last night at a Film Independent screening. His films are always smart and well-acted, but for whatever reason for the past 20 years they are hit or miss. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, thankfully, is a hit.
The film follows Owen Wilson who plays Gil, a successful screenwriter (Woody Allen would’ve played this role 30 years ago), on vacation with his fiancee in Paris with her parents. He’s obsessed with 1920s Paris, walking in the rain and taking in the culture. When he and his fiancee run into one of her old friends he considers “pedantic,” he dodges out of hanging out with them by taking long walks at night. He soon finds himself in his own fantasy partying with the artistic icons of the ’20s.
If you’re up on Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Matisse, you will love it. If you’re not, you’ll still enjoy it but wish you were a little more literate. I fall in the latter category, but what’s great about the film is it makes me want to become more educated and well-read. Clearly, certain areas of my education are missing.
The movie’s themes are a bit on the nose and hardly subtle, and beyond a nice trip through the main character’s living in 1920s Paris fantasy, we don’t really get much else. The main character has a slight change, but not the kind of arc that could have been possible with the setup. In some ways, I wish Allen had spent maybe an extra month or two developing the script and the one-dimensional side characters instead of rushing to get another film produced.
But I still recommend it.
Reading: Writing Short Screenplays that Connect, Dress Your Family in Corduroy
Listening: Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
Watching: Midnight in Paris, The Big Heat