Friday, February 17, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW:Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris
Running Time: 94 minutes
Nominations: 4 (Best Picture; Best Director: Woody Allen; Best Original Screenplay; Best Art Direction)
Availability in the US: On DVD and Blu-ray
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and smoking

Where does a writer draw his inspiration, from the people in his life or from the long-dead figures whose works delighted him as a child? Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris attempts to explore the juxtaposition of these two muses. Gil (Owen Wilson) and his fiancée Inez travel to Paris where Gil, a successful screenwriter whose work on his first novel has stalled, hopes to clear his head and end his writer's block. Hoping the City of Light will inspire him in some way the events of his own life have failed to, Gil wanders the streets late at night and comes upon a new and unexpected source of inspiration.

Midnight in Paris is one of the most truly enjoyable films I have seen in years. When I saw it last summer, I couldn't wait to go out and tell everyone I knew they needed to see it. Of course this wasn't an easy sell; in an effort to not spoil some of the film's most entertaining twists, I was willing to share very little about the actual plot of the film. (For an example on how to give away while pretending to summarize, see the above paragraph.) I've always enjoyed Woody Allen's films, though some are better than others— anyone who has seen 1996's Everyone Says I Love You, Allen's last film to portray Paris, knows what I mean—but this feels like a renaissance of sorts. Midnight in Paris is easily Allen's best film since at least 2000's Small Time Crooks and will delight both newcomers to Allen's work and longtime fans alike.

While many a Woody Allen fan, myself included, let out a hoot of approval when Midnight in Paris was announced as a nominee for Best Picture, it's difficult to see any path to actually winning the prize. Even if Hugo and The Artist were to split the film-preservationist/nostalgia vote, it's likely The Descendants would swoop in and steal the crown. Similarly, the films much-deserved Art Direction nomination will likely prove fruitless, though Midnight in Paris manages to make the City of Lights glow beautifully through several period shifts. The screenplay category is a different story, however. Woody Allen has 15 Oscar nominations for writing (and 23 overall nominations), the most of any writer in history, and 9 more than any other living writer. He is essentially the John Williams (46 nominations) of the Best Original Screenplay category. What's more surprising, though, is that Allen hasn't won an Oscar since 1986 for Hannah and Her Sisters, and I believe he is long overdue. Though there are some serious contenders in this category, I think Allen could FINALLY win his fourth Oscar.

Grade: A+

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