Thursday, 13 October 2011

In the Movies

Contains some thematic spoilers, but I don't think it's that kind of film. 

I knew watching Midnight in Paris would provide the necessary push I needed for a Woody Allen writing frenzy I have been planning for a while. However. writing about Woody Allen stresses me out. Not only is there a book or an essay about Woody Allen everywhere you look, but whatever I say about Woody Allen, he probably said it better and was more entertaining doing it; and so, when attempting to write about his latest film I become the nervous wreck he usually is in his films, and get entangled in thoughts and words that not make for coherent writing. 

I admire Woody Allen so much that if he decided to paint a wall I would gladly sit and watch that paint dry; how does one explain that? I love how he used to make films, funding them from his acting and stand up money. I love that even when he got Hollywood he still pays union rates and not star rates, and maintain his films' character. I love his passion for film, but most of all I love his films. The anticipation of a new Woody Allen film still excites me like a child anticipating presents opening. It's quite an achievement considering he has consistently been making at least one film a year

His bad films still make me glad I watched a Woody Allen film. His great films put a song in my heart, a spring in my step and a really stupid smile on my face when I leave the cinema. When Woody Allen makes a great film it simply make me happy; always.

Midnight in Paris is that kind of film, its simplicity, like in all of Allen’s truly great films, is wining, and liberating. There are no swings nor roundabouts, bigger or double meanings metaphors or subtext what you see is what you get. Woody Allen is not just wearing his heart on his sleeves in his films, he also wears the film on his films, and simply tells you what they are without any hidden agenda, and without turning the simple to simplistic. How dare he?!  

When Allen is not playing himself he makes his lead actor and rarely his actress his surrogates. It is always great fun for me to watch different actors’ interpretations of Woody Allen. My own favourites are Kenneth Branagh, in nobody’s favourites but mine, Celebrity and Will Ferrell in Melinda and Melinda. The worst Woody Allen surrogate in my view was Larry David, who even before the quite rubbish Whatever Works, I thought was not a very good imitation of Woody Allen.

Owen Wilson’s Allen in Midnight in Paris not only sheds a new light on the forever neurotic Woody Allen character, but also on Wilson’s own persona. Gil is surprisingly more charming and lovable than I ever found any of Wilson’s other characters. Not that I have anything against Owen Wilson it’s just that I was beginning to think him a one trick pony. While Woody Allen is comfortable playing Woody Allen, Owen Wilson isn’t, but it makes him wonderfully delicate. His usual mellow self adds a kind of warmth to Gil, which makes him incredibly endearing. 

Midnight in Paris brings back my favourite childishness of Allen's best films, best demonstrated in the Marshall McLuhan scene from Annie Hall:

"Boy if life were only like this!" But in the movies life CAN be like this. In the movies Gil not only can go back in time to Paris of the 20s and mingle with all his heroes, but in this Woody Allen movie it’s also going to be bloody fantastic!  


  1. Fabulously put! The only questionable point you make is that when it comes to Allen, "what you see is what you get." Do you really think so? Simplicity has never really been the word that springs to mind when I think of his film repertoire... But perhaps you're right.

  2. Thank you.

    Hummm... I think the way he puts his ideas across is very simple. What I mean is there are no hidden agendas, for example in Midnight in Paris, Gill simply tells Adriana, and in a way the viewer, what it is the film is about, everyone glamorises the past to avoid the future. He actually almost reach the same point that Paul makes earlier in the film, but he is an arse. It's pretty simply laid. However this doesn't make the idea itself nor the film necessarily simple, and definitely not simplistic. It is one of the thing that makes Allen so amazing. Like his ability to combine a very low brow humour with a very high brow one.