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Movie Review: Midnight in Paris

I recently saw the latest Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris. I have to say it was better and more engaging than any of what I'd refer to as the later Woody Allen films (those from the past ten years or so), other than Melinda and Melinda, which I really dug. In the words of a good friend of mine, "It made me smile."

As far as the film's moral scope, its statement on life, I'd have to refer to the main character Gil's (Owen Wilson's) own words in the film: "I'm having an insight. It's not that big of an insight, but it's an insight none the less" [sic].

This film partly takes place during one of my favorite periods of history: Paris in the 1920s. In the film, Gil runs into the likes of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Dali, T.S. Elliot, and others. These characters don't serve any real function in the plot, except to show Gil that even back in the "idyllic" age of the 1920s, people still had problems and even longed for what they felt was a "simpler" and "more romantic" age. In addition, it was just really, really fun to see the likes of Hemingway and Dali brought to life, though the Fitzgerald character was a little bit forgettable.

Other highlights:

1.) Woody Allen's films tend to take place in these very rich, luxurious, upper-middle-class worlds inhabited by smart, beautiful, well-dressed people with baroque problems. And frankly, for that reason, his worlds are really fun to escape into. In this film, the characters dine out every night, go to roof-top wine tastings, debate buying $30,000 living room chairs, discuss months-long vacation plans and international business ventures, etc., etc. In other words, their world is very, very far removed from most of our own. But watching that world is like slipping into a warm bath. It's nice to know that someone, somewhere, is living that life, or that someone still believes that life is worth aspiring to.

2.) Rachel McAdams looks absolutely fabulous. I've always thought she was gorgeous, but she just keeps getting better and better looking. And in this film, they really dolled her up nicely. The film was almost worth it just for the chance to watch her in a white cotton sun-dress and wedge heels, prancing around an outdoor museum beside the comparatively frumpy Wilson.

3.) Hemingway's rants on writing and life are dead-on. You know, the "good writing is true writing," kind of thing. Who knows if Hemingway actually spoke like he does in the film (there simply can't be many people left who knew him back in the 20s), but if there was a way to bring his well-documented writing philosophy to life, Woody Allen did it. His little rants were not only spot-on, but they really struck a chord and made me want to go back and re-read my Hemingway.

In short: If I had it to do over again, I might just wait until the film came out on DVD. If it weren't for the draw of seeing the 1920s Paris people on screen, I might've done just that.

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