Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris ****

Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris  ****
More Articles
Silver Screen: Confidence Man: The Hugh DeNeal Story Is Stranger than Fiction
Silver Screen: Hereafter *
Silver Screen: Machete **
Silver Screen: Saw VII 3D Zero Stars
Silver Screen: Takers *1/2
Silver Screen: 127 Hours ****
Silver Screen: Bad Teacher ***
Silver Screen: Battle: Los Angeles **
Big Muddy Film Festival 33
Silver Screen: Black Swan ****
Silver Screen: Blue Valentine ****
Silver Screen: Bridesmaids ****
Silver Screen: Cars II *1/2
Silver Screen: Case Thirty-nine *
Silver Screen: Cedar Rapids ****
Silver Screen: Charlie Saint Cloud **
Silver Screen: Despicable Me **1/2
Silver Screen: Devil ***
Silver Screen: Dinner for Schmucks *1/2
Silver Screen: Director Rusty Nails Presents... Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero
Silver Screen: Drive Angry 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Due Date ***1/2
Silver Screen: Easy A ***1/2
Silver Screen: Eat Pray Love ***
Silver Screen: Fast Five **1/2
Silver Screen: Get Him to the Greek ***
Silver Screen: Going the Distance ***
Silver Screen: Green Lantern *1/2
Silver Screen: Grown Ups *
Silver Screen: Hall Pass *1/2
Silver Screen: Hanna ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I ***
Silver Screen: How Do You Know ***
Silver Screen: I Am Number Four *
Silver Screen: Inception ****1/2
Silver Screen: Insidious ***1/2
Silver Screen: Jackass 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Jonah Hex *
Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters
Silver Screen: Just Go with It *
Silver Screen: Knight and Day *1/2
Silver Screen: Kung Fu Panda II ***
Silver Screen: Let Me In ***
Silver Screen: Life as We Know It *1/2
Silver Screen: Limitless ***
Silver Screen: Megamind ***1/2
Silver Screen: My Soul to Take 3D 1/2*
Silver Screen: No Strings Attached ***
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paul ***1/2
Silver Screen: Piranha 3D ***1/2
Silver Screen: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides *1/2
Silver Screen: Predators ***
Silver Screen: Priest 1/2*
Silver Screen: Red ***
Silver Screen: Salt ***
Silver Screen: Scott Pilgrim versus the World ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scream IV *
Silver Screen: Sex and the City II 1/2*
Silver Screen: Shaft and Coffy: Novotny Lawrence Discusses the Blaxploitation Movement
Silver Screen: Skyline *
Silver Screen: Soldiers Speak Out: Carbondale Oscar Winner Barb Trent’s Latest Film
Silver Screen: Something Borrowed *
Silver Screen: Source Code ****1/2
Silver Screen: Splice ****
Silver Screen: Super Eight ****
Silver Screen: The A-Team **1/2
Silver Screen: The Academy Honors... The Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale
Silver Screen: The Adjustment Bureau *1/2
Silver Screen: The American ****
Silver Screen: The Audubon Trilogy: Fugitive Narratives and the Drama of the Natural World
Silver Screen: The Dilemma *1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables **1/2
Silver Screen: The Fighter ****
Silver Screen: The Green Hornet **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part II **1/2
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The King's Speech ****
Silver Screen: The Last Airbender *
Silver Screen: The Last Exorcism ***
Silver Screen: The Lincoln Lawyer ***
Silver Screen: The Mechanic **1/2
Silver Screen: The Next Three Days ***
Silver Screen: The Other Guys ***
Silver Screen: The Rite *
Silver Screen: The Roommate *1/2
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 24, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , March 31, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 16, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 23, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 30, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 19, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 26, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 5, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card July 8, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card September 2, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card September 9, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 14, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 21, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 28, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 7, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 16, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 2, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 9, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 10, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 17, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 13, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 20, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 27, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 16, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 23, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 30, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 9, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 10, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 24, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 12, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 19, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 26, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 5, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 11, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 18, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 4, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 14, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 21, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 28, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 7, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 01, 2020 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 15, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 22, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 29, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 10, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 17, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 24, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Social Network ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Sorcerer's Apprentice **
Silver Screen: The Tourist **
Silver Screen: The Town ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse *1/2
Silver Screen: Thor ***
Silver Screen: Toy Story III ****
Silver Screen: True Grit ****1/2
Silver Screen: Unknown ***
Silver Screen: Unstoppable **
Silver Screen: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ****
Silver Screen: Water for Elephants ***
Silver Screen: X-Men: First Class ***
Silver Screen: Your Highness ***1/2


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris ****
Bryan Miller

It sounds like a backhanded compliment to say that Midnight in Paris is one of Woody Allen's top fifteen or twenty movies, but it is not. Not only has Allen written and directed more than forty feature films, averaging about one a year, but even more astoundingly he keeps cranking out good ones. His hit-to-miss ratio might be slightly worse for the wear, but for every couple of Melinda and Melindas and Cassandra's Dreams there's still a winner in the mix-- Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Match Point being particularly good post-millennial Allen efforts.

Midnight in Paris features a conceit as light and frothy as the foam on a Parisian coffee drink. Screenwriter Gil (Owen Wilson), his fiancé e Inez (Rachel McAdams), and her parents (the very funny combo of Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy) are on vacation in France, and the magic and history of Paris is stirring the lost artistic longings in would-be novelist Gil. But he's about to marry into a family of philistines, and neither his craven intellectual pretender of a future wife nor her Francophobe father appreciate his ardor for Old Paree. To get away from the group, Gil goes on a late-night stroll and is soon picked up by a car full of anachronistically dressed partiers, and when the taxi arrives at its destination Gil finds himself in the 1920s. He meets Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Alison Pill and Tom Hiddleston) and Papa Hemingway (Corey Stoll), listens to Cole Porter (Yves Heck) play some tunes on the piano, and talks art with Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates). But when he slips away to get his novel to show the group, he's back in the present day.

Yet every night when he returns to the same spot, the car picks him up and returns him to the twenties, where his famous new friends regard him as a fellow artist worthy of notice. And so by day Gil is forced to grind through the tourist routine with his lady and her suspiciously interested, gratingly snooty old friend Paul (Michael Sheen) while by night he parties in some of the most storied salons in modern art history alongside beautiful art groupie Adriana (Marion Cotillard).

For a long stretch, Midnight in Paris seems like a particularly amusing trifle, something like an English major's daydream fantasy, and that would almost be enough. Wilson is a great Woody Allen surrogate-- he doesn't just lapse into a bad impression à la Kenneth Branagh circa Celebrity-- and it's terrific fun watching him kibbitz with the likes of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, Buñ uel, Man Ray, and Matisse. Allen's imagined versions of the artists are delightful, and the actors work wonders with the roles, especially Hiddleston, Pill, and Stoll, as well as Adrien Brody doing a hysterical riff on Salvador Dali in one excellent scene.

But eventually Allen folds the magical-realist conceit in on itself-- though thankfully never explaining its metaphysical mechanics-- to make an interesting study of the emotional mirages of nostalgia. It's an intriguing statement from a writer and director famed for his love of the past, be it pre-bop jazz or films of the 1940s and 1950s. But Allen makes a strong case without turning hypocritical or selling short the potential virtues of the past while also casting some doubts on the veracity of their allure.

A successful writer friend of mine scoffed at the idea of going to see Midnight in Paris and said that he felt like Allen had been doing little more than repeating himself for the past twenty years. There is some truth in that. Match Point is, really, just a slight update on the superior Crimes and Misdemeanors. But it's unlikely that anybody has forty feature films’ worth of unique ideas, and besides, the repetition does serve a function. Think of it like a composer playing variations on a theme: Midnight in Paris shares headspace with the similarly fantastical Purple Rose of Cairo and, to a lesser extent, Radio Days (and, inversely, Sleeper). While these films have some overlap, the harmonies of their synchronicity and the dissonance of their contradictions ultimately enhance the ideas Allen is presenting.

And besides, the Woodman has rarely written a monologue as moving and incisive as Gil's enthusiastic screed about the ways in which a city is itself a kind of living, evolving work of art. It's a sharp articulation of a theme Allen has been working over since Manhattan and Annie Hall, and which he's redoubled since his late-career renaissance period shooting movies in Europe. Approaching eighty, Allen still has one of the most assured and controlled voices in cinema, and he hasn't stopped testing his own limits.