Midnight in Paris

 

Midnight in Paris

Run time 93 minutes.
OK for children.

(The Mikado) As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!

There’s the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this, and every country but his own;

(Chorus) He’s got him on the list — he’s got him on the list;
And I don’t think he’ll be missed — I’m sure
He’ll not be missed!

— The Mikado, Gilbert & Sullivan

Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams in “Midnight in Paris.”

Maybe it’s endemic to writers, but I have the same disease that strikes Gil (Owen Wilson), a screenwriter from Pasadena who wants to be a novelist, while on a trip to Paris with his fiancé, Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. Gil fantasizes about being transported to Paris in the ‘20s. One evening he takes off on a walk by himself and is picked up by a cab carrying a happy couple who turn out to be F. Scott (Tom Hiddleston) and Zelda Fitzgerald (Allison Pill). He instantly realizes he has been somehow swept back into his romanticized time period. In the morning he returns to Paris in the present, but each night he returns to be picked up by another cab and taken back in time.

This is the best Woody Allen film I’ve seen, and I’ve seen most. The dialogue is funny and striking; the costumes exceptional; and ambience superb.

The film starts with a ravishing travelogue comprised of stunning shots of Paris. It is populated with all the romantic figures of the Lost Generation, including, in addition to the Fitzgeralds, Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), the list goes on and on. Gil meets them all with wide-eyed wonderment.

Allen’s dialogue and directing should have him in contention for Oscars®. His take on Hemingway, who talks in the style of his books, is hilarious. It seems as if everything he says is taken directly from his writing.

While all the performances are top notch, Marion Cotillard, who plays Adriana, the girl who grabs Gil’s heart, sparkles at an Oscar®-quality level. Wilson has spent his career playing in inferior films that have not allowed him to scratch the surface of his potential. Here, he finally gets to act with a terrific script and wonderful cast and he proves his chops, which pleases me because I’ve always been impressed with his ability. Stoll should be in contention for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Hemingway. Michael Sheen gives a scintillating performance as a pedant.

Allen has hit a home run with this charming story about two people, Gil and Adriana, whom The Mikado would have on his list.

Bridesmaids

Run time 125 minutes.
Not for children.

Kristen Wiig in “Bridesmaids.”

If a movie is full of vomit, diarrhea and profligate use of f-bombs, especially by women, you can be pretty sure it’s by producer Judd Apatow, who continues his assault on gentility and good taste with this disgraceful roll in the gutter that degrades women. The sad part is that there is a good movie lurking here behind all the vulgarity.

Written by SNL actress Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo and directed by Paul Feig, Wiig is in almost every scene. As Annie, she is a bridesmaid and best friend to bride-to-be Lillian (Maya Rudolph). This is the story of Annie trying to find herself and it rapidly descends into SNL raunch.

About the only things all the bridesmaids have in common is that they talk like truck drivers and have low moral tones.

I like the old fashioned idea of looking up to women. They are our mothers and the mothers of our children. In almost every society they are placed on a pedestal. The idea here is to take away from women this respect they are due as mothers, and to view them as just no different from some bum in a bar. No need for a man to treat them special, like a lady, because that idea is passé.

The film starts out with Annie in bed with her apparent boyfriend Ted (Jon Hamm), a hedonistic, self-centered bohemian who is presented as a typical male, as she offers him sex in any position he wants for however long he wants it. Then, to make matters worse, she talks about it with her best friend, Lillian, going into relatively graphic, uncomfortable detail.

The whole idea of Apatow’s films, and this film in particular, is to present cringe-worthy raunch as a substitute for real humor. People laugh not because it’s funny, but because it is uncomfortable. Nothing is out of bounds in an Apatow movie; the more distasteful the better. This film is down to Apatow standards.

The sad part is that there is a good, sweet movie here, lurking under all the raunch.

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