"Imagination creates reality." -Richard Wagner
Today I needed an escape. I needed to abandon this world and spend a few hours in movie-land. Even though I was drawn to Midnight in Paris for the promise of a Woody Allen film set in my dear Paris, ultimately, I found the perfect film about escapism and anachronism---precisely what my soul desired after a sad week.
From the outset, I always adore Woody Allen films. I appreciate the way the crisp clean opening credits tell us the viewers that witty banter and relatable characters are on their way. And this time, following those trademark simple black and white credits, Allen allowed the real star of the movie to be seen. There she was, Paris, beautiful Paris, laid out before the screen in iconic shot after iconic shot. Montmartre. La tour Eiffel. Le Louvre. Les bateaux mouches. Les cafés. Sigh....cue, the accordion music, I knew from the first scenes, I would be in love with this movie.
While admittedly I'd like just about any plot or protagonist set against Paris, this film really resonated with me. I think what I appreciated the most was the kindred spirit I discovered in Gil Pender (played unassumingly and charmingly by Owen Wilson).
As a contemporary Californian in Paris, desperately trying to pen his first novel, Gil seems obsessed with another time and place. He dreams of a Paris in the 1920s, where rain-soaked sidewalks and Cole Porter tunes created an atmosphere that fueled the creative minds of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Gertrude Stein.
In ways that are best explained by viewing the film, Gil taps into this bygone moment in Parisian history and for once really channels his creativity and imagination.
I don't want to elaborate upon this film in much detail, as I sincerely feel it is a cinematic jewel best enjoyed in the theaters, best consumed slowly and appreciatively like a glass of Bordeaux. But suffice it to say, Midnight in Paris is one of the most pleasant movies I've experienced in recent memory. It delights with its delicious Parisian scenery. It offers a combination of characters both endearing, annoying, and comical, delivered in ways only Woody Allen can evoke. It captivates with its narrative innovation and responds to the imaginative spirit in all of us.
But it turns out, by the end of the film, it convinces us that maybe here and now is exactly where we're supposed to be.
Images borrowed from Esquire, IndieFilmGuru.
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