You have no idea how guilty I feel due to lack of updating. I may or may not have been suckered into a micro-blogging vortex of Twitter and Tumblr. I can't believe June is already gone by and July is here! Happy Canada Day! It's crazy how time flies, whether you're having fun and or not (more of the latter due to German midterm and four hour long Chem labs). There will be SPOILERS in this fashion in film review, hence the page break and I hope it works in Google reader but if it doesn't, please press on towards the next post in the reader!
I saw this film a little more than a while ago, and if my memory serves me correctly I think it was around the end of May or the beginning of June. But guess what? I saw this film twice and I haven't done in such a very long time. Officially, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is one of my favourite films of the year and will make the all-time list once the year ends. I don't think I have ever been that jittery and giddy coming out from the movie theatre. The film gave me a pair of rose coloured lenses for a few hours where I genuinely felt life was beautiful. I skipped down the street with the widest grin thinking "Nothing can bring me down today". That is what good (art) work does to you. No matter how technically exact a work (of literature, fine art, film - it's all the same) is, it doesn't completely satisfy the mind and the soul unless it has 'it'. It's that eureka, huzzah moment everyone craves where you just know it's right. The same principle applies for example to art museums, where you just feel better about yourself due to experiencing the 'it' feeling from looking at exquisite paintings/sculptures, or as my art teacher in high school likes to say, seen the salt. Though we all have it some form or another, nevertheless it is different for everyone as some might love one thing and others will hate it. In spite of the fact that I know some might not like this film, I really recommend seeing this. And this is coming from a person who never really like Woody Allen's works, until now.
This film is not perfect and many professional critics and amateur reviewers alike have picked it apart. Some goes so far as to analyze if the portrayals of some of the best influential artists, writers and personalities of our time (I didn't know how to categorize Belmonte so here you go) were all that accurate. Even I, the ignorant one, know that Kathy Bates' take on Gertrude Stein was way off, that Ines (the fiancée played by Rachel Adams) was unrealistically one dimensional and Dalí seemed more like a cartoon character than the creative genius he really is. I can let the last one go because I have a huge Adrien Brody bias and he cracked me up so badly I had tears in my eyes. Rhinoceros! Out of the many wonderful things about this film (obviously the locale and costumes incl.), the thing that had me by hook, line and sinker was the witty humour. Not slapstick, nor trite, but just fun. Do you know how hard that is to come by nowadays with the overdone hot mess Hollywood churns out every weekend (yay another blockbuster/sequel). Nothing feels forced and the comedy just comes naturally. It is only upon seeing this film do I realize so many films lack the same ol' kind of clever, charming banter and puns. It is interesting to note that the Gil is a Hollywood screenwriter himself. One should compare even in music the quirky zany lyrics of Cole Porter's "Let's Do It" party music du jour of the Twenties to the repetitive "put your hands up" of every trendy top forty club hit.
I know that confused exasperated look, images via Google
I wanted to post something more fashion-related in here and rest assured, there is plenty of it everywhere in the film of everything great from the 1920s Paris to La Belle Époque. There's Josephine Baker and Zelda Fitzgerald among many of the ladies to can-can dancers in costumes at Maxime's. Perhaps the film hit too close to home and therefore prompted this critique as I have always been the one who thought they were born too late in time and have missed the glory years of mankind on Earth. I share Gil's nostalgia of the 1920s to able to call Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dalí and many many others his contemporaries and Adriana's love of the La Belle Époque, to call Emile Zola, Toulouse-Lautrec, Maupassant, Gauguin and Degas her fellow artists and writers. I also wondered many times what would it be like to discuss and debate with prominent philosophs of the day like Voltaire and Montesquieu at Parisian salons, to draw alongside Leonardo Da Vinci or sculpt and paint with Michelangelo and Raphael, to attend Socrates' school and argue with him endlessly along with Plato, to wax lyrical while drinking tea with Mencius and Confucius, and even consult Buddha himself. It's evident that if I was given the option to dwell in the past and stay there, I would in a heartbeat. Clearly however, that is not realistic nor pragmatic. Gil realizes this when Adriana said that La Belle Époque was Paris's "golden age" and the 1920s were boring in comparison (Picasso, Modigliani, Hemingway boring? Pffft.), and I was forced to acknowledge that too to face modern life as is. Nostalgia however, is not necessarily a bad thing as it is healthy impetus to force yourself to transform what you may or may not perceive as the ugly monotony of the daily grind, to something beautiful, inspiring, glorious to the lofty standards of our forebearers. Their work is proof that beauty is possible. While most of us will not be able to see whether the fruits of our labour will ripen in time to have the same lasting influence and impact decades, centuries and millennia later, we all can say that at the very least, we've tried.