Midnight in Paris: a Story Arc de Triomphe

Marking the passage of another year of one’s life definitely has its compensations. A bottle of fizz and a good film is one of them (although a birthday is not required as an excuse to have those two things on any day of the year in my book) so two good films and a meal out and smarties and a bottle of fizz is, frankly, an embarrassment of riches.

The first film, seen at a cinema (where the smarties were) was ‘The Dark Knight Rises”. As I may have mentioned before, Christopher Nolan is a favourite director and writer of mine so it was no surprise that this was a good film although it felt as if he was forced into having long action sequences when they weren’t necessary and a villain who you couldn’t really understand what they were saying because of a medically-dubious mask.

The second film was a birthday present – a DVD of ‘Midnight in Paris’. I am a fan of Woody Allen but progressively later films have become somewhat arduous affairs to watch, particularly when you remember the likes of ‘Sleeper’ and ‘Love and Death’. ‘Sleeper’ contains one of may favourite lines of dialogue of all time: “My god, I’ve beaten a man insensible with a strawberry!”

‘Midnight in Paris’ is a gentle reminder of what great characters and dialogue the man is capable of writing. He clearly wrote the main character as if he was going to play the part himself, then gave it to an actor who I don’t really rate but who is great in this. I am not a fan of Owen Wilson films, because they seem to largely be described as ‘comedies’ but without the comedy. Like Jim Carrey before him, it turns out that given a decent script and director, Owen Wilson can actually act his socks off. And the story is superb…

Allen has created a kind of sci-fi literary play in which Hemingway, Picasso and the Fitzgeralds can all appear together with Gil Pender (the worried screenwriter-turned-novelist) without any anachronistic issues. It is a wonderful idea, that a car picks you up at midnight and takes you to be with your literary influences and their lives.

When I am blocked, which authors would help me out, I wonder? Isaac Asimov, H G Wells, Stephen King and Philip K Dick, certainly; like Gil, I think I would be somewhat intimidated by Hemingway. Well, I would be intimidated by all the authors I would want to meet in fact: Louis De Bernieres, Joss Whedon (who I once stood quite close to in a bookshop in Boston, Massachusetts*), even Elisabeth Beresford (if you don’t know who she is, she created the Wombles and should be immortal for that alone).

So, if you want a film to entertain you for 90 minutes then watch this one. I wonder who Woody Allen goes to when he needs help writing? This film seems to suggest that for it, he went to himself when he was younger. Hmm, not a bad plan…


* If you see him though, don’t mention it, he won’t remember.

Categories: Films, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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