Saturday, November 26, 2011

Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)

A stroll.

Woody Allen, which we all know to be a truly psychological and philosophical filmmaker as well as a humorously cerebral director, an aspect of his being that collects much admirers as well as some haters, completely shines through in yet again a film of unique charm, intelligence, wit and imagination set in a city where beauty and mystique converges into one: Paris.

Although it stars Owen Wilson (alongside impressive supporting performances by Michael Sheen, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard among others) as Gil, a character who seemingly treats his flirtation with the idea of premature infidelity (his character is just about to be married) merely as an exercise in curiosity by way of an unexpected trip into his 'Golden Age' subconscious (in 1920's Paris where he met countless demigods of art and literature), which as a result came out to be quite harmless and at the same time maintained naivete in its depiction of a brief psycho-sexual adventurism, the character still could have been played by a younger Woody Allen. Often times, I can even see Owen Wilson channeling Allen himself.

I believe that although this film could have been done in Woody Allen's cinematic heydays (maybe in mid-70's to early 80's) and still be as effective as it was today, "Midnight in Paris" nevertheless still stimulated my hidden cravings for new ideas and moved me with its gentle approach regarding the ideas of artistic confusion, romantic crossroads and the subsequent individual growth by way of traveling into a subjectively ideal past.

In the hands of a purely narrative-driven filmmaker, "Midnight in Paris" could have been a try-hard romantic/fantasy film with the hero torn between living his love and life in the present and reliving a past he quickly learns to love. But just like, say, Harold Ramis' "Groundhog Day", this film is too busy with its brilliant articulation of its fresh idea that tackles the paradox of insecurity, shown here in the form of "The Golden Age" mentality, which beholds the idea that it's a human tendency to hope, reminisce and visualize for a more ideal moment in time where everything's akin to an artistic and literary utopia, that the film isn't shallow enough to conceptualize a too far-fetched an explanation as to why Owen Wilson's character travels back into his personal 'Golden Age' every midnight.

For Allen, it's the characters that speak for the film itself. All we know, Owen Wilson's character is too exhausted with the overly urban and inch-deep intellectual exercises of working as a movie scriptwriter that he dares to internally lash out. All we know, he wants 1920's Paris, write pure novel, and walk in the rain more than anything else. Woody Allen injected these subtle characteristics on the Owen Wilson character to serve as simple catalysts for the film's turn of events and nothing more. No flashy time-travel nonsense, no unnecessary plot devices and no silly folklorian justifications as to why these historical jumps were possible.

Instead, the film's seemingly esoteric tone puts itself into a separate plain of romanticized existence; an alternative landscape where impenetrable icons like Dali, Picasso, Hemingway and Fitzgerald adhere into a single route of interconnected existence, where one may bump into the other, or where a man may travel back in time, develop romance with a charming lady, travel back into the present the next night and then see a memoir with his name mentioned all over the pages in romantic adoration, penned by the very same lady almost 90 years ago.

It is things like these, although devoid of any logical explanations, that can really put a genuine smile into your face. And it is films like "Midnight in Paris" that can really restore your faith in the hidden capabilities and the wonderful complexities that the romantic comedy genre can offer and conceive. I can only thank Woody Allen for that.


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