Midnight in Paris (2011)
This is how it begins, gloriously in the present
I have never been to Paris, I don’t know if I can; but then if I do I would like to sit down somewhere and write a page; a desperate test to check if the world’s most beautiful city can actually help me in writing better, knowing myself I would probably make fifteen more spelling errors than usual in all my nervousness caused by the simple fact of realizing something I casually wished for. But then I would like to go.
Gil Pender, a screen-writer from Hollywood with dreams that city of Paris itself would flow into him in creative colors and aid him in completing his first serious novel; much like his idols from the 1920s, he truly believes that the city itself is magical and would be kind enough to him as it was to Hemmingway and others. If only he had come alone.
Together with his wife to be and her parents who are in the least interested in the city’s streets and cultural history but more so in the shops that sell furniture and the comfort that farm houses offer; the parents are irked by his romanticism and the lady is happy to be floored by the superficial effervescence of Paul Bates, a college flame the couple bump into.
It isn’t the whole concept of belief in a literary utopia which is existed before our time that draws me into this picture; but the simplicity of how it becomes true facilitated by Woody Allen’s typewritten screenplay (yes he still uses one).
Nostalgia is a subject of daily discussion, if only we would notice; the feeling that the time that passed by was always better exists within everyone; it still is the best way to build a conversation with anyone, not just the people who are old; but even the recent pass-outs who cry over how good cartoon network was so much better than the power rangers their siblings get to watch now.
Allen’s films have always been filled with his questions, mostly concerning love, death or both. He has for the past so many years, like a donkey to the wall tried to find answers for any form of relevance of life by posing these questions to somehow arrive at any satisfactory answers. He has single handedly in my opinion built his way of thinking along his filmography and innocently chiding those who believe.
“How can I believe? When all I see around me is human suffering”
Nostalgia too acts as a cushion to Allen, he uses it extensively in Radio Days about the time how everyone at home had a favorite song and a favorite show and how people still lived together, laughed and fought over them, nostalgia only increases with utter disdain to present life.But he has answers too, this time.
Maybe we were in happier times before, but did we realize it only later, were we really happy during those times or become intermittently when reminiscing those moments, if so that leaves the present completely out of human life, no relevance at all.
Through the course of his escapades in early 20th century Paris, Gil Pender meets Adriana, the muse of many painters including Pablo Picasso; but she feels that the period just before the first world war (Belle Epoche) is the best time to live in, but those who actually inhabit it(BE) feel otherwise. Human disenchantment for the present seems to have had a long history.
Within all this, Allen squeezes through his usual puzzling love, comic timing and ensemble cast who not only do not drop a single note but behave as just they should making it his truest movies in years, as a fan though I have always something or the other to smile about in the films that he makes, but Midnight in Paris is truly magical.
A reviewer once spoke about how he saw a certain film in a rainy night in Paris and that was perhaps the best way to have seen the film and has since loved it. I have till now watched MIP thrice, twice alone and my amazement for the movie has only risen.
Last year we had Drive, Tinker Tailor, Hugo and Midnight in Paris, it seems we do live in the best of times and will only have to turn to nostalgia when it comes to human suffering.