Midnight in Paris is So Awful.
Let’s discuss Woody Allen’s official succumbing to dried-up senility.
Let’s discuss Romantic Nostalgia: our 21st century fetish for romanticizing the life of the artist, turning a spotlight on our fetishizing, and making art out of it. To be specific: Woody Allen’s execution by a flat series of gimmicks,
Midnight in Paris.
Two weeks ago I watched Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. I like comedy as much as the next joe blow. and I love a Romantic anything.
and Midnight in Paris = Romantic Comedy.
But I discovered, no, sadly. It is actually hellacious travesty. and I’ll tell you why.
Don’t worry about SPOILERS because I couldn’t possibly spoil this movie if I tried. It is already a terrible, rotten thing.
For starters, too much Woody Allen can do the soul harm, but every now and again, who doesn’t like sex and sexual tension and reveling in their own neuroticism and thinking some smart thoughts about death with a pretty pretty backdrop of new york or tokyo or spain or some shindig? If you don’t, then you’re probably a dumby. or you have no patience with dumbies. One or the other, or admit it, you enjoy the occasional Woody Allen flicktastrophe extraordinaire.
I was looking forward to a movie about pretty little Paris in the Divine Witching Hour of Midnight– I was looking forward to being quipped at, coddled by beauty, and a love story. and I was totally committed to my desire. Brain vacation.
Also; Marion Cotillard (LOVE ME IF YOU DARE, anyone?), Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody (sexy little hook-nosed Pianist), Carla Bruni (of course!?), even “quirky” and “moody” Owen Wilson (sure), Rachel McAdams? (Woody Allen just got less abominable, right?).
BUT NO. Midnight in Paris is truly an awful film.
You can’t make a film about nostalgia and The Artist, and partially set it in 20’s Paris, and partially set it in turn-of-the-century Paris, if you’re gonna fuck it up. You just can’t! IT’S AGAINST THE RULES OF HUMAN GOODNESS AND KINDNESS AND DECENCY and it should be every Westerner’s artistic creed. Don’t fuck up the 20’s.
and do you know how Woody fucked the 20’s?
His main character (based on his younger bad self of course ) is a Hollywood screenwriter who feels like a sell-out (as he should). The main character wants to be a REAL LIVE suffering writer like Brave Old Hemingway-andshit, and he wants to write on a typewriter and he wants to hole up in a little white cottage and he wants to drink too much whiskey and he wants to do it in Paris-town. Not just any Paris, nay, but HIS FAVORITE PARIS, the 1920’s Paris, Jazz Age Paris, Flapper Paris, The DaDa cafe, pre-German-occupation, post-WWI, sublimely self victimizing Paris of our squeals and dreams!
So what does dear old Woody do? What plot vehicle could sick little Woody employ to properly exploit the globe sweeping sickness that is PNF (Paris Nostalgia Fetish)?
The Main-Shithead-of-the-Woody-Show (played by Owen Wilson who does “neurotic intellectual” more gratingly perhaps than even the Holy-Woody does himself) is planted in the 20’s via…
a time machine carriage. A TIME MACHINE CARRIAGE.
Red Flag numero uno. Horse driven time machine carriage.
The Horse Driven Time Machine Carriage takes Woody-Wilson to a bar styled like a speak easy (but not an actual speak easy because the French are not so ridiculous at least in this one capacity). So anywayzies, what sort of bar rabble does Woody-Wilson find company with?
OMG! It’s Cole Porter, OMG! It’s Alice B. Toklas, OMG! Josephine Baker, OMG! ZELDA FITZGERALD! OMG! It’s F. SCOTT FITZGERALD! OMG! GERTRUDE STEIN, PABLO PICASSO, SALVADOR DALI, MAN RAY, LUIS BUNUEL! GASP AND GASP AND GASP AND OMG, ARE YOU? GASP! OMG! ERNEST HEMINGWAY!
and so it goes. Every line of dialogue, punctuated by a gasp and each gasp followed by an aphoristic monologue from flat caricature super-star-artists of yesteryear or other. or whatever.
Owen Wilson learns so much, man. So much. Encouraged by several rounds of pontification on bravery from a drunk, retarded Hemingway, our Woody-Wilson-Writer-Guy goes back to the 21st century to pick up his manuscript …to give to Gertrude Stein. and low and behold, RoboStein likes it but says it needs work because she doesn’t understand what the deal is with all the nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia and nothing else… and stuff.
She reads the first line of the manuscript out loud to a throng of animated-artist-cut-outs. It is as follows:
‘Out Of The Past’ was the name of the store, and its products consisted of memories: what was prosaic and even vulgar to one generation had been transmuted by the mere passing of years to a status at once magical and also camp.
and Robo-stein says something like, BUT WHAT ELSE IS THERE, BUDDY? because you seem to be jacking yourself off and jacking off on yourself.
Then Woody-Wilson-Writer-Guy falls in love with his number one fan from the 1920’s (Marion Cotillard). Before Woody-Wilson, Artist-Groupie-Girl was Picasso’s muse/mistress, and duh, she was with Dali before she was with Picasso. Artist-Groupie-Girl bonds with Woody-Wilson because she too itches with the nostalgia disease. Her nostalgia is for the BELLE-EPOQUE, 1890’s Paris. So they catch the time travel carriage and rage 1890’s Paris.
Apparently Artist-Groupie-Girl also has a thing for dwarves and avantegard-rich-boys specializing in pastel cancandancers and ballerinas (respectively). In sum, she enjoys pastel, and dancing. long walks on the beach. being sexy while sexily admiring writers and artists by posing for them and sleeping with them. #Whatshouldwecallme, muse? groupie? whatever. She is pretty useless. and she wants to be pretty and useless in the Belle-Epoque and not the 1920’s. And this throws a serious loop into our time-defying love story.
But, after a rousing yet forgettable speech by Paul Gauguin about the superior greatness of Renaissance Art, Woody-Wilson-Writer-Guy decides he’s gotta go back to his own time so he can help progress the UNIQUE ARTISTIC GREATNESS of his 21st century!
Thus, he goes back to contemporary Paris and falls in love with a real-life French Girl from real-life, who also likes Jazz. Just like he does.
Also, back in the 21st century, touring Versaille with Carla Bruni the advice giving tour guide happens. And there is some stuff with Woody-Wilson-Writer-Guy’s “real-life” fiance (Rachel McAdams) who he keeps leaving for his time-traveling adventures. She is irritated and irritating. Her parents are also present throughout the film, sharing in the Americans in Paris-ness of it all– and they’re wealthy republicans and they just don’t get Woody-Wilson-Writer-Guy. They just don’t get it. They get nothing. They’re so stupid. #YOLO, uptight Americans, #YOLO
The sophisticated French know how to #YOLO… You poor American dumbies are so culturally depraved. There’s no hope
Woody Allen’s type-casting further reveals his abominable self.
Rachel McAdams does good as an up-tight, spoiled, pretentious, American white girl.
Marion Cotillard purrs a lot. She is sultry and exotic.
Adrien Brody, although heavily featured in the official MiP trailer and posters, makes a 2 minute appearance. He has an accent. Like everything, it works for him. I want to kiss him on the nose, which makes me think, would I need to climb a ladder to kiss him on the nose? It is my most profound thought inspired by this film. But, like all thoughts contained or inspired by Midnight in Paris, I’ve had it before.