Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Midnight in Paris" (2011)

Writers have a certain universality of concern, and I know this not just because I'm a writer, but because there are books and films and music and all kids of art that reflect this commonality, stories that touch to the heart of what all writers tend to think are unique only to themselves, whether they truly are or not. 

And Woody Allen knows this.  Which is why "Midnight in Paris" has quickly become one of my all-time favorite "writer movies."

I first discovered "Midnight in Paris" last summer during a solo trip to the movies, satisfying both my need for a flick and my enduring fascination with the Woody Allen cinematic canvas.  The trailer didn't show much, and as the surprise of the plot unfolded, I understood why.  I hadn't felt that treated by a movie in quite some time, and it had everything to do with the fact that I am a writer and that there are others out there like me.

And Woody Allen knows this. 

I revisited the film recently after having the DVD handed to me on Christmas Day, and it held up completely on second viewing, and even a third viewing as I had it running in a little window on my Mac while I worked on my own writing.  What is it in particular that I found so alluring about this movie?  I love the idea that the Woody Allen-type protagonist, played this time by Owen Wilson, is a shameless Romantic who finds himself in Paris with the freedom to explore the city streets at night.  What he finds would be a spoiler here, but let's just say that he is left to his own devises to take these walks at midnight and explore the fantasies (and let's be clear here, his fantasies are more literary than anything, and there is nothing darker going on here), fantasies that, dare I say, are important only to a writer.  He rubs elbows with the literary elite who show interest in him and in his writing, who want to read his novel manuscript, and he returns to his hotel during the day to obsessively sort out not only the details of his nightly wanderings, but to also "re-write, and then re-write the re-writes," and he does it all with the wide-eyed enthusiasm that only a writer experiences when they know that they're in the right place at the right time.  The movie is in fact heavy on this theme, of one's position in life with relevance to some imagined ideal. 

And Woody Allen knows this, too.

If it seems like I'm latching onto the idea that only writers can appreciate this movie, I'm only saying that because the temperament certainly does allow one to experience the movie differently.  Otherwise, "Midnight in Paris" is not to be missed if one is a fan of the prolific Woody Allen, as this one easily goes down as one of his best if not the best of his annual offerings in recent years.