Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Midnight in Paris

'Midnight in Paris' is Woody Allen's latest, so there is no real need to summarise it. It has a group of rich people playing straight man to an Allen-esque neurotic artist in a beautiful city. Hhhhmmmm. Is it any good?
There is a genuine sense of warmth about the whole enterprise that has been lost from Allen's movies in latter years. You feel like he really cares about his subject matter, ie. Paris of the Twenties. It probably helps for me that I share his affection, but there is a nice thrill seeing Hemingway, Stein, the Fitzgeralds, etc. brought to life. For a while at any rate. Pretty soon, with no real belly laughs to distract you, it can all seem like name dropping ('Oh, look there's Djuna Barnes!'). I mean will anyone really split a side at Owen Wilson giving Bunuel the plot of 'The Exterminating Angel'? On the plus side, Owen Wilson makes one of the best Woody surrogates in a long time, Cotillard draws the camera, and Adrian Brody makes a memorable Dali. The rest of the cast spout their lines as needed, but with little real conviction or dimension.
Just an observation, but Allen does not use many close ups, at least not to convey real emotion. There is one of Wilson as his predicament dawns on him, but this is too broad to convey any subtlety. Another is of Cotillard, but really only to show how pretty she is. In fact when I think of Allen's movies, even the serious ones, this is almost a trademark and probably explains why I see him as rarely emotionally intense. He flits across the surface using quips and farce to distract us from the basic shallowness of his people games. Even 'Hannah and Her Sisters' features a man (Caine) in lust, not love, and the really serious films play, well, like plays. Which is not to say plays are without emotion, just that they are performed at a distance. Allen plays at a distance.
Yes, this is a glib analysis, but I think it says something that the most emotional close shot I can remember is also in one of Allen's more successful films, 'Manhattan', as he sees his 'true' love for who she is just as he must let her go.
Anyhow 'Midnight in Paris' has no real emotional depth and no real, deep insight, but it does ring more authentically than many another Allen film when you sound it for emotion. Granted it is the love of the director not any of the characters, but it is a feeling I can appreciate nevertheless. Guess he's just good with cities.

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