I Go Out Walking After Midnight

In my ongoing quest to knock out all the Best Picture nominees (except for the two I don't want to see) by Oscar night, I was able to snatch Midnight In Paris from the jaws of other Netflix subscribers. Take that, general populace!

I tend to have pretty visceral reactions - both good and bad - to Woody Allen movies, and this one was no exception. Also, I sometimes think Allen's movies get praise for being Woody Allen movies, rather than genuine enjoyment on the part of the person giving their opinion. Thankfully, in this case, it turns out that the movie is actually that charming.

If there's one big aspect to criticize, it's that it gets a little tedious when the male lead in every Allen movie is a nebbishy, nervous stand-in for Allen himself. Owen Wilson takes on that role in this film, but the overall movie is good enough to counter-balance any frustration I had with that overused character trait. Wilson is an author who is spending time writing and exploring Paris with his shallow bitch of a fiancee (Rachel McAdams). He spends his days trying to live up to McAdams' standards and putting up with her snobby friends and family. By night, though, he stumbles upon a car that transports him back to 1920's era Paris, which is his idea of a Golden Age. He's deliriously happy to pal around with luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, and winds up falling for Pablo Picasso's girlfriend, played by Marion Cotillard.

His blooming relationship with her and her time period gives him the inspiration to push his writing and to examine his life choices in the present. Lest you think everything is booze and wit, his nostalgic love isn't everything it's cracked up to be, as it turns out that people in every time period look longingly backwards. This movie is not just charming, but pretty adept at both embracing our impulse to cherish the Good Old Days, and serving as a gentle reminder that we must all find ways to make the best of the present.

Midnight in Paris: A-


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