Monday, July 18, 2011

Midnight in Paris

          If you're enchanted by the idea of Paris, or if you've ever wished that you could party with some of the great Parisian artistic and literary circles of 1920's, Midnight in Paris is the film for you. After a lengthy opening sequence of the most picturesque spots in the city, you get to go on all sorts of decadent adventures through time with the main character, Gil, who is in modern day Paris with his fiancee by day and who somehow magically slips back in time at night to meet all the expats he idolizes. By catching a ride in an antique taxi at the stroke of midnight, he finds himself drinking with Hemingway, philosophizing with Dali, and conversing with the Fitzgeralds to the songs of Cole Porter. He's whisked to smokey  jazz bars, he's escorted into the home of Gertrude Stein, and he even feels himself drawn to Picasso's mistress as they stroll through parks full of horse-drawn carriages, covered with incandescent, white Christmas lights. Brought back to reality by the light of day, Gil becomes increasingly torn between living in the present to which he's accustomed, or the far more glamorous past. It soon becomes necessary for him to figure out how much of nostalgia is truth and how much is fantasy, and to which world he belongs. 

Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald
          I loved this movie not only for the premise, but for the characters. Everyone was cast exactly right, playing their roles precisely as how you'd imagine the infamous personalities to have been. The only drawback is that if you're not familiar with any of these celebrities of the past or a few of their works, there are no clues to help you, and you'll miss out on the jokes. I loved Adrien Brody as Dali, obsessed with rhinoceroses and pronouncing his own name. But my all-time favorite was Corey Stoll as Hemingway, who gave long soliloquies full of quotes such as, "It was a good book because it was an honest book, and that's what war does to men. And there's nothing fine and noble about dying in the mud unless you die gracefully. And then it's noble but brave." It was of course delivered with the rough-edged, pompous minimalism that makes Hemingway's stories so great.

          Worst case scenario, if you hate the movie, you could at least benefit from some of Hemingway's ridiculously macho pick-up lines. Swaggering drunkenly, he approaches Picasso's mistress: 

          "Have you ever shot a charging lion in the face?" 


          "Would you like to know how that feels?"

Ah, Hemingway, you will forever rest tenderly in my heart as my favorite eloquent dickhead misogynist. 

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