Monday, 6 June 2011

Woody Goes to Paris. . .

It's been a while since I've so enjoyed a Woody Allen movie but his latest, Midnight in Paris, is the perfect summer escape. Not only for all the great shots of the city - the opening is a lovely montage of different Paris locations in the day, in the rain and at night - but the script is clever, moving and very funny. Owen Wilson plays Gil Pender, a Hollywood hack who wants to be a serious novelist. He is visiting Paris with his fiancee Inez (played by Rachel McAdams) and her parents, none of whom find the city as enchanting as he does. While Inez spends her time in the company of a pendantic bore, played by Michael Sheen, Gil gets transported back to 1920s Paris and starts hanging out with Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein and a young woman who has been modelling for Picasso. There's a very entertaining scene in a bar where Gil is trying to explain that he's a time traveller to Dali, Man Ray and Buñuel, none of whom find it at all unusual. Oh, and the gorgeous clothes! And music by Cole Porter. And the Charleston. Just cinematic bliss.

A couple of other related things to recommend:

I'm fairly new to downloading podcasts, but I've thankfully discovered Filmspotting and it has quickly become my essential Friday treat. Matty and Adam are terrific at talking about what makes a movie worth seeing, they love many of my favourite films, they have a funny segment called Massacre Theatre where they enact a famous scene for viewers to guess at, and every episode ends with a fun and thoughtful "Top 5" list on various cinematic subjects. Plus they don't just review new films, but often embark on marathons to further their own ongoing education. Their latest episode was just wonderful - a review of Midnight at Paris (they loved it), a discussion about Red, the last film in their Krzysztof Kieslowski marathon, and their Top 5 movies set in Paris. Honestly, if you love film, you must listen to these guys! You can download their free podcast from iTunes or listen to it at their website here.

And if you love Paris (and who doesn't?) and Woody Allen films, particularly Husbands and Wives, you would enjoy Hervé Le Tellier's novel Enough About Love. Two women in their forties embark on affairs - one will be successful, one won't - and the novel follows both women, their husbands and their new lovers, as they talk, philosophize and intellecualize about relationships and love. There is a psychatrist - as in many Allen films - but he's one of the participants involved, so he's not much help. I loved the playfulness of the prose and seriousness of the discussions. Very French, and yes, it will make you want to go to Paris tout suite!

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