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Movie Review: Woody Allen returns with 'Midnight in Paris'

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“Midnight in Paris”
Directed by: Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Tom Hiddleston, Carey Stoll, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard
Rated: PG-13

As a point of disclosure, I will say that I am a fan of every film Woody Allen has made. My two favorites are “Manhattan” and “Annie Hall.” Allen's latest work, “Midnight in Paris,” completes a trio of very romantic stories. It's a fairy tale, and while there were things I didn't quite understand, I simply didn't worry about it.

In this film, Allen treats the city of Paris as a main character, the same way he treated New York City in “Manhattan.”

Director of photography Darius Khondji's cinematography is stunning and adds a rich dimension to this beautiful movie.

Allen doesn't star in his films anymore, but Owen Wilson, as Gil - a screenwriter working on his first novel, a story about a man who owns a nostalgia shop - is Allen's surrogate. Allen has often claimed that none of his characters are actually based on himself. But no one really believes that.

Gil is on a prenuptial vacation with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), a spoiled brat of a girl who is as self-centered as she is beautiful. Her parents are along for the trip as well, and we can see how Inez got the way she is. Then there's Inez's friend Paul, who is, to be polite, the textbook example of a pedantic boor.

Things are a bit tense and Gil has taken to going out alone and wandering the streets (usually in the rain) of Paris at night.

One night, a vintage yellow roadster pulls up beside him, and the occupants offer him a ride.   

He accepts.  

He soon finds himself in the company of 1920s-era F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter, Man Ray, Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel and a beautiful girl named Adriana who develops a crush on Gil.   

Despite the fact that he's about to be married, he doesn't resist too much. She's a classic muse.

Allen doesn't explain this time travel thing at all. It just happens to Gil, much like the way Jeff Daniels was able to leave the movie screen and court Mia Farrow in “The Purple Rose of Cairo.”

I assumed Gil was just dreaming, but after some reflection, I realize the time-shifts between 2011 and the 1920s don't really need an explanation. After all, “it's only a movie.”

Gil hangs out and has drinks with this iconic group of legends and tries to absorb some of their wisdom and charisma. And they like him.

It all plays out in true Woody Allen fashion.

While Allen has been somewhat caustic (in a funny way) and neurotic (in a neurotic way) in many of his films, “Midnight in Paris” is gentle and very sweet. Allen himself always has been nostalgic. He's used classic jazz for music in his films for many years. So it makes sense he'd get around to writing an entire film about a man consumed with an era that has enthralled him.

This is Allen's 41st film and ranks with his best. It won accolades at the Cannes Film Festival and deserves your attention if you like Allen's brand of humor and a nice romantic comedy.[[In-content Ad]]

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