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Midnight in Paris(2011)
A romantic comedy about a screenwriter and his girlfriend. At midnight, however, the screenwriter is whisked to the romantics of early 20th Century Paris, starting an affair.
For more about Midnight in Paris and the Midnight in Paris Blu-ray release, see Midnight in Paris Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 8, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody
Director: Woody Allen
» See full cast & crew
Midnight in Paris Blu-ray Review
Woody Allen does time travel.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 8, 2011
You're in love with a fantasy.
Midnight in Paris is the embodiment of a dream, a fantasy come to life. It's also the story of a future lit by the past, and a present revealed through the prism of life in a different era. It's one of Writer/Director Woody Allen's catchiest films. It's a charming adventure of self discovery, told through a light, simple story that seems to say that the realities of life may not always be as alluring as nostalgia, but life is what one makes of it, making use of the past not as an escape, but as a guide towards a better future. It's also a story that examines the importance of a dream, of self-discovery, and of remaining true to oneself rather than reshaping a lifetime's worth of beliefs for something -- or someone -- that will frustrate the realization of the dream. Allen's Midnight in Paris might cover some good, necessary themes, but the movie manages to tell its detailed story and convey its various and sometimes heavy messages through a very light, breezy, and fun exterior. The movie never becomes bogged down in heavy-handed philosophy or even the hows and the whys of the time travel depicted in the film. It's classic character interaction in the comfortable Woody Allen style, but the movie's accessibility, fun factor, and novelty make it one of his finest efforts in a long and storied body of work.
Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is an acclaimed, in-demand 21st century writer of Hollywood scripts who longs to break free of Tinseltown's grip and instead pen the novel of his dreams, the story of an antiquities shop. He's in Paris -- a city's he's head over heels in love with -- with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents John (Kurt Fuller) and Helen (Mimi Kennedy). Inez is in complete control of her man; the appropriate term might have something to do with a cat and Indiana Jones' favorite weapon. She and he, at least according to he, are spending far too much time with her hot air "intellectual" friend Paul (Michael Sheen) and his wife Carol (Nina Arianda). Before long, Gil finds the need to slip away. He chooses to walk the streets of Paris and soak in the atmosphere by himself. He becomes lost, sits on some stairs, and at the stroke of midnight, a classic car pulls up, its occupants invite him in, and they whisk him off to a party where he meets...F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Zelda (Allison Pill). No, that's not a coincidence; they're the real mccoy, he realizes, and through them he also comes to meet the likes of Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), Salvador Dalí (Adrien Brody), and Luis Buñuel (Adrien de Van), amongst other greats of the 1920s. Stein agrees to critique his novel, and Gil finds himself falling for Picasso's mistress, the lovely Adriana (Marion Cotillard). Is this real? Is it the imaginations of a man who's had a little too much to drink? Is it a fantastic dream? What will his experiences in the past teach him about how he should be living in the present? Is Inez the right girl for him? Can Gertrude Stein, of all people, make him a better novelist? Can he reshape his future before it's too late?
Midnight in Paris is an effectively oddball sort of movie in that it works extraordinarily well thanks almost completely to its themes and story; the characters are disappointingly flat, one-shot one-dimensional types, even the protagonist. They're the wannabe liberal writer, the snobbish intellectual, the demanding fiancé, the stuffy mother, and the wealthy conservative father-in-law-to-be. The movie is a character-driven Drama/Comedy but it succeeds with its generalized characters because it's not necessarily who they are but where they go that matters. For everyone but Gil, it's the here-and-now that matters not just most, but it's the only thing that matters, period. They're so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, the commitments, the friends, basically conforming to the world around them, that they forget to identify who they are and what they truly want not only from their Parisian excursion, but in life. Gil, on the other hand, would rather blaze his own path, never mind what his fiancé would have him do, which is, basically, control his life rather than allow him to choose his own destiny. He's a hero with whom it's easy to relate and sympathize; he's along for the ride, not begrudgingly, but rather out of a want, as misguided as it may be considering his present company, to find himself in a land he believes to be magical, but not literally so. While the movie gets quite a bit of mileage out of the nicely played and catchy and quirky character interactions and petty conflicts that spring up, the movie's success lies in its journey towards self-realization, of Gil's trip that's superficially to the past but that will lead him towards a different path in his future, a path far more suited to his lifestyle, ambitions, and personality.
Midnight in Paris seems to convey two basic elements. First, it's that the past isn't always what it seems. Not only is it difficult to try to grasp the meanings of the past and the thoughts of its people in the modern world, but doing so can create a false history, an alternate timeline even, of sorts, where people may shape the past into whatever mold best suits them -- be it the pursuit of pseudo-intellectualism or a means of defining and justifying the present by comparing it to the past -- no matter the accuracy or even relevancy of the historical analysis. History isn't snapshots and moments in time but places and people and things shaped and defined by real people with their own biases, their own interpretations of their past, their own visions for the future. That's what Gil learns in his travels; the past is something that's organic, not static. It's not the paint on a canvas or the words in a book or the voices on a record but instead the very real people who, just like him, only want to find their place in life, to do what suits them and be good at it, to find their own special place of nirvana where their life takes whatever meaning they wish to assign to it. But therein lies the real crux of the movie. Second, Gil discovers that, while he may romanticize about the past, he only truly has the present in which to make his mark and make the best of his life. He must grab the opportunities presented to him and not throw them away on people or places or ideas that will hold him back. He must shape his present through the best of his abilities, perhaps using the past as a guide but understanding that his life is about his present and future, about his own wants and needs and abilities, about his own sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, and not those of someone else.
Midnight in Paris Blu-ray, Video Quality
Midnight in Paris makes its Blu-ray debut via a high quality 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer. This one is noticeably warm; flesh tones are hot, and there's usually a golden/yellow/orange tinge to the entire picture. All colors are influenced, but not to the point that their natural shading is lost. Whether gray pavement, bright clothes, or odds and ends in various shops, the palette is steady, just a little heavy on the warmth, and no doubt by Allen's decree. Fine detail is always strong, and often breathtaking. The streets of Paris have rarely looked so beautiful on home video. The architecture is amazing and the transfer reveals every fine detail on each building façade. Wet pavement, cobblestone, leaves, tree trunks, and the glossy finish on the wooden booths in a bar where Gil first meets Hemingway all look spectacular, appearing crisp and very well-defined. The image can go a touch soft in a few scenes, notably in lower light 1920s segments, but facial and clothing detail is usually quite strong. Blacks are rich and play very nicely with the low-light Parisian streets at night. Banding, blocking, edge enhancement, and the like are all non-issues. A light layer of grain puts the finishing touches on another first-class Blu-ray transfer from Sony.
Midnight in Paris Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Woody Allen movies don't exactly scream out a need for multichannel audio. Midnight in Paris is no exception, and the film debuts on Blu-ray with a quality but simplified DTS-HD MA 3.0 lossless soundtrack. Music is light but features a fair bottom end that gives it a little wight and strength. Otherwise, the airy notes nicely spread across the front, reaching far out to the sides and playing with a natural and satisfying crispness. Light atmospherics are nicely inserted, and while the absence of surround channels doesn't allow for a more fully immersive experience, the track does well to space light notes, such as restaurant chatter and clatter, across the front. This is primarily a dialogue-intensive film; the spoken word is focused and clear, remaining the primary element and the work of the center channel, save for a scene in a museum in chapter eight that features dialogue bouncing around the front due to the echoing of the mostly empty and cavernous locale. This is soundtracks made simple, but the lack of surrounds and a dedicated ".1" LFE channel don't hurt Sony's otherwise clear and effective audio presentation.
Midnight in Paris Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Midnight in Paris offers only a few scant extras.
Midnight in Paris Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Midnight in Paris is perhaps the best of Woody Allen's more recent pictures. It's a simple story of a man in search of himself, and his journey takes him back in time, a time of decades past that will redefine his decades future. Its characters are little flat, but the film's story is so strong, and its lead nevertheless likable, sympathetic, and engaging, that it's easy to overlook the otherwise one-shot players and instead revel in the breeziness and purpose of the story. Midnight in Paris is a fun, catchy, easy watch that's as well made as it is meaningful. Sony's Blu-ray release of Midnight in Paris features strong 1080p video, clear three-channel lossless audio, and one or two small extras. Highly recommended.
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Midnight in Paris Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Midnight in Paris Blu-ray (Updated) - October 10, 2011
Sony Pictures Classics have revealed that they will release on Blu-ray Woody Allen's love letter to the French capital Midnight in Paris (2011), starring Owen Wilson (The Darjeeling Limited), Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes), and Kurt Fuller (The Pursuit of Happyness). ...
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