Sunday, June 05, 2011

Midnight in Paris

I settled into my cinema seat and waited impatiently through the coming attractions for the feature film to begin. Ready for my Paris fix by watching the much-discussed Midnight in Paris. The film began, with the brassy, jazzy trumpet music playing over the familiar sights of my favorite city.

But… something was wrong.

The colors.

Everything seemed too yellow. “Woody Allen got it all wrong, “ I was thinking. I am way too possessive about my Paris knowledge. “Is he trying to make it look like Kodachrome or something?” I was fuming just a little. “The light in Paris is silvery, not gold. The buildings are soft grey, and he is trying to make the buildings look as if they are all made of sandstone.” Even the gold leaf on the fountain at the place de la Concorde was too shiny, and the verdigris was too green. The wet nighttime streets should be reflections of pewter and chrome, not glimmers of gold. It wasn’t MY Paris, in any case, I harrumphed inwardly. What was he thinking??

Nevertheless, thrilled with seeing familiar spots, I somehow managed to refrain from elbowing Miss Bee at recognition of every panorama, every street scene in the introduction. I just reveled in knowing virtually every locale. Miss Smuggy-pants. When Owen Wilson first walked into Le Bristol, I couldn’t resist and leaned over and whispered “That’s Le Bristol.”

It’s occasionally truly obnoxious to be in the role of “I used to live in Paris.” This was no exception. I tried hard to suppress my oh-so-superior knowledge of the settings. Especially since Woody had gone so overboard on the gold. His shots of the admittedly posh Le Bristol seemed over-the-top in the gilt and gold-plate department. I didn’t get it.

But soon enough I was ensconced in the plot, and the cinematographic details took a back seat.

I did, however, almost jump out of my seat and hissed loudly to Bee, “That’s DEYROLLE!” In the scene with the champagne-soaked party surrounded by taxidermied animals. “Drole?” she whispered back. “D-E-Y-R-O-L-L-E! Deyrolle, my favorite taxidermy store!” I was beside myself.

I hate people who talk in movies.

As the movie progressed all I could do was admire Woody Allen's brilliance. This film was a magical modern-day fantastic tale interwoven with "The Kugelmass Episode," Back to the Future, and Grimm's "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."

Then, at one point, Owen Wilson's and Marion Cotillard's characters were in deep conversation about what it means to live in a golden era. One's nostalgia for a more golden era is sometimes missing the point that the golden era is actually the present.

"Ah," I sank back in my seat.

The golden-yellow light of Paris was brilliant, Mr. Allen.


Steve Scottsdale said...

Great flick, loved every minute. Enjoyed guessing the famous people before the dialog told us. Little Toulouse-Lautrec was dead simple.

We were fortunate to snag a pair of cheap frequent flyer seats (55,000 miles per person) so we're headed back the end of August for two weeks.

corine said...

Agreed. I was ready to be critical but was charmed instead.

Clare said...

I enjoyed every minute. It was a delight. I too recognized every street and couldn't stop squeezing my husband's arm every minute. It just made me smile!

Mary Ann said...

I can't wait to see this film, but it hasn't opened in my area yet!!! The trailers look gorgeous....but with Paris setting the scene, how could it be otherwise? Love your blog! Are you on Twitter? We have an active Francophile group on Twitter. Come join us! I'm @enchantedtravel

Best regards,
Mary Ann

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, what's even more obnoxious is being in the role of "I live in Paris."

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Dear anonymous,

Polly-Vous Francais said...


I am @pollyvous on Twitter. See you there!

Diane said...

I love our site - just recently discovered it by chance. Looks like we have Paris in common. I really like your writing, so natural and inviting.
Hope you don't mind me leaving my website here, I thought you might want to take a peek.

Eleanor said...

I found the golden hue a little distracting. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the sights and sounds of Paris.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I thought it was a terrible movie. In fact, I thought that he was having a laugh at his audience's expenses ....

When it got to the scene at the Moulin Rouge, my companion and I burst out laughing at the absurdity of it all. The only half-way decent performance was Michael Sheen's, the rest were figuratively nothing more that cardboard cut-outs

I have not seen his recent films, and judging on this one I have not missed much.

If you want to see how he used to handle themes like these, I refer you to 'Purple Rose of Cairo'

Anonymous said...

Three years ago I took my husband and children to a secret place I found in Paris - Deyrolle! They thought I was mad, but where else could you buy a black panther for 5,000 euros? btw hated Midnight in Paris the movie, didn't even see the end it was that bad.

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