Sunday, June 19, 2011

John Is Wrong About Midnight In Paris

...but I will likely not be able to convince him of it. And probably won't be able to defend it adequately enough for his satisfaction. And am not sure I want to try too hard because the beauty of nostalgia is that it is a feeling. If you analyze a feeling too much it isn't a feeling anymore.
But let's see how far I get, shall we?
I think that if this were directed by almost any other director, I might be inclined to accept your "carefully crafted to appeal to our pseudo-intellectual selves" comment. But, in my limited experience with Allen, I have never gotten the impression of pretension from him. At least not deliberate pretension. I tend to see his filmmaking as genuine, even if it is from a perspective that a minority of Americans can relate to. But the reason he has been so successful despite this is that he makes that perspective accessible and relatable (somehow--but who knows how? It's a part of his gift) to a pretty wide audience. Like I said, I didn't get all the references. I have the most basic knowledge of the famous characters Gil interacts with, which was why the exaggerated portrayals were not just funny but helpful to some degree. If you had never heard of Hemingway (God help you), you would still find his character entertaining. If anything, the film does the opposite of what you claim because of this. Had I indeed never heard of Hemingway, might I be inclined to pick up one of his books after having seen the movie, curious about the man's writing because of the entertaining and accessible way in which he was portrayed?
Does every movie need to be challenging? Isn't it okay to simply remind us of a simple but timeless message--that there's no time like the present? And in a way that's lighthearted and fun? I'd prefer Allen's message any day to any of those taken from a couple dozen of your most popular romantic comedies of the last ten years combined.
Lighten up, John. Rodin's wife was Rose. I'm sure of it. I read it in a two-volume biography the other day.


  1. I just read John's posts about this movie, and he doesn't not have a point. Allen definitely assumes that his audience has some familiarity with various writers and artists, and he's definitely having fun with that in an almost slapstick way. Which I thought was hilarious, and which, I think, is mostly what he intended. It reminded me a lot of What's Up, Tiger Lily?, which is one of my favorites of his. It's silly, the way Hangover 2 should have been but wasn't.

    Regarding Gil's dynamic with his fiance and etc., that's the plot of about half of Allen's movies. Either you tolerate it or you don't. My mother, for instance, just can't get over that thing, and, like John, it's not that she doesn't have a point. For me, though, I'm not watching Allen to learn about life. I'm watching him for interesting performances and to laugh at dialog I have to actually pay attention to.

  2. I would agree with you that the movie for me is probably 80% fun and 20% message. But it still is significant to me that Woody Allen would make a point to tell us this thing he learned, like it was important to him to get that message out, despite all the fun. It felt very deliberate to me. And it still rings of "moral truth" to me, even though it doesn't(I presume)to John. That kind of escape-into-the-past fantasy was a common one for me in my younger years, so MiP hits me in a sensitive spot.

  3. Have you ever seen What's Up, Tiger Lily? I think you would enjoy it.

  4. Yes, I have and I loved it. I also loved Love and Death, which surprised me with how slapstick it was.