WRITER/DIRECTOR: Woody Allen
BUDGET: $30 Million (estimated)
GROSS: $33,637,833 (as of July 3rd 2011)
every time i see those classic white title cards, the same ones he uses for every single film, i can't help but be excited with the anticipation of what is to follow. i am a huge woody allen fan and even though he has been hit and miss since the late 90s, he had been pretty much all "hit" in the 20-30 years prior to that that i know there is always the chance of something great. just look at Vicky Christina Barcelona!
his films are like an old friend. you know those friends that you can go years without talking to but the moment you see each other again its as if no time had passed. well, it had been a couple years since i'd seen a woody allen movie, but the minute Midnight In Paris started it was "hello old friend."
the film begins with a lengthy montage of paris images taken over the course of a complete day from light to night with music playing over top. when i say lengthy, i mean it goes on for the whole instrumental tune and probably 30 seconds to a minute longer than most directors, and definitely most studios, would allow. but it is perfect.
like new york in Manhattan and barcelona in Vicky Christina Barcelona, paris is as important to Midnight In Paris as anything else. in those films (and many others of his) the cities are characters. from the way he shoots the films (often framing the characters so as to put the scenery/city as the main focus) to the way the characters talk about the cities and their surroundings.
then there is the talking. there is no way you can listen to a woody allen movie and not know it is a woody allen movie. his style is so wonderful and specific and the instant i heard it in this film i had yet another "hello old friend" moment.
as i have also said in the past, this specific writing style isn't conducive to all actors. the dialogue and style of conversationalism that allen creates just leads to some actors seeming very forced or uncomfortable. thankfully he has usually been good at finding performers that get it and i was very happy to see that owen wilson was one of them. wilson, and everyone else in the film, give very good performance and do justice to a film that feels like it is a movie that woody has been leading up to making for a long time now.
without giving anything away, the film covers people and ideas that his characters in the past have only talked about. whether it was alvy singer in Annie Hall or Isaac in Manhattan to name just a couple, he has often talked about, quoted, argued over and complained about many of the people that make appearances in this film. from gertrude stein to luis buñuel. in Husbands And Wives he plays professor gabriel roth, who says, at one point, that he often thinks about moving to paris.
given all that, i only wish he had made this movie earlier so that he could have acted in it. but, regardless, you can add Midnight In Paris to the "hit" column.