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“That City is Real Nice”: A Review of “Midnight in Paris”

I am happy to report that after 15 years, Evie Taloney is back in the saddle writing “Evie Taloney’s ‘Flics Worth Ropin'”.  Her sidekick Cowboy Clay is also loping alongside her.  Her latest review is on Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”.

Cowboy Clay and I just got done watching Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris”.  It’s a treat, I’ll tell you,  for the eyes and the ears.   You can’t watch a movie about Paris without thinking about food and drink though.  So I was wondering what kind of food best describes this movie and, at first, I thought of a bonbon.  But that doesn’t fit.  This movie is not a small confection.  But it’s no Croque Monsieur, either.  There is no ham in this sandwich.  This is a genuinely funny movie with a timely message.  So, it’s more like an inverted Creme Brulee.  It’s got a hard crunchy truth underneath it’s warm creamy custard surface.

This is a movie about Gil played by Owen Wilson who has a job.  But he hates his job.  Unlike most Americans though he makes a lot of money at this job. He writes screenplays and his screenplays are indeed bonbons and don’t make him happy.  He wants to quit his job and work on his novel.  Yes, he wants to work but not at a job.

So what’s to stop him?  Well it’s his fiancee, Inez, played by Rachel McAdams and her rich parents played by Mimi Kennedy and Kurt Fuller.  Gil sees Paris as the place where great artists and writers have found their muses.  He loves the city.  Inez and her parents see Paris as a place to shop and hate the French. Inez wants to go home and decorate their future house in Malibu.  Gil wants to stay and live his dream of writing a great American novel.  For Inez, it’s what Gil earns not what he does.

Most people here don’t have the luxury to choose meaningful work over a job.  And people like Gil often have the luxury but don’t have the courage to act on their compulsion.

So what compels him forward?  I’m not going into detail but it involves hanging out with Ernest Hemingway, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and a bunch more characters from the 1920s. Gil finds out how much impact these writers had on him.  “T.S. Eliot? Prufrock is like my mantra.” And so he dreams of having an impact on writers to come.

You don’t have to be a film major to enjoy Gil’s encounter with the Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel or an English major to laugh out loud at Zelda who is a pistol and Ernest “Have you ever shot a charging lion?” who is very very earnest.

In the end this film is not about Gil but about Paris.  Paris compels.  It compels because people in Paris sit in cafes and drink coffee and wine and talk for hours.  They play the game of bolls and talk while they play. They philosophize.  They fraternize. They read essays and take the time to discuss ideas.  They take the time to talk to each other rather than sit in front of TVs.  They live for these hours of talk.  This cafe life is primary.  Their jobs are secondary.

They can do this partly because they work 8 hour days and have simple and easy commutes.  They don’t arrive home dog tired after fighting traffic.  They run up the stairs to their apartment, put on some fresh makeup or a quick brush to the hair and off they go for their evening of cafe life.

When I asked Cowboy Clay what he thought, he said “That city is real nice.”  You betcha.

4 Spurs