Sunday, December 11, 2011


Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen
Marion Cotillard, Carla Bruni, Kathy Bates

This latest picture from Woody Allen begins with a montage of gorgeous Parisian locales accompanied by a jazzy melodic music and from that moment on it is impossible not to fall in love with Paris. A light-hearted magical stroll through a magnificent city filled with greats artists who go there to find inspiration.

We view the city through the eyes of Gil (Owen Wilson) who is visiting Paris with his uptight fiancee (Rachel McAdams) and her stuffy conservative (read: Republicans) parents. He is a Hollywood screenwriter who is revising the first draft of his book and is completely enamored with Paris. While his fiancee cringes at the very thought of settling out of the US of A.

Gil's vacation is hugely improved when, on the stroke of midnight over a number of nights, he is miraculously transported back to Paris in the Twenties. During that period, he gets to hobnob with literary figures like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein, among others. Not only do these historical figures welcome Gil into their inner circle, they also encourage his writing.

But this isn't a time travel movie, there are no explanations given as to why or how Gil is transported back in time. It just happens. I attribute it as a manifestation of Gil's desire to escape from the drudgery of his impending marriage to a woman with whom he shares no common interests. Case in point: Gil loves to walk through Paris in the rain. Unlike his fussy fiancee Inez who doesn't like doing anything that Gil likes. In fact, we don't really know why they are together at all.

The main argument of the film is that you shouldn’t live in the past; even though the past is infinitely more alluring than the present. Everybody is disillusioned about their current lives, but yearning for a romanticized previous era is simply a way of not living your life to the fullest. It suggests that we should enjoy the present for all it's worth.

The pleasures of "Midnight in Paris" are going along with Gil for the ride, sharing his enthusiasm for Paris and following the film's artistic references. It had less of the neurosis usually associated with Allen's movies. Although Owen Wilson did capture much of his characteristic mannerisms, brilliantly. The film had a whimsical and romantic flair with just enough wit to charm our visual senses. I loved it, both the city (my fave spot) and the movie!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Rafe Spall

"Twenty years. Two People."

This story unfolds on the 15th of July in the year 1998. The year when Dexter (Jim Sturgess) first meets Emma (Anne Hathaway). Bookish Emma and immature rich boy Dex spend the night together after their graduation day at Edinburgh University. Though they will remember this not-quite tryst as a "near miss," it cements a close friendship that waxes and wanes over the years.

They never become a couple, but the film follows their twin lives on this day (July 15) over the next 20 years: sometimes together, sometimes poignantly apart. Love, friendship and the different push and pull factors that influence wants, dreams and ambitions come into play as Em and Dex ride the emotional rollercoaster of their adult lives.

Based on a 2009 bestselling novel (which I never read) by David Nicholls, it has a good and unique premise. By examining the ups and downs of the ever-changing relationship between two people over 20 years, we silently find ourselves rooting for them to end up together. Even though along the way, as we witness the different trajectory that their lives embark on, we tend to lose interest in their individual stories. Or fail to notice Anne Hathaway's distracting British accent. Or how we start to slowly dislike the Dexter character and his many failures.

Until. One day in the year 2006. Everything changes. All the boring, dragging moments leading up to the 15th of July of that year is quickly wiped out as a single incident wakes us from our stupor. What happens near the end of "One Day" is likely to have a decisive effect on your opinion of the movie. Perhaps you will have seen this climax coming all along, and maybe you will find it splendidly moving. Either way, you will close the chapter in the life featuring Em and Dex with fondness. I know I did even though I was all torn up with tears in my eyes. Gosh!

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