Review: Midnight in Paris

Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris.

Allen’s finest since Annie Hall

Rating: ****

Every writer adores Paris. There’s something magical about the city. It’s mainly the history the place holds on to. The game changers of English literature lived there and feasted life. Woody Allen would have been a proud member if only he could travel back in time. Hence, he brings forth Midnight in Paris, a fantasy rom-com about a novelist-turned-screenwriter who visits Paris in the Golden Era.

“We’re on vacation here” announces his tired fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams). But, Gil is in the Parisian trance and cannot bear the tirade she pulls on him. Her parents dislike him thoroughly. Her mother says “there’s a part of him missing” while her father blatantly announces “he’s weird.” During one of their dinners, Inez meets her old friend Paul Bates (Michael Sheen), who in Gil’s own words “is pseudo-analytical”. Indeed. Paul disagrees with the historical information given by a tour guide (played by French first lady Carla Bruni). He even rejects a correction Gil makes at a painting by Picasso.

Allen somehow brings the terse drama within the first fifteen minutes and then, he transports a drunken Gil to the 1920s, where he meets his idols, interacts with them, and changes the lives of a few. These idols include Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Tom Eliot and Salvador Dali. It’s wonderful that Allen has written these historical legends just the way they were. Scott was in love with Zelda and knew it was doomed. Hemingway was shaken by the First World War and spoke lines complete with verbal consistency and masculine presage.

There’s also Marion Cotillard playing Adriana, Picasso’s mistress, who from her introduction becomes the apple of Gil’s eye. Adrien Brody plays Spanish painter Salvador Dali who is introduced as the comic fix. He compares Gil’s failed romance with Inez to that of his fixation with painting rhinoceroses.

Cinematographer Darius Khondji bathes Paris in a rich golden hue which fits the 1920s with glowing lamps and lush art direction. Gil feels that Paris is best when it rains, and Inez directly opposes to it. No wonder they were doomed to break up!

There’s always a Woody Allen character in every film of his. Owen Wilson’s Gil is that character. From examining wine with a scientific approach to talking gibberish without a break,Wilson fits well in those Allen-esque costumes. Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein is a treasure to watch.

Allen has been writing since 1965. He still strikes to me as the guy who can entertain audiences of any age. There’s that magic in Midnight in Paris that’s inevitable. I last felt it while watching Annie Hall.

There’s nothing to dislike in Midnight in Paris. It’s all about being hooked on to the narrative magic of Woody Allen.

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Review: Frost/Nixon

Poster of Frost/Nixon
Poster of Frost/Nixon

Epic Battle of Words

Frost/Nixon

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Rebecca Hall

Rating: ****

Richard M. Nixon has been known for the infamous ‘Watergate Scandal’ which brought a decline to his career as the President of United States of America. But, he felt that his political life was still alive as he thought that he could easily outnumber David Frost in four interview sessions in which he would be questioned on several issues that happened during the timeline, he served as President. Initially successful, Nixon was finally defeated in the fourth and final interview which was all about ‘Watergate’.

Frost/Nixon covers these four interviews in what would seem like a tensed and nail-biting drama between one who could cover-up anything and another who could blow out anything. The war of words has begun. The film has a dedicatedly crafted script which doesn’t deviate out of the story and manages to hold everything onto it. There are a lot of promotional scenes in the film, such as Nixon commenting on Frost’s shoes which he calls ‘Italian-made and effeminate’.

Directed by Ron Howard, it’s a drama which ended the career of Richard Nixon and lifted the career of David Frost.

Before we continue, I would like to remind you that Frost/Nixon was originally a West End and Broadway theatre play. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen had portrayed the same characters of Nixon and Frost. They reunite to create a more powerful appearance on screen and yes, it’s worthy enough to watch. For a Legal Drama, the film moves at incredible speed. We’ve seen many legal dramas like ‘A Few Good Men’ and ‘Michael Clayton’ go slower than the tortoise. It surprises you when Frost/Nixon jumps past frames.

Hans Zimmer has composed fine music. The BGM keeps the movie alive at times where there are a few speed breakers.

Frank Langella as Richard Nixon has pulled off an amazing act. When you see the final moments of the interview, you’ll find a real Nixon rather than an actor in Nixon’s costume.

Michael Sheen lives up to the playboyish image of David Frost. But, at a few moments, he seems to lack the gutsy mind of the original. Maybe, the script slogged him down or so.

After a successful ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’, Rebecca Hall returns to yet another lively portrayal of Carolina Cushing. The actress is beautiful indeed, much like the original.

But, the best performance would be Kevin Bacon who portrays Jack Brennan. Bacon is back and has made his presence as an outstanding actor by portraying a serious character. Bacon’s sensitive dialogues and actions prove it all. How come he missed an Academy Award nomination?

Frost/Nixon is a must-watch for veteran Ron Howard’s swift direction, fine editing and outstanding performances by Sheen, Langella, Bacon and Hall. The film remains as the best form of the mistake which couldn’t be erased off American Political History.