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December 20, 2011

DVD of the Week – Midnight in Paris (2011)

by NIR SHALEV

There is no other film this year that has managed to put a smile on my face and keep it there like Woody Allen’s extremely charming Midnight in Paris.

My original review for the film can be read here, but to recap the story quickly, Owen Wilson plays Gil, a wannabe writer who’s vacationing in Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. Gil and Inez are terribly mismatched and the film plays that angle as comedy and not drama. Gil loves Paris, especially when it rains, and he prefers to wander its streets alone so that he could focus his thoughts on his current book without being distracted. However, after getting lost one night, at the stroke of midnight a 1920s era car pulls up and offers him a lift to a party. What Gil believes to be a costume party turns to be reality, as he has magically been transported to his favorite decade, the 1920s. There he befriends famous celebrities such as Pablo Picasso, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dali, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and more.

The film concerns itself mostly with the notion that what we believe to have been “the greatest decade” differs greatly from person to person and Gil learns that fact first hand. As he is transported to the 1920s, he prefers to stay there but he meets a woman, one of Picasso’s many muses, who is of the belief that La Belle Époque, Paris from the late 19th century to the outbreak of WWI, was the best time period to live in.

Midnight in Paris is not heavy on philosophy, like many other Woody Allen films, and is exquisitely entertaining. Watching Gil killing time during the day, each day, until midnight, where he’s transported back in time is humorous and watching his interactions with the celebrities of that bygone era is equally fascinating and endearing.

The cast is very lively. The direction and gorgeous cinematography are low key, except when showing Paris as the beautiful city that it is. This is easily one of the best movies of 2011. I dare you, fan or no fan of Allen’s immense body of work to not enjoy this film even for a second. It’s a wonderful love letter to the city of Paris and also a funny, quirky time travel film that succeeds with every step that it takes.

Allen’s films never have any special features on the DVDs or Blu-rays. Midnight in Paris comes only with a five-minute cast and crew discussion of the film.

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STAY AWAY FROM THIS MOVIE!

In Colombiana, Zoe Saldana plays a Colombian who grew up learning how to become a contract killer so that she could murder the man who murdered her father when she was a little girl. The film contains terrible fight and action choreography, as expected from director Olivier Megaton, who directed the dreadful Transporter 3; one cliche after another; a laughable premise and terrible performances. The theatrical version that I saw was rated PG-13, in which all of the bloody violence was left for the last 10 minutes of the film and even though this DVD/Blu-ray version is unrated, I doubt that it would improve the film in any way. I see it making the film even more unbearable to watch. Stay away from this movie!

Other new releases this week: Blackthorn, Dolphin Tale, Margin Call, Straw Dogs, Warrior


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