I’m hit-and-miss with Woody Allen pictures. I loved his last one (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), and I was surprised the critics weren’t kind to it. This is the type of movie all the critics will like, as well as the art house crowd and the regular folk. Now, for the guy sitting next to me that knew all the literary references and his date didn’t…you didn’t need to explain them all during the movie. I doubt it made things more interesting for her when you said “That’s Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody). You know, the guy that paints those melting clocks.”
He also explained, “That’s Cole Porter playing the piano.”
Come on, dude. If she doesn’t recognize the song, you saying his name isn’t going to make her realize who it is and what she’s missing. I did laugh when she asked who Kathy Bates was supposed to be.
He didn’t respond. I was tempted to lean over and say “Ah, so your blow-hard date doesn’t know Gertrude Stein, huh?”
That real life incident was almost like the scene in the Woody Allen movie (Annie Hall, if memory serves) where somebody in line for a play doesn’t really know the subject matter he’s bloviating about.
Owen Wilson was playing Woody Allen, although not in that distracting way that Will Ferrell did (in the underrated Melinda and Melinda). Wilson combined his character with Allen’s and it seemed a natural fit. The good dialogue helped, too.
Here’s the story on Allen’s latest European film tour. Wilson is dealing with writers block and when he and his wife go to France, he dreams of all the writers and musicians who lived and partied there in the ‘20s. He doesn’t seem to be having the best time with his fiancé, and when he walks the streets at midnight, an old Peugeot picks him up. Much like the DeLorean in Back to the Future, it takes him back in time. We just don’t have Doc explaining how, which is fine. Now, what I wasn’t expecting was the relationship with Marion Cotillard (she’s so beautiful on screen). Not only is it fascinating, but she dreams of going back in time – the golden age, Moulin Rouge age of the 1880s. What an interesting concept. You go back in time and meet others that wish they were going to a time before theirs. We always romanticize these other eras. I used to think about going back to the mid-60s to watch Wilt Chamberlain play for the Lakers and see The Doors play the small clubs on the Sunset Strip. I could do it all in Los Angeles.
Of all the characters we come across, Hemingway is the one that didn’t work for me. It was like he was just narrating all the bravado and adventures he went on. It didn’t seem natural. In fact, I found myself not laughing all that much during the movie. I thought the story was a little thin in the humor department. I remember only two scenes that really made me laugh out loud. One involved Rachel McAdams wondering why when Wilson was going on his late night walk, he took a shower, got dressed up, and had a gift with him. His explanation was hysterical. I also loved when she hired a private eye to follow him. I didn’t see the direction that would take and it was a pleasant surprise.
I’m guessing this will get an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, but it really shouldn’t get many other nominations.
The movie poster is a perfect illustration of how I felt about this movie. It creatively used Van Gogh’s Starry Night on the top, perfectly blending into an actual picture of Owen Wilson walking in Paris. You smile just looking at it.
This movie goes well with The Purple Rose of Cairo. It gets 3 ½ stars out of 5.