Midnight in Paris (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 12, 2011 by  

Delightful, clever and witty… Woody Allen serves up a wonderful romantic comedy with “Midnight in Paris” and yet another fantastic  film to add to his amazing oeuvre.

Images courtesy of © 2011 Gravier Productions, Inc., Mediaproduccion S.L.U. and Versatil Cinema S.L. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Midnight in Paris

DURATION: 94 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French 3.0 LCR (Discrete Surround), Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: PG-13 (For Some Sexual References and Smoking)

RELEASE DATE: December 20, 2011

Directed and written by Woody Allen

Produced by Letty Aronson, Jaume Roures, Stephen Tenenbaum

Co-Produced by Raphael Benoliel, Helen Robin

Executive Produced by Javier Mendez

Co-Executive Producer: Jack Rollins

Music by Stephanie Wrembel

Cinematography by Johanne Debas, Darius Khondji

Edited by Alisa Lepselter

CAsting by Stephane Foenkinos, Patricia Kerrigan DiCerto, Juliet Taylor

Production Design by Anne Seibel

Art Direction by Anne Seibel

Set Decoration by Helene Dubreuil

Costume Design by Sonia Grande


Owen Wilson as Gil

Rachel McAdams as Inez

Kurt Fuller as John

Mimi Kennedy as Helen

Michael Sheen as Paul

Nina Arianda as Carol

Carla Bruni as Museum Guide

Yves Heck as Cole Porter

Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald

Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway

Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sonia Rolland as Josephine Baker

Daniel Lundh as Juan Belmonte

Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein

Marcial Di Fonzo Bo as Pablo Picasso

Marion Cotillard as Adriana

Lea Seydoux as Gabrielle

Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali

Adrien de Van as Luis Bunuel

This is a romantic comedy set in Paris about a family that goes there because of business, and two young people who are engaged to be married in the fall have experiences there that change their lives. It’s about a young man’s great love for a city, Paris, and the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better.

In 2011, Woody Allen would write and direct the film “Midnight in Paris”, a romantic comedy/fantasy which has been praised as Woody Allen’s best film in the last decade.

In fact, “Midnight in Paris” is Woody Allen’s highest grossing film which has earned over $135 million in the box office.

The film features an all-star cast starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Carla Bruni, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen to name a few.

For Allen, the film is a return to fantasy such as his 1985 film “The Purple Rose of Cairo” and the screenplay was written around the title of the film “Midnight in Paris” and his goal was to capture Paris, focus on the romantic elements of the film and its warm ambience.  The film would mark Allen’s first film to go through a digital intermediate and literally an experiment to find out if he would like to use the process in his next films.

“Midnight in Paris” is a film that focuses on Gil (played by Owen Wilson, “Wedding Crashers”, “The Darjeeling Limited”, “Bottle Rocket”), a Hollywood screenwriter who has traveled with his fiancee, Inez (played by Rachel McAdams, “Wedding Crashers”, “Mean Girls”, “Sherlock Holmes”) and her wealthy and conservative parents to Paris.

Gil is currently trying to finish his novel but he is having a little difficulty completing it.  Meanwhile, Inez and her parents are not so thrilled that Gil wants to give up his lucrative Hollywood screenwriting career to focus on a novel.

And while in Paris, Gil is enjoying the moment.  He would love to live in Paris but for Inez, she is wanting to live in Malibu.  If anything, the two don’t really have much in common and are constantly in disagreement.

When Inez’ friend Paul (played by Michael Sheen, “Kingdom of Heaven”, “Underworld”, “Alice in Wonderland”) and his wife Carol (played by Nina Arianda, “Win Win”, “Higher Ground”) arrive to Paris, Inez wants to hang out with the couple.  But because Paul is a pseudo-intellectual who believes he is right about everything, Inez seems to idolize everything that comes out of his mouth, but Gil…often disagreeing with him, which angers Inez.  If anything, for Gil, his admiration is more towards “The Lost Generation” (a term to describe a generation that came of age during World War I created by writer, poet Gertrude Stein and popularized by Ernest Hemmingway).

When Paul and Carol invite both Inez and Gil to go dancing, Gil is not interested and declines, while Inez wants to have fun while she is in Paris.  For Gil, he wants to use midnight walks in Paris to help him come up with ideas for his book.  One day, while walking late at night while drunk, he is lost and an antique car pulls up next to him.  A group of festive people who are dressed up in 1920’s clothing asks Gil to join them and at first he is reluctant, but he decides to go for it.

He’s taken to a bar and meets people such as Cole Porter (played by Yves Heck), Josephine Baker (played by Sonia Rolland) and also Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (played by Alison Pill and Tom Hiddleston).  At first, Gil thinks its all a joke but when he sees everyone around, dressed in 1920’s clothing and listening to music of that time, he wonders if something amazing has happened.  And then he is taken to meet Ernest Hemingway (played by Corey Stoll) and when Gil talks about his book, Hemingway tells him that he can show his manuscript of his novel to Gertrude Stein (played by Kathy Bates) and get some feedback on it.  Excited, Gil leaves the bar to go back to his hotel and get his manuscript but when he forgets to get the address of where they will meet up, when he heads back to the bar, it’s gone.  In fact, he is back in 2010.

Shocked about what has transpired, Gil tells Inez of what has been happening and she doesn’t believe him.  So, he tells her to join him during his midnight walk and when they wait, she is bored of waiting and leaves to go back to the hotel.  And right after she leaves, the clock strikes midnight and the antique car with Ernest Hemingway has arrived.

Ernest tells him that he will be taking Gil to meet with Gertrude Stein, who has agreed to read his manuscript.  When they arrive to Gertrude’s home, he meets Pablo Picasso (played by Marcial Di Fonz Bo) and his mistress Adriana (played by Marion Cottilard), a student of couture.  Immediately, Gil is attracted to Adriana.

The next day, in present time, Gil goes with Inez and Paul to the museum and Paul goes into discussion about Picasso’s painting of Adriana.  But when Gil interrupts and contradicts Paul and starts talking about Adriana and her beauty, Inez is immediately offended and embarrassed about what Gil has done.

And as Gil and Inez slowly become unattached, Gil spends his midnight walks with his new friends and begins hanging out with Adriana.  Inez on the other hand is frustrated and begins spending more time with her friend Paul.  Meanwhile, Inez’ father is concerned for his daughter that Gil may be doing something else during those midnight walks and hires a private investigator to follow Gil during his midnight walks and report on him.

But the longer Gil spends time with Adriana, he finds himself falling in love with her.  But she is from that time period, he is from the future.  Can they even have a relationship?  And what about his engagement to Inez?  What will Gil do?


“Midnight in Paris” is presented in 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and presented in English and French 3.0 LCR (Discrete Surround). Woody Allen’s goal to capture the beauty of Paris was successful!  Darius Khondji and Johanne Debas did a fantastic job in capturing these breathtaking scenes of the Parisian streets, various locations and for the most part, everything looks good on DVD.

But if anyone wants to experience the best picture and audio quality, you definitely want to watch this movie on Blu-ray!  In fact, while I was watching this film on DVD, I kept telling myself of how beautiful those scenes would look in HD!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.


“Midnight in Paris” comes with the following special features:

  • Midnight in Cannes – (4:57) Featuring excerpts of the Cannes Film Festival press conference as Woody Allen and cast talk about filming in Paris and working on the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:05) The original theatrical trailer for “Midnight in Paris”.

Delightful, clever and witty… Woody Allen serves up a wonderful romantic comedy with “Midnight in Paris” and yet another fantastic  film to add to his amazing oeuvre.

When it comes to Woody Allen, you just never know what you’re going to get with his films, especially within the last 20-years.  Many film critics have wondered if the filmmaker has lost his magic that he exhibited earlier in his career but I have always watched his films, past and present and have enjoyed them.  Sure, the older films have a style, an allure, to them that emits “classic” Woody Allen filmmaking and one that many have hoped to see again.

With “Midnight in Paris”, although Allen doesn’t star in the film, fortunately Owen Wilson manages to tap into a Woody persona and are able to achieve an efficacy of Woody Allen magic.  Romantic, witty and absolute charming, “Midnight in Paris” is a film that captivated me from beginning to end and it was a film that I enjoyed tremendously.

When it comes to capturing romance in the city, may it be bleak or happy, may it be in New York, London or Barcelona, how perfect would it be for Allen to capture a romantic comedy in Paris?

And he does it with “Midnight in Paris”.  From its opening breathtaking scenes of the famous areas of the city, I was captivated from the start.

But its the characters that made me love this movie and it’s also the clever insight to those characters that I found delightful.   Owen Wilson does a remarkable job of playing Gil, the writer seeking inspiration but its that creative desire that he gets from Paris that gives him vitality.  Vitality that runs counter to the lost energy he gets when he’s around his fiance Inez.

Inez plays the soul sucking fiance.  Not so supportive of her fiance, despite having knowledge of art, poetry and literary work, she would rather listen to her friend Paul, a wannabe verite that is pompous and your typical Mr. Know-it-All, or more like he thinks he knows it all.

But it’s when we see the fantasy element of Woody Allen’s film start to take shape, of how we see the creative Gil finding inspiration by returning to what he thinks is the Golden Year of creativity, the 1920’s.  The time of the Lost Generation and for anyone who are avid readers, those who follow poetry, art and cinema…one can easily ask themselves, how would it have been to have an association, friendship with the talents of Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, etc.

To use the words of Ernest Hemingway from his memoir “A Moveable Feast”, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast”.

What would one do if you had the chance to go back in time, France ala 1920’s and to associate with these individuals?

This is where “Midnight in Paris” becomes charming and fun, and as I watched, I watched with a big grin because we see the character of Gil, the classic Woody Allen character, getting that opportunity. There is no focus on how Gil is able to go back in time, all that matters is that he is with people that understand him, people from a Lost Generation which he has looked at as “The Golden Years” for those individuals he had respected.

And because of this,  the use of these famous figures and Gil’s interaction with them may be pleasing to an audience or may go over their heads of why one would find certain situations funny or hilarious.

While “Midnight in Paris” by no means does one have to be an erudite of their work to enjoy the film, it does make things a bit more intriguing if you do.   From the relationships between Hemingway and Gertrude Stein or Hemingway with the Fitzgerald’s or Picasso’s many mistresses, I loved how the film touched upon those little things.  But its not necessary to understand them.  For example, the woman that Gil starts to fall for…Adriana, is a fictional character.  A mistress of Picasso who loves couture, who is interested in Gil (as Gil has interest in her) but because he is engaged to Inez, how will his time with Adriana change him?

As for little details that I found intriguing, you see Gil visiting the bookstore “Shakespeare & Company”. The significance is that its a bookstore that Hemingway would visit and read various books that inspired him.

One of the most hilarious parts of the film, which fans of filmmaker Luis Bunuel would be interested in, is a scene where Gil is offering a filmmaking idea.

Gil:  Mr. Bunuel, I have a nice idea for a movie for you?

Luis: Yes?

Gil: A group of people attend a formal dinner party and at the dinner, when they try to leave the room, they can’t.

Luis: Why not?

Gil: They just can’t just seem to exit the door?

Luis: But…But why?

Gil: Well…Momento.  When they are forced to stay together, the veneer of civilization quickly fades away and what you are left with is… who they real are…animals.

Luis: But I don’t get it, why don’t they just walk out of the room?

Gil: All I am asking is for you to think about it.  Who knows, when you are shaving one day, it may tickle your fancy.

Luis: I don’t understand…what is holding them in the room?

While possibly this discussion may go over the heads of most audiences, for cinema fans, one can only grin as Gil is talking about Bunuel’s Academy Award winning surrealist film from 1972, “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie”.

So, there are small details that I just found delightful and fun, and with the whole film shot in Paris and having that touristy but yet enchanting flair, I couldn’t help but enjoy the beauty of the film and enjoy the film and see the journey of Gil and how Paris changes him.

As for the DVD, I think “Midnight in Paris” actually breaks new ground.  I believe this is the first Woody Allen film to include a special feature.  It’s generally known and mentioned in many other reviews that Woody Allen is not a big fan of special features and with each release, all you are getting is a trailer.  But with this DVD (and possibly for the Blu-ray release), you get a four minute special feature from the Cannes press conference for “Midnight in Paris”.    Sure, it’s short but take what you can get Woody Allen fans, the fact that there is a special feature aside from the trailer is actually surprising.

While the DVD is a very solid release, if you have a Blu-ray player, this is one of those films that features beautiful scenery that you want to watch it on HD.  This is a very entertaining film that is worth watching on Blu-ray but otherwise, if you don’t have a Blu-ray player and don’t plan to get one, then the DVD is very good!

Overall, “Midnight in Paris” is a fantastic Woody Allen film, especially those familiar with the famous figures presented in the film.  But a beautiful, delightful and fun film that is definitely recommended!


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