Friday, May 13, 2011

At last, a post, no thanks to Blogspot


May 11, 2011/Day One

The sun is bright (very), the breeze stiff on the palms and monster yucca, and everything is just plain crowded. And lots of press conferences: the jury, Woody Allen, and others. Unfortunately, the reason most folks come here starts slowly--the films themselves

The grand opening of the 64th Cannes, replete with red carpet hoopla and gawkers aplenty, happens this evening with Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, though the film is not in the competition (his last Cannes film was Vicky, Christina, Barcelona, 2008), And it is a good film start with, for it is a very good comedy on romance, at once very funny and biting, but also, in a new chord in Allen, both fresh and gentle, less satirical and almost tender. Think of Midnight in Paris as a kind of dessert, amply sweet but light and resonant to the end.

Successful young Hollywood screenwriter Gil Bender (Owen Wilson) is off to Paris with his bride-to-be (Rachel McAdams) to try "real" writing, meaning a novel. Eva would rather be back home, larking in the garden of Malibu, but Gil adores Paris, both its look and lore. The friction worsens when her parents show up, a grating pair of come-lately rich whose sole index of "culture" is cost. Another visitor is worse still--a know-it-all academic boor whose greatest accomplishment is his omnivorous ego. Poor Gil, uncertain and fumbling, is up against.

His rescue proves whimsical and wonderfully beguiling. The past comes to him, or he to it, and he soon chums with Scott and Zelda and Ernie, himself grandly boorish in his constant blather on the glories of macho. Paris' expatriate 20s blooms (and parties) again, and Allen has great fun casting and scripting the whole gang, everyone from Dali to Picasso and Gertrude Stein.
In the end, happily, the magic of Paris still does its sweet thing, and Midnight casts its own hopeful spell for the goodness of the ordinary, even though that might have to be a Parisian ordinary. For grim and grumpy old Woody, that's a good and happy feat--and a summer movie worth going to.

It is good, too, that Cannes saw fit to open with a comedy, for usually what follows tends toward grimness, namely uncomfortably dire portraits of the human condition, something that has never made cheery fare. With any luck, or whatever, a few of the movies to follow will break that mold, and giving who's bringing films to Cannes, there's great reason to think that will indeed be the case.

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