Apr 01, 2011 12:00AM

Woody Allen: Midnight In Paris

A charming take on a well-worn form.

Set to open the 64th Cannes Film Festival is Woody Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris, which marks his 41st production. It is tempting to say that this breadth of films witnesses a gradual and incremental development of a style, but? who do I think am I kidding? This is WOODY ALLEN, for fuck's sake. His films have always (and probably WILL always) meditate on the same, quintessential ideas: confused man, plethora of women, frustrated by and scorning of the pseudo-intellect, mooching around in scattered conversations, struggling to untangle the mysteries of human interactions.

First impressions of Midnight in Paris are, inevitably, no different. Shot during a European summer, the trailer opens with pretty, listless and very French music, accompanied by adoring shots of a dreamy city. In this respect, the trailer feels like some far-flung Parisian cousin to that of Manhattan. Instead of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and a drawling voice which states, "He adored New York City; he idolised it out of all proportion," the trailer for Midnight in Paris 8 very deliberate references to Monet's waterlilies along with protagonist Owen Wilson proclaiming, "This is unbelievable. There is no city like this in the world."

In this respect, the city feels like the third member of Allen's romantic engagement (or Allen's case, the fourth or fifth). There's a real meditation on man's engagement with his cultural landscape - shots of New York in bloom are replaced with images of warm lights flaring out of the dark, scattered Parisian alleyways and Marion Cotillard in a beaded dress.

The counterpoint to Allen's scrappy-haired, woollen blazer-wearing (sound familiar?) Owen Wilson is the team of Rachel McAdams and her parents, who are rich, blonde and boring - much like Vicky's husband and friends in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. There is also the 'pseudo-intellect' of Allen's perennial disdain - played by Michael Sheen - who provides moments of comic sparkle by swilling his wine pretentiously and correcting a museum curator (Carla Bruni) on the details of Auguste Rodin's marital status.

All in all, Midnight in Paris looks like a charming take on a well-worn form. The film will be released in France on the opening night of Cannes, 11 May 2011, with international release dates later in the year.

Jacinta Mulders

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