Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Midnight in Paris

2011 by Woody Allen - English movie

Woody Allen is quite a different director from America. His Vicky Christina Barcelona is one of my favourites, though he does have some other nice movies. Midnight in Paris is his latest movie, and once again Woody Allen goes to Europe.

An American family is in Paris for business. The fiancee of the daughter is an established Hollywood writer, who would like to write a novel and feels Paris is the best place for doing this. He is in love with the city and its great past.

I would say this is quite a different attempt from Woody Allen. I never expected him to make a movie which is almost fantasical in its plot. His hero is able to travel to the 1920's meet great personalities of those period and travel back to the present. He even enters into a kind of relationship with a woman he met in that era. All this only to realise that he has the wrong person as his fiancee. At the same time through this movie, Woody Allen also mentions that people would always want to think about a different period in history, than the present, as the best.

At first, I didnt understand why there was a highly saturated and fluroscent yellowish tone for the frames. But as the 20's Paris scenes came in, it made sense. Many of the 1920's scenes are so lovely and brilliant.

Gil, Woody's  young writer, is a nice man with the heart of an artist. His fiancee and her family is anything but somebody who can appreciate such a genuine guy. It is perplexing how they got engaged though. Anyways, Gil's life in Paris is quite interesting and funny, moving between the 1920's and the present. One other thing I noticed is that how similar Owen Wilson and Woody Allen are. If this movie was made some years ago, Mr. Allen would have definitely played Gil. And when Owen Wilson plays this role, I almost felt like it was Woody Allen. There is a striking similarity between the mannerisms and dialogue delivery of the two. Owen Wilson, anyways, is really excellent. Marion Cotillard as Adriana, was brilliant and beautiful too. I really did not like Woody Allen using Gad Elmaleh in a small role, with nothing to do. What a waste of talent.

I would hesitate to call it a a romantic comedy, it begins and ends like one though. But it is quite a fantasical movie in between.
Nor is it a perfect blend of fantasy and present like in the El Laberinto del Fauno.
But still it is a good one, which requires a different mind set to watch, understand and appreciate.
For sure, it is a different movie from Woody Allen and I will be glad to watch it a few more time. Just like the hero in the movie, I am also in love with Paris, the most romantic city in the world for sure. And many scenes in this movie took me to the few days I spend there, and I felt nostalgic. Am sure Woody Allen loves Paris too.

Elle s'appaleit Sarah - She is Sarah

2010 by Gilles Paquet-Brenner - French movie, with lots of English too

Sometimes I wonder, what would have the movie makers done if there was no Hitler. Hitler's atrocities, against the Jews, looks like the favourite theme for movie makers from the west. I am not holding anything against the Jews or their suffering during Hitlers reign. But it does not look fair when movie makers ignore equally horrible sufferings by other communities or group of people across the world. Or in other words, there are only very very few attempts at portraying the sufferings of people elsewhere, like the Battle of Algiers or Hotel Rwanda, to name a couple. In fact, when a movie was made in Turkey immediately after the American invasion of Iraq, about the fate of Iraqis, the west did everything possible to ensure that the movie will not be seen by the outside world. Using the dream of Turkey to enter into the European union, they even managed to ban that movie in Turkey.

It is may be the second movie in 2010, which is based on the same incident, the infamous Vel dHiv roundups of 1942. And may be there are many more movies, in 2010/11 itself, about which I dont know at all. In fact I saw La Rafle only few weeks before.

An American journalist married to a French man has to make an article on the Vel dHiv roundup and she accidentally realises that the apartment which her husband has inherited and into which they are just about to move, belonged to a Jewish family who suffered in 1942. She starts tracing the story through a little girl Sarah, who managed to escape the Nazi camp.

For sure, the movie has lots of touching moments, which shows the suffering of the innocent people during the round up. Sarah the little girl, who managed to escape the Nazi camp and Julia, the American journalist, are the two leading characters, the latter searching for the former, the movie take us through two different periods in time. Julia's life has its own problems as she is pregnant and her French husband does not want to be an old father.

Basically, it is like there are three stories here. The story of Sarah, immediately after the round ups in 1942, the search for Sarah by Julia and Julia's personal story involving her husband and daughter. And I am not sure if the script really managed to hold all this together. Even during the first half, when the movie looks much better, the scenes of 1942 and the present criss cross a lot in a rapid way that it is almost annoying. But towards the second half, it turns even poor and does not look really professional at all. Too much melodrama, which is even amateurish at times with terrible performances, too much cliches and all. In fact, it looks more like an ordinary Hollywood movie than a French movie. It does not have the charm of even average French movies I would say. The performance of couple of actors, especially the son of Sarah, was really poor. If not for Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays Julia, the second half would have been really bohring, I am afraid.

On the same issue, La Rafle looks a much better movie.