“Midnight in Paris” movie review plus review of 5 Woody Allen classics (video clips from Annie Hall)

Sean Kernan's photo

, Davenport Classic Movies Examiner

June 11, 2011

Woody Allen’s new film “Midnight in Paris” starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard opened Friday, June 10th at Rave Motion Pictures in Davenport, Iowa. “Midnight in Paris” stars Owen Wilson as a blocked novelist in Paris on a terrible vacation with his shrewish wife (McAdams) who finds solitude and discovery while walking the streets of Paris after midnight.

“Midnight in Paris” reminded me of many of my favorite Woody Allen classics and with that in mind, here are my five favorite Woody Allen classics.

Zelig

This remarkably put together pseudo-documentary stars Woody Allen as Leonard Zelig, a human chameleon who can become anyone. This fresh and witty movie takes Allen only slightly away from his usual neurotic meanderings on life, love and death as he visits upon the character of Zelig a series of comic mishaps whose underlying meaning reflects Allen’s worldview without existing within Allen’s usual conversational style.

Stardust Memories

The most self referential of Woody Allen’s films, “Stardust Memories” is about a director who agrees to appear at a film festival and finds himself assailed by fans repeatedly reminding him how much they prefer his ‘earlier, funnier movies.’ Charlotte Rampling plays his ex-girlfriend, a slightly crazed actress. Meta before the new definition of the word existed; “Stardust Memories” is Woody Allen commenting on the state of his own career from the agents and producers to the fans both sycophantic and demanding.

Purple Rose of Cairo

There is an astonishing innocence to “The Purple Rose of Cairo” that comes from the purest love of the movies. In “Purple Rose of Cairo” Mia Farrow plays a woman who dreams about movie heroes and Jeff Daniels plays a movie hero who comes down off the screen and into real life. Daniels also plays the role of the actor whose character comes off the screen. “Purple Rose of Cairo” is Woody Allen at his most romantic both in terms of characters in love and our love affair with movies.

Annie Hall

If you don’t love “Annie Hall” then you probably don’t love Woody Allen. “Annie Hall” is his masterpiece; a talky, oddly romantic, neurotic mess that finds laughs in the exasperations of the daily lives of two people attempting to be in love or in love with love or whatever it is that men and women do to keep themselves company.

Match Point

If for some reason you’ve questioned Woody Allen’s talent as a director, watch “Match Point” and you will be convinced. “Match Point” is a Hitchcockian thriller starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johannsen as sexy social climbers who begin an affair that endangers their status-seeking until finally murder is the only option left to one of them. The elegance of “Match Point” is what is so surprising and effective about it. There is little of Allen’s usual kvetching in the dialogue but the nature of the film, the malleable morality, is all his.

“Midnight in Paris” is a little young to make this list but I cannot wait to watch it again as I feel it will age well and likely displace one of the movies on this list. See “Midnight in Paris” at Rave Motion Pictures in Davenport, 3601 East 53rd street, for the next month or so. 

 

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