Where do I begin…

I love Woody Allen films. I’ve seen every one – clear back to the early 70’s. There are few things about his style that I don’t like and Midnight in Paris might be my absolute favorite.

It’s the story of Gil Pender, a Hollywood screenwriter played by Owen Wilson. He’s in Paris with his fiance and her parents. Gil’s looking for substance in his career and feels like Paris is the place to find it. By day, they play the tourist role. But, by night, Wilson’s character slips away into a fantasy world where he gets to meet and socialize with his literary idols and their other artist friends. But, it’s the way he enters the world that is so unique…

He gets into a vintage car and time travels back to the 1920’s – the era with which he is most fascinated. There he meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda and their friend Ernest Hemingway. They in turn take him to meet Gertrude Stein, played by Kathy Bates; Pablo Picasso, T. S. Eliot, Cole Porter and Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali just to name a few. They even manage a quick meet with Josephine Baker between performances.

The experience forces Gil to come to terms with his displeasure as a screenwriter and he decides to pursue his dream of writing a novel. While the cliche of Paris tapping into one’s artistic soul is very cliche, the way Woody Allen evolves this story hits exactly the right spot for us writers.

We’d all love to meet the literary greats and to find a fun way to fantasize about that happening is genius. Just when you think Gil has met the greats of the great, Woody manages to bring in another artist of note. It was like watching the actors walk the red carpet; There was an endless stream of greats.

And speaking of red carpets, this film has to get nominated for the story and the writing. I’d like to think Woody Allen would get nominated for best Director as well, but, I don’t think he’s very popular with the Academy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him at The Academy Awards, though he’s won three and been nominated 22 times.

I have to say, however, the shortcoming in this film is the performances of the central characters. If there are nominations for individual performances, I would say there are only two possibilities: Kathy Bates in a supporting role as Gertrude Stein and Cory Stoll in a supporting role as Ernest Hemingway.

Both of those performances, in their brevity, are outstanding. They both manage to squeeze in so much content – the dialogue commands your attention. I suppose we can point that back to the writing as well, which, should without doubt get a nomination.

So, Woody is an inspiration to all of us writers. He keeps creating original stories, which, in today’s environment of recycling content, is refreshing and optimistic.

See Midnight in Paris for sure!