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Critical Consensus: Woody's Cannes Opener "Paris" Is The Pick of a (Slow) Week

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire May 18, 2011 at 2:55AM

As Cannes closes down its 2011 edition in the south of France, its opener is debuting Stateside. Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" is opening in limited release this weekend care of Sony Pictures Classics, and alongside Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel's doc "Louder Than a Bomb" and Sundance 2010 alum "Life 2.0," it leads a slow weekend of specialty debuts.
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As Cannes closes down its 2011 edition in the south of France, its opener is debuting Stateside. Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" is opening in limited release this weekend care of Sony Pictures Classics, and alongside Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel's doc "Louder Than a Bomb" and Sundance 2010 alum "Life 2.0," it leads a slow weekend of specialty debuts.

"Paris" received a mixed-to-positive response on criticWIRE, averaging a "B" from 14 different critics. As a film must have 5 or more grades to be considered the "critical consensus," it thus becomes the pick of the week (though is the lowest scoring film to do so). Assembling an all-star cast of romantically confused, supremely neurotic individuals, the film follows Gil (Owen Wilson), a whiny loner on a trip to Paris with his moody wife Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (Mimi Kennedy and Kurt Fuller). On a stroll after dinner one night, Gil finds himself lost on a dark city street and sits down in a huff, only to be rescued by a bustling old vehicle that pulls up out of nowhere and takes him to a party 80 decades in the past. Soon, he's wandering a giddy dance floor alongside the likes of Fitzgerald and his feisty wife, then coaxing advice for his novel from Hemingway and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates). The film was generally viewed as one of the better Allen films in recent years, as indieWIRE's Eric Kohn notes in his somewhat positive review:

"Midnight in Paris" does justice to the universe without taking it in any new directions, as more tonally ambiguous outings like "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" did. In this comparatively ordinary mode, the one-liners run rampant, and the humor stays consistent solid. The best moments toy with the inherent silliness of pitting Gil against legends. (When he pitches "The Exterminating Angel" to a befuddled Luis Bunuel, the filmmaker responds, "I don't get it. Why don't they just walk out of the room.")

Both past and present Paris are wonderfully lit by cinematographer Darius Khondji to bring out the mythological qualities of the setting, much as Allen used to portray an imaginative New York. Allen acknowledges the embellishments in the first scene, with Gil acknowledging, "There's no city like this in the world…There never was." Traveling to the past, Gil eventually learns that no romantic period can live up to its reputation. Still, Allen holds onto his vision of a Golden Age better than anyone else, even while readily acknowledging that it's just a grand illusion.

Check out the links below for more extensive takes on "Paris," as well as pages for "Louder Than a Bomb" and "Life 2.0." Also offered is the top ten criticWIRE scores for films already in theaters, which is currently topped by Clio Barnard's "The Arbor."

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week
NOTE: The averages listed here are current as of the publishing of this article. They are subject to change as new grades come in, and will be updated in next week's edition of this article.

Midnight In Paris (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Louder Than a Bomb (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Life 2.0 (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+


criticWIRE: 10 Best Bets Already In Theaters

1. The Arbor (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

2. Le Quattro Volte (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

3. Meek's Cutoff (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

4. City of Life and Death (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

5. Certified Copy (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

6. Incendies (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

7. Cameraman: The Work and Life of Jack Cardiff (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

8. The Robber (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

9. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

10. Caterpillar (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Previous Picks of the Week:
May 11: Lu Chaun's "City of Life and Death"
May 4: Koji Wakamatsu's "Caterpillar"
April 27: Clio Barnard's "The Arbor"
April 20: Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies"
April 13: Janus Metz's "Armadillo"
April 6: Kelly Reichardt's "Meek's Cutoff"
March 30: Michaelangelo Frammartino's "Le Quattro Volte"

This article is related to: Reviews, In Theaters, Midnight in Paris