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Friday, June 24, 2011

I think I’ll do a Roger Ebert and say two thumbs up for one film and one thumb down for the other. One is a visual feast and a must see on the big screen, while the other, wait for the library to buy the DVD.

From the opening montage of Paris sights filmed by Darius Khondji, set to a wonderful score of jazz classics, Midnight in Paris gets you at bonjour. This romantic comedy examines two young people who are engaged to be married and the different experiences in Paris that change their lives. The film tackles with reverence the thought that life would be different and better if lived in a different time and place. Scenes contrast present day Paris with the dream of a young writer who travels back in time to the sizzling Paris of the 1920s to sip absinthe with Hemingway, dine with Picasso at La Rotonde. and enjoy the salon life of Gertrude Stein. Imagine the conversation! Wouldn’t we all love to live this exact fantasy, living in Paris when it was the center of the artistic universe?

Owen Wilson plays Woody Allen’s alter ego with perfectly halting speak. He plays the believable naive young man who is a highly successful hack Hollywood screenwriter and still young enough to feel pangs over not having seriously tested himself as a novelist. He idealizes the past while his fiancée cares only for the present and their new life in California. Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy and a cast of cameo performances by Adrien Brody as Dali, Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Marion Cotillard as Adriana, Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Corey Stoll as Hemingway, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo as Picasso, and David Lowe as T.S. Eliot fill out this marvelous cast.

Even if you don’t like Woody, see this film. It’s filed with great footage and cleaver lines. It’s his homage to a beautiful city. After 41 films, I think he made his best film to date.

Bridemaids, on the other hand, received high marks form Entertainment Weekly and Rotten Tomatoes and I looked forward to seeing it. But in my opinion, it was just okay. As in the Mother Goose rhyme about the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead, when it’s good it’s very, very good, but when it’s bad, it’s horrid. There are many funny scenes and Kristen Wiig, who starred in and wrote the script, is great at physical comedy. Producerd by Judd Apatow of Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin fame, you know where this is going.

Kristen Wiig plays Annie, a woman whose life is spiraling out of control just in time for her best friend's wedding festivities. The bride-to-be Lillian, played by Maya Rudolph, asks Annie to be her Maid of Honor and surrounds herself with a highly amusing diverse set of bridesmaids. When one of the bridesmaids played by Ellie Kemper as the superrich friend, takes charge and overdoes the arrangements, Annie reacts and tries to outdo the overdoer. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals.

There are some great actors and great moments. Look for Chris O’Dowd, a skilled Irish comedian and actor who plays Office Nathan Rhodes. He’s a new kind of leading man, adorable and honest but not particularly handsome, not a Hollywood Adonis. We’ve seen him before in Dinner For Schmuck, Gulliver's Travels and Rumpole of the Bailey.

I adored seeing Jill Clayburgh, a long-time favorite of mine, playing Annie’s hippie-like mother. Most remembered for her Oscar-nominated role in the 1978 film "An Unmarried Woman," Clayburgh was known for portraying strong and confident women with character flaws, an a typical Hollywood image at the time. She died at the age of 66 on November 5, 2010 after battling lymphocytic leukemia for more than 21 years. Some of her best knownfilmswere: Starting Over, I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can. Portnoy's Complaint, Running With Scissors,Love and Other

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