Tag Archives: French cinema

Midnight in Paris

In this charming romantic comedy, legendary director Woody Allen focuses his lens on an engaged young couple whose experiences traveling together in Paris make them begin to question the kind of life they want to live.

Rating: 8 out of 10

There are few scribes like Woody Allen. And while you can point to his typical formula in this film — his constant scratching at the subject of love and finding happiness — there is a wealth of imagination and creativity. He certainly hasn’t lost his touch.

Allen wrangles an immensely talented cast with a script that weaves time travel, humor, romance, and beautiful cinematography of Paris. It’s absolutely sublime.  Owen Wilson plays a typical Allen character, a writer in a relationship he’s not really satisfied with in search of a deeper existence. Rachel McAdams plays his fiancee, a tart who doesn’t really like Wilson’s artsy, eyes-open-wide view of the world. At midnight, Wilson takes a stroll and is somehow transported back to the ’30s. While he’s there, he meets the legends of the time in writing and music, along with Adriana, a flapper girl played by the enchanting Marion Cotillard.

What follows is a series of Wilson popping back and forth between decades, trying to figure out his relationship, pursue Adriana, all while working on a novel and dealing with his crazy, annoying future in-laws. And in the background, that constant yearning for a greater, more meaningful life. This is a wonderful script by Allen, who won the Academy Award for his efforts. “Midnight in Paris” stands tall in Allen’s collection of incredible films.

The Illusionist

Oscar-nominated for Best Animated Feature, this wistful tale follows the fading fortunes of aging illusionist Tatischeff , who’s forced to perform in obscure venues as his act is eclipsed by the growing popularity of rock bands. He gets an emotional lift, though, from a wide-eyed girl named Alice, who thinks he possesses magic powers. But Tatischeff’s “sleight of hand” efforts to impress her with expensive gifts may lead to his financial undoing.

Rating: 4 out of 10

“L’illusionniste” is sad. That’s the way I felt the whole movie. Sure there’s a flash of the fun times the magician had when he had a successful act in Paris, but really it’s about his decline.

I spent the whole movie waiting for the change, for something good to happen. It didn’t. On his way down, the illusionist spends some time in Scotland where he befriends a young girl, Alice. I thought this was where some happiness would come in. But Alice just seems selfish and unappreciative of his generosity.

Sometimes I enjoy movies like this, a story that is linear seems more honest and life doesn’t always have a happy ending. So maybe it was my mood or maybe I was waiting for some of the silliness that was in their previous film, “The Triplets of Belleville,” but it just felt a little empty.


Quentin Dupieux directs this inventive twist on low-rent revenge flicks, which follows a car tire named Robert that rolls through the desert Southwest using its strange psychic powers to blow up birds, bunnies, human beings and more. But when Robert spies a gorgeous woman motoring down the highway, he decides to follow her and take a chance on love. This gleefully over-the-top black comedy stars Cecelia Antoinette and Thomas F. Duffy.

Rating: 4 out of 10

I so badly wanted to love this movie. I saw the trailer for it and it seemed unbelievably quirky and weird enough to work. Unfortunately, the results are a mixed bag.

The tire actually has a personality in this film. It falls somewhere between curious and ill-tempered. In fact, I’ll go on record and admit that its “performance” in this film, through the handwork of solid special effects, is better than any acting I’ve ever seen out of Will Smith or Ashton Kutcher. Imagine if your entire career could be outdone by an inanimate object. In fact, Ashton Kutcher might actually qualify as an inanimate object, soooo…..anyway, I digress.

The film definitely works when the tire is rolling around and running into objects, people and animals. The tire either decides to see how it works or blow it up. I suppose that’s all you could really get from a homicidal tire. That’s really half the movie. The other half is this oddball concept that everything happening with the tire and everyone around it is a movie. There is then an “audience” that sits in the hills with binoculars and views the events unfold. Supposedly, all the people (minus the “audience”) are just actors putting on a show. This doesn’t work at all. It feels completely separate and diminishes any fun we’re having as we watch a tire roll around killing everything.

I’m not going to lie. I laughed my ass off at a few of the scenes. But, because of the 2nd part of the movie with the fake audience, it robs some of the humor. It’s a shame, too, because the killer tire concept is enough. Once you accept that, there was a lot for the tire to do and people to run into. How about it meets another tire and they go on the lamb together? How about the tire gets torn up and manages to get into a Goodyear store where he gets repaired? Or, how about it ends up at a NASCAR track where it teams up with all the other tires and starts killing the fans? You see, there was a lot you could have done with it. But, sometimes you can try to be too quirky…..