Thursday, 15 March 2012

Gil discovers himself, with a little help from Ernest Hemingway...

Midnight in Paris
10 June, 2011

Directed by: 
Woody Allen

Produced by:
Letty Aronson
Stephen Lenenbaun
Jaume Roures

Written by: 
Woody Allen

Owen Wilson
Rachel McAdams
Marion Cotillard
Kathy Bates
Adrien Brody
Carla Bruni
Michael Sheen

Summary: Gil and his fiancĂ©e, Inez, are in Paris with Inez’s parents. Gil, a successful Hollywood scriptwriter, is attempting to write his first novel – where his passion lies – and is completely taken up with the city. Inez on the other hand, cannot understand what is so beautiful or amazing about it. The couple bump into her old friends Paul, who happens to be pretentious and his partner Carole. While Inez is taken up with Paul’s ideas, Gil begins to discover just how amazing Paris is - when, at midnight, he finds himself going on adventure after adventure with the writers and artists from the past whom he most admires. Things begin to make sense for Gil, as his novel develops with help from the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.

My Favourite Scene: I think a particularly good scene was the one in which the two couples visited an art gallery and a painting by Pablo Picasso, which turns out to be the same one him and Gertrude Stein were discussing the night before – with Gil present at the conservation. So, when Paul beings to expound his knowledge of the painting and artist, Gil jumps in with an incredible understanding of it – causing Inez to ask: “what have you been smoking?”

This scene was entertaining because for the first time in the film the pompous, irritating Paul has been silenced by an impossible knowledge of the background of the painting from Gil. Of course, what is so amusing is that it is only the audience who know why Gil knows so much. It almost seems as if he must have spoken to those who painted and influenced it, which he obviously had. His final line: “She was an absolute volcano in the sack”, before causally walking off, leaves the others looking clearly perplexed. It was nice to see the annoying Paul and Inez, who is extremely impressed with him, silenced for once!

My Favourite Quotes: 
Inez: You always take the side of the help. That’s why Daddy says you’re a communist.

Gil: Can you picture how drop dead gorgeous this city is in the rain? Imagine this town in the ‘20s. Paris in the ‘20s, in the rain. The artists and writers!
Inez: Why does every city have to be in the rain? What’s wonderful about getting wet?

Gil: It’s understated but elegant. That’s what you always say.
Helen: Cheap is cheap. That’s what I always say.

My Thoughts:  As a bit of a Woody Allen fan, I was looking forward to what he would do with ‘Midnight in Paris’ and it has to be said that it was a little disappointing. Firstly, the characters all appeared to be cameos – and so were predictable in their behaviour. Overall, it seemed the film itself was not so original. The idea of a couple, not fit for each other, visiting a romantic city and one of them finding themselves, rings every much of ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’. I very much enjoyed that film, but was expecting Woody Allen to do something different with his next.

As ever, he delivered a very intelligently witty script. If there was something not so predictable about the film, it was the script. I also think that there were so profound-(ish!) moments. Gil’s realisation that we will always be thinking another time period is better than the one we are currently in, was quite interesting and I liked the overall idea of the film, that by the end Gil had found what he needed – in Paris and the writers who inspired him.

However, the almost Cinderella-style idea of escaping in a carriage to a past time seemed a bit… well, naff. There were parts which seemed quite shallow and for a director like Woody Allen, I would have expected something deeper. It appears that he is moving closer and closer to the mainstream rom-com style of film that he managed to brilliantly miss with ‘Annie Hall’. The neat dĂ©nouement ending was something I like ‘Vicky Christian Barcelona’ not having!

Overall, there were some humourous moment and the film was well-scripted. However it seemed a little shallow with one-dimensional characters. I enjoyed it, but felt that it lacked the depth Woody Allen is so good at producing. The film was pretty much a copy of ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ and has only helped in convincing me that I preferred his older work.


Friday, 9 March 2012

It will get you.

September 9th, 2011

Directed by: 
Stephen Soderbergh

Produced by:
Michael Shamberg
Stacey Sher
Gregory Jacobs

Written by: 
Scott Z. Burns

Marion Cotillard
Matt Damon
Laurence Fishburne
Jude Laq
Gwyneth Paltrow
Kate Winslet

Summary: When Beth Emhoff feels ill at the airport, she puts it down to jet-lag. However within hours of returning home from her trip, she’s dead. But the highly-infectious disease she was carrying has already passed onto others. Before the infection can be controlled, it has turned into an epidemic. No-one knows if they have it until it’s too late, and medical experts have no clue how to start finding a cure or vaccine. Soon millions are infected with the deadly disease and, as panic sets in, society starts to break down – with people prepared to do anything for some sort of cure.  Contagion follows the desperate attempt to save humanity.

My Favourite Scene:  A scene which I found particularly interesting was when an Epidemic Intelligence Officer, Dr. Erin Mears (Winslet) gathered with a group of government experts debating what action to take. Mears was attempting to show the danger of not doing enough to stop the disease, while others were cautious of the risk of over-exaggerating the issue. The scene demonstrated the problem of whether to frighten people (ensuring they would attempt to protect themselves) or to deal with the issue calmly, but risk it spreading by keeping it quiet.

This scene highlights the theme of conspiracy in the film and poses the ethical question of whether it is ever right for governments to keep information from the people. Throughout the film, blogger Alan Krumwiede fights for the truth to be known – swearing that there is a cure that the government are keeping a secret. However in the end, Krumwiede’s claimed cure ‘Forsythia’ does more harm than good.

My Favourite Quotes: 
Mindy Macready: Blogging is not writing. It’s just graffiti with punctuation.

Dr. Ally: Hextall It’s figuring us out faster than we’re figuring it out.

Erin Mears: Don’t talk to anyone! Don’t touch anyone!

My Thoughts:  This film really captures the power of fear and panic in a society. Medical experts, including those from the Epidemic Intelligence Service and World Health Organisation, are alarmed at the rate of which the infection is spreading. However the government is afraid of unnecessarily worrying the public. This conflict is interesting, especially as it relates to the real-life situation of Swine Flu.  It is a difficulty which would inevitably result if we found ourselves having to deal with a similar infection – is it worth severely panicking people? And might that have disastrous consequences? The film was praised among the scientific community for its accurate portrayal of medical practices, which I think is important as it adds to the realism of the circumstances – making the film more interesting. 
I thought that the film, as a whole, lacked the emotional repercussions that such a wide-spread disease would cause. ‘Contagion’ was focused on the medical experts and the issues of vaccines, food distribution, civil unrest, coping with large numbers of dead bodies and where to keep the sick. While of course being important matters to consider, this meant that no spotlight was cast on the millions of people affected, in terms of death. In this sort of film I think that it is necessary to consider the impact of an epidemic such as this on ordinary people. Another criticism I would have of the film is, that it was very much a copy of other disease - leading to the end of humanity – films. The ‘edge of the seat’ effect is lost when it’s clear what is going to happen – people becoming crazed and destroying shop windows, for example. It’s difficult to be really affected by a film which seems to be similar to many other films of this type. 

Despite these criticisms, the film is still interesting and quite frightening at points. It demonstrates the power of an idea which terrifies people and I think presents an accurate picture of the action a government might take in this sort of situation. Overall, I enjoyed the film and the situation definitely grabbed me. However, I felt disappointed that it did not really offer anything different and lacked an emotions depth.