Victoria Jelinek


Celebration of Paris: Midnight in Paris & Amelie

Picking up from last month’s The French Paper interview with Woody Allen at the Cannes Film Festival, I’ve reviewed his latest film Minuit a Paris (Midnight in Paris) currently in cinemas. Because Allen’s film celebrates Paris as the city of light, the city of romance, and the city of beauty and possibility, I have chosen another film that honours Paris’ ‘heart’, too.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Director Woody Allen’s latest film, which premiered in Cannes this year, is a romantic comedy about a family travelling to Paris for business, including a young engaged couple. Our hero, one half of the couple, is unhappy, but not entirely sure how to amend his malcontent. During his rambling evening walks, our hero finds that he is transported to 1920’s Paris every night at midnight when he stands at a certain place in the city. In this other age he meets many of his heroes, such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dali, Bunuel, Picasso, Man Ray and Gertrude Stein.  During these visits, our hero is forced to confront his illusion that a life different from his own is better, even as he also finds that some elements of his dreams are worth pursuing in his ‘real’ life.

This film is not one of Allen’s greats – Manhattan or Annie Hall or even The Mighty Aphrodite – but it is the best of recent years and absolutely worth watching. That said, it’s not a film for everyone because of its literary and artistic references as well as its subtext of existentialism, but that’s not to say that it’s ‘high brow’ or overly intellectual at all. Ultimately, Woody Allen’s film is an homage to creativity and dreams as a reality rather than as an illusion. This reviewer left the cinema after watching this film feeling that “all things are possible.”

AMELIE

Amelie secretly sorts out the sad little problems in her friends’ lives, bringing joy to them without being happy herself.  But when she finds a photo album belonging to a stranger called Nino, she realises that she’s in love from afar, a problem of her own she has to deal with, among other problems, one of which is that as a child she was isolated from her peers and withdrew into a private world of her own. Luckily, however, this gives her a great imagination and gives Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet the opportunity to filter the film through some of Amelie’s gently bizarre observations.

As in Director Jeunet’s other film Delicatessen, the affectionately eccentric and grotesque characters are essentially lonely people who share their geography. Unlike Delicatessen, there is the positive force of Amelie, played charmingly by Audrey Tautou, who brightens their lives and fills them, and us, with hope and happiness.

This colossal French box office hit has an irresistible charm that will eliminate the storm clouds hanging over the heads of even the most desolate misanthrope. With its wonderful soundtrack, Amelie leaves the viewer feeling revitalized and dreamy.



Twilight – New Moon
December 18, 2009, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Published film reviews | Tags: , , , ,

For those of you who are aware of the craze that the Harry Potter series was, you may also know that the Twilight books and films have surpassed them in terms of popularity.

And if you haven’t seen the Twilight films because you don’t want to be part of a teenage cult phenomena, I advise you to release any intellectual or ‘adult-like’ reservations you may have about this film, buy into the central story, which is all-encompassing love against the odds, and go see it. With the additional bonus of werewolves and the traditional vampire Volturi – led by Michael Sheen (Underworld, Blood Diamond) – in this sequel, it’s a must see on the big screen.

But let me first establish my credibility as a fellow sceptic: a friend loaned me the first book for a flight I was about to take. Shortly after I landed at my destination, I bought the rest of the books and stayed up practically all night that week to finish these tomes. Sure, I was, and am, a bit embarrassed that I like what is ultimately a clever testament to the merit of abstinence written by a Mormon, and what’s popular with 13-year-old’s around the world. However, I rationalise, this is an epic and entertaining story, and the films are fun, and well shot (on digital, btw, not celluloid) to boot.

On Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) 18th birthday, there’s an unfortunate near-death incident at vampire Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) house, and he leaves his true love for her own good (so it seems to him) and disappears from her life. Bella is absolutely devastated. Estranged from her pals and a virtual zombie at home, it’s her friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) who helps her through. But Jacob is dealing with issues of his own, such as a searing crush on our heroine. Unfortunately, however, it turns out that that’s not the only thing Jacob’s afflicted with…

In the middle of this masculine acting out, Bella pulls herself out of the trance of depression and fights to keep both men in her life.

In the same way that many superhero sequels are about our hero trying to give up their cape, New Moon is about the heartbreak that almost inevitably follows the unthinking passion that was conveyed in the first movie. This is an escapist movie at its best.