The 2011 Cannes Film Festival begins today (we'll have up a guide to some of the fest's most talked-about titles in a little bit) with the premiere of Woody Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris, due out in limited release later this month. The film stars Owen Wilson as a self-conscious, disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter who embarks on a fairytale trip full of self-discovery (and some fun cameos).
Early reviews out of the festival suggest some good things from Allen's latest, which marks the first film of his shot in France. Let's take a look ...
"Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris — for my money, the best Allen movie in 10 years, or maybe even close to 20 — is all about that idea: Reckoning with the past as a real place, but also worrying about the limits of nostalgia." - Movieline
"That attitudinal insularity, equal parts neurosis and amusing snobbery, has always been both the charm (when it works) and limitation (when it doesn’t) of Allen’s movie scripts: Wherever he is, either on the streets of NYC or the Great Cities of Europe, he brings himself along, barely noticing any character or any scenario outside his established comfort zone. And so it is with Midnight in Paris — with a pleasant twist: For the first time in a long time, a self-aware Allen plays with his own weakness for nostalgia." - Entertainment Weekly
"Like a swoony lost chapter from "Paris, je t'aime" agreeably extended to feature length, "Midnight in Paris" is so baldly smitten with its rain-slicked environs you half expect to see Paris' tourism office listed among its backers. Yet and still, there's an undeniably populist appeal, light as meringue and twice as sweet, in the pic's arm's-reach sophistication." - Variety
"Woody Allen’s films can be shoe-horned into two general categories: the melancholy meditations, often but not always dramatic, which affirm the lack of affirmation life grants such ideals as goodness, happiness, and love. See for reference Crimes and Misdemeanors, Match Point, and, most elegantly, Annie Hall. Then there are the fantastic frivolities, often comedic, which rhapsodize life’s smaller beauties and their attendant frustrations. Films like Purple Rose of Cairo, Bullets Over Broadway, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona celebrate shuffling dreamers out of step with the rest of the world. Midnight In Paris belongs decidedly in the latter category, a whimsical, escapist romp that produces the gentle lethargy of one too many glasses of wine." - Vanity Fair
"I would not call this top-tier Allen, but this is a guy who has directed a whole shelf full of classics already. This is second-tier, which means it is merely charming and enjoyable and sophisticated and smart, shot with a luminous beauty by Darius Khondji, and as second-tier Allen goes, it is a lovely reminder of just how effortless he can make it all seem." - HitFix
Midnight in Paris arrives in limited release on May 20th.