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Category: Owen Wilson

SAG Awards: 'Midnight in Paris' nom 'validates Woody Allen'

December 14, 2011 |  8:08 am

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” has been a film of “many great mornings,” says Sony Pictures Classics Co-president Michael Barker.  And today is no exception: Allen’s highest grossing film to date received a SAG Award nomination for performance by a cast in a motion picture.

“We’re very happy this morning. We were hoping this would happen,” Barker said, while on a train into New York City from his home in Connecticut. “Woody Allen, over the years, has been known for the incredible ensembles he’s directed, from picture to picture. And in this one, there were so many characters fully realized. We’re just really happy for him and the cast.”

"Midnight in Paris" stars Owen Wilson as a successful Hollywood screenwriter who visits Paris with his fiancée and finds himself transported through time to the ‘20s, where he encounters various cultural luminaries of the period. Barker said that today’s acknowledgment for the film is, in a way, validation for the director, who’s known for working with ensemble casts.

Photos: SAG Awards top nominees

“It just validates Woody Allen –- here he is, he’s at the peak of his form after all this time,” Barker said. “It also validates how actors adore working with him and always want to work with him.”

Barker hadn’t yet connected with Allen on this “very happy morning,” but he’s sure that the director is particularly pleased with the SAG nom, as it’s a peer-to-peer award.  “It always pleases him and he’s really gratified. But the fact that other actors are acknowledging this cast and Woody Allen’s continued ability over a long period of time -- not only to show respect to his actors, but to pull off these movies –- it just means a lot that it comes from the actors’ peers.”

"Midnight In Paris" opened on May 20 and it’s playing still in theaters, said Barker –- which signals that the film “has real staying power with the public,” he said. “And acknowledgments like this one [the SAG nomination] continue to give the movie a [great] profile.”

--Deborah Vankin


Film surprises and snubs

SAG Awards: The full nominations list

SAG Awards: 'The Help,' 'Bridesmaids' among outstanding cast nominees

Photo: Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson in the Woody Allen film "Midnight in Paris." Credit: Roger Arpajou/Sony Pictures Classics

Woody Allen loves Paris. Is it reciprocal?

May 25, 2011 |  6:30 am

It was almost midnight in Paris, which seemed as good a time as any to see "Midnight in Paris."

It wasn't as if I could have avoided it even if I wanted to. Woody Allen's new romantic comedy came out in this country a week before it did in the U.S., and since then has been as steady a presence as the corner brasserie. Three separate theaters within walking distance of my hotel were showing it, a feat of ubiquity that hasn't happened since Jerry Lewis hung up his acting shoes.

Besides, there was an eerie art-parallels-life component to seeing the film -- which tells of Owen Wilson's malcontent screenwriter luxuriating in a contemporary and period Paris, in contrast, he suggests, to the spiritual deadness of Southern California -- in the city in which it takes place.

Of all the potential movie-world settings, few have been so entwined with their real-life counterparts.  In fact, the city shots that open Allen's film include a street scene in front of the theater from which I was watching the movie, causing the audience to let out a reaction somewhere between amused and tittering. (The response was no doubt repeated at another theater down the street that's also portrayed in the montage.)  Woody surely had a feeling his movie could play in these theaters, so he cleverly slid in an homage.

As the film went along, the response was warm. But the warmth was mostly reserved for the parlor comedy about period figures such as Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali. The Paris beauty shots didn't evoke much of a reaction among much of the crowd; in fact, judging by the chatter afterward, those who liked those shots most were the scattered Americans in the audience. It turns out the film doesn't functions as a love letter to Paris -- it function as a love letter to the people who write love letters to Paris.

On the Metro earlier in the week, I struck up a conversation with a well-spoken 20-something. He winced a little when the topic of the Allen film came up. "It's a movie Americans may like more than people from France," he said. "We'll all go to see it, of course, but it's a touristic view of Paris."

It reminded me of something that began happening to Allen later in his phase of making movies about my hometown of New York (something that may partly explain why he picked up and began his European tour). After nearly three decades of creating films about the city such as "Manhattan" and "Hannah & Her Sisters," Allen became so associated with the town in which he told his stories that it started to create a backlash. It wasn't uncommon to meet people from outside New York who loved Woody and the city as one. But if you mentioned an Allen film among New Yorkers in, say, the early-mid 1990s, there were always those who rolled their eyes. We were, for better or worse, a lot more than intellectual types in uptown apartments debating our favorite writers and obsessing over marital problems.

Even Parisians would acknowledge that this film gets certain things right. After all, the shots of the city are beautiful, and Parisians aren't bashful about embracing their city's virtues.  But those who live here also know of the ethnic divisions, the socioeconomic tensions and, of course, the political scandals. And when someone comes from outside and ignores all of that, you feel some discomfiture. (Of course Allen might say that he's hardly depicting a glowing Paris as much as he is showing his misty-eyed protagonist's view of the city, though that will strike some as a distinction sans difference.)

At the end of the film, Wilson's character gives a little speech in which he says that the present is always a little unsatisfying compared with the past. The same might be said of Woody and his approach to European cities relative to those in his native America -- it's always a little better somewhere else.

Besides, even as Allen describes a France that puts art ahead of commerce, it's a lesson his own film may play a role in disproving. Though "Midnight In Paris" landed in a strong second place on its opening weekend here, it was beaten out for the top spot by a rather different sort of movie: "Fast Five."


Review: "Midnight in Paris"

'Midnight in Paris' scores big at box office

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams in "Midnight in Paris." Credit: Just Jared

Cannes 2011: Festival fetes Woody Allen and 'Midnight in Paris'

May 11, 2011 |  2:30 pm


A Woody Allen premiere is as much a fixture of the Cannes Film Festival as paparazzi and overpriced hotels. This year, the prolific director landed a high-profile slot, with his "Midnight in Paris" chosen as the opening-night movie.

Allen's film, a whimsical romantic comedy, stars Owen Wilson as a nostalgia-minded writer who, while on a trip to the City of Light, finds himself transported from the present day back to the 1920s, where he meets period figures ranging from Gertrude Stein to Salvador Dali. Wilson is struggling through a bad relationship with his shrew of a fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and finds solace in an idealized past. (Said idealization, incidentally, allows Allen to film numerous beauty shots of Paris both past and present.)

At the festival Wednesday evening, Allen's film played to the tuxedoed mix of cinephiles and society types who populate the gathering's opening night, with festival head Thierry Frémaux and jury chief Robert De Niro among those who took the stage before "Paris" premiered.

The movie then screened to an appreciative crowd, which no doubt enjoyed the gauzy tones in which the director paints their capital. 

Earlier in the day, after his film screened to a largely warm reception for media, Allen spoke at a news conference about his own attitude toward the past.

"[It] sounds seductive but it's a trap," said Allen, now 75. "There was no air conditioning; when you went to the dentist there was no Novocaine. There weren't a lot of the things we've gotten used to that make life bearable."‪ ‪

Of her off-putting character, McAdams told the news conference that she "was so excited when Woody told me, 'You won't be playing the object of desire.' "

Marion Cotillard, who plays a period muse but was not at the news conference, said in an earlier interview with The Times that, despite the neurotic and sometimes dark tone in Allen's work, little of that was in evidence on the set.

"He has this vision of things that's a mix of humanity, love, humor and sarcasm," she said. "Most of it is this smile he has in everything he does, the smile he has in his eyes when he looks at someone, with tenderness and humor."

Allen's last two releases, "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" and "Whatever Works," were relatively low profile after his 2008 hit "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." "Midnight in Paris" will open in the United States on May 20.

Woody As for his inspiration, Allen said that "I was going to do a film set in Paris and first I thought of the title, which sounded romantic. But I didn't know what was going to happen at midnight. Months went by and I couldn't think of anything," he said. "Then it occurred to me one day that a car would pull up and take him someplace. This time I was lucky -- I could have thought of something foolish or I could have thought of nothing and changed the title."‪


Cannes Film Festival 2011: Seven movies people are talking about

-- Steven Zeitchik in Cannes, France

Photos: Top: Rachel McAdams and  Woody Allen attend the "Midnight In Paris" premiere in Cannes, France. Credit: Getty Images. Bottom: Owen Wilson and Lea Seydoux with Allen prior to the screening.  Credit: Associated Press

Woody Allen conjures up mystery after midnight [trailer]

March 28, 2011 |  1:14 pm

If it's spring it must be time for a new Woody Allen movie, and another beautifully shot location.

The trailer for "Midnight in Paris," which opens the Cannes Film Festival in just over six weeks, reminds that that time is upon us again. Indeed, as the trailer unfolds for the ensemble picture (Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard and Michael Sheen all star), we see the titular city in the bright light of the morning, the golden light of the afternoon, the twinkling lights of the evening. (The romantic dramedy is the first Allen movie to be set partly or wholly in Paris in more than a decade.)

We also get the couples-out-in-a-restaurant setting that's an Allen trademark -- and, more notably, the first glimpse of Owen Wilson as the Allen stand-in character. Wilson is a man conflicted by an unidentified torment, with an appealing mystery about where exactly he disappears to when it's well, you know.

--Steven Zeitchik





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