Seth Rogen’s and James Franco’s bromance goes way back to 1999 when they both got their big acting break for NBC’s “Freaks and Geeks.” Since then, the two bros have worked on hits like “Pineapple Express,” “This is the End” and their latest “Bound 3.”Read More
Just being in Paris at midnight is a memorable experience that true romantics will appreciate, and most likely, never forget. In the case of Woody Allen, he decided to make a movie about it. Its title is self explanatory – ‘Midnight in Paris,’ and it is without question, his best work since ‘Matchpoint’, a powerful drama that echoes the writings of Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It is also, through May, one of my top 10 films of 2011.
‘Midnight in Paris’ is a simple romantic comedy set in Paris that bursts with engrossment. As the story begins, Gil (played by Owen Wilson) and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) are tagging along on a trip to Paris with her father, John (Kurt Fuller), and mother, Helen (Mimi Kennedy). These two young people, who are engaged to be married in the fall, have Woody-Allen-like experiences there that change their lives forever.
In true Allen fashion, our New York legend need not be on screen to be felt. His words and direction are immediately recognizable from the onset as we hear the protagonist’s dialogue off-camera while the opening credits are still on screen. Allen, who is filming in Paris for the second time in his career (his first was Everyone Says I Love You), finds his imaginative form again here as his star Owen Wilson meets legendary historical figures of the literary, art and film world, including Spaniard/Mexican Luis Buñuel. It’s this type of inventiveness humor that has been sorely missed from his work. Somehow he has found it in ‘Paris’. Throughout the years, Woody has had a very consistent track record of making very good to very bad movies. Hislasttwofilms‘WhateverWorks‘and‘YouWillMeetaTallDarkStranger‘didn’t impressthe way ‘Matchpoint’or ‘Midnight’ do. In ‘WhateverWorks‘comedianLarryDaviddidn’t even managedto crack a smile on my face.The script wasn’t interesting enough nor was the payoff.In “YouWillMeetaTallDarkStranger‘,Woodyimprovedthe storyand even threw in Antonio Banderas for kicks, butit ended up being a rehashofprevious average films and had nothingoriginal. Then suddenly he comes out with a gem like this that is simple and honest, true to the Woody of old. To say it titillates the mind’s eye is more than effective.
On the acting front, Owen Wilson, fresh off being a part of one of the worst films of 2010 – How Do You Know – and the overhyped and awkward comedy ‘Hall Pass’, is obliviously innocent and likable as Gil, a hack Hollywood screenwriter that is penning his first novel which he can’t seem to get passionate about. He’s an uncouth and distracted person that finds it difficult to please his fiance or her family. Wilson plays the role with a wonderful, natural comic instinct and charm that we as the public have come to grow fond of. As is typical for a Woody Allen film, the rest of the superlative supporting cast is top notch. They range from stars like Adrien Brody and Kathy Bates, Carla Bruni to talented newcomers like Corey Stoll, Nina Arianda, Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill, and Léa Seydoux.
But no matter what actor steps in as the ‘star’, the real star will always be Woody Allen’s essence which he leaves on the screen so richly. The script is tight, it always moves forward and there are no frills to be had. The performances are quirky, funny, sexy and astute. ‘Midnight in Paris’ is Woody Allen’s valentine to the City of Lights, and I hope he comes back to New York yearning to recapture his love for the city like he has in Paris.
The box office this weekend brought more of the same, which for Hollywood was a good thing, as the comedy “Marley & Me” and other Christmas films continued strongly. The top five films — and some others down the ladder — kept their positions from last week.
“Marley & Me,” from 20th Century Fox, with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, was the weekend’s top film, with about $24 million in domestic ticket sales and $106.5 million since it opened on Christmas.
It was followed by another comedy, “Bedtime Stories,” from Walt Disney Company, with Adam Sandler. That film took in about $20.3 million over the weekend, for a total of $85 million since opening. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” from Paramount Pictures with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, was third, with about $18.5 million in weekend sales for a $79 million total.
In a similar display of staying power, “Valkyrie” from MGM, with Tom Cruise, remained the No. 4 film for a second weekend. The film took in $14 million, for a total of $60.7 million since opening on Christmas. Its success has laid to rest months of public speculation about whether the audience would accept Mr. Cruise in his role as a German officer who tried to kill Hitler.
Another holdover, the comedy “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey, from Warner Brothers, took in about $13.9 million, for a total of $79.4 million since opening.
A number of the season’s potential Oscar contenders continued to jockey for position in a field packed with movies that have been released to a relatively limited number of theaters.
“Doubt,” from Disney’s Miramax unit, among the more widely played of these, took in about $5 million for the weekend and $18.7 million since opening, to reach No. 8, up from 10th place.
“The Reader,” from the Weinstein Company, took in $1.6 million, as it moved into 398 theaters, and became the weekend’s 17th-ranked film, up from 22nd last week, when it played in a much smaller number of screens. It has total sales of $3.6 million.
“Marley & Me,” the story of a mischievous dog who grows up alongside the young couple who owns him, made $37 million in sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters, emerging as the top film in one of Hollywood’s most-competitive weekends.
“Bedtime Stories,” starring Adam Sandler, finished second with $28.1 million, box-office tracker Media By Numbers LLC said today in an e-mailed statement. Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” debuted in third place with $27 million.
Christmas ranks among the busiest times for Hollywood studios in terms of new releases, making this holiday weekend among the most competitive, Media By Numbers President Paul Dergarabedian said in an interview.
Second place’s “Bedtime Stories” stars Sandler as a father whose nighttime tales come to life. It will surpass $100 million in sales, which will be the second Sandler film this year to do so, after “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” Pandya said.
“Benjamin Button,” which finished third, is the tale of a man who ages in reverse and is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film has garnered five Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, including best drama and best actor. The Paramount Pictures movie cost about $150 million, according to Internet Movie Database Inc.
Also debuting this week was Tom Cruise in “Valkyrie,” the story of a German officer in World War II who leads a group trying to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The movie, the second from Metro Goldwyn Mayer Inc.’s United Artists studio, opened in fourth place with $21.5 million. The cast includes Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson.
Last weekend’s No. 1 movie, “Yes Man” from Time Warner, slid to fifth with $16.5 million. Jim Carrey plays a man who transforms his humdrum life by saying “yes” at every opportunity for a year. It has made $49.6 million in two weeks of release.
Rounding out the top 10 in sixth through 10th places, respectively, were “Seven Pounds,” from Sony Corp., at $13.4 million; “The Tale of Despereaux” from General Electric Co.’s Universal Pictures with $9.37 million; Fox’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still” at $7.9 million; “The Spirit,” from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., opened ninth with $6.51 million; and Disney Miramax’s “Doubt” finished in 10th with $5.68 million.
Receipts for the top 12 movies rose 7.6 percent to $182.5 million from the year-earlier period, Los Angeles-based Media By Numbers said. For the year, box-office sales have dropped 0.9 percent to $9.55 billion. Year-to-date attendance has declined 5.3 percent.
The following table has figures provided by studios to Media By Numbers. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales from Dec. 26 and yesterday and estimates for today.