Showing posts with label 'Midnight in Paris'. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 'Midnight in Paris'. Show all posts

Thursday, February 13, 2014


The other night, I watched the movie, Blue Jasmine, which was highly recommended to me by several people. If I ever knew, I'd forgotten the movie was written and directed by Woody Allen. Though the film was very good, I can't say I enjoyed watching, because the story was emotionally wrenching. Cate Blanchett was outstanding, and the movie included very fine acting by others in the cast.  The choice of music in the soundtrack is excellent, as is usual for Woody Allen's movies, which, for me, adds a great deal to my enjoyment.

Even if I'd known the movie, an homage to Tennessee Williams's Streetcar Named Desire, was written and directed by Allen, I'd forgotten the lurid details of the custody trial after Mia Farrow and Allen separated.  After I finished watching, I went online and happened to see the link to Dylan Farrow's open letter in the NYT. After reading it, I felt sick. Later, I read the transcript of the custody ruling.

The world of celebrity so often seems in a different universe. The family of Mia Farrow and Allen, unusual though it may have been, was a family, and Allen seemed to have little knowledge or skill in parenting and no concept of proper boundaries within a family. His view that adopted children are not "real" children is seriously out of whack. 

A few months earlier, I watched  Midnight in Paris and enjoyed it very much. Allen is immensely talented, but he's also creepy, at best, and a pedophile, at worst, but I confess that I'd rather have seen the two films than not.  The only firm conclusion I've reached is that I do not believe Dylan Farrow is lying.

Is it possible to separate the art from the artist?  I ask because I struggle with the question.  What do we make of other gifted artists such as Lewis Carroll and his relationship to Alice Liddell? His photographs of Alice would quite likely be considered child pornography today.  I suppose I will know when the next Allen movie comes out whether I'll choose to watch or not. I'm not crazy about all of his films. Some I just don't get, plus, in others, I sense a misogynistic undercurrent that makes me uneasy.

Then there's Alfred Hitchcock, who apparently had a conventional private life, but who displayed a propensity for putting beautiful women, especially blonds, in dangerous and frightening situations.  Even as I enjoyed the chills and thrills, Hitchcock's treatment of the women seemed rather creepily sadistic to me.

After I'd written the words above, I read , which sheds more light on child abuse and memories and leads me to consider Dylan Farrow's account even more credible. Zoe was abused by a family member when she was a very young girl.  She's writing a book about her experience and has done quite a bit of research on the subject.
People who do like, or love, Allen’s work often argue that we should separate the art from the artist. I don’t disagree; especially if we are able to do the reverse, and separate the artist from the art, not grant him any greater benefit of the doubt than we would another human. But we have to acknowledge that this is difficult, just as it’s difficult for us to recognize warning signs or baldly stated declarations of inappropriate behavior when they concern someone we know, trust, love, admire, or depend on to pay the bills and keep things running smoothly. If we like the art, if we like the love or the family unit or the school community or just generally the way things are, we can feel guilty if the person at the center of it has committed a heinous crime.
Research also shows that children are not nearly so suggestible on the topic of sex abuse as previously believed, especially school-aged children. In the past 40 years, children’s testimony has gone from being inadmissible in a court of law to being not only allowed as evidence but sometimes used as the sole evidence in cases involving sex abuse, which is notoriously difficult to prove (physical proof is rarely present even in cases of vaginal penetration).

Saturday, July 7, 2012


A month or so ago, I broke down and signed up for Netflix.  Tom and I have not been seeing movies in theaters as often as we once did.  The senior discount is a thing of the past.  The smell of popcorn is irresistible; and we end up paying an exorbitant amount for a couple of bags and sometimes a small box of candy and end up spending $40 or more to see a movie.

Okay, so I miss the mystique of the quiet, dark theater, with the large screen and the entire focus on the movie, but along with the $40-plus price tag to have the theater experience comes smelly carpets that are not cleaned nearly often enough and, on occasion, stalls in the ladies without toilet paper.  Then, too, we live in the boonies, and a good many of the movies I want to see are never shown at the theater in the next town over and would involve a trip to New Orleans.

The Netflix plan I chose is the one DVD at a time, which suits me well, as I don't have time to watch a movie every day.  The movies arrive a day after mailing, and I viewed four movies last month and one so far this month for $7.99. You may tell me of better alternatives to Netflix, like movies on demand, but I'm not sure we could have the service on our TV sets, since they are old, and we would surely need a box and another remote.  I've just about mastered the two remotes to use the DVD player, and I don't want to learn another.  Grandpère has never learned how to use the player, so I have to set him up each time he watches a film.  Netflix offers the option of watching on the computer for the same subscription price, but I want a bit more comfort than my computer armchair offers...thus Netflix DVDs.

Oh, and I don't care for movie rental outlets, because I can seldom find what I want in the vast space.  Besides, I don't like vast spaces.  So why not have the movies mailed to my house, watch them, and pop them back into the ready-to-be mailed envelopes to await the next in about four days?

Thus far, I've watched the following:

I can't think why I chose an animated film, and one that was shown in 3-D in the theaters as No. 1 in my queue, but there it was.  For some time, I'd been keeping a list of movies I wanted to rent but never did, and "Rio" was on the list.  Anyway, in "Rio" the  animation is well done; the colors are gorgeous; and the songs are tuneful with witty lyrics.  The story is of a parrot, Blu, and a human, Linda, who love each other.  Through a mishap, Blu ends up in Rio De Janeiro and falls in love with another parrot, Jewel, and troubles, separation, and dangers ensue guessed it...the happy ending in which Linda also finds true love.

The second movie to arrive in the mailbox was a winner, "Moneyball", a baseball story about real people.  Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, played by Brad Pitt, is convinced by a young Yale graduate, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) to adopt a new statistical method for choosing players, and he sticks with the method in the face of repeated losses and opposition from within the organization until the team turns around and begins to win and proves the method works.  The theme of resistance to change, the old ways versus the new ways, runs through the movie.  Brad Pitt does a fine job of acting, as does Jonah Hill, and their scenes together are especially well-played.

The film includes a charming side story of the tender relationship between Beane and his young daughter, Casey, beautifully acted by Kerris Dorsey, who worries for her dad when the team is on the skids.

Next up in the queue was Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris", with Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson, and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) in Paris as a treat from Inez's father, John (Kurt Fuller) who doesn't much like Gil or the idea of his daughter marrying him.  Mimi Kennedy plays Helen, Inez's mother.  As the movie started and the four characters began to interact, I thought to myself, "This is going to be a long movie.  All these people are insufferable."  Gil is a screen writer but he wants to be a "real writer" of novels.  In the evenings, he roams the streets of Paris alone,  longing for the 1920s when Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, and all the beautiful people lived in Paris.  I can't blame John for not wanting his daughter to marry the dithering and mooning-about Gil.  Gil reminded me too much of Hamlet, another character who makes me quite impatient, so that I want to shout out, "Get on with it!"

Gil gets drunk and lost in one of his walks and hitches a ride in a 1920s car, and - bam!..he's back in time meeting all the beautiful people, and the movie picks up speed.  Of the celebrities from the twenties, Kathy Bates is outstanding as Gertrude Stein, as is Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali.  Gil has a dalliance with Adriana, Picasso's mistress, played by Marion Cotillard, who longs to live in the Belle Époque, and the next thing you know the two are back in the 1890s.  The dialogue in the scenes with the celebrities in both eras in the past is delightfully clever and witty and thoroughly entertaining, but when the movie moves back into real time, the pace slows.

The critics gave the movie very high ratings, with one even saying it was a work of genius, though the same critic called Gil's fiancée his wife, which kind of messes with the plot, so one wonders...

The two next films I'll save for another post, and I will await Netflix's offer of at least a couple of free months for promoting their service - movies for techie dummies.  Thus far, the subscription is well worth the price.