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Let’s just come out and say it.

Woody Allen’s new movie, Midnight in Paris is wonderful, the kind of movie that inspires feelings of romance and joie de vivre. If you’re like me, you’ll come out of it and want to see it again, in part because it is so good, and in part because you want to see what references you may have missed the first time around.

ALERT! SPOILERS AHEAD!

It is hard to write about Midnight in Paris without giving away a bit of the plot, but at this point the movie has gotten so much publicity that it probably is safe to do so.

The film focuses on Gil (Owen Wilson), a creatively dissatisfied Hollywood screenwriter visiting Paris with his fiance, Inez (Rachel McAdams). He’s looking for a little inspiration and even muses about moving to Paris to work on his long-delayed novel; she’d rather shop and hang out with friends and her parents, who also happen to be in Paris.

Late one night, while walking the streets of Paris, Gil suddenly finds himself transported back to the 1920’s, and encountering the likes of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein. It is the Paris of his dreams and yearnings, and he finds his creative juices to be stimulated; he’s also stimulated by Marion Cotillard, playing a woman who has been the mistress of a series of great painters and who finds him fascinating.

Anyone who has walked through Paris and been captivated by the city’s magic will instantly a kind of wish fulfillment in this movie; Allen taps into something visceral with his screenplay and direction, and he does so without special effects of any kind. Paris is one those cities where you can recreate the past with a few old cars and some wardrobe, and he makes the transformation utterly seamless and convincing.

Midnight in Paris may not be quite as extraordinary as Annie Hall and Manhattan, but it is a very, very good movie - funny, charming, and filled with terrific performances. Among them are Wilson, who plays a character that would have been played by Woody Allen himself 30 years ago, but who makes it all his own; Kathy Bates, who is fabulous as Gertrude Stein; and Corey Stoll, who creates a brief but indelible portrait of Hemingway.

Go see Midnight in Paris. It amply demonstrates the magic not just of Paris, but of creative and inspired moviemaking.




I also saw X-Men: First Class last weekend. And while I guess it was okay, with some decent performances, the best I can say about this latest comic book-inspired movie is that it wasn’t as bad as Thor, but doesn’t even come close to being as interesting and ambitious as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, which transcended the genre.




I have a couple of nice and refreshing white summer wines to recommend to you this week:

• 2009 Bontanica Chenin Blanc from South Africa, which has a nice minerally thing going for it;

• 2009 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon from Australia’s Barossa Valley, which has the distinctive tang of citrus.

BTW...this wine is not one of the MNB wine club selections, but it is still available from Nicholas Roberts Ltd., which powers our club. The folks at Nicholas Roberts were supposed to ship the June wine club selections this week, but decided to delay it a week because of the extreme heat affecting much of the country. But now they’re aiming for next week, and to get more information, about this new MNB offering CLICK HERE.




Final note. Happy Birthday to Ali Coupe, who turns 17 today and who continues to amaze me by how self-possessed and strong someone her age can be. You took my breath away by how beautiful you were when you went to your prom this week, but that shouldn’t be a surprise, since you take my breath away a lot.



That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

Slainte!
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