So, I really enjoyed Midnight in Paris. The way my brain buzzed with the mix of interesting conversation, the music, the atmosphere, the magic, etc. reminded me of how I felt the first time I saw Waking Life.
I was glad to be fairly ignorant about Paris going in. This made the surprise all the more pleasant when I saw Kathy Bates (Gertrude Stein) and Adrien Brody* (Salvador Dalí) pull off what I thought were pretty good accents in their enjoyable, though brief, portrayals.
I felt so clever when Owen Wilson’s character referenced Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, as I just discovered it a few weeks back. But, I also enjoyed Angel all by itself. After thinking about it for a while afterward, Angel seems, if anything, to be a poke at ridiculous custom and the upper class. In it, some wealthy acquaintances have dinner together and things start going wrong, first, after the servants leave, and, next, after the host makes a failed attempt at a toast. A couple of other such miscues disrupts the web of etiquette that apparently keeps these people sane, sending everybody into a confused, bestial state. Think a weirder, indoor version of Lord of the Flies, with grownups.
I hadn’t really thought of Buñuel’s possible influence on Woody Allen before, but right now it makes sense. Take that understated slip through a Parisian time hole. In The Twilight Zone, such is grounds for sensationalism and histrionics; in a Woody Allen movie, a character confronted with the most incredible, life-altering news will probably, first and foremost, wonder what will become of his uncollected dry cleaning.
*Speaking of Brody, I recently had the good fortune of happening into a nice, Cronenbergian little movie, Splice, that passed by me unnoticed in 2009: