However you want to measure it, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (review) is a significant hit.

Critically, its 81 Metacritic score is the director’s best since Hannah and Her Sisters’ 90 and it’s the 3rd best overall (Manhattan’s got an 82).

If Rotten Tomatoes is the measurement you prefer, Midnight in Paris has a 92% fresh.

Critical acclaim is also translating into box office success. With nearly $29 million domestic in 38 days, the film (which cost $30 million) has a real shot at toppling Hannah and Her Sisters‘ $40 million to become the highest grossing Woody Allen film ever.

As it peaked last week (June 17 – 23) at 1038 locations, the film showed its first week over week decline, but only of 11%. It shed a few screens this weekend and the weekly box office decline will probably be a bit steeper going forward, but it’s still got enough momentum to land it at the top of the Woody Allen pile before long. Notably it only dropped an estimated 8.3% this weekend from last.

Internationally where the last few Allen hits have outperformed their domestic totals (Match Point raked in $62 million in foreign coin while Vicky Cristina Barcelona netted $73 million), Midnight in Paris is off to a very good start with $23 million reported from only 4 countries. Spain and France where Allen films have traditionally done well account for nearly $22 million. Compare that to Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona which earned $19 million and nearly $25 million respectively in those countries. Allen hotspots Italy, the UK and Germany have yet to ring in, but there’s no reason to think they won’t add to the foreign totals significantly.

What difference does it make? Not much really. The critically drubbed Cars 2 found more change in its couch this weekend than Midnight in Paris will make in its lifetime, but I wanted to make one last case for the film for those of you who are holding out on it for some reason.Believe critics or believe audiences or believe me: Midnight in Paris is a winner.

Why has it been so successful? For one thing, it’s damn likable and people are telling their friends. It probably plays better to an older audience that is generally under-served in the summer months, but I have yet to run into anyone who wasn’t at least OK with it. It’s a surprisingly optimistic film for Allen and probably just what people are needing right now during these dark times. At the same time, it’s light but not lightweight. If you stop and think about it for a minute, it resonates more than some are willing to give it credit for. It has a lot to say about the power and the drawbacks of nostalgia. It manages to celebrate the past and wallow in it, while ultimately finding the greatest peace in the here and now.

The degree to which people respond to it seems to depend in part on how they feel about Owen Wilson in general and the somewhat goofy character he plays specifically. People who don’t like the actor with his nasally voice and crooked nose are going to have an uphill climb with it. Me? I generally find him appealing and I think his performance in Midnight in Paris ranks alongside  Bottle Rocket and The Darjeeling Limited as his best. It’s too light of a performance to get any kind of Oscar traction at the end of the year, but it’s certainly deserving.

That’s all from me this week. Now it’s your turn. Have you seen Midnight in Paris yet? Did you see the latest Pixar? Tell us what you’ve been watching whether it’s good, bad or ugly.




11 Responses to “Paris rules”

  1. Again Lucille and I were (relatively) busy on the movie front, while for the first time in quite a while we didn’t manage a single stage play.

    We saw the following in theatres:

    Sherlock Jr. ***** (Monday evening) Buster Keaton at Film Forum

    The Boat **** (Monday evening) Buster Keaton at Film Forum

    Passione **** 1/2 (Saturday evening) Film Forum

    Leap Year **** (Friday evening) Cinema Village

    Beginners *** (Thursday evening) Montclair Claridge Cinemas

    SHERLOCK JR. is one of the supreme Keaton masterpieces, in fact for many his greatest work. Suffice to say it’s one of my favorite comedies of all-time (the pool table sequence and the coordinated run near the end are among the greatets gags ever filmed) and with the short THE BOAT screening before it, it made for an unforgettable evening. Lucille and I were thrilled that our youngest son Jeremy (9) was called up to the stage by Film Forum program director Bruce Goldstein to pick the night’s five winners out of a hat that included all the correct answers of a Keaton-related question. Jeremy received a Film Forum tea-shirt for his efforts.

    The week’s big surprise was the sensory PASSIONE, John Turturo’s love song to his Italian heritage and to the music of Naples. Using some re-enactment footage and archival segments of famous singers and musicians Turturo serves as the “Greek Chorus” in weaving a tapestry of the breathtaking Italian countryside and a rapturous and ravishing fusion of the past and present. I’m fully Italian-American myself (my father’s father, who died in 1985 at age 96 was from Naples in fact) but that’s certainly not going to stop me from joining the celebration! This is a must for all culture and music lovers, not just Italians! Ha!

    Not even the presence of the great Christopher Plummer can elevate BEGINNERS from nagging mediocrity. It does have some revealing moments for sure, but there are chiches as a snail pacing that seems to reveal that this was really never much of a story, but a series of sketches. The ferocious sado-masochistic LEAP YEAR, a Mexican film that’s a slow boil, leads to some powerful ideas, and a telling appraisal of human sexual behavior. It’s a harrowing films of loneliness and despair, and while it’s sometimes very difficult to watch, there’s a genuine aspect to the low-budget film-making and an electrifying lead performance from newcomer Monica del Carmen.

    I was hoping to see the animated SUMMER WARS at the IFC Film Center on Sunday, due in large measure to Bob Clark’s promotion, but everything got in the way, sad to say.

  2. I’m really really sick so I’ve been holed up in the apartment, in bed, all weekend. :(

    At least there’s TCM. Singing in the Rain is the one movie that I can still enjoy even with a raging case of the flu. And now I’m watching Bandwagon.

  3. Also: I forgot to comment on the awesome Kubrick montage in the LiC banner. :)

  4. Didn’t partake in any theatergoing this weekend, but I share your enthusiasm for Midnight in Paris’ prospects. It’s simple and breezy and thoroughly entertaining — the kind of film that would’ve gone gangbusters in the golden era of the cinema but is something of a curio today.

    This weekend I sat down to watch Zodiac and The Social Network again back-to-back. It made for an awesome — albeit butt-numbing — double feature. It’s a shame Zodiac got absolutely zero awards recognition back in 2007, because it’s one hell of a movie that is both visually stunning and quite poignant. I understand that the nearly 3 hours would seem pointless to some given the ending, but that’s kind of deliberately missing the point. And Social Network just gets better every time I watch it. It’s such a deliberately assembled film. Everything falls into place and all the beats hit right on cue.

    So, yeah, I’m totally in the bag for Fincher, although I’m worried Dragon Tattoo will hew closer to the bloated and saccharine Benjamin Button (i.e. a film I’ll enjoy for the filmmaking, but little else).

  5. Agreed about Zodiac, W.J. Such an under-rated film.

  6. Agreed on Zodiac, WJ. Great film, horribly under-appreciated.

    I did manage to get out and revisit Tree of Life. My opinion of it remains the same: the bookends don’t really work that well but the main portion of the film is excellent.

    I also saw The Double Hour, and I can’t really say much about this Italian thriller without spoiling the rather complicated plot, but I will say that while I liked the leads quite a bit, the narrative twists and turns left me a bit cold. I don’t mind twists, but the zingers in this film will either enthrall you or frustrate you.

    On DVD I watch Peter Weir’s 2010 film The Way Back, about escapees from a Soviet Gulag in the 40’s who walk 4,000 miles to freedom in India. It stars Ed Harris, Colin Ferrell, Jim Sturges, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, and Dragos Bucur from Police, Adjective. With a cast and story like that, you’d expect Weir to deliver a home run but the film never lives up to its immense scope. And it doesn’t help that I later discovered the “true” story at the core has been widely debunked and Weir himself concedes this is a “fictional” story. It was still an amazing quest to watch.

    Also caught two eps of the BBC’s Sherlock, the modern-day retelling of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock’s mental prowess and deductive capabilities strain credulity, but if you’re looking for an entertaining romp with the famous detective and felt burned by the RDJr version, this might do the trick.

  7. I got happily sucked into watching Singin’ in the Rain on TCM last night, too, Alison. And I thought of you, figured you were likely watching it too. I like being right, even when it’s that easy. What a great film. I love it a little bit more every time I see it.

    Watched a bit of Jules Dassin’s Topkapi last night, but it wasn’t holding my interest, so I went back to Singin’ in the Rain. It’s probably got some charms, but it was unfortunately being compared to the great entertainment of Singin’ that had been put on hold and of course to Night and the City.

    I also watched Blithe Spirit the other night. Noel Coward generally knows his way around a comic phrase or two, and this was no exception. Quite a cute little classic ghost comedy.

    That’s all I’ve got, except to say word of mouth is going strong on Midnight in Paris here. They moved it from a regular sized theater to one of the new teensy theaters at the multiplex, and apparently it was sold out much of the weekend. I’ve not found anyone here who wasn’t really fond of it.

  8. Updated to add I saw The Tillman Story last night. Great doc, sad story, infuriating political manipulation. Glad the doc was made.

  9. I agree with that on The Tillman Story, JB. I normally don’t cotton too well to documentaries that are so slanted in their POV, but in this case I think it was entirely justified.

  10. I’m glad to see that Woody is getting some attention. It may not be his among his best films and deserving of top box-office laurels, but who said life is fair? The film is delightful summer entertainment.

    Alison and jennybee, add my name to the “Singin'” list. When I discovered it was on TCM, I just couldn’t look away.

  11. Sorry I’m so late to weigh in on the Cooler, but life has been hectic of late. I’m glad to see you all carried on so well without me.

    Glad you liked Leap Year, Sam. I thought you might. It’s totally different from The Maid, but like that film it surprised me in that it didn’t go how I predicted it would. Had it ended differently, I might not have liked it as much. ***spoiler*** The tendency of films like this is to rub your nose in the sorrow of it all, but this offered the ray of hope I was looking for. ***end spoiler***

    Alison, as I’ve said many times before, Singin’ in the Rain is my all time favorite sick day movie. I hope it worked for you and that you’re feeling better.

    Also happy you’re liking the Kubrick. I was inspired by the lovely new blu-rays.

    WJ, I liked Zodiac a lot more than The Social Network so I wish the awards recognition had been reversed. Having said that, I still haven’t seen TSN again and think I need to before finalizing my opinion of it. Don’t get me wrong, I gave it 4 stars when I reviewed it and I really did like it, but it was missing the extra kick for me that Zodiac delivered in spades. It’s my favorite Fincher movie.

    Joel, I haven’t re-seen Tree of Life yet. I was the same way with The New World: kind of afraid a second viewing would reveal it to not be as magic as it originally seemed. Weird, I know, but that’s me. I’ll still definitely catch it while it’s still in theaters.

    I’m also bummed I missed Double Hour. I’ve heard great things about it.

    I liked The Way Back more than you, but most people seem to be on your side. Weir’s low key treatment of the high drama actually worked really well for me. It wasn’t at all what I expected and it took me a while to warm up to it, but it built to a nicely moving conclusion.

    JB, I don’t think I’ve ever seen all of Topkapi. I’ve always meant too, I just like Dassin so much in noir mode.

    I liked Tillman Story quite a bit too. It was infuriating all over again politically, but for me the real power came from the more personal story of a family trying to reclaim a son whose image was being used for the purposes of a lot of people who didn’t know or understand him.

    Pierre, much as I loved MiP, I’d have to agree it’s probably lesser of a thing than Manhattan or Annie Hall or Hannah, but I’m just happy quality is being rewarded. It is the perfect summer movie.

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