At the local “Art Cinema”, the Adam Smith Theatre. Whoopee! No round trip to Dunfermline just to see a film. (Still on tonight, 14/2/12, if anyone wants to go.)
This is a Woody Allen film and many of his tropes are present. The lead character, Gil, is typically Allenish with his verbal mannerisms, we have the fascination with the past (Zelig; Broadway Danny Rose) and an intrusion of the fantastic (Play It Again, Sam; Broadway Danny Rose.)
Gil is a writer on a trip to Paris with his fiancee and her awful parents; a moneyed couple, snobbish and intolerant, with no redeeming features. But none of these four are really sympathetic. There is a fine cameo by Michael Sheen as a friend of the fiancee, with just the right degree of irritating know-allness.
To escape this lot, Gil walks through Paris and gets lost. At midnight he is invited into an old car cruising the streets. He is taken to a party where he encounters Cole Porter, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. On subsequent nights he meets Gertrude Stein (Alice B Toklas has a small name check,) Pablo Picasso and his mistress, Salvador Dali, Louis Buňuel and Man Ray. Gil is delighted as he is fascinated by the 1920s, his perfect time. He is also much taken with Picasso’s mistress who thinks the Belle Époque was the best era to be alive.
If at times this all seemed a bit too overloaded it is the sort of stuff with which Allen can have a bit of fun, as when Gil suggests a film scenario to Buňuel.
Stein agrees to read Gil’s novel manuscript. At one point she describes it as Science Fiction (it is set in her future.) I was dubious at this usage and checked; the term apparently wasn’t in common use until 1929.
Gil is drawn more and more into the 1920s milieu and strolling with Picasso’s mistress one night they are invited into a horse-drawn cab and end up in the Belle Époque. Cue Toulouse Lautrec, Degas and Gauguin. Here Gil realises that no-one likes their own time and the past isn’t necessarily a better place.
But he determines to stay in (present day) Paris and chucks his girlfriend.
It was the fantastic element that I found most satisfying, the going into the past aspect is the sort of thing that makes Altered History (or Alternative/Alternate History if you must) so intriguing, but the present day characters were just so crass; apart from Carla Bruni as a tour guide and a female seller of old records Gil bumps into on a shopping trip.
This was minor Allen but entertaining enough, with quite a few laughs. I enjoyed it.