#Cannes: Woody Allen in Focus

by eug
May 11, 2011 12:39 PM
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Ok actually, in this photo he's out of focus, but such is the opening day of the Cannes Film Festival.

Big crowds gathered in front of the Debussy theater this morning and then in the hallway outside the press conference room today here in France. Folks pushed, shoved and screamed trying to grab a seat to see Woody Allen's new movie, "Midnight in Paris," and then hoping to catch a glimpse of the man himself after the showing.

I got a great seat down front and listened to the warm rounds of applause that met the end of the movie. Personally I liked "Midnight in Paris," but probably not as much as I'd hoped I would. The film's fantastical gimmick was really fun, but then wore a bit thin. Maybe I should have re-read some Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald to really get in the mood. But, there's no question that Woody Allen is adored in France and particularly in Cannes where he's a regular.

At a traditional La Pizza dinner last night, a group of us compared notes on Woody Allen and his recent work. As it turns out, I'm an Allen apologist. I like almost everything he does at least a bit. In fact, I'm particularly fond of his current European phase, in which he's secured funding to make new movies annually in London, Barcelona and now Paris. Good movies about great cities.

"Great art can't compare with a great city," a character says in "Midnight in Paris," a film that's ultimately about escape. Escaping reality through art and urban exploration. Traveling to a European capital can feel a lot like traveling in time. I often feel the same way about New York.

"It’s a recurring, nagging feeling of mine that the reality we’re all trapped in is, in actual fact, if you dissect it, like a nightmare," Woody Allen told Kent Jones, in an interview published today in Film Comment. "I’m always looking for ways to escape that reality."

And yet he knows that such escape is unrealistic so he explores it through his work.

"It's a big trap to think that living in another time would be better," he countered at a Cannes festival press conference this afternoon.

I guess that sums up what I love that about Woody Allen.

photo by eugene hernandez

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