Share this article

print logo

'Paris' trip; Woody Allen's latest is a sweet visit to another time

If you looked at the American box-office revenue for Woody Allen's movies over the last couple of decades, you would find a body of work that has been at best marginally successful and often less than that. But everything seemed to change with "Midnight in Paris."

The film has taken in about $56 million in the United States, according to Box Office Mojo, making it Allen's most lucrative work in a very long time. Overseas, where Allen's work is greeted more enthusiastically, it added $83 million to the take. And it appears to be among the contenders in awards season.

Indeed, it is the winter of Woody. He was the subject of and a participant in a recent "American Masters" documentary that will make its way to home video in February. And "Midnight in Paris" is arriving Tuesday on video ($30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray; Sony).

The film is a sweetly romantic piece starring Owen Wilson as Gil, a Woody-like writer. (Since Allen is now 76, he has taken to hiring surrogates to play the sort of roles he used to do himself.) Gil is one of those folks who wishes he had lived in a more stimulating past -- in his case, Paris in the 1920s, when Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and other artistic greats could be seen and heard. A visit to modern Paris with his fiancee (Rachel McAdams) only increases his longing.

Then, late one night, he finds himself transported back to that time, seeing in the flesh his idols -- and becoming especially intrigued by a young woman, Adriana (Marion Cotillard). Daytime finds Gil back in the present day, but each night he returns to Paris of the past, taking knowledge from one world to the other.

"Midnight in Paris" draws on techniques and bits Allen has used in previous (and better) movies. But it has a certain sweetness, a mellowness that was at times missing even when Allen was at the height of his fame and success -- before falling in esteem because of his personal scandal. There is a lot of fun and there is a nice turn at the end. And, besides the actors already mentioned, the cast includes Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates and Adrien Brody (very funny as Salvador Dali).

The lone DVD extra is a five-minute piece from a "Midnight in Paris" news conference at the Cannes Film Festival.

Down video road: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" will begin its move onto Blu-ray with a three-episode sampler Jan. 31. It includes the original series pilot and later-season episodes "The Inner Light" and "Sins of the Father." The first season is expected on Blu-ray later in 2012 as the show marks its 25th anniversary.

Also: "Logan's Run," the TV series based on the book and hit movie, comes to DVD on April 10. Criterion will release a four-film set, "David Lean Directs Noel Coward," on DVD and Blu-ray on March 27; it includes "In Which We Serve," "This Happy Breed," "Blithe Spirit" and "Brief Encounter." The 1959 TV adaptation of "The Jazz Singer," with Jerry Lewis, will be on DVD on Feb. 7.