We’ll Always Have Paris, City of Lights [Best Movies of 2011]

This is the second article in the series about the best movies of 2011.
We are not talking about Casablanca here, but about two special movies which definitely explain cinematographer’s fascination for the City of Lights. The quality of light was one of the reasons why Hollywood became the top spot in this industry. Anyone who read a book about the beginnings of this city knows that. It wasn’t about the gold rush, but about the quality of light. And what other city in the world could give us magnificent light at any given hour if not Paris? The fact that Woody Allen’s career was rebooted in the moment he escaped from New York (remember Match Point) is the main reason why the comedian started to travel around the globe for his next movies. Midnight in Paris is not just another Woody Allen movie set in another foreign city, but probably his best movie since Match Point, if not ever, because what he achieves here is more than a declaration of love for this city, his culture and being an expat in the ’20s in the City of Lights. It is quite possibly his best looking movie and contains what I call A Poetry of Light, the reason why movies have always been successful. Because what else are movies if not a poetry of light? Or a poetry of dark (for the horror movies or thrillers)? The dynamic shadows, the lights, the different angles from which you see the buildings, the movements, and many many other small ingredients like these that help recreate specific scenes and help you walk through that magic spaces are the ones that transform this movie into our grandmother’s cake, the best cake we ever tasted. It’s not Owen Wilson or Rachel McAdams that are worth watching in this movie, but the city itself and those shadows and lights that play over it. Midnight in Paris should at least take the prize for Cinematography if not for the Best Picture.

Now if we wouldn’t have had the other big movie set in Paris, I would have said that Midnight in Paris was the best yet, but a 3D movie coming from Scorsese can not go unnoticed. So here it is: Hugo. Like Allen, Scorsese needs no introduction. We have all seen at least The Departed and GoodFellas, if not Raging Bull or Mean Streets. When he decided to make Hugo, he didn’t do it to play with 3D, but to pay an homage to one of the first great director this art ever had (George Melies) and also because he is deeply involved in the restoration of old movies. He pushes the art further than ever before and gives us quite possibly the first 3D masterpiece. It’s bittersweet knowing that it took precisely 58 years for this to happen (believe it or not, the first 3D movie appeared in 1953!), but in the end it had to happen. If you liked movies like Harry Potter or The Bicenntenial Man, than this movie is definitely for you. Based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick (yes! the nephew of that great producer), the movie tells the story of an orphan who discovers cinema and Melies automata and movies (we don’t want to spoil anything :) – this is simply a movie you have to see, if for nothing else than at least for the fact that is the first who truly succeeds into adding that third dimension to cinema). I would say Best Picture, but there are still contenders like War Horse that haven’t been launched.

While it’s not connected with Paris, The Artist is a silent movie (yes! silent movie!) done by a French director (Michel Hazanavicius) with a French star (Jean Dujardin). It’s not about Paris, but it is also about the lost art of black and white silent movie making where everything had to be transmitted through images because the titles might have been annoying. It was received very well in Cannes and it already has Oscar buzz. In fact because of this, we can almost assume this will be the year in which the Academy will offer the Best Picture Award as an homage to the grandmasters of the past.

Since the object of desire for New Yorkers seems to be Paris this year, we should mention that the best movie about New York is based on a Phillip K. Dick story and is called The Adjustment Bureau. We will not ruin you the pleasure to watch the best seduction scene of the year, and an unlikely but extremely good thriller.

So Paris is not just the City of Lights, but also the Muse for two of the most technical directors living today (I know you wouldn’t think about Allen this way, but the guy has done virtually tens of movies based on the same script – nevrotic Jew writer who lives in New York and has problems with women – until he diversified in the last ten years). Must be something with the light. It’s definitely the light. Can’t be something else. We are talking about real cinema here. And from the Lumiere brothers and Melies until today’s Allen or Scorsese, we can sincerely say that thanks to the cinema we’all always have Paris.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 4th, 2011 and is filed under Culture, Entertainment, Fun. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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