Owen Wilson Channels Woody Allen — Well

Self’s birthday is July 14 which self knows is Bastille Day in Paris, and from reading The Scarlet Pimpernel (which was her favorite novel for about three years —  she read it for the first time when she was 12, in Bacolod for the summer, nothing to do except read and hang out at Lopues and have merienda at Bob‘s) self learned that the Bastille was a fearsome prison, and that the day the prisoners were released from the Bastille marked the start of the French Revolution.  Which ended in the beheading of the King and Queen of France.

But now, it is an excuse for Frenchmen and anyone in Paris to go around planting kisses on each other.  Last year, Bonnie M who lives in Paris was visiting the Bay Area.  The day she picked to visit Redwood City was (what a coincidence!) July 14.  We ended up having lunch at one of self’s favorite restaurants, New Kapadokia, and Bonnie treated self to the most scrumptious lunch.  (Thanks loads, Bonnie!  Self is thinking of you today!)

This afternoon, self was successful in persuading hubby to forgo watching the fourth installment of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, in favor of watching the unlikely (but totally deserved) rejuvenation of Owen Wilson’s acting career.

Time was (in “Shanghai Noon”) when self thought Owen Wilson was the coolest, funniest guy on the planet.  All he had to say was:  “Hey, hey, hey, we’re men, not piñatas,” and he had self practically rolling on the floor with laughter (That picture is also what self thinks of as Jackie Chan’s last decent movie)

Self still liked him in “Wedding Crashers.”  Actually, she also liked him in his one action role, the one about the American fighter pilot who ends up crash-landing behind enemy lines in Serbia, then has to go scampering hither and thither to avoid capture.

Actually, she also liked him in “The Royal Tenenbaums.”

Wait, he was also good in “The Darjeeling Limited.”  The whole time self was watching “The Darjeeling Limited,” though, she kept remembering his suicide attempt.  And so the movie (though good) ended up being not funny.  At least, not to self.  And not at that point in time.

Today, self persuaded hubby to see “Midnight in Paris.”  The movie is pretty much one long joke, but it’s exquisite.  And you know what?  Owen Wilson turns out to be the perfect guy to channel Woody Allen’s nebbish-y dialogue.  It helps that he is charming and younger than recent Woody Allen prototypes have been:  really, watching him slouch around Paris is not an exercise in frustration, it is cathartic:  After all, who doesn’t wish they could go slouching around Paris like Owen Wilson?  By the way, Allen packs the city with the most gorgeous women:  Marion Cotillard, Carla Bruni (The First Lady of France is so tall!  And she has the most elegant-looking feet!).  Rachel McAdams (though not playing a Parisian) is absolutely HOT in tight jeans!  The young French girl at the very end looks a little like Kate Moss.

And you know what else?  LOKI IS IN THIS MOVIE!  Yes, Tom Hiddleston, the guy with the soulful eyes who played Loki in “Thor,” and who stole all his scenes from Chris Hemsworth, is in this movie, appearing with gorgeous marcelled hair, playing F. Scott Fitzgerald!  And Adrien Brody is in this movie as well, doing a hilarious impression of the painter Salvador Dali (Pretty much all he talks about are rhinoceros — rhinoceri?!)  And Kathy Bates is in it, too, playing Gertrude Stein!  Talk about genius casting!

But anyhoo, what self really wants to say is:  All of Owen Wilson’s comedic gifts are on full display in this movie.  All he has to do is look at the camera with those big blue or grey eyes, and the audience knows exactly what he is thinking.  In fact, some of the movie’s biggest laughs are produced when Wilson stares directly at the camera, not speaking.

Self’s favorite scenes, however, are the ones that show Wilson just walking.  These scenes are mostly full-body shots, to include as much of the city streets as possible.  Wise decision.  Wilson’s character is perfectly communicated by his somewhat stooped shoulders, his clothes, his aimless walk —  that’s Woody 2.0 (meaning:  much improved)

Self sincerely hopes Woody Allen decides to use Owen Wilson again.  In fact, Allen should stop looking around for other actors to play his comedic alter-ego:  every time he decides to direct a romantic comedy, he should just go for Wilson.  Because something about Allen channeling his romantic yearnings through Owen Wilson feels absolutely apt.

*     *     *     *

P.S.  Read somewhere that the next Woody Allen-alter ego, in a film to be set in Rome, is Jesse Eisenberg.  Oh, cool!  Not sure he is up to the comedic challenge, but self likes him as an actor.  For sure, he made “The Social Network” the great film that it is.  Jesse, you have big shoes to fill.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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