Midnight in Paris

Midnight in ParisLast night I watched Midnight in Paris. It is quite a good film with lots of honest fun for the intellectually or artistically inclined. On the down side, it is a Woody Allen film. By this I mean that it was continuously delightful but never transcendent. Of course, it will likely also be the best film you will see in the next year.

The main thing that bugged me was how heavy handed the film was about its theme of illusion and reality. It came to a head in the third act where Gil Pender has taken Adriana from her world in 1920s back to the world of 1890. Just as Gil wanted to escape the modern world and live in the 1920s, Adriana wanted to escape back to the 1890s. When Adriana wants to stay, Gil explains the problem. Most of it is unbearable. But like a good neurotic, Allen pulls it back to the reality of better living through chemistry:

I’m having an insight now. It’s a minor one, but it explains the anxiety in my dream that I had. I had a dream the other night where… It was a nightmare where I ran out of Zithromax. And then I went to see the dentist, and he didn’t have any Novocain. You see what I’m saying? These people don’t have any antibiotics!

As a side issue that doesn’t much get in the way, this is all fine. But to make a big deal about it? It detracts, to say the least. Not only is it old news that people dream of a better time. It is old news that people have always known it was old news. This is from 1859:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

But as I said, it is a fun movie. Unfortunately, Modigliani did not live long enough to be one of the characters.

But we’ll always have this:

Modigliani - Portrait of Chaim Soutine

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