Midnight in Massachusetts

Midnight in Paris

Last night I confirmed that there is no safe amount of chocolate or alcohol I can consume anymore. One glass of wine and two slim slices of naturally-sweetened chocolate-pecan pie meant I was riding out my nausea and cold sweats during movie night with my spouse.

He and I rarely get to watch movies together, so I wasn’t going to let a little uncontrollable shivering keep me from watching Midnight in Paris while snuggled under blankets on the couch. Turns out laughter was some good medicine in this case. Well, laughter and the slow but inevitable action of my liver clearing the acetaldehyde from my bloodstream.

I’ve started reading Ulysses, and I’m surprised to find  after all of the warnings that I actually enjoy reading it. But seeing this movie with all of these modernist writers and artists hanging out together in Paris really amped up my enthusiasm for the book. James Joyce didn’t make an appearance, but he got a mention, and that was enough to get me really in the mood to embrace modernist literature, at least for a while.

It also made me want to read Nancy Milford’s biography of Zelda Fitzgerald and to move Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas much closer to the top of my classics list.

I remember hearing an interview with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who said that when he made Amélie, he set out to show the audience the Paris that he loves, all vibrant colors and magic, rather than the starkly real Paris, which has much more traffic and dog crap.  So while the Paris setting of the film was gorgeous, I was able to keep reality in mind for most of the film and not hit pause to look up airline fares.

I’m also not very susceptible to the “it would be so much nicer to live in such-and-such a time…” I’ve read enough history to know that pretty much every era sucked for pretty much everyone living during that era. Right now’s not great, but there’s no other time I’d much rather live in.

Midnight in Paris, however, had me craving at least a long-ish vacation to 1920’s Paris. Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, T.S. Eliot…what an incredible time it must have been to be in Paris!

The only trouble would be explaining why I wasn’t drinking. That particular crowd doesn’t seem like they’d take very well to someone who wasn’t a fabulous drinker.

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3 comments

  1. Jan · December 1, 2013

    This is my all time favourite movie and ever since I saw it I’ve been obsessed with Paris and specifically Paris in the 1920s! Which is probably why I mention it every chance I can on my blog! lol I just can’t get my head around the fact all these amazing writers, artists, poets, musicians etc were all there at the same time and so many of them knew each other! What a time to be in Paris!

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  2. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ · November 29, 2013

    You write this so well, I almost succumbed to watching “Midnight in Paris” tonight. But, I avoid Woody Allen movies made in the last 15 or so years for the same reason I avoid anything with Nicholas Cage of the same era: they look great, but I leave them annoyed that they weren’t better. Well, that and the misogyny…

    However, I have yet to see “Amelie” and that looks more up my alley. I’m about to see “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth for the first time tonight. I’m coming off a Jane Austen novel-binge, inspired by watching and reading “Austenland,” both of which I thought had intriguing premises. How I wish they had been handed to a more skilled writer!

    As for reading Joyce, I was going to comment that I am impressed at your weighty material. But, I’m in the middle of “Remembrance of Things Past” but don’t find it heavy because I love Proust so. Perhaps one day, I’ll feel inspired to give Joyce another chance. Maybe if you write a post that will sway me.

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    • CJ · November 29, 2013

      I’ve not had much luck with the more recent Woody Allen films, but this one worked for me (obviously). Amelie, however, is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love the music and the colors and it’s just such an uplifting story. I highly recommend it. And I might just have to make time to watch it again this weekend…

      And the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice is just wonderful! I watched it after I read every Jane Austen book one right after another shortly after my son was born. (As a result, I remember that Northanger Abbey was my favorite (after P & P), but I remember very little about the novel itself.)

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