I bought my wife the Blu-ray disc for Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris this Christmas. Our twentieth anniversary is next year, and I thought it might be food for thought should we decide to mark the date with travel. This morning I flipped over the clam-shell case and noticed that it’s rated PG-13, and parents are “strongly cautioned” due to “some sexual references and smoking.” Evidently, Hollywood believes that lighting a Marlboro is the moral equivalent of violating the Sixth Commandment. In any event, critic Steven Greydanus enjoyed the film and so surely will we:

Where is it all going? What’s remarkable about Midnight in Paris is that in the end it’s about seeing through the illusion of nostalgia and yet not being disillusioned — about cherishing the past, while living in the present.

Tolkien wrote about how fantasy can reveal rather than obscure reality: “By the forging of Gram cold iron was revealed; by the making of Pegasus horses were ennobled; in the Trees of the Sun and the Moon root and stock, flower and fruit are manifested in glory.”

That’s a speech the nihilism-prone Allen would choke on. Yet in this film he allows a character to claim that “the job of the artist is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” Even that cautious sentiment is probably more than Allen himself believes deep down (certainly his work as a whole hardly seems to reflect such a philosophy). Still, in Midnight in Paris he seems willing to allow the audience, and perhaps even himself, the luxury of hope.

And again, Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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