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Midnight in Paris

Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.

Director/writer Woody Allen’s film opened the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month and it is indeed one of his best films in a long time; clever, sharp, entertaining and though not overly self-conscious as Allen’s films can be, the litany of writers and artists in the film meet Allen’s cinematic requirement for neurosis.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is in Paris with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents who have business in the city of lights. Gil is a screenwriter trying to write a novel about a man who runs a nostalgia shop. When a friend of Inez, Paul (Michael Sheen) and his wife run into them in a restaurant, Gil wants nothing to do with the boorish, pseudo-intellectual professor. Instead of dancing, he goes for a walk.

At midnight, a vintage car stops in front of him, and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and his wife Zelda (Alison Pill) invite him to come along to a party. There he meets expats, or the famous Lost Generation, from America and other countries who form the vibrant artist community of Paris in the 1920s; include Cole Porter and Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

The funniest encounter is with Hemingway who tosses off words straight from his novels with references to his “A Moveable Feast” and seems itching for a fight. Gil runs into a litany of famous people and falls for Picasso’s mistress, Adrianna (Marion Cotillard)  who wants to live in 1890’s Paris, the city’s “Golden Age”.

Hemingway, or Fitzgerald, tells Gil that “Nostalgia is a flaw of the romantic imagination” and that nostalgia is denial.

There’s something to this, I think. After one of my younger sisters and I saw the 1992 Merchant-Ivory period masterpiece “Howard’s End”, she said, “I was born in the wrong place and the wrong time.” And then she sighed as she grasped her young daughter’s hand to return home.

Gil realizes that living in the present, while appreciating the past, is probably the best way –and that the icons of the past were just humans, too, gifted and flawed. And he decides to move to Paris.

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Columban: Columban was the greatest of the Irish missionaries who worked on the European continent. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh, he sought the advice of a religious woman who had lived a hermit’s life for years. He saw in her answer a call to leave the world. He went first to a monk on an island in Lough Erne, then to the great monastic seat of learning at Bangor. 
<p>After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul (modern-day France) with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. </p><p>Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry and his monastic rule.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was never a careerist or a glory-monger; he did not demand to be hailed as a king or lauded as a hero. He came to live among us, to suffer with us, and to serve us from the heart. He came to teach us how to love.

The Gospel of John the Gospel of Relationship

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