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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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Catherine of Alexandria: According to the <i>Legend of St. Catherine</i>, this young woman converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. At the age of 18, she debated 50 pagan philosophers. Amazed at her wisdom and debating skills, they became Christians—as did about 200 soldiers and members of the emperor’s family. All of them were martyred. 
<p>Sentenced to be executed on a spiked wheel, Catherine touched the wheel and it shattered. She was beheaded. Centuries later, angels are said to have carried the body of St. Catherine to a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai. </p><p>Devotion to her spread as a result of the Crusades. She was invoked as the patroness of students, teachers, librarians and lawyers. Catherine is one of the 14 Holy Helpers, venerated especially in Germany and Hungary.</p> American Catholic Blog We exist because God is infinitely beautiful, infinitely good, and overflowing with a love that seeks to share itself. When he made us and placed us in this glittering created world, it was an act of pure generosity.

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