#GODonFILM: MIDNIGHT in PARIS Speaks of Nostalgia, Romanticism, and Presence

Inspector Javert takes a dip here, I believe

This Sunday I’ll be talking on Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris for our “GOD on FILM” series – and I just couldn’t wait to post on it even before my sermon, because for the many thematic elements to talk about here, there is the singularly rich and valuable point: the grass aint always greener on the other side. Which is why I was simultaneously charmed by this film but also really really disappointed (spoiler alert***)

Owen Wilson: naivete incarnate

The realization that presence takes precedence over nostalgia and romanticism – this is an important idea – a summons to snap back to reality and appreciate the good thing right in front of us, whether it is the place we live in, or the spouse we married, or the church we attend, or the career path we chose. Living constantly in a fantasy world of anywhere-but-here misanthropy is a miserable state to be in, no less, in my book – a state of perpetual childishness.

Which irks me to no end about the conclusion of this movie: in the end – Gil capitulates to his infatuation wholesale. Sure he’s not stuck in the 1920’s anymore but he never really grows up, in a sense. Paris may be the place to be today, but tomorrow it will be London, or NYC, or Milan, or anywhere but here. And there will always be a new belle who likes rain in her hair, or listens to Cole Porter, or likes pita bread. See what I mean?

Soon-Yi Previn and Woody Allen at the 2009 Tri...
not cool, Woodster, not cool.

So I don’t know if I’m alone in pointing this out – not many have aired these sentiments – but I just feel it was a bit too biographical of Woody Allen for my liking – slipping deeper into neurosis and never fully climbing out (albeit tongue in cheek).

Again. This was a great movie. But for it’s merits, the message never hits home in the end, but balks. For that reason I give it 3 out of 4.

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

3 thoughts on “#GODonFILM: MIDNIGHT in PARIS Speaks of Nostalgia, Romanticism, and Presence

  1. I’m still wrestling with this Tarshish / Nineveh dichotomy; (the parallel in Midnight in Paris is Gil’s infatuation with Paris, which is his Tarshish – and his disinterest in Nineveh, which, for him, is like, everything else)

    the parallel for us in Houston maybe might hit home more than we think… our suburban flight further and further out west may be our pursuit of Tarshish – and our departure away from the eastern neighborhoods of Houston – our fleeing of Nineveh. Something to think about, especially as the Korean-American population is rapidly migrating further and further out west to the ‘burbs.

    here’s my talk about the “new suburban flight

    Just keeping in mind that Nineveh is where “the face of God is”… it’s the place God weeps, it’s where God’s presence is.

  2. After the sermon yesterday, I kept thinking why we, Christians, keep searching for our Paris or Tarshish.
    And it made me realize that I keep putting God into a box and asking Him to fit in there according to my plan. Sometimes, I pray that God may provide what I need but without asking Him what His plan is for me. I always forget that He is the creator, He is the perfect planner for everything. If things go not the way I think it should be, I complain, I judge Him, I get disappointed at Him.
    But isn’t that ME who forget that He created me with perfection but think that I’m better than Him? Isn’t that ME who forget to ask Him where He is leading me to and what His plan will be? Isn’t that ME who lose the faith in Him?

    Thank you for reminding me that I am constantly in need of His guidance through the Word of God. I pray that all of Harvest families including myself find peace and appreciation this week as we walk with Him to Nineveh as He leads us to there. And I pray that we find joyful heart as we walk with Him.

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