As a result of a very unscientific, informal poll (i.e. the comments on one of my Facebook status updates), I learned that “Midnight in Paris” was *the* film watched by the majority of people (i.e. my Facebook friends who responded to said status update) this holiday season. But why, you ask? It’s not a holiday film! Nope. It’s not. But it’s romantic (see the whole ‘midnight in Paris’ angle) and funny (if you like Woody Allen and Owen Wilson) and features a brilliant portrayal of Ernest Hemingway by Corey Stoll.
I argued that the lines Stoll delivers while riding in the time machine taxi (as it was dubbed by a friend) with Wilson’s character, Gil (the Woody Allen stand-in), on love and the fear of death are possibly the greatest dialogue ever written. This scene is one of the reasons “Midnight in Paris” and so many other modern films have become Christmas classics:
Aside from the fact that Wilson’s pronunciation of “pret-ty sex-y” is hilarious and feels like it could have been a line read given to him by Woody, this scene is incredible because of these two sentences: “I believe that love that is true and real creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well, which is the same thing.”
That’s what we want in our Christmas movies these days, a love story. Think about it. (*callback!*) How many of you watched “Love Actually” this month? What about “The Holiday?” We don’t want stories about Santa or the Grinch or a kid home alone anymore! We want a story about a Dad who buys his kids a zoo. We want a story about a man who so loved a horse the horse survived the war. (Which is also the plot of Equus, no?) We don’t want a story about a man who — after traveling through time — comes to the realization that even though everything around him is shit, his life is happening now and he must not take it for granted.
Or do we?
I suppose “Midnight in Paris” is just like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Carol” in that, in the end, Gil realizes that he has to let go of the past and move forward with his life, which makes it excellent holiday/end-of-the-year fare, even though it doesn’t feature Christmas as a backdrop. And like “Love Actually” and “The Holiday,” it’s set in Europe, which always makes a film cozier, for obvious reasons. (The architecture is old and the streets are dimly lit and the accents are better.) Unlike “Love Actually” and “The Holiday,” it doesn’t take a bottle of wine and a can of nuts to get through, because it won’t make you cry (which makes you want to get drunk … which makes you want to sober up with a can of nuts … that you were supposed to give your brother as a Christmas gift). But I digress …
Now, I could be reading into things a bit, and the real reason “Midnight in Paris” was a big hit this Christmas could be because it was finally available to rent on-demand via Time Warner Cable. But that’s neither here nor there. I know the film came out this summer, but I don’t think I could have appreciated it as much were I not watching it all snuggled up on my mother’s couch alone on Christmas night.
What did you watch this holiday? Any new films you think have replaced the traditional holiday films of yore?