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Midnight In Paris and the Curious Appeal of the Nostalgia Shop.

I recently sat down to watch the Woody Allen film ‘Midnight In Paris.’ For those who haven’t seen it, the film follows a discontented Hollywood honcho and wannabe writer (Owen Wilson) who longs to break free from his American dream and settle down in the City of Love. As the clock strikes midnight, Wilson’s character is whisked off into the glittering ‘twenties, a time when Paris was populated by a wealth of famous ‘artistes’ who seemingly lived to party hard and dream in riddles.

World War II poster from Imperial War MuseumAside from being beautifully directed, with stunningly vivid shots of Parisian thoroughfares, the film got me thinking about the whole notion of nostalgia. In one particularly poignant scene, Wilson’s character tries to explain to his would-be lover that we all have such a deep fascination with the past because “[the present] is a little unsatisfying because life’s a little unsatisfying.”

It’s true that we always hanker after the past; we see a certain time period, whether it was within our lifetime or not, as a ‘Golden Age’ where life was simply much better than it is today. In reality, of course, this isn’t true. Yes, you may have been slimmer or less wrinkly when you were 18 years old, but would you really want to go back to that time? And as for transgressing through the ages; How many of us could honestly say we would be happy in a world without iPhones or, god forbid, the internet? Would you really want to live in the ‘fifties, with its widespread racism and slap-em-down approach to women? Thought not.

When things aren’t going our way, we like to reminisce about our past. The trouble is, we have a habit of donning rose-tinted time travel spectacles which conveniently blot out any negative aspects of what actually happened. Our brains are a bit like the BBFC, scrolling through the reels of movie footage that make up our memories and classifying them accordingly. “Think this is still a bit too raw for her, let’s not release this until 2025, when she’s a bit more mature.”

Of course, this safety mechanism is a great thing; if we all concentrated on the negative we wouldn’t be a very sunny bunch. Some people undeniably see things exactly as they are, with no shield to soften the blow of all that slightly depressing stuff we’d rather not remember. For that reason, I am ever thankful for my mind’s top-of-the-range memory muffler.

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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

 

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Freud, a fox and a film called Bernie.

As it turns out, the father of psychoanalysis lived right here in Hampstead! For a year, anyway. For about £6 you can wander around Sigmund Freud’s former home, reading various plaques about the weird and wonderful dreams some of his patients had. The shop was full of books about some of Freud’s most famous cases as well as a few comedy trinkets such as ‘Freudian Slippers’ (why anyone would want a pair of beady eyes in glasses staring up at them from their feet I don’t know). On reading the back of one of the books I discovered that Freud was a big fan of cocaine, and he used to recommend the stuff to his patients. Needless to say, I think at least one of them died from an overdose. As we were on our way out, our eyes were drawn to a little fox in the garden that seemed totally non-plussed by our presence. He just sat there, basking in the sunshine like it was a completely normal thing for foxes to do. If I was in any way spiritual I might suggest that the fox was Freud re-incarnated.

Seeing how we were halfway to the Heath, we thought we may as well walk there and enjoy the last of the sunshine. It annoys me when people who have never been to London assume that it’s just this roaring, polluted city. There are LOADS of green bits in London if you know where to look. Go to Hampstead Heath and you’ll be surrounded by trees and wild grass on all sides. Go to Mudchute Farm and you can chill with some sheep. Go to Richmond Park and you can catch a glimpse of wild deer. You can’t get much more ‘anti-city’ than that.

When evening came it was time to get our gladrags on and go to the BFI showing of a new Richard Linklater film called Bernie. I’m not sure if it’s going to get released later this year, so I won’t spoil it for you. Basically, the film is about a really nice guy (Jack Black) who makes a big impression on a small town in Texas for all the right (and a few wrong) reasons. It’s funny, it’s moving and it makes you question your thoughts on morality. It’s also a true story! Which always makes things more interesting, in my opinion.

So this weekend I didn’t get to tick anything off my ‘must-see’ list. I did, however, spot Simon Amstell in a coffee shop and Helena Boham Carter with her kids in tow as I was walking the dog. I also managed to lug myself out of bed at 7:30am on a Saturday to go for a 35 minute run with my Dad. For these reasons, I have had what you might call a ‘win’ of a weekend. It was relaxed, it was lazy and it was unplanned, but despite the sore calves and achy ribcage (apparantly I run like a cartoon character whose creator hasn’t quite got the hang of drawing realistic human running), I loved it. Now it’s time to get some Arkham City on the go and get rid of all the good work I did yesterday by eating far too much badly baked gingerbread. Hooray for weekends!

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2011 in Travel

 

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