Oscars 2013: Midnight In Paris

Until February 26th, Movies & Munchies is taking on Academy Award nominated films and proposing food to eat while viewing. Midnight in Paris was a tough one. First, I don’t want to cook French food, it seems hard. I just watched Julia & Julia again and it still seems hard. Second, the most popular item I found from the Parisian world of 1920 was the Mimosa. While it was seriously tempting to mix myself a cocktail, photograph the drink and call it a day, I knew that would be cheating. Before I show you what I made, let’s read a bit about Woody Allen’s Oscar nominated flick.

Midnight in Paris

Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard

Directed by: Woody Allen

Have you ever daydreamed or pined for the ability to live in another era?  Convinced, that the time you would like to be transported back to was THE “golden age?” Maybe your ideal time would have been the 1960’s, a decade where the ideals of the 1940’s and 50’s were questioned and historical changes in the United States happened faster than any decade before. Where music, free love and an open door to recreational drugs ruled the world.

In contrast, that decade included many assassinations of notable figures, a terrible and questionable war and set the tone for some major social and family deconstruction that the country is still recovering from 50 years later.  Needless to say, for every golden age, there are a few blemishes.

Midnight in Paris is set in modern day Paris, where a vacationing couple from Los Angeles, who are engaged to be married, are both looking for something more.  The main character Gil, played by Wilson, as a more likeable, enthusiastic and less whiney version of Woody Allen, is a writer obsessed with the 1920’s, a decade when he believes writers and artists were kings.  For reasons I won’t divulge, Gil gets to visit his idealized time and based on the who’s who of  legendary characters he meets; Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali (to name a few), he may be right about his assertions!  While the characters aren’t left with a lot to do, it is exciting to watch them come in and out of the film, the whole time you are wondering, who will be next?  This is a film about romance or more specifically, the romanticized gesture that a life different than our own would somehow be better.

Woody Allen’s films tend to be very polarizing; people either love them or hate them.  Whether this means they are really good or really bad or just that he makes films with narrow appeal, the jury is still out.  The last Woody Allen film I thoroughly enjoyed was Match Point.  The clever plot and unassuming storyline of that film built up perfectly into a tense crescendo of disbelief and uneasy excitement; completely not something I would expect Allen could accomplish based on his past filmography.  Match Point was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2005.  Midnight in Paris, has been nominated for four Academy Awards including, Best Picture, Best Director as well as Best Original Screenplay.  The similarities of the two films is subtle but apparent; both are set in European countries, both have despicable characters that reflect modern thinking and behavior and both center around a search for fleeting happiness.   The biggest difference between the two is how the main characters carry themselves and the means in which they use to find their way through what is before them.

 

Midnight in Paris is beautifully shot on location and the supporting staff combined with the set pieces, costumes and incredible jazz-infused soundtrack will easily transport you to another time and place.  By the time the credits roll, you will be calling your travel agent, visiting a local museum, or at the very least heading to your local bookstore for some literary classics.  Hopefully you will come out of the film realizing that, while the past is a grand place to visit, we shouldn’t underestimate the moments in front of us or under appreciate the time we live in now, because it is all what you make of it.

 California Croque Madame

As you will see, I went for California invading France (without wine). The fatty Croque Madame is typically a melted ham sandwich with Gruyère oozing over the bread and covered with a fried or poached egg. I first learned about the Croque Madame at my favorite local breakfast spot, Sideboard. There is an eggless version, called the Croque Monsieur. I was given the lowdown on both sandwiches by my dear friend with the double-threat English major/Lawyer Juliet. I’m always learning new words from her, she’s awesome.

So, to add a bit of Hollywood to the Croque Madame, I tossed in some spinach and avocado. Nothing says California like green produce, I guess! The best way to create a melted cheese and ham opened face sandwich, is in the broiler. Just don’t go do a load of laundry while you wait, you will end up burning your food to a crisp. Every single time. Mom, are you reading this?

So, that’s what to eat while you get cozy on the couch and watch Midnight in Paris. Juliet, you would love this movie. She loves all things British, and France is close to England, so I’m gonna go out on a limb with the recommendation. Happy Friday Eve!

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