The Old Ennui and the Lost Generation

By A. O. SCOTT (The New York Times)
Published: May 19, 2011

Owen Wilson with the marvellous view of Midnight In Paris

The definitive poem in English on the subject of cultural nostalgia may be a short verse by Robert Browning called “Memorabilia.” It begins with a gasp of astonishment — “Ah, did you once see Shelley plain?” — and ends with a shrug: “Well I forget the rest.” Isn’t that always how it goes? The past seems so much more vivid, more substantial, than the present, and then it evaporates with the cold touch of reality. The good old days are so alluring because we were not around, however much we wish we were.

“Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen’s charming new film, imagines what would happen if that wish came true. It is marvelously romantic, even though — or precisely because — it acknowledges the disappointment that shadows every genuine expression of romanticism. The film has the inspired silliness of some of Mr. Allen’s classic comic sketches (most obviously, “A Twenties Memory,” in which the narrator’s nose is repeatedly broken by Ernest Hemingway), spiked with the rueful fatalism that has characterized so much of his later work.

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A Separation

By: Peter Bradshaw (

A family at war … A Separation.

An unhappily married couple break up in this complex, painful, fascinating Iranian drama by writer-director Asghar Farhadi, with explosive results that expose a network of personal and social faultlines. A Separation is a portrait of a fractured relationship and an examination of theocracy, domestic rule and the politics of sex and class – and it reveals a terrible, pervasive sadness that seems to well up through the asphalt and the brickwork. In its depiction of national alienation in Iran, it’s comparable to the work of Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. But there is a distinct western strand. The film shows a middle-class household under siege from an angry outsider; there are semi-unsolved mysteries, angry confrontations and family burdens: an ageing parent and two children from warring camps appearing to make friends. All these things surely show the influence of Michael Haneke’s 2005 film Hidden. Farhadi, like Haneke, takes a scalpel to his bourgeois homeland.

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‘Kiseki (I Wish)’ – MARK SCHILLING

Engineering a miracle is child’s play — and anything but a cynical tearjerker


Hirokazu Koreeda has risen to heights of international critical esteem that few of his generation can equal. An American film journal recently devoted nearly an entire issue to his films (with this reviewer contributing). But what foreign critics and fans often think they are getting — a director carrying on the humanistic traditions of Japanese cinema’s 1950s and 1960s Golden Age — is not quite what Koreeda is delivering.

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