American movie-goers have a complicated relationship with the musical. While we have no trouble accepting wholly unrealistic plotlines in superhero sagas or supernatural gore fests, if someone breaks into song, we're out. Music is a perfect medium for storytelling, and though spontaneously performing an elaborate number in the middle of a conversation is a little jarring, I don't understand why most of us are unable to accept it as a narrative tool. Director Christophe Barratier is unconcerned about the seeming reluctance of audiences to take musicals seriously--his Paris 36 is a film that is unabashed about the fact that it's a musical, one that doesn't assume a sense of irony about its production but embraces it in true Busby Berkeley fashion. Centered on the performers and stagehands of a down-on-its-luck Parisian music hall, this elaborate homage harks back to the glory days of the film musical, when audiences appreciated the escapist qualities and visual feasts provided by choreographed song-and-dance routines. This French film may not reign supreme at the American box office, but it is an attractive nostalgia piece that should reel in anyone looking for a little bit of an escape. Paris 36 plays as part of the Magnolia at The Modern series on Friday at 6 and 8:15 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Tickets are $8.50 and can be purchased before the show at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Visit themodern.org.
Fri., May 1, 6 & 8:15 p.m.; Sat., May 2, 5 p.m.; Sun., May 3, 2 & 4:15 p.m., 2009