Infatuation with the past is not a new concept.

Midnight in Paris

Sony Pictures Classics
At Rave and State Theater

Not only has historic Woody Allen explored the romanticized, nostalgic human condition (particularly of Americans), but such spanned avenues have also addressed the concept: the blog “Stuff White People Like,” Billy Joel and modern day perception of President Reagan.

Regardless, Allen brings this perpetual rose-colored-glasses point of view toward the “Golden Era” to the screen of “Midnight in Paris” with paradigm finesse.

The picture opens with extended montage of Paris from dusk to lamp-lit streets, the magic much enhanced by the scratchy record sound of “Let’s Do It” by Cole Porter (newcomer Yves Heck appears as Porter in the roaring ’20s bar scene) and Sidney Bechet’s “Si Tu Vois Ma Mère.”

As soon as we are grounded in the mise-en-scène of Parisian tourist life we meet the vacationing couple — radical dreamer Gil Pender (Owen Wilson, “Wedding Crashers”), who believes the city is its most beautiful in the rain, and his less than amicable fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams, “Sherlock Holmes”).

Gil is a modern day Woody Allen in the City of Light instead of the Big Apple — he’s got lovable awkward protagonist on lockdown with a bit of thanatophobia up his plaid cuffed sleeve.

Unfortunately, Gil taking leave from his screenwriting Hollywood job to write a book about a nostalgia shop leads Inez to belittle his nonsensical admiration for the charm of the past and become increasingly taken by her friend Paul (Michael Sheen, “Frost/Nixon”), who happens to believe that “nostalgia is denial of a painful present” and possesses detailed knowledge of wine and Rodin … which Gil finds offensively pedantic.

When Paul, his wife Carol (Nina Arianda, “Win Win”) and Inez go dancing, Gil goes for an innocent stroll and winds up lost in cobblestone-paved alleyways. At the classic Midnight, bells ring and an old school Peugeot pulls up to the curb. Gil jumps in and winds up in a world of flapper dresses, cigarettes, the Charleston, gloves and Cole Porter tunes, where he meets Zelda (Allison Pill, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) and F.Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston, “Thor”).

Whisked away to Zelda’s favorite coffee shop, we meet none other than Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll, “Salt”) who agrees to give Gil’s book a read. Only a few steps out the door, he gets half a hold of his flustered, giddied self and turns back to make plans of where to meet but the swanky old coffee bar has been replaced by a 21st-century laundromat.

The reality hits Gil (until the clock strikes Midnight again) and the satire hits the fleapit. It becomes even more obvious as the film unfolds with excursions further into the 1890s where Gil’s time-travel-crush, Adriana (Marion Cotillard, “Inception”), aches to live in the time of Toulouse-Lautrec.

The moment when Gil reads his name in Adriana’s love journal from the “past,” it is no longer a plausible dream fantasy that Wilson is acting in but rather Allen dipping into slapstick humor with ease.

Furthermore, when the detective gets lost in Bastille era trying to find Gil — shit hits the satirical fan. It becomes quite plausible that Allen is commenting on supernatural sci-fi flicks and choosing to be cheesy, which makes his 44th film all the more enjoyable.

Allen’s film unravels as his rambling answer to the famous fantasy dinner party question — the picture flows through meet and greets not only with the Fitzgerald’s and Hemingway but Pablo Picasso (newcomer Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates, “Titanic”) and T.S. Eliot (David Lowe, “The Man in the Iron Mask”).

“Midnight” becomes an art history-philosophy-American literature test all rolled into one, where without a basic understanding of Salvador Dalí’s (Adrien Brody, “The Pianist”) surrealist influence, you lose a laugh or two.

Before the credits roll, Gil finds himself walking a pretty lady home in Parisian downpour — notably, a beautiful blonde who listens to Porter’s records and is game for walking in the rain.

Again, this seemingly sappy ending is a conceptual choice. Gil leaves the supernatural world of time travel but with the luck of Allen’s direction, finds a woman who might too be a modern day romantacizer of the “Golden Era.”

It feels just right for Allen to leave the audience with the idea that no matter how hard an artist tries to capture the beauty of a city like Paris, they never will — but surely lingering in an idealized imagination of that beauty is a pleasant possibility (for 94 minutes, that is).

“Purple Rose of Cairo” may be a more substantial presentation of the idea of escaping reality but “Midnight in Paris” gleams as Woody Allen’s medium for coping with the 21st century in a satirical and generous way.

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