Paris Back When the Modernist Feast Was First Moveable

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

Paris isn’t what it once was. And neither is PBS.

And for that reason alone, “Paris the Luminous Years” is as illuminating about the state of public television as it is about Paris at the dawn of modernism. This film, which has its premiere on PBS on Wednesday, looks at the city that seduced the likes of Picasso, Chagall, Apollinaire, Diaghilev and of course, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. It pays homage, though, not in the seditious, inventive spirit of the avant-garde that Paris once nurtured, but in the time-tested, didactic and dutiful tone of a typical PBS documentary.

Paris is still a wonderful city, but it no longer draws the world’s most innovative artists and thinkers. PBS is still a serious, responsible institution that shows good work, but creativity and élan have migrated to other networks and cable channels....

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