Things to do on a Paris Rainy Day

We awoke to the rainiest day yet, rain so forceful hard that our umbrellas did little to protect us—it was beautiful. Ken, stubborn husband that he is, didn’t bring an umbrella because he “hates” umbrellas but today he gladly mooches off me. Anna and I name him the umbrella moocher as he tries, to no avail, to stay dry beneath our umbrellas.  We decide to make our way to the D’Orsay Museum as an indoor activity along with every other tourist in Paris. The square next to the D’orsay looks like a flower garden with all the umbrellas sprouting up. The line didn’t move an inch while we stood there.  We decided to go to the movies instead of waiting in line to see Beginners—afterall the French love the cinema and going to a matinee is as common as café au lait.

Here’s the cool thing about seeing movies in Paris. Most movies made in the U.S. are shown in Paris in their original English with French subtitles. The other thing you should know is that popcorn in France is awful. It’s been popped somewhere else and brought in bags so it’s stale–save the calories for a creme brulee after the movie.

Last night we went to see Tree of Life, winner of the Palme d’Or, top honor at the Cannes Film Festival. We spent 2 ½ hours watching this film unfold and when we left I said, “What the hell?” Sure it was cinematically ambitious with sumptuous scenes from the creation of heaven and earth, vignettes of dinosaurs, tableaux of oceans with tumultuous waves. What did it all mean? Is God listening? One reviewer called this movie a visual poem and maybe that is what it is. I didn’t find any reviews that loved the film, but like the Emporer’s New Clothes, no one said the king is naked.  Am I a heathen to say the film didn’t move me. I would retitle it “Brad Pitt’s Ode to Himself.”

On the contrary, Beginners, the film we saw today, made me feel almost too much. The acting was superb with Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and the French actress Melanie Laurent. It is a partly autobiographical story about Oliver, a young man who has a relationship with Anna, a French actress, shortly after his father’s death.  The father, Hal, after 40 years of marriage to Oliver’s mother, had recently come out of the closet.  Oliver navigates a choppy sea of emotions—feelings about Hal’s partner Andy, love of Hal’s Jack Russell terrier Arthur, loss of his beloved father Hal, and new emotions/feelings about Anna.  I laughed out loud and also had to fight  not to sob out loud. When Beginners was over and the credits were rolling Ken said, “Now that’s a film!”

We walked outside after the movie and the sun was shining. I felt that was God’s symbolic way of saying that Beginners is the better  movie.  Of the two films one won a at Cannes but another won our hearts.

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