On February 7, 2024

The Movie Diary: Tripping the light fantastic


I had landed in Paris after an overnight flight, found my hotel room in the city center, and was now ready to begin my adventure. I had been planning this trip for years, and now the events were finally unfolding. 

Looking back, it may have been a bit of a midlife crisis. I was in my mid-40s and starting to wonder, “Is this all there is?” To combat the dark thoughts, I’d decided that I needed to go on an adventure and immerse myself in life’s grandeur. And what better place to do that than Paris, France.

For as long as I could remember, the city of Paris had captivated me. There was something about the history, art, and architecture, that appealed to all my senses. I had been there once in my early 30s as a stopover, but never got to see much. But that quick experience secured in me a commitment that I would one day return to truly give the city the attention that it deserved. 

When I finally got back there (over a decade later), I was prepared for every step, having plotted my course through the city and its most valuable sites.

I wanted to start things off with something awe-inspiring, so I made my way over the Seine to stand directly in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. I was immediately captivated by the sheer grandeur of the iconic Gothic masterpiece. I stood outside analyzing the façade trying to imagine how Middle Age masons constructed such intricate designs and statues with rudimentary tools.

Once I walked inside, a profound sense of awe washed over me as I entered the soaring nave, its majestic columns reaching skyward. The sheer height and intricate design of the vaulted ceiling was captivating.

I wandered slowly at first, just to take in everything I could see, but then started to focus on more specific areas, most notably, the stained glass windows. Each pane told a story, a testament to the artistic mastery and devotion of those who had crafted the celestial narratives. 

I wandered around the church for two hours before finally making my way out into the street again. 

I then meandered along the Seine, the Eiffel Tower looming in the distance. I made my way to its base and strolled around with the thousands of other tourists. I didn’t feel compelled to make my way upward while fighting the crowds, so after a short time, I moved on.

The next day I meandered through the intricate streets of Montmartre, I ascended the steps to Sacré-Cœur, perched high above the city. Paris was sprawled out below, a patchwork of rooftops and landmarks. I did my best to avoid the scammy street vendors so I could take in the vista. 

I then ambled over to where the street artists congregated. I spent the afternoon looking at the painters at work before finally settling in at a café where I had lunch and people-watched. (It should be noted that the food in Paris is as exquisite as the sightseeing.)

I spent the next several days on a trek through Paris’ greatest museums. I strolled through the halls of the Louvre for two entire days finding myself face-to-face with masterpieces that I had only seen in textbooks, on screens, or printed on mousepads (which were readily available to purchase). 

Even the darker exhibits of Paris, like the catacomb tours (where hundreds of thousands of human bones are displayed to the eerie delight of onlookers), were magnificent in their own way.So, if you’re ever feeling the need to have the spark of your life reignited, I suggest a trip to Paris. I have never been anywhere else in the world that had such an immense amount of awe-inspiring content crammed into such a small space.

In this week’s feature, “Saltburn” starring Academy Award nominee Barry Keoghan (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), we meet a young man who also finds himself on an awe-inspiring tour when he spends the summer at a classmate’s estate in the countryside of England. What transpires is a tale of desire and privilege wrapped in a complex web of twisted relationships.

This is the film everyone is talking about, mostly because of the morbid sexuality displayed in several of the scenes. I won’t go into detail, but if you are easily offended, you may want to shy away from this one. With that said, the film still offers an insidiously entertaining storyline.

Check this one out if you want to be part of the water cooler chat. “Saltburn” encompasses some fantastic acting intertwined with a perverse scenario. But even if you think you see the conclusion coming, you’re in for some surprises. 

A distorted “B-” for “Saltburn,” now available to stream on Netflix.  

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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