Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stephen Hawking and Alex Colville - lucky husbands

A marvellous girl child exhorts us all about the importance of the Little Free Library and books. She made me cry.


Catch-up time: days have gone by, whole days! Where do they go? A brief overview:

- "The Theory of Everything" - a stunning bio-pic about Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane. Of course, I rushed home to check Google about how much was true and how much was invented for the film. Beware the second wife - if only Paul McCartney had known the truth about Stephen's #2 who apparently abused and assaulted him, which isn't shown in the film. But overall, it's gorgeous - fantastic acting, script, beautifully moving. The man was given 2 years to live and more than 50 years later is still going strong. If that isn't heartening, I don't know what is. Highly recommended.

- The Alex Colville exhibit at AGO - wonderful. I knew too little about this first-rate Canadian artist, such as that his pictures appear four times in the background of Kubrick's "The Shining," and have inspired other filmmakers, including the Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson. What's most moving is that - just like the Hawking film - this exhibit about a brilliant man becomes the story of a sustaining marriage. Alex and Rhoda were married more than 70 years; she raised four children and was his muse, often nude, which she did not enjoy. (Of one painting of her stark naked looking in the fridge, she says, "I would never go into the kitchen with no clothes on.")

But the incredible story I didn't know is that when she was nine, in the Twenties, her father, siblings and other relatives were in a car which was struck by a train, and all were killed. And Colville himself was a war artist who was there when Bergen-Belsen was liberated, and saw sights that haunted him forever. Suddenly, Colville's horse running straight at a train - his sense of drama, foreboding, evil and danger - guns, hidden faces, murky darkness - all make sense.

Colville is quoted as saying, "The difference between a person who's an artist and one who's not is that the artist is always gnawing away at this stuff." Love that, as someone who has spent a lifetime gnawing away. Highly recommended.

- "Page Eight", the first part of the fantastic BBC series written by David Hare starring Bill Nighy - as always, riveting television. At one point, Nighy's character is asked about his faith. "Faith?" he replies. "I have faith the sun will rise in the morning and I'll have a drink at six. That's my faith."

To which I said, Mine too! Only my drink is at five. Great writing. My friend Debra told me the brilliant play "Starlight," by Hare, starring Nighy and Carey Mulligan, is going to open on Broadway in April. Worth a trip to NYC.

And - a PBS special on Peter, Paul and Mary. Many tears. In the early morning rain, Oh Stewball was a racehorse, How many seas must the white dove sail ... My nylon string guitar and I knew them all. Such idealism and heart. A history of their times, too - 58,000 soldiers killed in Vietnam. The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. The wind is still blowin', Bob, and I ain't heard no answers yet.

It's cold.

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