Over in the East Mountains, as we say here in Albuquerque, on the other side of the Sandia, there is a remarkable museum done by a remarkable person. He was an artist, in part making his living by painting scenes for the circus. A rare ability – no layout, no draft – just start painting, and he gets it right the first time. He carved elements of many of the dioramas in the museum. Entering the museum, he taunts: “this is what I did while you were watching TV.”
His wife thought he was having an affair. Strange disappearances. He was in his early ‘50’s. Eventually it became apparent that he had Alzheimer’s. For unknown reasons, it is different when you are relatively young, like in your 50’s. It is usually fatal, as it was for him. He was dead at 59. Before he left us, he produced a painting that truly haunts: his bearded, nude self is standing in front of a mine shaft. Above the mine shaft are the paintings of CT scans of his brain. He realizes that he is losing it and provides the subject quote as the title to his painting.
Harry MacQueen directed “Supernova,” which was released this year. Colin Firth plays Sam and Stanley Tucci plays Tusker. They play the part of an aging gay couple who have been partners for 20 years. They are traveling across England in their also aging camper van – just like in the days of yore. They are still touchingly in love, having accommodated the idiosyncrasies of each other, much like in a successful heterosexual marriage. Sam is a musician, at a level that people will pay money to hear him play. Tusker is a writer.
Where were you in the ‘70’s? They reminisce. “Try and Catch the Wind” plays in the background. They drive on roads with no other cars; they camp with no one else around. How is this splendid New Mexico “elbow room” possible in crowded England?
The movie is painfully slow at the beginning, enough to cost it a star, I think. But I decide to become a bit more mellow and let MacQueen do his thing. Fittingly, like Sam the musician, I realize that MacQueen is doing “Bolero,” the steady increase in intensity. One is told that Tusker is terminally ill. In part, or entirely, it is not clear, he has Alzheimer’s. He tells his partner, Sam: “Very soon I will look into your face and not know who is staring back at me.”
There is a party of old friends. The skies above play into the movie, with Tusker’s interest in the stars. Hence the movie’s title, and how we are all a part of distant stars. Tusker wants to be in control of his own exit; Sam is extremely upset understanding the implications.
It is a great movie, particularly for those of us of a certain age. From 4-stars I raised my rating to 5-stars, plus. May we all be so lucid, and even understanding, before it is no longer mine.