Over the years, time and space have serendipitously come together far too many times at the movies for it to be just happenstance. On these magic yet all too rare occasions my cousin and I bump into each other standing on line in front of a movie theater waiting to see a show. Invariably what we wind up seeing is an exceptionally well directed and executed movie, whose quality is in marked opposition to what has come to be the standard fair of mediocre movies drown out by special effects in lieu of a script or anything else substantial -- emotional or otherwise.
Although having had a long career producing legitimate theater and television to support his theater habit, Cousin Joe still maintains a genuine naive sense of awe on these rare occasions we bump into each other as to how a quality movie starved public inexplicably finds their way to these all too rare great films with a relatively small budget that big studios have not been famous for getting behind.
One night last week at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica was no exception. There the American Cinematique Los Angeles screened Director James Marsh's flawless film based on the life of Stephen Hawking entitled The Theory of Everything, that was followed up by a Q & A with the stars of the film Eddie Redmayne, who plays Stephen Hawking, and Felicity Jones, who plays his first wife Jane Wilde.
While this film adaptation of English theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking's life could easily have degenerated into a voyeuristic and depressing journey into what was supposed to be an all too brief depressive history of Hawking's initially projected prognosis of a two-year lifespan allotted to someone diagnose with invariably fatal Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Hawking and wife Jane rather choose against all rational scientific evidence- that ironically is what Hawking is famous for- to rather live a love story and an incomparable life filled with achievement, children, and the comparatively mundane problems all married couples face after years together.
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What the audience is left with is a celebration of life under the most difficult circumstances that is well lived and a challenge to those of us whose problems pale in comparison to what Stephen and Jane had to face. With a disease designed to isolate the individual and keep others out, Jane and Stephen have a rich, long, and self-sacrificing love that is always vindicated by their never-challenged awareness that they have found in each other somebody who cares for the essence of who they are as much or sometimes maybe even more than any individual can care for themselves.
Like The Theory of Everything, The American Cinematique at the Aero and Egyptian theaters also defies expectations in offering a showcase for what is and has been the best in film. Here quality is the sole measure of that which is worth watching. Incidentally, while our technology and means of getting and sharing information has exponentially increased over the last few years, it has also isolated individuals into what has become a more and more pervasive self-imposed social ALS, where people communicate more with electronic devices than they do with each other on a truly social and face to face basis as occurred last night at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica.