Signs of our times: we went to a 14th Street theatre to see The Martian. It was like an airport. We scaled the complex’s heights on a series of elevators.Then waited in line to have our backpacks, etc. examined. Sir Ridley Scott directed the movie. Internationally we’re joined at the hip so I guess it makes sense for a Brit to direct the all American The Martian. Mars is American, too. Matt Damon, stranded on Mars, grows potatoes in his own excrement, strews the landscape with rubbish, flashes his buffed butt and leaves notes about not destroying a machine because it saved his life. See what I mean about being American? The movie is achingly politically correct. The captain of the team that deserted Matt is a woman with not a hair out of place. Having made the initial mistake of thinking our hero was dead and leaving Mars without him, the captain is the one who, in the last hours of the movie, straps herself into nine hundred pounds of tech stuff and saves him. Matt Damon was perfect and Ridley Scott is a master at building tension. What was pathetic was our American need to be popular, to be loved. Scenes of the Chinese -yes, the Chinese – applauding and the rest of the world holding its breath as our brave astronaut is saved. Will the day come when we Americans applaud others with the same fervor we expect from them? I doubt it.
We went to one of the few old time movie houses in Manhattan to see a documentary about Peggy Guggenheim. Peggy had only five hundred thousand dollars in the early fifties. Poor dear. She picked up her palazzo on the Venetian Grand Canal for a song. The next fifty years were spent collecting modern art, sleeping with artists, getting married and divorced and swanning around Venice with her dogs in the last private gondola. The documentary brought back memories of Venice. Entering the Guggenheim in Venice long ago was like coming very late to a cocktail party. That’s changed. Now, the Venice Guggenheim is well run and packed.
Peggy Guggenheim’s gondola is in the Maritime Museum, a wonderful place that shows how wedded Venice, la Serenissima, is to the sea.