Monday, April 28, 2014

Let's Just Bot Say Anything

       I have always been a fan of Diane Keaton.  You might say we go way back.  This is because we are exactly the same age.  I have admired her work as well as Diane-the-person for many years.  Imagine, then, my delight at seeing an article  dedicated just to Diane in a magazine I'd never seen before.  The name of the magazine is MORE.  (Or LESS. You can decide if you read this to its conclusion.  I probably will.  You should, too.)  In this issue, the title was printed in bright Kelly green.  But what made it so special was a cover shot of my very own Diane Keaton - smiling impishly behind black-rimmed glasses, wearing a fashionably 'Diane' black and white plaid suit, crisp white shirt and black bow tie.  Making the image even more fetching, she had her hands clasped behind her head, elbows facing the sky, framing her glowing blond hair. (Did I mention the 'chiclet'- white smile?)
       The interview, "On the Art of Being Yourself", was crisply penned  by Margot Dougherty.  It begins, "'Hello!' Diane Keaton sings, walking into a beachside restaurant in Santa Monica."  Meticulously describing a very chic and tailored long sleeved white blouse over polka dot capris, bottomed off with telephone-climbing boots, she allows as how, looking fantastic, 68 year-old Diane Keaton ". . .owns it." (I daresay, I, for one, was happy to hear it.  Indeed, it is hoped that she is the sole proprietress.)
       Margot then announces the vehicle that will justify her article's title, Diane's new book, "Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty".  Our reporter tells us the book "is an honest, moving, eloquent and sometimes funny pastiche of memories and contemplations of beauty and aging, family and friends." Keaton tells us that she wrote snatches at a time (And you'll see why I'll certainly not go there) because "I'm not a writer." (This statement  confirmed the 'honesty' aspect of the book's description.) Rather she likes to talk it and then  read the book over and over.  Somehow that statement turns the phrase proofreading into an oxymoron.
       This introduction is but prelude to the treat of an excerpt from Diane's book.  Unfortunately it speaks for itself and presumably in its final draft order. The sample begins with a shopping list of qualities that Diane admires in women: outspoken, eccentric, funny, flawed, inappropriate, sassy, strong, brilliant and having their own style or stamp are among them.  Perhaps, by way of illustration, this olio leads into a discussion of a shared experience Diane had with her daughter, Dexter.
       Reading a story, "Top 10 Female Celebrities Who Are Ugly No Matter What Hollywood Says", Dexter was shocked to see that number five was Diane Keaton.  The article author granted that she (Diane) was "old as dirt" but pointed out she was ugly even when young in the film The Godfather.  Diane immediately went to the mirror and reminded herself sternly of the many blessings, friends, family and gifts that she had. Along with her ability to "think, to a point. . .", she could see - "the gift that keeps giving".  By way of example, Diane tells us that seeing "is far more enriching than being seen." An odd comment to be made by a woman whose career is defined by the latter.  Don't you think?
       Diane then shares the fact that the favorite part of her body is her eyes.  She then quickly clarifies, explaining that this is because of what they can see, certainly not because of their color or shape.  The reader must then endure a smarmy and self serving paragraph about seaside cliff views, flaws that become animated and the "ineptness [sic] that makes you who you are." In an uncharacteristically dogmatic tone, she informs us, "I'm talking about women who make us see beauty where we never saw it." (After that, color me 'kept on point'.)
       In what has now become a typically unrelated segue, Ms. Keaton describes her living room wall as sharing space with 48 portraits of "men I've collected over 25 years.  I call them prisoners." A  lineup of modern and historical gentlemen of some notoriety then follows.  Departing from the mundane into the more dicey, she points out that Warren Beatty is not one of the prisoners.  She tells us that Warren was someone whom she loved in real life, "not reel life" and that he was  stunning, especially from the right side.  She sums up by saying that he was indeed a beauty, a fact that made their breakup even more poignant and painful.
       Moving along to what might just be her book's main schematic theme, she poses a "question for Warren and all of my prisoners on the wall." She is curious as to when they began to worry about the effect of time on their faces, if they worried at all.  After providing a brief selection of male actors who would be considered 'lookers', she provides as well the ages of those still on the screen and wonders "how they are handling the loss." Apparently from firsthand knowledge, Warren, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson have just let it go.  Diane feels this is probably the most gracious thing to do.
       Then, in an interesting bit of autobiography, she prattles on about how most women, herself included, handle the physical 'disappointments' of aging.  She admits to being a senior citizen, as am I (you will recall we are the same age.)  In fact, like Diane, over the years I have appeared as my normal self and have also enjoyed some 'Annie Hall' periods.
I said I was a fan, not that we looked alike.  But at Thirty-Five-ish, this was me.  Most likely, Diane was  Annie Hall in that era.  There have been times when I wished I were as well.  
Of course, Diane has maintained her Annie Hall looks - although she maintains that  "the most thrilling part of my face is its ability to express feelings.". This thrill quite logically leads us to her meeting and relationship with Al Pacino. 
       "Picture this.". (Well give it your best shot with YOUR eyes.). They met in a bar in New York.  (I think I've got that one.). She was feeling awkward and of course neither knew they were about to "make a movie that would be considered one of the greatest films in American cinema.". (Can't relate.)  There was nothing nice about her thoughts.  "His face, his nose and what about those eyes?". She just kept trying to figure out how she was going to make them hers.  (Pretty strong when you consider the 'thing' she had going with HER eyes.). But as it turned out, they never were.  That seems to be the lure of Al Pacino to Diane Keaton: "For the next thirty years I kept losing a man I never had."
       She spends a few more paragraphs in the present dropping names and in on Woody Allen one day when she had time to kill while filming in Connecticut.  (By now, though, she had concluded that for women like herself and her peers - who have been separated from reality by fame - each morning they grappled with this great leveling experience, getting up, looking in the mirror and sighing - being old.) 
       Having been friends with Woody for 43 years, it seemed fitting that the inclusion of him in this excerpt was most fitting.  She dropped in and they took a walk on Madison Avenue, a habit from days gone by.  Looking in shop windows, they also saw those who were looking at them.  After running into Paul McCartney and his new bride, they headed back.  The chance meeting, she felt, was sweeter because it would probably be their last one.  Diane was 67.  Woody, 77.  She tells us she could almost hear Jimmy Durante singing, "Oh, it's a long, long while from here to December, but the days grow short when you reach September."
       (Before you get all soppy about Diane and aging, know that she's just finished a movie with Michael Douglas and one with Morgan Freeman in which they kiss.  "I have a list of all the men I've kissed in movie affairs.". She recently mentioned the fact that the only leading man she 'missed' was Matthew McConaughey during an awards presentation.  Mathew was in the audience and came running up to the stage to render her list complete.  "It was so much fun!.  I'm going to use that trick a lot.")
       But getting back to Jimmy.  He didn't have 48 prisoners on his living room wall.  Nor did he keep a list of leading ladies whom he had kissed.  He had Mrs. Kalabash and that seemed to elicit a doffing of his hat every time the curtain came down.  Ms. Keaton wanted to say, "We've reached September, Wood.", but kept it as a thought.  Thoughtful of her, given she was moving on to Michael Douglas
       I'll be 'moving on' as well but do not feel I've "reached September.". I'll never stop 'reaching' - nor should you.  As for Diane Keaton, well, I've not yet read the entire book, but from the odd feeling I had reading the excerpt, I wish she HAD just SAID it wasn't pretty and kept us guessing - or not.  I don't believe her "days are short" but I DO believe she's "not a writer."
Later, Lorane. . . .
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