Friday, December 9, 2011

Notes on Pop Culture: Keaton's Memoir, 'The Descendants,' 'Boss' Rules & Meeting 'Morning Joe'

Diane Keaton’s Charming Memoir

Perhaps Diane Keaton’s Then Again, should be called a “mom-ior” instead of a memoir as Keaton decided that instead of simply writing about her life and loves (Allen, Beatty, Pacino among them), she’d write an autobiography in which she parallels her story with that of her housewife mother Dorothy Hall, someone whom Keaton called the most influential person in her life.

After I finished reading the moving and endearing book -- I was especially fond of Keaton’s honesty and self-effacement -- I wrote a column about it and Keaton's attachment to her mom.

One little nugget of trivia which I found cool: Keaton's parents nicknamed her "Di-Annie." Her given surname was Hall. Di-Annie Hall. Yes, Woody Allen based the flighty lead character of his Oscar winning film Annie Hall on Keaton, whom he’d dated, and some of the characters, including Grammy Hall (which is what Keaton called her father’s loan shark of a mother), were loosely based on Keaton’s family members.

After spending several hours languishing in Keaton's world -- and learning that she drives her kids to very early swimming practices while she sits in her car and waits for them -- I've developed a hankering to see Annie Hall again. I’m also curious about Reds, which I’ve never seen, as Keaton said she thoroughly despised her character when the film was shooting and only emotionally opened up to it during the “train station” scene.

Image credit: Fox Searchlight
The Descendants Asks How Well We Know Our Parents

In the same week in which I finished Aimee Bender’s quirky, cool novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake -- where the protagonist discovers she can discern the feelings of the person who made or harvested her food by tasting it – I also laughed and sniffled my way through the new George Clooney film, The Descendants. When I exited the theater, I was surprised to discover similar themes in both the movie and the book I’d just read, hence my column which asked the question of whether we ever really know our parents, or our children for that matter.

In The Descendants, Clooney plays a distant husband with two kids, who learned, after his wife was critically injured and in a coma, that she’d been cheating on him. The film explores what happens when we open our eyes and really see what’s right in front of you and the fallout when you hide parts of yourself from the ones you love.

In the book, the lead character Rose, who is a child when the book begins, is horrified to discover by tasting the food they made that her mother is severely depressed, her father is dissatisfyingly withdrawn and her older brother is plagued with all manner of unhappy problems. This was knowledge Rose really wished she didn't have.

I didn’t wind up happening upon any unique answers to the question of whether you can really know anybody all that well, but I was thoroughly entertained and moved by both.

Boss Rules

Over on the TV blog to which I contribute – CliqueClack TV -- they recently had a poll asking readers to vote for their favorite new fall show. While I really like some of the top vote-getters like Homeland and Once Upon a Time (which I cover for CliqueClack TV), I made the argument that, despite the fact that Boss is on Starz, which artificially limits the number of viewers it has, it is the shining dark freshman show of the fall season.

After comparing Kelsey Grammer’s fictional Chicago Mayor Tom Kane to Tony Soprano, I wrote: "For a news and political junkie like myself, Boss has everything. It’s like The West Wing, only meaner, more sinister, more profane, violent and set in the gritty underbelly of Chicago politics. And if Grammer doesn’t win an Emmy for best actor in a drama, that’ll be a crime.”

Its first season has been stellar. If you have the chance to check it out, do.

Meeting Morning Joe

I’ve written here numerous times about my love of the MSNBC morning chat show Morning Joe. It’s on my TV every weekday morning, entertaining me, challenging me, angering me and informing me. I’m a fan of the fundamental organizing conceit of the show: To have rational, intellectual discussion about the important issues of the day without chopping everything down to soundbites and without demonizing one political side or the other. Both sides get a voice.

Thus when I attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston this week, where Morning Joe’s hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski gave the keynote address, and learned that they’d be meeting and greeting folks and signing books, I had to get in line.

They were very gracious and Joe Scarborough was incredulous when I told him that my kids watch Morning Joe along with me as they get ready for school and that my fifth grader has actually gone to school and had arguments with his classmates over tax policy. True story.

The photo quality is pretty cruddy – what do you want from a BlackBerry camera? – but the smiles were genuine.

Image credits: Amazon, Fox SearchlightAmazon.

1 comment:

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Thanks for sharing this post. It is good you got impressed by the honesty of Keaton’s after reading.