Saturday, March 15, 2014

We Can Be Heroes: Shoulder pads are not for the weak

There is a scene early in the movie Because I Said So where Diane Keaton creates a personal ad for her perpetually single daughter, Milly, played by Mandy Moore (why Mandy Moore would have a problem landing a man is beyond me but whatever, I have suspended my disbelief for films more outlandish than this). Anyway, the ad ends up being something like 1000 words (which is ridiculously expensive) and attracts exactly the type of men (and a few women if I remember correctly) that you would expect. Keaton's Daphne does this without her daughter's permission and then proceeds to interview potential suitors. Several stars of WB/CW and USA shows make appearances, hilarity ensues, multiple cakes are destroyed for no good reason, and everyone finds love. Also, Lauren Graham gets to be married to the sheriff from Eureka. Even if nothing else interesting happened in this movie, I would consider that last part a win.

I saw this movie in the theatre with my mother. It's not a great movie nor is is the worst movie that came out that year (Good Luck Chuck was also released that year - it is legitimately horrible). The cast is pleasant, the kitchens are to die for, and the sheriff from Eureka and the musician are nice to look at. I also really loved the polka dot dresses Diane and Mandy wear. There are two key takeaways from this movie: 1. Diane Keaton is amazing no matter what and 2. At least my mother understands boundaries enough and has never put a personal ad out into the world for me. At least I don't think she has. It's very possible that my mother has done this, interviewed all the eligible men in the greater DC area, and decided that none of them were worthy of her daughter. Doubtful but possible.

There are several constants in my favorite Diane Keaton films: her ability to wear hats and furs, never being lost in a sea of actors (she's tends to star opposite of actors who take up a lot of space), graceful awkwardness, and her magnificent ability to convey the entire emotion of a scene with a look or a gesture. There are so many moments that just slay me and she doesn't say anything. She's also incredibly funny - so many of her roles are in great dramas but she's such a phenomenal comedienne. One of my favorite quotes from her memoir Then Again is about humor, "Humor helps us get through life with a modicum of grace. It offers one of the few benign ways of coping with the absurdity of it all."

My favorite films include The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Reds, Annie Hall, Baby Boom, and The First Wives Club (it's also not a great movie but seriously, Goldie, Bette, and Diane - amazing). Even in her most vulnerable moments on screen, you can see the strength of the character. And so fashionable! I covet her wardrobe in almost all of her films but could never wear half of it (it wouldn't look like me). From her vintage menswear looks to the elegance of a mafia wife to those polka dot dresses with belts, she just makes it look easy. Let's talk shoulder pads for a minute: I'm not entirely sure if my memory is correct but I seem to recall in Baby Boom that even her bathrobe had shoulder pads.That takes courage. Another fun acting fact: she was in the original cast of the musical Hair but refused to do the nude scene at the end of the first act. You do you, Diane Keaton. You should also listen to original cast recording on this song; these are my earliest memories of Diane Keaton - I was obsessed with this musical in high school.

Acting chops aside, Diane is also a writer, producer, director, photographer, and apparently has been successful in real estate (thanks for that little nugget Wikipedia). That's an incredible hyphenate. She's also a mother (she adopted two children) and never married.

That's a lot to admire and this could be where I stop but there's one more thing that I admire about Diane Keaton - she wants to age. A reoccurring topic in her memoir (which focus on her mother's writing as well) was her relationship with beauty and beauty standards. She has always spoken out against plastic surgery and altering one's appearance to fit a beauty standard that isn't natural. I love this quote from More magazine, "I'm stuck in this idea that I need to be authentic... My face needs to look the way I feel." It's not about altering your looks but being healthy and taking care of yourself. At the end of it, it's about being you and being happy with being you. The flaws (as Diane Arbus tells us), are what we notice. I would argue that the flaws are what make a person them so I applaud Diane for always being herself, flaws and all.

"Memories are simply moments that refuse to be ordinary." Diane Keaton, Then Again

Photo credits:
Annie Hall1
Because I Said So
Video links from YouTube

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