Okay, normally I wouldn’t be caught dead watching a movie starring Jennifer Aniston. No offense to Jennifer, but her presence in a movie connotes adjectives like dumb, surface, and cute. (Okay, I’m willing to bet she’d find that summary a tad offensive. But what can I say? It’s true.)
But, here we were in the Florida rental, Henry in bed, limited cable…and no Netflix. We turned the place upside down and found a few DVDs the owners had left, the most palatable of which was “Rumor Has It,” the 2005 flick, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Aniston, Kevin Costner, Mark Ruffalo, Shirley MacLain, Richard Jenkins and Mena Suvari.
Here’s the plot summary: A young woman from Pasadena realizes that her now-dead mother both knew (and slept with) the guy who was the inspiration for the character, Benjamin, in “The Graduate.” And she wonders if she might be his daughter. (And whether her grandmother, played by MacLain, was Mrs. Robinson.) The rest of the movie is Aniston trying to figure out the truth.
It’s cute. In fact, it was better than I expected it to be. Shirley MacLain is good for a laugh or two, as usual. And there’s a bit of physical comedy from Jenkins, as Aniston’s father, that left us laughing out loud for a good five or ten minutes.
In short, if you’re ever stuck in a beach house with nothing else to watch, I wouldn’t suggest that you, say, play backgammon instead of watching this movie.
I had the normal upbringing with regard to movies, which is to say I went occasionally but nobody, including me, made too big a deal out of them. That changed in my mid-twenties, when I lived, for a brief and unhappy year, in Chicago. I knew few people, didn’t have a lot of work, was lonely, and needed to entertain myself. I discovered that I loved going to movies alone. That they left me in a contemplative, introspective state of mind that I really enjoyed.
When I moved to New York and began freelancing, I found that going to movies helped me write. I’d review my notes on a story, go to a movie, come back, sit down and the story—which had nothing at all to do with the movie—would just pour out. Maybe I was letting my subconscious work while the rest of my brain enjoyed itself. Maybe it was that contemplative state of mind I was talking about. Who knows? The only thing I really knew for sure was that it worked.
When I was writing my first book, I often saw a movie every morning as a prelude to the afternoon’s work. That meant I saw A LOT of movies, some great, some awful. You can’t be too picky when you’re seeing movies at that pace. My favorite movie experience during that time was when I went to see “Lord of the Rings.”
I had not read the books. It was long. I hadn’t read any reviews—I almost never read reviews (too many spoilers, and the critics’ views have a way of worming their way into your brain). I wasn’t totally thrilled about it, but I had few other choices. It was lunchtime, and on the way I stopped, on impulse, at Murray’s and got a sesame bagel with whitefish salad. And I picked up my customary enormous diet coke on the way in.
Well. The movie was beautiful—it was shot in New Zealand—and enormously entertaining. It had Ian Mackellan in it (a big plus), and the bagel with whitefish salad and (it almost goes without saying) the diet coke were sublime. And it was a LONG movie. So I really got to relish the experience. It was, in short…perfection. And that, my friends, is how this blog--which is, in essence, a movie lover's diary--got its name.