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Extrait

Prisoners 

 

 on My 

 

Wall

 

As I throw my coat on the chair, I see Alexander Gardner’s 1865 portrait of Abraham Lincoln hanging on my living room wall. My first impression of President Lincoln came from a book I checked out of the Bushnell Way Elementary School library, Abe Lincoln: Log Cabin to White House, by Sterling North. In it President Lincoln fought to free the slaves. He was a great man who paid the ultimate price. Mr. North described Pres-ident Lincoln as unsightly, even homely. To a ten-year-old girl, that meant President Lincoln was ugly. I didn’t understand how an ugly man could become the president of the United States. Gardner’s photograph, taken just days before Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theatre, contradicts North’s description of a man who got shortchanged in the looks department.

 

Dominated by a pair of eyes set in darkness, Lincoln’s face is magnificent. His left eye, engaged by what it sees, looks out with endless empathy, while his right eye tells a story that is harder to comprehend. The bottom half of his face, framed by two deep lines, singles out his prominent nose, but it’s those eyes, particularly the left eye, the caring eye, the engaged eye, that is so compelling. Or is it? As my own eyes drift across Lincoln’s wide forehead, I look back into the right eye, the one drawn toward reflection, and you know what I see? I see the darkness of a great calling.

 

Did President Lincoln’s face become magnificent because he accepted a grave responsibility that would lead to a tragic end? Or was it the angle of Mr. Gardner’s pose, the light, the patina? Was it good luck or a fortunate mistake? After living with Mr. Lincoln’s portrait for several years, I’ve come to this conclusion: his beauty, like the hidden cast of his right eye, became identifiable only after I included “unsightly” as a possible way of describing a beautiful face.

 

Sharing wall space with Abraham Lincoln are forty-seven other portraits of men I’ve collected over twenty-five years. I call them my prisoners. There’s Robert Mapplethorpe’s portrait of the artist Francesco Clemente, who presents his hands from under a black coat. There’s Marion Robert Morrison’s face before he became John Wayne. On the bottom left, Tony Ward is painted with mud. His hands frame his eyes. Maybe he’s sick of looking out from under the dirt. Maybe he doesn’t want to be painted into a shadow; maybe he’s tired of being Herb Ritts’s favorite model. The face of the Russian revolutionary and poet Vladimir Mayakovsky stares out in shaved-head resistance. He brings up longings. I’d carry his coattails. I’d be his lackey. Next to the kitchen door, Elvis Presley is sticking his tongue into a young woman’s mouth. I never understood why he made millions of girls cry until I saw Albert Wertheimer’s Kiss in an ad for Sam Shepard’s play Fool for Love.

 

Which brings up Sam Shepard, who is framed dead center among the other prisoners on my wall. I was thirty-one when I went to a matinee of Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven at Cinema 1 on Third Avenue between Fifty-ninth and Sixtieth Streets in Manhattan. The movie seemed to glide though a brilliantly lit travelogue until Sam Shepard walked onto the screen and took my breath away. His face bore the imprint of the West in all its barren splendor. For years, I followed Sam’s life from the safety of distance, a fan’s distance. He was the playwright of Buried Child and True West. He worked with Bob Dylan. He was married. He fell out of marriage, and into love with Jessica Lange. He wrote, “When you’re looking for someone, you’re looking for some aspect of yourself, even if you don’t know it. What we’re searching for is what we lack.” And that’s the way it was. Some aspect of him was an aspect in me, an aspect I hadn’t developed, something I lacked. Or so I thought.

 

As life would have it, Sam slipped into the background until ten years later, when I inadvertently came across his face on a fifty-cent eight-by-ten glossy I bought at the Rose Bowl swap meet. The photograph was not exceptional except for one thing: Sam’s face. That damn face. A day doesn’t go by without a glance his way.

 

Gary Cooper also came to me in motion, but he wasn’t beautiful. What he was, was old. I saw him walking a dusty town’s deserted street toward four killers in Fred Zinnemann’s 1952 motion picture High Noon. The movie was told in “real time,” a time where events happened at the same rate that my ten-year-old eyes experienced them. Everything about the movie seemed super real. On Gary Cooper’s wedding day to Grace Kelly, he had a choice: he could either ride into the horizon with his pretty new bride or stay and face the killers. As a girl I didn’t think about Gary Cooper’s looks, or the difference between Grace Kelly’s age and his. I didn’t care. Would he ever see her again? Would he die? Did he have to be so brave? I remember their goodbye. I remember Tex Ritter singing “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’.” I remember crying. Looks weren’t the issue. Courage was. I didn’t know that courage was a form of beauty, but I must have felt it.

 

Imagine my surprise when I discovered Cecil Beaton’s photograph of a thirty-year-old drop-dead-gorgeous Gary Cooper. Beaton did more than document the awe-inspiring good looks; he somehow captured Gary Cooper’s awkward lack of calculation, his sweetness. Sometimes I compare the portraits of Gary Cooper and Sam Shepard. One photograph is of a man my age, still alive, still Sam. The other is an image of a legend I never met. Gary Cooper’s photograph is the work of an artist. Sam Shepard’s photograph is just another glossy eight-by-ten. Both, however, set off memories of milestone moments in movie theaters.

 

John Wayne’s is the youngest, most irresistible face framed behind glass. It’s ironic that he would become the ultimate symbol of the American male. There’s no hint of aspiration in his expression. He seems almost perplexed by the idea that someone is taking his picture. How could a football player from Glendale have imagined donning a big old ten-gallon hat for some guy with a Rolleiflex dangling around his neck? Before Gary Cooper and Sam Shepard, it was John Wayne, the Duke, who would walk through the western landscape and into the heart of Joan Didion, who describes him best: “We went three and four afternoons a week, sat on folding chairs in the darkened Quonset hut which served as a theater, and it was there, that summer of 1943 while the hot wind blew outside, that I first saw John Wayne. Saw the walk, heard the voice. Heard him tell the girl in a picture called War of the Wildcats that he would build her a house, ‘at the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.’ As it happened I did not grow up to be the kind of woman who is the heroine in a Western, and although the men I have known have had many virtues and have taken me to live in many places I have come to love, they have never been John Wayne, and they have never taken me to that bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow. Deep in that part of my heart where the artificial rain forever falls that is still the line I wait to hear.”

 

All three men came and went as they walked through time on the screen. All three acted out stories written for the entertainment of the masses, particularly women like me. All three are icons. Now they’re incarcerated on my wall, where their beauty continues to evolve. Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Sam Shepard still take me to Joan Didion’s “bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.” They still give me hope for a house that can never be—a home that exists only in my dreams.

 

Warren Beatty is not one of the prisoners on my wall. He is a person I loved in real time, not reel, and not in a photograph. Real-life Warren was a collector’s item, a rare bird. He lived in a three-room, eight-hundred-square-foot penthouse on top of the Beverly Wilshire hotel. Littered with books and scripts, the place was not fancy. Yet he owned an unfinished Art Deco estate on a hilltop, and he claimed he was going to make it his home. He was always late and always meeting people, and always, always, always working on a script. He had aspirations I couldn’t begin to contemplate. You have to remember, I was Annie Hall. At that point I was happy to act in movies, not produce, star, and direct them while contemplating a political career. One moment Warren was stunning, especially from the right side; the next, I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. These variables kept me curious. Was he a beauty or wasn’t he?

 

Yes. Warren was a beauty. That stood out with particular intensity during our bittersweet breakup. And wouldn’t you know it, it revolved around a photograph I saved but couldn’t find to put on my wall.

 

I was in Germany working on George Roy Hill’s The Little Drummer Girl in the early eighties. It was a difficult shoot. Picking me to play a British actress who finds herself embroiled in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was bad casting. Picture the poster: a silhouette of Diane Keaton with unusually well-endowed curves leaning against a semiautomatic rifle. Today you can buy it on eBay for a dollar ninety-nine, which is just about what The Little Drummer Girl made at the box office.

 

No matter how hard I tried to look butch holding an Uzi assault weapon or to master an English accent, I failed. To make matters worse, Warren and I weren’t speaking. On my days off, I would wander around Munich feeling sorry for myself. One Sunday at a flea market I came across a big picture book on the films of Warren Beatty. I bought it. Back in the hotel room, I cut out a picture of Warren from Bonnie and Clyde, folded it into small squares, put Warren in my jacket pocket, and brought him to work the next day. Before a particularly emotional scene, I took it out, unfolded Warren, and touched his face with my fingers. When I put my lips to his, all those months of straining for a crumb of feeling came flooding back. That’s what Warren’s face on the page of a broken-down book printed on cheap paper did to me before I shot a scene from The Little Drummer Girl.

 

At some point I lost the photo. In a way, I’m glad I did. It doesn’t belong with my other convicts. Warren was not a fantasy to ponder. I knew him well. He was not a mystery to contemplate. Sometimes I wonder if he enjoyed his beauty. Did he like what the mirror reflected? He knew that his pretty face, set on that masculine body, blessed with a great mind, would continue to seduce legions of women with incredible success decade after decade after decade. But did he know that, like all gifts, it came with a price tag?




From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

“Behind the sterling movie credits and tomboyish wardrobe, we see a soulful and deep woman contemplating the narrative arc of her own life.”Newsweek
 
“Delicious writing . . . This book is like a dishy lunch with the movie star you thought you’d never be lucky enough to meet. . . . Diane Keaton is in a class by herself and this book is good for the soul.”—Liz Smith, Chicago Tribune
 
“She’s talented, iconic, quirky . . . and wonderfully blunt. This is just a small sampling of the reasons we love Diane Keaton, and they all permeate the pages of her new memoir.”—Elle
 
“As disarming and personable as the actress herself.”—The Huffington Post
 
“Wise, witty, thoughtful, uplifting, the truth, unvarnished—and very funny.”Toronto Star


From the Hardcover edition.


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109 internautes sur 119 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Bittersweet Look Back...And Ahead 25 avril 2014
Par Geneva Lewis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Diane Keaton follows up her book, "Then Again," which was a look back at her own life, but especially viewed through the eyes of her parents' marriage and family life in southern California. She returns with "Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty," a book ostensibly about the difficulties of aging, compounded by her career (actress). This book doesn't stop at surface observations or pity one-liners, it is a complex and deep book about the life we think we should have versus the life we actually have, and is a celebration and examination of beauty in all its definitions and the struggles girls face beginning with the understanding of "beautiful" versus "pretty." From stories about Diana Vreeland to a philosophical jaunt to Victoria's Secret with her teenage daughter who has a $200 gift certificate burning in her pocket, this book is full of thought-provoking inspiration and humor.

What I also find the book to be is a free-form, artistic offering of reminiscences and realizations, regrets and observations of a life filled with challenges, disappointments, and some joy (thankfully). This is a melancholy book, of a woman with loss (her parents, lovers) but also a steely determination to Be Herself, an extraordinary accomplishment in itself, but particularly in the milieu of Hollywood. What I love best about this book is Keaton's bravery at showing her vulnerability from youth to today, which can be viewed in the world as a liability but at its essence is the secret to her enduring success and connection with audiences the world over. A thoughtfully wrought, creative, and illuminating view of an artist and a woman.
93 internautes sur 105 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An Intimate, Almost Painful Glimpse Into Diane Keaton's Life 28 avril 2014
Par E. M. Griffith - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
"Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty" will be released tomorrow, and it will be interesting to see how well it's received by fans of Keaton and readers in general. I came of age watching her onscreen. Loved her in a few of her roles. Admired her quirkiness, which seemed to make her more approachable/relate-able than other celebrities. When my pre-publication copy of her newest autobiography arrived, I truly wanted to love it. It's not surprising, though, that a few reviewers have already given it a 1 star rating.

Reading the introduction, this book almost seems to have been sparked by an online article titled 'Top 10 Female Celebrities Who Are Ugly No Matter What Hollywood Says', in which Keaton was number five. The writer refers to Keaton as being as old as dirt and ugly when she was younger. Which is unarguably a cruel, demeaning public opinion. Keaton seems to have taken it too much to heart; the 189 pages of "Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty" read like a cross between personal diaries and tabloid fodder. Most of the chapters meander. It's an *editor's* job to make a final draft flow with cohesiveness, so I won't fault Keaton there.

What I will say is she sometimes puts the capital M in TMI, and appears to be a walking, breathing contradiction in terms. For a mature, accomplished woman who admires (even embraces) individuality and advises women to be themselves proudly, she has a lot of dissatisfaction with just about every aspect of herself. There's humorous, mild, self-depreciation, and then there's ripping yourself to shreds unnecessarily... even painfully for the audience. Why? What's to be gained from it? And while her personal fashion style covers everything up, she lays her life and soul bare in this book. Or at least seems to. Including lingerie shopping with her teen aged daughter, sharing her daughter's sizes, style and color choices for the world to know. As a teenager, I would have wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole, or at least move to a remote island without access to books, television, internet, etc. if my mom shared that kind of information publicly. As a mostly mature woman myself now, I don't need to know what Woody Allen looks like when he gets out of the shower or how many towels he steps on to dry off. Just... TMI.

Keaton writes: 'No one wants to be a dilapidated, broken-down, beat-up, out-of-date, cast-off, worn-out, stale example of a human being. We worked hard to become who we are... For those of us who've been separated from reality by fame, being old is a great leveling experience.' That seems to sum up her book pretty well. And I feel extremely grateful I'm not a celebrity, because I look at the aging process very, very differently. It should be celebrated. My mom is a vibrant, very social, active 81 year old today who had stage 4 breast cancer almost 2 years ago. She not only survived a mastectomy and cancer treatment, it didn't level her. Every day is celebrated. As it should be. Sad that Keaton doesn't see it that way.
73 internautes sur 90 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Let's Just Say It Isn't Pretty or Worth Your Time 27 avril 2014
Par Lita Perna - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
If you like Diane Keaton you may not like this review. I like Diane Keaton too and I don't like this review. I hated writing it. I rarely give just one star.
I'll be brief and to the point. Diane Keaton should stick to acting. If you want to learn interesting things about Diane Keaton you won't find it here. Read a book about her, not by her.
This rambling, disjointed and often boring book is a waste of the 60- 90 minutes it will take you to read it...with many breaks to just get away.

The three prevalent threads running through this book, in addition to the frequent name, address and label dropping are beauty, insecurity and growing old.

On one page the author lists many ways the body declines with old age like losing hair, getting liver spots, immune system shutting down, changes in vocal chords that make us sound old, heightened risk of injury from falls, hearing loss, diminished eyesight and reduced mental abilities.

But this is more interesting than learning how many and what kind of bras and panties(with a lengthy 'B' or 'C' cup debate), her daughter bought at Victoria's Secret....or reading about the author's constant moving and house renovations, or her selection of men's clothing, or her long discussions about hair, or how she went barefoot to her son's school and talked to the librarian and hoped the librarian wouldn't notice, and then ducked into a janitor's closet when she saw the principal. Raise your hand if you smell a phoney. If Diane was a true free spirit she wouldn't care who noticed she was barefoot. If she had common sense she would have worn shoes. We also learn how she broke her toe (#5) walking backwards barefooted to help ward off dementia and employ the unutilized part of her brain.

Really?

I'd like to suggest that if you decide to read this book you won't be employing the unutilized part of your brain or any part of your brain. This mindless, pointless nonsense is not worth your money, your time or the paper it was printed on.
36 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fantastic and Real 3 mai 2014
Par Karie Hoskins - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I adore Diane Keaton. When she started doing beauty commercials/ads – I remember thinking how beautiful she was and that “I want to be like her when I grow up”. (I’m in my forties.) She just looks radiant, comfortable in her own skin, and someone who is beautiful in an unconventional and fabulous way.

Turns out? She has the same worries and insecurities about her looks that I do – that we all do. At one point in “Let’s Just Say it Wasn’t Pretty” – she recounts a “bad hair day” she had when she ran into someone she knows. “I left my car with the valet, walked into the elevator, and immediately ran into Nancy. Just my luck. Just my **** luck. And of course she was chipper and tall and attractive. “You look good,” she said. I smiled, knowing she didn’t mean it. She hated my hair.”

And later, still worried about her hair as she watched her daughter Dexter in a swim competition, “Dex was in the water with 299 other people who weren’t thinking about their hair.”

At times, this book gets a little bit rambly and freestyle and I started to lose the thread of Keaton’s thoughts. But most of it was fascinating. I never expected, for example, to find out that one of the walls in her house is covered with pictures of men. She has Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper, Paul Newman, Morgan Freeman, Adrien Brody, Jeremy Renner… “In the end, there are two ways of seeing male beauty. Real or imagined. There’s the looking-in way and the being-seen way. There’s the man himself and the man I’ve made up. I’m guilty of one, and proud of the other.”

She admits to, despairs of and also relishes the anxiety she has about her outward appearance – which is refreshing from a movie star. “I am a sorry example of the truth that women, as well as men, are losing their hair. Not only do we have reduced circulatory system function but we’re losing lung capacity, too. It’s all pretty tragic. Our immune systems are shutting down, and I don’t know about anyone else, but there are changes in my vocal cords that seem to be producing a strange “old person” voice, which I hate worse than my envy of Michael Douglas’s hair.”

In the end, Diane Keaton is a woman just like any other. Not in what she has achieved or experienced, certainly, but in the everyday self-doubt that plagues us all.

“We all long to be confident, look great, and do well. We all want to be remembered. Sometimes we’re lost. Sometimes we’re found. But one thing’s for sure: no matter how much control we have over our appearance, we’re all awkward, laughable, ugly, and beautiful at the same time.”
61 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Not What I Was Expecting.... 26 avril 2014
Par Daniel V. Reilly - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Why do celebrities think that we, as a society, stand to benefit from the wisdom that they've amassed over the course of their lifetime...?

LET'S JUST SAY IT WASN'T PRETTY is the latest in a long, unwanted string of celebrity "Essay collections", a trend which seems to have started with Tina Fey's book, BOSSYPANTS. Such books collect fill-in-the-blank's ruminations on various and sundry topics, kind of the "literary" equivalent of a stand-up comic doing the old "Hey, what's up with these airline peanuts...?" routine.

I picked up this book expecting an autobiography, stories about Diane Keaton's experiences making movies with Woody Allen, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, etc., and it's my own fault for not reading the description better, but this is, indeed, yet another book of celebrity ramblings, disguised as some kind of female empowerment screed.

Considering how reading is becoming a lost art, I am of the opinion that any woman who has the brains to pick up a book and read it is already way ahead of whatever advice Diane Keaton could possibly provide her. The book is pretty much exactly what you would expect to get if you sat down and had a LOOOOONG conversation with any one of Diane Keaton's film characters: Endless soliloquies about how terrible it is to get older, how ugly she feels, how terrible her hair is, how terrible her eyes/ears/face/nose/whatever is, followed by page after page telling you how bad it is to worry about your looks, and how you should just be happy as you are.

Is anyone desperate enough to need this kind of vapid affirmation from a celebrity? Especially one who is known for expressing the words/wit of a motion picture writer, as opposed to her own? This book was a real chore to slog through. The assumption of the author and publisher is that I am not the target audience, women are. I have more faith in the strength and taste of the female half of the species.....You don't need this poorly written, overly long collection of inspirational speeches to tell you how good you are.
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