Picturing Justice, the On-Line Journal of Law and Popular Culture

Kandel G. Eaton

J.D. is ex-officio newsletter editor for the ABA Committee on International Arms and National Security


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Happily, the all-star cast invites us cineastes, into their "pastiche" as a friend. It reveals that good things can come from facing our troubles openly and honestly. That we can change by knowing how we got to be who we are

Feature article

Rumor Has It Everything Old is New Again

by Kandel G. Eaton

"I don't believe in happy endings, but I do believe in happy travels, because ultimately......you die at a very young age, or you live long enough to watch your friends die. It's a mean thing, life."
-George Clooney

From the competitive mix of entertainment formats, and its need to feed, quick sequels, and formulaic updates of film have become mainstream money grabbers. There are some subtle changes taking place, however. Recent film fashion appears to favor quality, along with personal reflections of life and culture. This has created a third vision, a Meta-forum in film, similar to the web's bloggers. It is a new version of "pastiche," a genre of film as a centralized compilation of many opinions and ideas, some mass media popular, some not that abound in our civilization.

The unleashing of digital technology has compressed and stylized other cultures and every generation gap, making them just ripe for "pastiche films." Their imagery does the translating for us, to allow an easy access and understanding of those experiences. Our differences co-mingle inside these movies inside other movies, which revolve around older movies to affect and inspire them. As filmmakers continue to script into the industry's memorable classics, in this case The Graduate, they will keep actors in jobs amidst their digital displacement.

"Pastiches" can clarify our history, what is happening to us, of what we think about. It an aggregate form of free speech and storytelling that can eliminate political correctness as a fear (finally!). And, in its initial present anarchic state, cause myriad other first amendment issues (too much personalization can be a bad thing). Demand for more "pastiches" may be the impetus to lead the vox populi to mainstream video logs (vlogs), moblogs (sound-bitesized vlogs), and info snacks (media trailers of artists, celebrities, and TV shows). All of these can be a major source of ideas for a "pastiche." And over time the "pastiche" can evolve to replace other genres of films.

Rumor Has It is supposedly based upon a true rumor of a Pasadena CA family, and is the first film I have seen that has made me laugh about all these changes. Written by Ted Griffin, it is refreshing to see a lawyer, Jeff Daly (an attentive, human Mark Ruffalo), that actually has a life outside his work. Director Rob Reiner again uses his elegant touch to provoke lasting fun from a single idea as he did in When Harry Met Sally (written by Nora Ephron). The pleasant surprise is that it works as well as Sleepless in Seattle (directed by Nora Ephron). And, happily, the all-star cast invites us cineastes, into their "pastiche" as a friend. It reveals that good things can come from facing our troubles openly and honestly. That we can change by knowing how we got to be who we are.

The lead is prodigal daughter Sarah Huttinger (a funny, vulnerable Jennifer Anniston). She and fiancé Jeff attend the wedding of her sister Annie (perky, spoiled Mena Suvari) and Scott (sweet, silent Steve Sandvoss) to discover her grandmother, Katharine Richelieu (an affably raucous Shirley MacLaine), is the real Mrs. Robinson. She finds out from her Aunt Betsy (a kinder, gentler Kathy Bates) about the real Benjamin Braddock, rich dropout Beau Burroughs (a horny yet suave Kevin Costner). He had slept with her deceased mother and might be her father. She feels this could explain why she feels alienated from her family all these years. Her travels take her back home to her father, Earl Huttinger (protective, loving Richard Jenkins), who ultimately gives her all the answers she needs. And from a year of great loss provides us with a healing ending we all need.

Posted January 12,2006

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