I used to be friendly with a movie star (though her career was in a slump at the time I knew her), and once, when we were talking about road rage, she said, “I always feel funny about flipping people off. I think it might be someone who can give me a job.”

For similar reasons, actors tend to be unnaturally upbeat in interviews. What did you think of the director? Oh, he’s great; he’s a genius. And the cast? They were wonderful, all of them; I was in heaven every day on the set.

But actors in private are a different story. I think such-and-such is awful, they’ll tell you; it’s bullshit that he got such great reviews. Of course, it also works the opposite way: actors love as much as they hate, though they might not want their enthusiasms broadcast, knowing how easily they can be misconstrued.

A little while ago, I saw the word “mumblecore” in reference to a film. Finally! I thought. Some smart person has labeled this issue that’s been bothering me for at least a decade now. Unfortunately, when I looked up the term, it wasn’t what I thought at all.

Let me start from the beginning, which was even more than a decade ago, when I visited my then-girlfriend’s (now-wife) house. It was a fine house, a very, very, very fine house, until I turned on the TV.

“You’re not deaf, are you?” I asked.