Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Hello all and welcome to another Film Friday.  This is my first Film Friday living back in New York, and as such I figured I would review a quintessential New York film that showcases some of the famous sites the city has to offer.  That film is Breakfast at Tiffany’s, based on the novella by Truman Capote and starring Audrey Hepburn as the somewhat naïve Holly Golightly.

Holly Golightly is a socialite who gets paid money to keep company with lonely men.  After sleeping off a particularly bad date, she is introduced to a new neighbor, Paul Varjak, who is a writer.  She rushes out because she has to go to Sing-Sing to visit a mob boss, another client, who she gets paid to keep company for.  Upon her return to The City, she runs into Paul again, as she is trying to escape another bad date via a fire escape.  Due to her gratitude towards Paul for helping her escape the date, she invites him to a party she is hosting later that day.  At the party are all the rich men and women who Holly socializes with.  Holly tells Paul that she is going to marry one of the men there for his money despite not being attracted to him.  A couple of days go by and she finds out that the same man is set to marry someone else.  Attempting to cheer her up, Paul takes her to Central Park, a thrift store where they steal some masks, and finally Tiffany’s, which she states is the only place that truly makes her happy.  She then states that if she found another place like it, she’d consider starting her life again there.  Will Holly find that place, or will she continue to wander aimlessly through her life alone, surrounded by her “friends”?

One of the most beautiful and iconic shots is the opening shot of Holly getting out of a cab, walking down 5th Avenue at 6 am in the morning with a Danish and coffee, while looking into the Tiffany’s window.  The emptiness of the city and the serene nature of this shot is exactly how peaceful Holly finds Tiffany’s. Despite the craziness of her life and how hectic New York City can be at times, when she’s at or near Tiffany’s all that matters is the current moment.  An instrumental version of the Academy Award winning song “Moon River” is playing n the background, and it just adds something to the scene.  While it is a gorgeous song and its lyrics are so peaceful the instrumental version really enhances this beautiful and poignant scene. You can’t help but be intrigued by this mysterious character standing at the Tiffany’s window.  You want to learn more about her and inevitably you become drawn to the scene; it’s a great film introduction.  In my opinion its one of the best openings in cinematic history.  Fun fact of the review: Audrey Hepburn hated filming this scene because she hated pastries.

The chemistry between Hepburn’s Holly and Peppard’s Paul is outstanding. In many of the scenes, they played off of each other really well and I felt like they had a genuine friendship while filming this film.  Hepburn’s character has so many sides to her and she played the part perfectly.  She’s someone who never settles down and hasn’t thought about staying in one place, yet still realizes there’s so much happiness in the world, especially at Tiffany’s.  One thing about the film that I really disliked and in fact made me extremely uncomfortable watching was Mickey Rooney’s performance as Mr. Yunioshi.  The character is played in a way that is very racist and stereotypical of Asian people.  It was very awkward, and every time he was in a scene I really wanted to fast forward.  This isn’t anything against Mickey Rooney, he’s a great actor, but I felt like his character was unnecessary and didn’t add to the film.

All in all, I thought Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a great classic film. The acting was strong, the story was really unique, and the translation from book to screen was really well done. The music, particularly “Moon River”, was really beautiful and added to scenes where it was used.  Like always, I will end with a question: what’s your Tiffany’s?  Where in the whole wide world do you go to feel like the outside world ceases to exist?

4 out of 5 stars

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Paramount Pictures
PG-13, 115 Minutes
(Late last year some of us on the blog answered the question I asked at the end of the review.  To see our responses click here)

My Top Ten…Modern Classics (Part I)

I was having a conversation with Todd and Adam the other day about books published in the last 50 years and which ones might be considered classics in 50 years.  Before I go into which books I chose I first had to think about what makes a classic a classic:

  • The ability to draw people in whether through the story or characters.  Classics are classics because we reread them over and over again.  Take Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, To Kill A Mockingbird, etc; we re-read them continuously even though we know the outcome.
  • Teaching a lesson about life or society.  If a book can teach us a lesson and we learn from it, then that book and lesson will stick with us forever.
  • Relevance in changing times.  A classic is always relevent, despite changing social mores, technology advances, and even changes in language.  A classic continues to tell universal tales and life lessons that always hold true, no matter the circumstances.

Keeping some of those things in mind, here are the top ten books I think will become modern classics

Cover Image10.) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams (Published in 1955)

Williams offers the reader of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof tons in terms of themes and lessons to be learned.  He shows what greed and secrets can do to a family that has no trust in each other.  The play is filled with the theme of nihilism and mendacity, questioning whether or not life really does have meaning, and if it does have meaning what is it?  One of the main characters in the play, Big Daddy, is the representation of all of these themes and one more, that of facing death.  The dialogue and events make you really question what life is all about and how we should spend the time we’ve been given.  The above barely touches on the themes, motifs, and symbolism in the play.  It’s a play I’ve read over and over and over and one that I definitely see as a contender for being a modern classic.

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9.) Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (Published 1986-1987)

Surprised to see a graphic novel on the list?  Don’t be.  A lot of people think that graphic novels have nothing to offer due to small dialogue boxes and lots of illustrations, they’re wrong. Taking place during a time period spanning the 1940’s through the 1960’s, Watchmen offers us a glimpse into an alternate universe, one where superheros help us win wars, develop high-tech science experiments, and help keep the general peace.  The graphic novel has a lot of complex ideas about the deconstruction of the superhero and the existentialist movement.  It attacks the notion of putting all our faith in people we believe are going to save us, without knowing who they really are or what they are really capable of.  It attacks the notion of superheros and why we’re so enthralled by them. 
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8.) Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (Published in 1958)

Capote totally changed the world for women with his explosive novella about a woman who was an upscale classy prostitute.  Holly Golightly forever changed how women were looked at and what they were capable.  This novella shows that women could be just as free as men were sexually and that in some cases it actually empowered them.  It also showcased women’s independence from men.  They could have parties, male friends, drink, smoke, and have sex.  Gone was the idea of the stereotypical 1950’s housewife that greeted her husband at the door with a kiss and a cocktail.  Golightly was the epitome of what every women felt she COULD be.  With Capote’s help women everywhere were liberated and on came the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. 

7.) The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling (Published in 1997-2007)

What can I say about a book that inspired thousands of new readers across the globe?  J. K. Rowling’s story of a young boy who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a magical world in which he is a celebrity.  This boy, Harry Potter, lives in a world that is endless: full of dragons, spells, mystery, and the epic battle between good and evil.  Imagination has no limit, as this work showed everyone around the world that they could escape their own worlds if just for a few hours as they explored Hogwarts and lived vicariously through Harry as he soared through the air on his broomstick.  Rowling’s work is so universal and its themes are so basic at the core of her writing that it truly can be applied to and understood by all.  The spark and uptick in reading that this book created is testament to its status as a stalwart classic novels that will stand the test of time.
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6.) Night by Elie Wiesel (Published in 1960)

Although the horrors of the Holocaust are now widely known and reflected on in modern media, Wiesel’s gritty retelling of the grueling abuses he endured as a prisoner of Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps was an initial raw and clear look into the horrors of that time.  He is angry, hopeless, insightful, introverted, caring, and many other emotions as he struggles to survive physically and mentally in his tormented state.  Night is written simplistically, with little allegory or metaphor.  The reader simply draws conclusions from Wiesel’s writing, and in its stark state it tells a powerful story of the struggle of the human will to live and overcome obstacles.  Changing the way we learned about the Holocaust, Night paved the way for an outpouring of emotion that had remained unseen as the world struggled to right itself after the horrors Hitler performed.  Not just dry facts in a history book, Wiesel made the pain real because of his memoir.  Like Anne Frank, one could now associate a names and faces with the destruction of the Holocaust.  His work will always be remembered for making the Holocaust personable.
Join me tomorrow for my top five choices!!  Until then share your comments below and happy reading!!

Elizabeth’s Tiffany’s

Below is a guest post for Reflections of a Book Addict’s My Tiffany’s blog series by Elizabeth Michaels.

To see the other posts in the series click here, here, or here

Once I really did have Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Egg McMuffin in hand, I stood on New York’s Fifth Avenue before those plate-glass windows munching and gazing.  It wasn’t nearly as serene and calming as in the 1961 movie with Audrey Hepburn though.  Her  Holly Golightly sought to feel completely safe and secure.  Most of all she wanted – as said in Hepburn’s indelible voice – a place where “nothing bad could happen to me” and that, if she ever found that, she’d “buy some furniture and give the cat a name!”

My “Tiffany’s”, oddly enough, is a bookcase stuffed with books.  Ah, but it’s not just any bookcase! My father, who died a couple of years ago, made this piece of plain, stained pine when I was a little girl.  It occupied a wall in our living room, and countless times have I seen him just stand in front of it and run his gaze over all the books on its shelves.

It’s the part of my inheritance I treasure most, and it now stands in my office across from my desk, where I can easily look up and rest my eyes.  Many of my father’s books have been incorporated with my own, all of them together producing an eclectic mix.  Prince Valiant and Peter Pan through to the Little House and Louisa May Alcott series’ run into all my horse books and English history.  Jane Austen and George McCutcheon rub covers with Anthony Hope and John Buchan. AP Terhune and Alexander Dumas nod to Gwen Bristow and Helen MacInnes,  especially not forgetting the Baroness Orczy. 

Each book on these varnished shelves seems to have its own place in the regiment of my memory, standing shoulder to shoulder like a bulwark.  They populate my mind, filling and expanding my horizons.  Sixteenth-century France.  Ruritania.  Graustark.  Hogwarts.  The American Civil War, the Gold Rush and the Great Plains.  Laramie, Wyoming and the Chinese province of Yunnan.  WWI Kenya.  Ancient Greece.  Medieval Europe.  Victorian England.

Just as my father did (and maybe as frequently), I find myself gazing along these shelves, when I’m pacing out a tangled scene I’m writing, or thinking through a knotty personal problem.  Most of all though, when I just want the company of an old and trusted friend. 

CS Lewis steadies me because, like him, I too have been ‘Surprised by Joy’.  Michael Wood inspires me with his passionate searches through antiquity.  Mary Nash and Cornelia Otis Skinner make me laugh.  I thoroughly understand Bridget Jones and Anne Frank.  And so very many different novels, written by authors of all eras, encourage me to remain true to myself and keep my pen scribbling so that one day MY book will join their ranks.

On these eighteen shelves I know what will happen, and good or bad, I know it will work out.  I have roots here, so I can expand and grow.  Here in my Tiffany’s I am free to be who I am, and (since none of our cats needs to be re-christened) I can make a name – for myself.

Todd’s Tiffany’s

Howdy folks, Kim asked me to post on my “Tiffany’s”, as others have done here before me. (Kim’s is here and Adam’s is here)  Personally, my “Tiffany’s” may not be a conventional place, but rather an action.  My “Tiffany’s” is driving.  Yes, for me there is nothing better than downshifting into third gear pulling out of a turn and feeling my car pull through and race away.  Mind you, I don’t happen to have the fastest car in the word (2000 VW Jetta), but it suits my purposes just fine.  It just so happens that “race away” becomes a relative term when you’re struggling to go 0-60 in under 10 minutes…  Anyway, whenever I feel stressed or just have a long day, I always enjoy putting a little extra oomph in my drive home.  I don’t believe that the feeling is car-specific, because I also enjoyed driving when I had my previous car, however I do feel that it is more enjoyable ever since I got a manual transmission car.  When I first bought the car and had to drive Kim and myself home, I was working on very little manual transmission experience.  It was a bumpy ride to say the least!  However, what began as a source of anxiety soon became second nature to me, and I still find myself looking to shift gears when I switch from driving my car to Kim’s car.  As other manual transmission drivers will attest, driving stick requires more attention to RPM’s and one’s surroundings, as the car does not automatically shift to match the speed of the vehicle.  Even though it would seem like more work to some, the feeling of being able to shift down a gear and surge through turns and move nimbly through open spots on the highway is definitely a good stress reliever to me.

Of course, the additions of a warm summer day, an open sunroof, and blasting music all enhance this experience, but driving is still an escape to me in the winter.  Even though I may be shivering at the start as I hope that my car cranks over in the wonderful low digit mornings we have here in CT, as soon as the heat gets pumping the drive is little different from what it would be in the summer.  In fact, the rattle of my exhaust is much less noticeable with the windows up and the music on (it needs to be fixed, it has quite a large hole in the exhaust).  So, I can now put that off until the warmer months when I can hear the blaring of the exhaust more clearly, haha.

So, next time you are on your dreaded commute to work, just take a second to enjoy your time driving, you may find that you take a liking to driving.  Just don’t go taking a job farther away for the longer commute, the gas prices will kill you…

#1 A Review of Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. By Sam Wasson

Cover ImageFifth Avenue 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson is the back story about the writing of and eventual production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Wasson also delves into how Breakfast at Tiffany’s helped shaped the modern woman and usher in the sexual revolution of the 60’s. 
Beginning with Capote writing the short story Breakfast at Tiffany’s and ending with the reception of the film version, the book chronicles the long arduous journey from short story to produced film.  Fifth Avenue discusses all the ways that Breakfast at Tiffany’s helped usher in the ideals that shaped a modern woman.  The ideas that a woman could be in control of her own sex life, work, and be independent. 
Sam Wasson articulates his thoughts and points beautifully.  He takes all of these fantastic bits and pieces of knowledge about the story writing, screenplay writing, costume design, lighting, character casting, just everything  and molds it into a narrative that flows from beginning to end.  The reader can definitely feel his love and appreciation for Tiffany’s through this work. 
One of my favorite things about the novel are the sections about how it influenced pop culture and society.  As a HUGE film fan I absolutely love reading about the power that films have to impact our lives.  To read about how the film influenced modern culture and also how it’s choice of leading lady helped lead a feminist revolution was awesome.
I find it really interesting that a lot of modern cultural references to the empowerment of women, such as Sex and the City and 9 to 5, can trace their roots to the image of a strong and confident Holly Golightly.  The way the book analyzes what made Holly Golightly such a new female is very interesting.
I cannot recommend this book enough.  You will not be disappointed!
5 out of 5 Stars
Fifth Avenue 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson
Harper Collins Publishers (2010)
Hardcover 231 pages
ISBN: 9780061774157
To visit Sam Wasson’s website click here
To follow Sam Wasson on Twitter click here
To read Sam Wasson’s blog click here
Related Links
For a link to my review of Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s click here
For a link to my thoughts on a specific quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s click here
For a link to Adam’s thoughts on a specific quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s click here

Adam’s “Tiffany’s”

(Check out the main Tiffany’s post here)

As Kim and I were discussing what we would consider our “Tiffanys” (our one place where we felt most at ease), I automatically said my bedroom.  I rethought my answer however because I felt it was a cop-out. Everyone finds peace in their bedroom, yet what was the one place I always felt comfortable in?  What was one of the few places I looked forward to going to for weeks in advance? The answer to my “Tiffany’s?”  The movie theater.

I consider myself a huge movie fan. I love seeing movies in the movie theater. It is such a different experience seeing a movie in the theater versus seeing it at home. The sights, the sounds, the anticipation of the movie, and the feeling you feel when the movie is over all contribute to the experience. Regardless of whether you like or dislike the film, the positive experience of going to the movie theater remains the same.  Even after the movie itself is over the experience continues.  When you walk out you see posters for the new releases and you can pick your next adventure right then and there. There are always new movies coming out; new adventures to experience, new places to see, and regardless of whether or not I liked the movie, I always leave the movie theater optimistic for my next adventure.

One of the most relaxing things I’ve ever done (and I only started doing it recently) is going to the movies by myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the movies with friends and having a discussion about the movie once it’s over, but in the past year I’ve started to go by myself. It is so relaxing to sit in the theater alone and just watch the movie. I have weird traditions when I go: I always get peanut m&m’s and a small diet coke, I sit off-center, and I always put my coat on the seat next to me and pretend I’m waiting for someone.  When it’s time to watch the movie, I just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

While driving to work today, I thought of skipping work and going to see a movie, but opted to go to work. Besides really needing the money, I didn’t want to give my sister a heart attack by not showing up.  Today is the perfect day to sneak away into the movie theater, the weather outside is so dismal and perfect for indoor activities. For the next two hours or so you just escape to a new place. You can be in Narnia, Hogwarts, or Boston watching a boxing match. Once the lights start to dim, a new adventure starts and once again you’re off. A rainy day is the perfect day for the movies. It is the perfect indoor activity. Granted, the theater is usually a bit more crowded on rainy days, but there’s nothing better than being able to forget about the weather and just watch a movie.

With the rising price of movie tickets, the amounts of trips I make have started to decline.  A normal trip to the movies costs a minimum of ten dollars, and that’s if you don’t buy snacks or a beverage. While my trips to the movie theater have become sparser as the years go by, my excitement for an actual trip to the movies is increasing. What was once a monthly trip has become a trip I make every several months.

So, there you have it.  My “Tiffany’s” is the movie theater.  Bring on the bad days, bad weather, and tempers, because I can defuse them all with a simple trip to this sacred place.  It is a place where I can truly escape and find happiness.

My “Tiffany’s”….

“What I’ve found does the most good is just get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets” – Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Every once in a while a quote from a book will just strike me with extreme poignancy.  The above quote started making me think about what my Tiffany’s is.

When I began having this discussion with Todd and Adam they immediately guessed what my Tiffany’s was….a bookstore!  No matter what kind of mood I’m in, heading to a bookstore immediately calms me.  The soft lighting, the sounds and scents from the Starbucks, the colors of the book covers, the comfy arm chairs; it all has such a soothing effect on me.   

As Todd has said in some of his “Living with a Book Addict” posts, I sometimes come home from work sheepishly carrying in a bag from Barnes and Noble.  (This is usually indicative of me having had a rough day at work) After work I head over to the Barnes and Noble near my job, grab a chai tea from the Starbucks and go roam around for a while.  I pick up a few books and find a nice comfy chair to plop down in and let my stress ease away. 

The other fabulous thing about Barnes and Noble (and bookstores in general) are the people who frequent them.  There are those who have no problems coming up to you to give their opinion on a book that you’re holding and others who find you searching for books and ask if you need a recommendation.  These people add to my bookstore experience and make it that much better.

It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that I have a place to go to when things get rough, or I just need a pick-me-up.  As always I’m interested in knowing my readers thoughts.  I’ve asked some friends to write me their own “Tiffany’s” pieces and I’ll be posting them in the coming weeks.  Please feel free to leave your comments on your own special “Tiffany’s” location as well.

The Weekly Roundup – Week 3

Last week was a so-so week.  There were days I was totally driven to read and others I was so damn lazy.   

I headed over to Barnes and Noble on Wednesday picked up some new books. (YAY!)  I got The Road, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (reviewed here), and Boardwalk EmpireI finished writing reviews for the books I completed the prior week and got my head back into books.  I completed A Reliable Wife and had my mind BLOWN.  (See my review here for what I mean)

Thursday I read some more of Fifth Avenue 5 A.M.  The book is taking me a while to read because it’s discussing the way Breakfast at Tiffany’s changed women’s views of themselves, and what they could accomplish with their sexuality.  It also gives historical information on how the book came to be and how it was turned into a film.  There are multitudes of facts, thoughts, and ideas discussed that so I’m trying to take my time reading it to fully appreciate it.  It makes many references to the novel version of Tiffany’s so I decided to take a pause with this book and read Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  I figured what better time than now?

Friday Todd and I went to a wedding for our friends Dave and Kate.  Had a great time with all of Todd’s co-workers – it was an all around good evening.  We came home from the wedding and passed out early, as Todd had to head to Atlantic City the following day for a bachelor party.

Saturday got up early and got a ton accomplished before Todd left for AC.  I got two loads of laundry done, read some Breakfast at Tiffany’s, made brownies, and then pasta salad all by 11:30am. My aunts drove my grandma up that afternoon from New Jersey to have lunch and hang out together.  It was nice seeing them and I always enjoy seeing gram.  Adam came over that night and we just hung out, read, and watched some TV.  (Adam and I LOVE watching Law and Order Los Angeles together – we’re addicted) 

Sunday I wrote my blog reviews for A Reliable Wife and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and then started reading my next book Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister

Week end I was up to 74 completed books.  This leaves 26 books before December 31st.  I have to read a little over 4 books a week for the next 6 weeks to make it to 100!  I need to read almost two books every two days to complete the challenge for 2010.  OY OY!

I’m off now to go crawl in bed and read some more.  It’s going to be a busy 6 weeks!! Wish me luck!

Happy Reading!!

#74 A Review of Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote was published in 1958.  The novel also contains three other short stories, House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar, and A Christmas Memory. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered to be Capote’s crowning literary achievement. 
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the story of Holly Golightly, girl-about-New York.  An un-named narrator reflects back on his time living above Holly in a New York City brownstone.  Holly is a naive, charming, quirky, sexy, flirty, smart, witty fledgling of a woman who men pay to be with.  Holly has the ability to make everyone fall in love with her and they almost always do.  The narrator tells the reader of how his friendship with Holly came to be, and what he learned of her past and it’s effect on her present and future.
The language of the book is absolutely charming.  You get pulled into Holly’s world and are deeply enchanted with it and her, leading to an understanding of how she’s become the “it” girl of New York City.  The terminology the book is written with has a cool beatnik slang feel to it.

So, he said, what do you think: is she or ain’t she?….You’re wrong.  She is a phony.  But on the other hand you’re right.  She isn’t a phony because she’s a real phony.  She believes all this crap she believes.”

It gives the book a timeless feeling as Holly can be any woman at any time in any given place.  This is one of the big reasons she remains so popular today.  She represents an ideal that woman can control their own lives and chose their own destinies.  She changed the notion that only men can use sex to their advantage.  As much as sex is an important part of Holly’s character, it’s not outright discussed that she is a prostitute.  Reading this work is more about reading in between the lines, than what is actually written. 

I really did enjoy the novel, but found the film version to be more complete.  I did however enjoy the characters and side stories that didn’t make it into the film. they all added new dimensions to Holly’s character.  I would like to mention that those familiar with the film version to be prepared for a slightly different story.  The film version altered the print version, most notably changing the ending. 

If you chose to read this novel I heartily recommend Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M – Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson.  Fifth Avenue is about the creation of Holly Golightly and how she changed the view of the modern woman.  It also gives background on how the novel was written and also how the novel was turned into a film. 

4 out of 5 Stars