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Episode 86: BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S

  

120 members have voted

  1. 1. Is BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S canon?

    • Yes!
      71
    • Do not Golightly into the canon
      49


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It's Audrey Hepburn at her most iconic this week as we discuss BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. Is this romantic comedy canonical or is a trifle to be discarded at the end of the night? Your call!

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It's Audrey Hepburn at her most iconic this week as we discuss BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. Is this romantic comedy canonical or is a trifle to be discarded at the end of the night? Your call!

 

You laughing while you get out "she's been dead for a long time" is a classic Canon podcast moment. As for the movie, Mickey Rooney's performance in this movie makes me so uncomfortable in this day and age that it just edges it out of Canon worthiness for me.

 

I'm sorry that I'm the "anti-art" argument but like you guys said its a character that adds nothing to the film and it generally takes away from the timelessness of the story. If Mr. Yunioshi was not in this movie its an easy Canon film, but the discomfort I feel when watching this can't be overlooked to me.

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Pretty easy no for me.

 

First off, I do tend to consider historical importance in my voting, but I'm realizing today that I can't vote "yes" on a movie that I didn't like just because it looms large historically. I imagine The Canon to work like something as a viewing guide, and although historical importance is a form of greatness, I can't bring myself to include a movie that I struggled through like a chore in the Canon of all-time greats. This isn't a film history podcast, so I believe that historical signifiance must always be part of the whole and no more.

 

Breakfast has a number of elements going for it. Hepburn is obviously amazing as the film's best feature. She brings a full emotional dimension to what could easily by a flimsy character construction. It's Heburn's nuance that keeps the character interesting, especially when Holly submits us to long stretches of too-broad silliness.

 

The film looks spectacular. Part of that is naturally the costuming, but Edwards and Planer create captivating phorotgraphy of 60s New York. My favorite location is where Doc Golightly and Paul speak among all those empty public benches. It's probably a well-known New York location for all I know, but the way it's shot looks expansive and vacant like a Leone western, but right in the bustling city.

 

And while I do see where the hosts are coming from when they pour over all the meaningful character details, Breakfast at Tiffany's is still a strong "no" for me. However well drawn the characters are on paper, the bottom line is that I couldn't really stand either Paul or Holly for the film's duration. I couldn't get over the proto-Manic Pixie Dreamgirl-ness of Holly, even when her character bared some complex material. The 20% of depth didn't get me over the 80% of cringey too-cute movie dialogue, and none of Paul's existential sorrow got me over how dull he was.

 

It's a movie where a few great scenes give light to how little I was enjoying the rest of it. I loved the party scene, Paul's final confrontation with his sugar momma, and the whole bus scene-into-strip club sequence (where Hepburn wears her coolest outfit in the whole movie by far). But the characters repelled me rather then drawing me in, and the movie was, to me, a real slog. A slog with craft, and a great musical number, but I just wasn't into this film's pacing, characters, or narrative past a few sparking but too-brief moments.

 

I hope I'm not just being a 26 year old white guy mistaking a chemical incompatibility for a misfiring film - but even so, this is the second time I've seen it and liked it even less than the first.

 

I've been humming Moon River all day, and it's for that alone that I'm grateful for the rewatch.

 

EDIT: The racist Rooney character doesn't really factor into my take on the movie, but it is just another obnoxiousness among the film's multitude.

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I'm actually gonna go YES. I was introduced to this movie in the late 90s by some girls when I was in college, and the way they idolized this girl who was off the chart according to the Hot/Crazy spectrum was very off-putting. 20 years later, I can better appreciate the mask Holly wore based on her fear of not being able to marry up; when I was young, I wondered why she just didn't get a job, not understanding the context of the time period. Her performance was completely different in my eyes this time around. It's a wonderful movie. I guess my old white male privilege lets me overlook Rooney's blotch on cinema.

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No. I mean, if the song revived it, it's arguable that it would have stayed kind of forgotten. And, as was said on the homework thread, there are better Audrey Hepburn films and performances. There are better Blake Edwards films. As far as the yellow-face goes, couldn't you argue that Pete Postlethwaite's Japanese-tinged performance in The Usual Suspects is an example of yellow-face in a great film? In the tradition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Breakfast at Tiffany's is, at best, a film of note.

 

So, this is an easy no.

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So if it's a no for one racist caricature that contributes nothing to the storyline, I presume Gone With the Wind is definitely a no, as well as Birth of a Nation for obvious reasons. And what is the Searchers doing in the Canon? Should we even discuss Triumph of the Will? I vote yes. And I do have trouble fully enjoying all the above mentioned movies for the racism running through them.

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What I find weird about Rooney' character is how dated a caricature it is. If I hadn't seen old WW2 propaganda cartoons, I'm not sure I would necessarily realize he was supposed to be Japanese. Other than him, I really enjoyed the movie. After breaking up, my ex followed my advice to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's and actually didn't like it. So I guess that's one thing we don't got.

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Easy yes.

 

I liked Amy's little speech about how watching Audrey Hepburn makes her want to be Audrey Hepburn. I'm a dude but I feel that way too.

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So if it's a no for one racist caricature that contributes nothing to the storyline, I presume Gone With the Wind is definitely a no, as well as Birth of a Nation for obvious reasons. And what is the Searchers doing in the Canon? Should we even discuss Triumph of the Will? I vote yes. And I do have trouble fully enjoying all the above mentioned movies for the racism running through them.

 

Yeah I'm pretty sure a film glorifying the KKK and a film glorifying the Nazis should not be in the Canon. I don't think thats a wild bloody statement.

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Should we even discuss Triumph of the Will?

 

I was just thinking exactly this, about "Triumph of the Will" or "Birth of a Nation". Both cited as very historically important films over and over again, and neither would I want in the canon. Historical importance should be "a factor" but not "the factor".

 

But cultural importance is also a factor. I have several Asian friends who would be quite upset by the addition of this movie, and I have several female and gay friends who would be upset by its exclusion. As a white hetero/cis male, I almost want to exclude myself from voting this week (that's a joke. Just as I can't stand people calling gore movies "boy films"; because something is romantic or has a female lead, I don't like those characterized -usually dismissively- as "chick flicks".). I can't wait to hear the episode, but I'm waiting until I re-watch the film tonight. Given what I've read posted here so far, I'm looking forward to hearing the discussion.

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Yeah I'm pretty sure a film glorifying the KKK and a film glorifying the Nazis should not be in the Canon. I don't think thats a wild bloody statement.

 

I think this is a wild and anti-artistic statement.

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I think this is a wild and anti-artistic statement.

 

I'm glad we can appreciate all art in a complete context free vacuum. Do it up then, I want to hear you defend either film in a podcast.

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I'm glad we can appreciate all art in a complete context free vacuum. Do it up then, I want to hear you defend either film in a podcast.

 

You act like these aren't two of the more influential movies of all time, or that there isn't reams of criticism praising them.

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You act like these aren't two of the more influential movies of all time, or that there isn't reams of criticism praising them.

 

Can a film where you have to take the ENTIRE story part of it set it aside make it into the Canon purely on its film making prowess/advances and aesthetics? I think thats actually an interesting thing worth exploring.

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This was the best episode they've ever done. I could care less about this movie but their harmonious agreement was refreshing and fun to listen to. More episodes like this please :)

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Can a film where you have to take the ENTIRE story part of it set it aside make it into the Canon purely on its film making prowess/advances and aesthetics? I think thats actually an interesting thing worth exploring.

 

Can a film where you have to take the ENTIRE story part of it set it aside make it into the Canon purely on its film making prowess/advances and aesthetics? I think thats actually an interesting thing worth exploring.

 

You don't have to set anything aside. Art doesn't exist to agree with you.

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You don't have to set anything aside. Art doesn't exist to agree with you.

 

Is racist art important to you beyond looking at a well made film promoting evil? What is the value in a completely racist story being in The Canon?

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Is racist art important to you beyond looking at a well made film promoting evil? What is the value in a completely racist story being in The Canon?

 

I see what you mean, but I think it's about defining "great" in terms of effect or magnitude. If a great movie had a profound effect on people it could easily be Canon-worthy, even if it was a racist screed.

 

Look, I"m not the "cultural relativist" type. I don't believe that you can't or shouldn't take a film's racist or prejudiced elements into account. In fact, the text and subtext of art should be examined and interrogated. FIlms have an effect on culture, and their content ought to be vetted and judged.

 

But there's a middle ground between respecting and acknowledging the power of art, and harshly judging its content separately, even within the same discussion. It'd be wrong to not condemn Birth of a Nation's message, but fair to deem it Canon-worthy on its merits if they pass muster. Art's relevancy isn't based on its morality. They interact, but one doesn't invalidate the other.

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I see what you mean, but I think it's about defining "great" in terms of effect or magnitude. If a great movie had a profound effect on people it could easily be Canon-worthy, even if it was a racist screed.

 

Look, I"m not the "cultural relativist" type. I don't believe that you can't or shouldn't take a film's racist or prejudiced elements into account. In fact, the text and subtext of art should be examined and interrogated. FIlms have an effect on people and culture, and thus their content ought to be vetted and judged.

 

But there's a middle ground between respecting and acknowledging the power of art, and harshly judging its content separately, even within the same discussion. It'd be wrong to not condemn Birth of a Nation's message, but fair to deem it Canon-worthy on its merits if they pass muster. Art relevancy isn't based on its morality. They interact, but one doesn't invalidate the other.

 

This is a fair response and I appreciate it.

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I watched this film for the first time a few months ago, and was completely dumbfounded about how this movie could've become such a big deal.

 

During the podcast, Amy more or less said that many scenes shouldn't work on paper, because of how outrageous and senseless Holly's actions are (for instance, when she breaks into Paul's apartment in the middle of the night). I thought this was a very good point, but I have to disagree with Amy's subsequent assertion that such scenes work regardless, because of Hepburn's performance. I, of course, agree that Hepburn is brilliant, but I non-the-less spend the majority of the film thinking "no one would ever do X," or at least, "no one would ever react that way to another person doing X."

 

I agree with everything Head Spin wrote - maybe it's just because I'm also a 26 year old white dude, but this movie did nothing for me..

 

 

 

It's a movie where a few great scenes give light to how little I was enjoying the rest of it. I loved the party scene, Paul's final confrontation with his sugar momma, and the whole bus scene-into-strip club sequence (where Hepburn wears her coolest outfit in the whole movie by far). But the characters repelled me rather then drawing me in, and the movie was, to me, a real slog. A slog with craft, and a great musical number, but I just wasn't into this film's pacing, characters, or narrative past a few sparking but too-brief moments.

 

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The Mickey Rooney stuff is hysterically garbage but too small a part of the movie to be the single reason to say no

 

During the podcast, Amy more or less said that many scenes shouldn't work on paper, because of how outrageous and senseless Holly's actions are (for instance, when she breaks into Paul's apartment in the middle of the night). I thought this was a very good point, but I have to disagree with Amy's subsequent assertion that such scenes work regardless

Basically. I just can't see this as a Great Film for All Time.

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Ok, first things first: Breakfast At Tiffany's is one of the most uninteresting, blunt songs that ever kissed the realm of the radio waves: Everything about it is lazy: the chords progression is about as exciting as watching paint dry, and that guitar riff shall burn in the bonfire of mediocre elevator music forever.... except, to be able to burn you'd need some hint of passion, and the songwriter clearly forgot to include that.

 

The film on the other hand is just alright enough to be included... I guess. It's hard for me to judge this film, becuse it was so clearly not made for me, and that's fine. So, I'm going in with a very, very, very soft yes.

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I had a very similar experience to Devin on this one: I had seen the movie years ago, thought it was okay, but important enough to make the Canon. On rewatch, I just straight up enjoy this movie.

 

And the important aspects of it remain. One of the all-time great original scores. The inadvertent advent of the "manic pixie dream girl" trope (which I've said for years and I'm glad Devin talked about it). One of the most instantly recognizable movie posters. And a career-defining performance by, in my opinion, one of the top five actresses in movie history.

 

I was a soft yes before my rewatch, and I'm a hard yes now.

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This is an easy NO for me. I didn't like the movie, mostly because I didn't like the two leads and didn't care about anything that happened to anyone but the cat. Aside from Hepburn's gorgeousness - and she's just as gorgeous when she's a nun - I don't get the appeal of the movie, except maybe as a time capsule (and while it's not a fair comparison, Mad Men is indeed SOOO much better at that, and I saw that years after Tiffany's). You can talk about art and influence, but films are stories too, and I've never liked this one.

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I hated that song in 1995. I hated this movie in 1995. Neither has changed for me in 2016 on that front. I think it's because if it had been made just a few years later when the worst of the film censorship was finally, blessedly lifted, we could have gotten a much more honest adaptation of what Capote wrote. Instead this is a film for people who like that old Hollywood era but all the worst parts of it. I just loathe its childishness around topics that are for grownups. They can do as many clever short hands as they want, but the lady was a whore and no one can just come out and say it and own it. It rings so false to me. Hepburn is gorgeous but she's got no power over me. This film has no power over me.

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