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Monday, May 26, 2014

Revisiting Capote

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. During the film, I had to keep reminding myself that it was not the real Truman Capote. The actor was so believable--he changed his voice, mannerisms and posture but didn't make it a caricature. My suspension of disbelief was out in the stratosphere.
My memories of Truman Capote were episodes of the Merv Griffin Show. In my mind's eye, I see Capote dressed in flowing scarfs and a swooping fedora.  When he spoke, his voice quality was very, very, very unique. I tried to figure out why he was a frequent guest of the other talk shows. His celebrity insider stories were way over my head. I was too young to have read any of his books or articles. I would wonder why everyone would hang onto his high pitched words? I just didn't get him. 
One thing I liked about him was the titles of his books, namely Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood. I marvelled at the memorable and dynamic names of these books. When I first heard of Breakfast at Tiffany's, I literally thought the high end jewelry shop had some sort of elegant restaurant tucked away. Then my parents told me that the main character Holly Golightly would take a danish or cruller in the mornings and eat it while looking longingly at the beautiful jewelry through the window. That knowledge made the title even more clever to me.
In Cold Blood was another riveting title, going the opposite end of the spectrum. This movie Capote covers the period of time when Truman Capote wrote this book.  Towards the end of the movie, Capote's publisher held a reading of the novel. Philip Seymour Hoffman read with a spot-on imitation. However, at this point in the movie, I was not caught up in the persona of Truman Capote, but focused on his craft. 
The first words of his book gently invited me into this time in history.  I settled in, and found myself hanging onto his every word. I finally got Truman Capote.
To me, writing is similar to cooking--we want our words to pop and sizzle like cooking with a wok, but want them to have substance like that of a slow cooker. Truman Capote is a master chef of literature as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Trying to age with grace

During the months before the Academy Awards, I was reading Entertainment Weekly’s article of the nominees for best actor and actress. As I looked at the glossy photographs of the Best Actress nominees, I began to notice a pattern. The women that were over 40 years of age all had utterly smooth foreheads. Not a trace of a wrinkle or worry line to be found on their lovely faces. When I turned the page to the Best Actor nominees, their countenances were rugged, all wearing the clues of time.   Even Leonardo DiCaprio, whom I remembered first seeing as a gangling teenager in What’s Eating GilbertGrape , was still looking handsome, but definitely matured.
Just when I was about to resign myself to the fact that actresses will always look impossibly ageless, I remembered something. I flipped back a couple of pages and found the photo of Dame Judi Dench. It was so refreshing to see her fine laugh lines around her eyes and glistening shock of grey hair. She had aged naturally and was absolutely looking terrific at age 80! 
She is truly aging gracefully and fearlessly. I hope to look as good as she is when I reach that age! I’m taking a lesson--when I look in the mirror, I won’t ardently search for the new set of wrinkles, but appreciate the whole picture in the looking glass.