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Capote (DVD)

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

I’ve seen the future and I can tell you: there’s no biopics on general release about authors Tom Clancy, Judy Nunn, Tom Robbins, Stephen Hunter or Lloyd Alexander. Not that they wouldn’t have made interesting subjects – some of them most definitely would have – but compared to the Truman Capote biopic released at the shallow end of the noughties, their stories were – for lack of a better word – more normal than going in a trial walk in a pair of shoes before buying. Truman Capote, on the other hand, now there’s a chap whose life was as fascinating as his make-up. Just try and argue that he wasn’t weird – you’ll lose every time.


Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Bruce Greenwood, Chris Cooper, Clifton Collins Jr, Bob Balaban

I’ve seen the future and I can tell you: there’s no biopics on general release about authors Tom Clancy, Judy Nunn, Tom Robbins, Stephen Hunter or Lloyd Alexander. Not that they wouldn’t have made interesting subjects – some of them most definitely would have – but compared to the Truman Capote biopic released at the shallow end of the noughties, their stories were – for lack of a better word – more normal than going in a trial walk in a pair of shoes before buying. Truman Capote, on the other hand, now there’s a chap whose life was as fascinating as his make-up. Just try and argue that he wasn’t weird – you’ll lose every time.

He speaks funny, he’s flagrantly gay, he’s more eccentric than a hippie running a medieval costume store and he’s loosely involved in a murder. A tale of man and his love of a typewriter this surely isn’t. In fact, the Blickensderfer 5 barely gets any screen time compared to the compelling underbelly bubbling above the loam the legendary author walked.

Though a fairly famous writer in his own right (he wrote, among other things, the lovely “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”), Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is about to write the best book of our times. “In Cold Blood”, would be based on the real life tale of two young men who brutally murdered a family of four at their farmhouse in rural Kansas. With his notebook, peculiar personality and eagerness to hear – Capote, via the two men on death row (though it’s one that he befriends to a great extent) – learns the truth about the night, and gets the ending he was clandestinely hoping for.

If Scott J in “Boogie Nights” (1998) and Rusty Zimmerman in “Flawless” (1999) were the tasty base, and Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous” (2000) and Dan Mahowny in “Owning Mahowny” (2003) were the delicious creamy middle than Truman Capote is the scrumptious icing ON the cake for Philip Seymour Hoffman. This is the role the versatile actor ahs been working himself up to all these years, and he doesn’t spoil the opportunity. As Capote, the man is immersing, powerful and instantly credible. He’s got the mannerisms, the look, the voice…the personality down pat. It’s as if he walked straight out of a golden-age newsreel.

There’s more to the film than Hoffman’s performance, though it’s undeniably the highlight. The screenplay – by actor Dan Futterman (“The Birdcage”) – isn’t preachy or pushy merely insightful and compelling, the supporting performances are winning, beefy back up (Keener is especially good as Capote’s friend, author Lee Harper, of “To Kill a Mockingbird” fame), and the direction is rich and clear-cut.

The performance you’ll see in “Capote” is easily the best of the year…. actually, the best of any year. It’s one of those turns that’ll be remembered for years to come – up with Welles in “Citizen Kane”, Brando in “The Godfather”, Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, and De Niro in “The Deer Hunter”. Pure brilliance.

Extras on the DVD include dual commentaries (one features Hoffman), a two-part making of, and a featurette on Capote. Not bad.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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