AT THE MOVIES: IN CAPOTE BLOOD

 Tue, 14 Feb 2006 06:00:00

I am blogging from behind y’all. I saw “Capote” on Saturday before freezing my ass off at the Krewe du Vieux and am just now getting around to reviewing it. Lord have mercy on the frozen slacker blogger.

Earlier this month I made a few snide remarks about Truman Capote in a posting about the 2005 Academy Award nominations:  “I haven’t seen Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman is the favorite and I’m a great admirer of his work but I didn’t care for Truman Capote. He was a guy who wrote two good books and a whole lotta dreck. Besides he was annoying and feuded with Gore Vidal and I take Gore’s side in all feuds. Nobody feuds better than Gore.”

I’m not taking anything back.  I have my snide pride. And I’ve got Ralph Waldo Emerson on my side about consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds and all that jazz. Besides this self-referential quote gives me the excuse to post a vintage picture of Vidal Capote and Tennessee Williams from the late 1940’s:


Gore Vidal calls 1945-1949 the golden age of the American empire and perhaps it was. But we blew it with Vietnam. More recently we screwed up our post-Cold War ascendancy with W’s endless wars. End of brooding lefty digression. Back to the moving pictures:

Capote” is a remarkably good film with a brilliant performance by star/executive producer Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman who is one of our best character actors submerges himself in the part. After a while I forgot that an actor was playing Capote: Hoffman has nailed the little sucker. Hoffman was so good that I actually liked *his* Truman Capote more than I expected to. it’s a nuanced performance that has as many layers and motives as the real Capote.

 
“Capote” is probably such a strong film because it follows Capote as he researchs and writes what was by far and away his finest book “In Cold Blood.” Hoffman plays Capote as part con man part jerk part sensitive soul part egomaniacal monster. He never hits a false note. Catherine Keener as Capote’s childhood friend Harper Lee adds flavor and depth to the movie as the only person who *really* understands the complexity of Capote’s motives as he burrows into the heads of two murderers.

Speaking of great character actors Chris Cooper shines as the small town sheriff into whose life Capote inserts himself by playing the New Orleans card with Cooper’s wife who was in exile from the Crescent City. An unrecognizable Amy Ryan of “The Wire” plays Cooper’s spouse. Finally   Clifton Collins Jr. who plays articulate killer Perry Smith equals Robert Blake’s chilling potrayal from the classic 1967 version of “In Cold Blood “ which was directed by Richard Brooks. It was fascinating to watch the onscreen Capote and Smith use and manipulate one another: guilt and manipulation at its finest…

A big tip of the Adrastos virtual cap to director Bennett Miller writer Dan Futterman and the film’s driving force Phillip Seymour Hoffman for making one of the best films of 2005.

GRADE: A

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