Friday, September 30, 2005

Capote - Movie Review

Capote 2005

Destroy!!! (after showing simply everyone)

Pour yourself a martini, grab a smoke and hop a cab to your nearest cinema and feast your eyes on one of the best movies of the year! First of all, despite Philip Seymour Hoffman’s lengthy and varied resume, we had no idea he had it in him! Had what, you might ask? Well, we’ll tell you. Had the balls to portray one of the twentieth centuries most notoriously fey and mannered creatures, and also one of its most talented. We speak of course of Truman Capote. Which on a good day we know we wouldn’t have to explain who that is . . . but we are fully aware that most people’s idea of great literature nowadays is the latest Harry Potter. Miss Capote rose to prominence among the literati in the late 1940s with his wonderful short stories that appeared in Mademoiselle and Harper’s Bazaar, back when they actually assumed women had brains and featured some excellent short stories. Alas, now all you will find between the dreary Neutrogena® ads, are sex tips and the latest affordable fashion accessory – read: chunky beads. Blech.

Anywho, la Truman furthered his name recognition by publishing “Other Voices, Other Rooms” in 1948, which featured one of the most scandalous author pics ever!

While this photo might not seem shocking today, you can imagine how uptight mid-century Wasps were recoiling in horror to an obviously flamboyant and pixie-like creature posed languorously and gazing come hitheringly.

Herein lays the mystery of Truman Capote. An obviously talented writer, who was equally concerned with fame, celebrity and getting fucked by older men. Oh, get off the floor, if you didn’t know by now that la Capote was a fudgepacker, pack it in yourselves. As Truman busied himself producing short stories, novellas, the occasional screenplay and pieces of non-fiction . . . his barbed wit and singular delivery were almost overshadowing his writing genius. A genius that would find it’s greatest milieu in the American Mid-West of all Godforsaken places!

On a mid-November day in 1959, four members of the Clutter family of Holcombe, Kansas were murdered in their homes. Upon reading the short report in The New York Times, Capote convinced his editor at The New Yorker to help fund his trip to Kansas, along with his childhood friend, Nelle Harper Lee in order to cover the crime for a forthcoming article. It turned into a six year obsession, wherein la Capote scandalized Kansas society – all two of them – befriended the cold blooded murderers and managed to turn American literature on its collective ear by producing the spectacularly successful “non-fiction novel” – “In Cold Blood.” The wonderfully atmospheric new film, “Capote” traces Truman’s steps in researching his magnum opus, managing to capture all his neurosis, quirks, solipsistic actions and humor. A truly astounding feat, brought to us by the pen of actor, Dan Futterman who sadly most of you might know from “Will & Grace” season 73, wherein he played the object of Will’s lust.Chaste lust, but gay lust nonetheless. We had no idea the deliciously talented Mr. Futterman was a master scenarist too! Kudos to him. And he ain't too hard on the peepers, that Dan. But clearly he could use a good stylist. Kudos are also due to director Bennett Miller, whose direction never falters. He captures all the cold austereness of the flatlands of Kansas to the claustrophobic charms of the New York intellectual circle. “Capote” comes on the heels of Mr. Miller’s previous outing, the documentary “The Cruise”, which in no way prepared us for his exemplary work to be found here. Bravo, Benny, Bravo!

Special mention to two performers: Catherine Keener as Nelle Harper Lee, yes, that Harper Lee. The author of the now classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird” who was indeed Truman’s childhood friend. Here, Miss Keener quietly and superbly captures the strength of this woman, who supported her friend throughout his ordeals despite his less than equal support of hers. We thought Cathy was simply brilliant, despite having to play the mannish Miss Lee. Would a little lip gloss have hurt her characterization, we ask?

The second performer of note is Clifton Collins Jr. as one of the killers, Perry Smith. A little research tells us that Clifton is the grandson of character actor Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales, well congratz-congratz! Clifton treads a fine line between cold blooded murderer and a victim of societal carelessness. Never faltering, and somehow managing to be sexy despite the characters obvious drawbacks. But, then again. It’s so hard to find a good man nowadays, what’s a little cold blooded murder between objects of lust? We actually appreciate that the screenplay doesn’t shy away from the obvious notion that part of Miss Capote’s infatuation with the criminals might have been less professional and more, how shall we put it? Oh, please, he wanted to sit on their faces. There. Happy? We would be, Mr. Collins. Just so you know.

But the success of this film rests squarely on the shoulders of Philip Seymour Hoffman. We applaud you. We cheer your bravery. We are engraving the Best Actor Oscar immediately, we don’t care how the Academy votes. You deserve it. You done good, Phil. You done good. We’re hoping for a sequel, in which Phil gets to portray la Capote in his later years when he was a total wreck, burned out artistically, drug addicted, ostracized by his closet friends who felt betrayed by his futile attempt at a masterwork – the truncated “Answered Prayers”, and drunk out of his fey gourd. We suggest the title: “In a Coked Up, Drunken Haze.” Feel free to use it, Danny and Benny. So, what the hell are you waiting for? Go SEE IT NOW!!! You'll be glad we sent you.

Note: For those of you with further interest in Mr. Capote’s writings, there are two wonderful new books out there that capture his genius. A collection of his short fiction, “The Complete Stories of Truman Capote” and one of his letters, “Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote.” Both are fantastic, but the letters will have you in stitches! The opener of this review is lifted from one of his early epistles. That Truman! Always slaying ‘em in the aisle, when he wasn’t stabbing them in the back. God Bless her! And Bless you all!

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote
Catherine Keener as Nelle Harper Lee
Clifton Collins Jr. as Perry Smith
Chris Cooper as Alvin Dewey
Bruce Greenwood as Jack Dunphy
Bob Balaban as William Shawn
Amy Ryan as Marie Dewey
Mark Pellegrino as Richard Hickock

Directed by Bennett Miller
Writted by Dan Futterman
Based on the biography by Gerald Clarke
Film Editing by Christopher Tellefsen
Cinematography by Adam Kimmel
Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone
Production Design by Jess Gonchor
Set Decoration by Maryam Decter and Scott Rossell
Original Music by Mychael Danna