Sunday, March 9, 2014

Capote review

Philip Seymour Hoffman died recently. The entire world of cinema went into shock when it happened. Some of his favorite performances of mine were in The Master, The Big Lebowski, and Magnolia. He won a Best Actor Oscar in 2006 for his role in Capote. I had heard for a long while that he was great in the film, but I never brought myself to watch it. So recently I sat myself down, and watched Capote. Boy, have I been missing out. Capote was a fantastic film. It combines great acting and writing, with Zodiac-esque tension and plotting. It's expertly crafted and I really did enjoy it. The movie is part biopic and part true crime thriller. It documents a tumultuous part of writer Truman Capote's life from around 1959 to 1962 as he researches the Clutter family murders for his book, In Cold Blood. I haven't read any of Truman Capote's novels or short stories. After watching the movie, I certainly am quite interested. He was an interesting man, Hoffman's performance really capitalizes on this in the best way possible. He gets the accent perfectly. He gets all of Capote's little tics, understanding his demons and problems fully. There's one scene in particular where Truman is talking to one of the killers, seeing him off to his execution. Hoffman makes the scene as powerful as movie scenes get. Raw, emotional, and just damn terrific. He isn't inhabiting the character, he is the character. I think he one hundred percent deserved his Oscar for this, the guy was truly fantastic. I think his performance in Capote is tied with The Master for his best performances he has ever given. Catherine Keener also gives a solid performance as To Kill A Mockingbird writer and good friend of Truman Capote, Nelle Harper Lee. She does a good job of supporting Philip Seymour Hoffman, but she isn't given much of a time to really shine. Keener has little powerful moments, but isn't given even a whole scene to herself. It's not a huge problem, but Catherine Keener is a great actress who isn't used to her full potential here. Luckily, that is one of the few complaints I have with Capote. Hoffman does a spectacular job here, but the movie has many other terrific aspects to it besides his wonderful performance. For starters, it's really well directed. Bennett Miller has only directed this, Moneyball (which I unfortunately haven't seen yet), and some movie called The Cruise. I don't know how this compares with his other projects, but I can tell just from this that he is talented.The film has a very polished, yet cold, feel to it that reminded me of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Zodiac. Each scene is framed and lighted perfectly, capturing the emotions of the scene and the feel of the era. He's also great at creating a suspenseful mood for the film. Working along side him is writer Dan Futterman, who wrote a terrific and Oscar nominated screenplay for Capote. His dialogue is great, and the way he writes the story really boosts the film in a great way. Futterman humanizes his characters very well. Making Truman Capote more than a big name author and making the two murderers look like more than just evil faces on the front page of the New York Times. In the end I really felt as if I understood the plight of the criminals and of Capote's issues. The film as a whole is a haunting and absorbing slice of history that is really, really well made. Often biopics are just a series of it's subjects achievements, eventually leading up to the inevitable death of the subject. Capote overcomes those problems by focusing on just one part of Truman Capote's life and then looking at that moment in the best way possible. Some biopics, like Lincoln, are informative yet very boring. Capote is really informative yet also very entertaining and interesting. It makes me really miss Philip Seymour Hoffman and appreciate what a fantastically awesome actor he was. I highly recommend you watch it. I wouldn't be surprised if I watched it again soon. Happy Viewing guys. If you haven't already, you can like me on Facebook at and follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies. Thanks!

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