Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Movie review of "Capote"
'As usual, I begin by stating that my only qualifications as a reviewer extend no further than my love of television and film. I'm not an academic, when it comes to this particular topic. I just talk about what I like and what I don't like.
I just saw it, recently, having known nothing about the man's life, his book, or darn-near anything in the film. That usually makes a difference in how people judge these things.
Were you already familiar with the man or his work? What did you think of the movie?
**Begin SPOILER-FREE ZONE**
You're safe from spoilers as long as you're in" the zone."
Truman Capote, a celebrated author and social maestro of the 1960's, decides to write a book about the real-life murder of a small-town family. Throughout the movie, he gets up-close and personal with everyone touched by this crime, directly or indirectly. This movie explorees, among other things, his approach to and immersion within this event, as his interest and involvement teeters between substantive interpersonal relationships to shallow, exploitative researcher/subject interaction.
I really enjoyed the content of this story and the telling. The tale, which is actually a stew of stories, slowly, subtlely blossoms, revealing layers of, both, the events of these characters' lives and content of their characters.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman's performance in this film is the kind that's hard for me to describe. The oxymoronic "unnoticeably remarkable" seems apt, if confusing. I say this because I started out seeing the actor, then quickly and smoothly, failed to see Mr. Hoffman's presence in this film, at all. All I saw was Truman Capote. Consider that this is particularly impressive since I'd never seen pictures or heard recordings of Truman prior to watching this film. That means I wasn't just marvelling at the quality of Hoffman's imtiation of Capote, which he does very well. I was buying into the idea (without realizing it) that Truman Capote played the himself in a movie about him. I think that's beyond remarkable, but it's so remarkable that I didn't notice it until days later.
Catherine Keener as Harper Lee was another example of unnoticed remarkability. She was an excellent choice for this essential supporting role. If Harper Lee HADN'T been a presence in Capote's life, they'd have had to create the character, anyway. That's how important her role was as a lens into, mirror next to, and microscope over Capote's life, yet she was hardly IN the movie and, from what I recall, barely spoke.
I hesitate to say it, but I think it's true that the acting in this film was flawless. Although I enjoyed the movie, I didn't love it to death. That has no bearing on the fact, though, that the lead and supporting actors delivered model performances.
Excellent, as described, above.
I will say, though, that Capote's impact on the literary world before and after the events of this film should've been fleshed out a bit more. I still don't know what made his work so special, but the magnitude of its affects on others was very clear.
What do YOU think?
** End SPOILER-FREE ZONE**
Quick spoiler-filled thoughts: (highlight text to read)
* The willingness to depict the life of a real person on the big screen, without trying to make him or her appear to be a faultless, one-dimensional, superhero, always impresses me in film-creators. That was the case with Capote
* Capote was such a liar that I remain astounded, days, later.
* Capote was so decent that I remain astounded, days, later.
* Capote was so damned torn, so layered, and so very much in a fucked-up state of near-oblivious denial of his fucked-upness, that I remain astounded, days later.
* I've GOT to watch the commentary for this film. I'm convinced I missed SO much OR that there's so much more to be told about or examine within this film and its characters... at some many levels.
* Too bad they never explained exactly how he changed the literary world. They kept saying it and they even gave us a nice little label to attach to it, but damned if I fully get it. I think that WAS a short-coming of the film. I just spoke with someone about it, yesterday, and he seemed to understand... until I asked him a question or two. Then it became clear that he was just as lost as I was on that count. That didn't bother him like it bothered me, though, so it probably won't bother you, either.