Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Saturday, December 02, 2006


My knowledge of Truman Capote pretty much begins and ends with what I learned during Capote. Of course, I already knew that he wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood and that both of those books had been turned into successful movies. But beyond that, zilch, zero, nada, niente. But I'd been looking forward to the Oscar-winning tour de force performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman as the eponymous scribe.

The plot is simple: It's 1959, and author Capote goes on a magazine-column mission to report on the shock random murder of an entire family in a small town in the middle of nowhere. But when the perpetrators are tracked down and arrested, Capote's involvement grows, as does the scope of his article, which turns into a book: "the first non-fiction novel".

But he can't finish his book until the legal process is over. The ending of the story dictates the ending of his story, you see. And a string of appeals drags the process out and tries Capote's patience. It is here that we start to see Capote as nothing more than a self-serving arrogant prick, and yet his charm and intelligence are such that you know he would be good fun to hang out with, as long as the booze supply was limited.

I thought this was a truly great film. Naturally Hoffman was a standout. But then he is probably the finest actor working in the world today. Catherine Keener, as Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was great, too. I think she is a fantastic actor, and time after time I get so pissed off at how underused she is in everything. People should go to the gallows for the talent they waste when employing her for a job, seriously. And Chris Cooper, too: great job.

In fact, this has landed a spot in my list of Films You Should Watch If You Want To Know How To Act: it's right up there with Citizen Kane and Raging Bull. Kudos to Hoffman.

The film doesn't fully hold up to the lead performance, but then how could it? But I do believe that in years to come we will ask ourselves, "How the hell did Brokeback Mountain beat this to Best Movie?"

The Such As They Are score for this flick is a shotgun-pumping 82 out of 100.

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