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Capote

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: B+/A-/B+

Directed by: Bennett Miller
Written by: Dan Futterman
Based on the book by: Gerald Clarke
Produced by: Caroline Baron, Michael Ohoven and William Vince
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr, Mark Pellegrino, Chris Cooper
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it

In Cold Blood is one of the best books I have ever had the privilege of reading. Truman Capote's way of writing a actual incident in a fictional way is very, very impressive. Of course, Capote had his major flaws and writing this book was said to be one of the most traumatic parts of his life. He never wrote another novel after In Cold Blood, which is very unfortunate. The legacy of him writing that book is cemented in this extraordinary and brilliant film, based on the Truman Capote biography by Gerald Clarke.

The film begins with Capote anxious to start something new. He reads in the newspaper about a family called the Clutters that were murdered in Kansas. Along with his best friend, Harper Lee (who would later go on to write To Kill a Mockingbird), he meets with the policeman whose major goal is to find the killers responsible and the friends of the Clutter family. When the killers are finally arrested, Capote meets with the two people and start to become very interested in the more sensitive one, Perry Smith. When they are put under the death penalty, Capote decides to get them a new lawyer to keep them alive and find out what happened on the fatal night that the Clutters were killed.

The entire film is brilliant from Bennett Miller's direction to Dan Futterman's script. However, the centre of the whole set piece has to be Philip Seymour Hoffman's spectacular portrayal of Truman Capote. He manages to get the voice of the famed author, but also the mannerisms. In essence, he becomes Truman Capote. This is not only the best performance I've seen this year, but also the best work by an actor in this decade. Many people are complaining about Crash beating Brokeback Mountain (which isn't even that great of a film) for the Best Picture Oscar, but if Philip Seymour Hoffman hadn't won Best Actor, I would have been horrified. I also want to mention Catherine Keener's stunning work playing Harper Lee. Keener is quickly turning into Meryl Streep with her ability to do portrayals of real people (as seen here) as well as comedic turns (like in Being John Malkovich and The 40 Year Old Virgin). Even though Truman Capote would not have liked this film's negative take on him, Capote is still a marvellous production.

Sony Pictures Classics has provided a nice batch of extras for this DVD release of Capote, starting with an audio commentary with Bennett Miller and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The chat about the film's shoot and the whole persona of Truman Capote and of course it concentrates a lot on the acting. A more technical commentary brings back Miller along with the film's director of photography. They naturally talk about the cinematography aspects of the picture. Both are very interesting to listen to. A featurette on the real Truman Capote is also on the disc, but while it does provide some interesting anecdotes and stories, it's too short and I would have rather preferred maybe an A&E biography on the author. There is a behind-the-scenes documentary (split into two parts) about the making of the film as it talks about the history of the project as well as what went on during shooting. It's very well done and features a lot of fascinating interviews. Finally, the DVD caps off with previews for other Sony films, but not Capote. Such a shame, because that was a great trailer.

This is a film that continues to fascinate and hold up on multiple viewings and really can't praise Hoffman's performancee enough. Fans of the real-life Clutter murder as well as the art of writing books will do well to add this disc to their collection.

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