Friday, September 12, 2008

Orange On the Aisle: Capote

extra ntf 44.3

Truman Capote, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, has a name for his book, and he's only too happy to share it with Kansas lawman Alvin Dewey, played by Chris Cooper, who led the investigation of a murdered farm family. In Cold Blood he giddily tells Cooper, maybe expecting the impressed smiles and back-slapping he's just returned from in New York.

Cooper's lawman is not impressed, in turn asking Capote if the title describes the murders or Capote's own efforts to keep the convicted murderers from their appointment with the hangman. Life might be a little slower in Kansas, but Dewey recognizes cold blood when he sees it. But Capote's blood would run colder yet, as he eventually executes his own home invasion and killings, so to speak.

Right off the bat Capote felt like a good film — especially with Hoffman's performance and the nicely crafted photography and direction taking center stage. But it took a bit to get into the film having already seen a good portion of the other recent Capote film, Infamous. Much of the same ground was being covered early on, just with different emphasis.

Once you get past that you can enjoy Capote on its own terms, and I assume Infamous as well, though I still haven't seen it all the way through. The one drawback with Infamous is, having seen him in Layer Cake and Casino Royale among others, Daniel Craig playing killer Perry Smith doesn't really work for me.

But Capote works in all aspects. Befitting the subject matter and setting, it takes a cold, understated approach where what's unsaid usually carries much more weight. And shows how taking years to write a book can be as destructive as brief moments of violence.

— 4 out of 5 picturesque Kansas landscape shots

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