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Sneak Preview: “Capote” Mark II

Sneak Preview: "Capote" Mark II

Robbiefreeling rightly pointed out that I’ve been negligent in sending missives on the NYFF, and so, considerably chastened by his tongue lashing, here goes (with apologies to Eshman):

Perhaps it’s because I’m still disappointed by a year of substantially unrevealing biographies, but there was a quite a bit to like about Capote. Contrasted with The Aviator, which only really divulged that Howard Hughes was crazy, liked to fly airplanes, and. . .was crazy, or Ray, which justified Charles’ nastier personality traits in light of his talents (he cheated on his wife, fathered a kid with his mistress, and all but abandoned his family, but it-s okay! He was a genius!) Bennett Miller-s outing quietly illuminates and refused to apologize for its protagonist. The script makes plain Truman’s considerable facility with cocktail party witticisms, but also takes great care to show how his ability to lie with equal poise. It’s immediately clear that both are defence mechanisms to protect the great author’s rather underdeveloped ego; under Hoffman’s layered performance, we get veiled glimpses of Capote’s desperate desire to be loved as well as his fear of disappointing others. There-s also a shameless honesty in Hoffman’s delivery as he intimates the depth of his sympathy for the In Cold Blood murderers—and the limits of it too. He cares about their attempts at death row commutation, but without a full confession detailing the brutal act in question, compassion cedes to business consideration and the need to finish his story. It’s not the first biopic to show blemishes and all, but the way Miller does it, by by oblique hints and deft structuring, puts it among the better ones I’ve seen. Capote was also shown a day after Good Night, And Good Luck, which is why I like it probably better than I otherwise would. Set a scant few years after Clooney-s portrait of righteous indignation, Capote subtly observes Truman in a manner that approaches naturalism, and refuses to fetishize its own aesthetic.

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