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Capote (R)

Release Date: September 30th, 2005 (NYC-Angelika Film Center, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, and AMC Empire 25) by Sony Pictures Classics.
The Cast: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., Chris Cooper, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Balaban, Amy Ryan.
Directed by Bennett Miller.

BASIC PREMISE: Truman Capote (Hoffman) travels to Kansas with his friend Nelle (Keener) on a mission to investigate a brutal murder and interview the killers for his book In Cold Blood. Based on a true story.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Phillip Seymour Hoffman gives such a convincing performance as Capote, that he essentially is Capote from start to finish. He not only looks like him with his hairstyle and facial features, but he also talks like him in almost a lisp--although his speech is always coherent. On top of that, Hoffman also mimics Capote's body language. The opening scene is a good foreshadow of the murder that Capote will investigate later in the film. No matter what he goes through, it is always riveting to watch him because he is so likeable, charismatic, and funny without ever being offensive. Catherine Keener is also very likeable and charismatic as his Capote's friend, but her character is only minor to the plot. The plot is not much of a traditional mystery because the killers are already caught and imprisoned on death row very early. The force that drives Capote on is to get inside the killers' mind so that he can finish writing his controversial, ground-breaking book In Cold Blood. This book is controversial because it attempts to humanize the killers and it is ground-breaking because it started a new pattern of writing: the non-fiction narrative. He ends up becoming friends with Perry (Collins Jr.), one of the killers who helps him a great deal and vice-versa. There is a lot of suspense as his day of execution gets closer and closer. At that point, all Capote wants to know is the one thing that the killer does not want to reveal so easily: the exact details of the murder in his own words. It is very surprising how complex Perry is despite that he is a cold-blooded killer. The cinematography is very picturesque, like a work of art. There are many scenes of open fields with the horizon clearly visible in the distance.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: It is very touching the way that Capote gently persuades Perry to become his friend and talk to him. In general, Capote is inspiring because he is such a kind and generous person. Above all, he is also has a lot of patience. Even when he visits Perry for the last time before his execution, he doesn't force him to answer his last remaining question. Capote never comes across as being full-of-himself; he never stepped on anyone to get ahead in life. Ultimately, that's what makes him a truly remarkable and good human being.



THE BOTTOM LINE: A thoroughly moving and engaging film thanks to beautiful cinematography, a well-written screenplay, and, most importantly, a terrific performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman who never ceases to amaze. He is a shoe-in for the Oscar for Best Actor.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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