Capote (UK - BD)
Our Marcus takes a look at this Philip Seymour Hoffman award winner on BD
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in his Oscar winning performance, this is the biographical story of Truman Capote’s research for his final book ‘In Cold Blood’.
After a small story in The New York Times about a multiple murder captures Capote’s attention, he heads to Kansas with his friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) in order to follow the ongoing investigation and interview the people that the murders have affected. Not long after, two suspects are bought in—Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr) and Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino)—and Capote is instantly fascinated by Perry. So much so, that he spends the next few years visiting him on death row, sharing stories with him and hoping to find out exactly what happened in the Kansas murders that night.
Despite all my best intentions I had not seen Capote until I got this disc to review—in itself is a strange occurrence because I’m a fan of Hoffman’s work and even more strange as I never got round to it during the Oscar buzz for the performance, before and after he won it.
The movie itself is a slow burner, despite getting straight into the murders in Kansas. Told in a fairly open ended style—with abrupt endings to scenes and small moments that don’t always feel relevant to the whole—the movie feels like one that might lose the casual viewer who happens upon it. Capote is instantly set up as a likable character, despite the slight kookiness and that voice, but once the murderers enter the story, you almost feel exactly the same amount of fascination with them as Capote does. How the director, Bennet Miller, handles this is really the main draw into the movie. He manages to create a real drive to find out the details but never lets this slip into a mystery to solve, somehow keeping it very personal and really focused on how Capote’s mixed investments in this story play upon him.
Capote as a character is painted as a captivating story teller in a crowd—someone who feels comfortable telling candid and personal stories to those who are around him and on a personal level his honesty and openness about his own life somehow manages to open up others to tell their stories. What’s played nicely and left almost entirely to the audience perception is just how much of his time with Perry is just for the sake of getting his story. On one side you have a man feeling some deep rooted connection to this killer, almost an attraction to him, but on the other side this is played against a writer treading carefully to get to the end to his story, someone taking advantage of a situation for his own ends. Hoffman does some fine work making this a multi-layered performance it feels genuine and as always he brings a whole lot more to the movie because of it.
Watching Capote, I can see why Hoffman won the golden statue, as he once again delivers a performance that shows off just how good he is an actor(but then when doesn’t he?). I wouldn’t go as far to say this was his finest performance to date and it’s certainly not the best movie he’s been in, but Capote is one that keeps you locked in by remaining focused throughout and its laid back approach is controlled and refreshing compared to many of the other movies out there that it shares themes with.
Having a grainy, filmic quality, Capote shouldn’t really be considered a movie that’s going to show off your HD set-up. Other than having a clean feel to the image with a very effective use of natural lighting to keep skin tones looking realistic, there’s not really much in the area of HD stand out moments.
The movie itself is quite a grey affair, with a lot of clouded skies, dark smoky rooms and grey walled prisons cells. Most of this looks okay and all of it seems just over what SD can produce but with no original source for comparison I can’t be 100% on that one. Some scenes are almost black and white and generally there’s quite a dreary feel to the entire look of the movie but I guess a story about someone on death row for a few years doesn’t really call for big bold colours and flashy moments.
Being a movie that’s dialogue heavy it’s good that it all remains clear and strong here. Living mostly in the front speakers, the rears are generally only used for the peaks in the quite simple score and I noticed the odd raindrop during a scene in the rain.
Once again being a movie that relies on the understanding of the dialogue shared between its characters, this really isn’t one that’s going to show off a TrueHD track to its limits. The audio does what it’s setting out to do and on that level it’s faultless but to say there was anything memorable or extraordinary about that would be a stretch.
Starting straight off with the featurettes the making of Capote is split into two parts. 'Part 1' looks at 'Concept to Screen' (SD 17:15) which covers everything from first time screenwriter Dan Futterman's research through to the casting of the movie and the actors' feelings on the story. Here Bennet Miller confirms that there were elements he deliberately didn't want to explain, such as what drew Capote to Kansas after reading the news article. I was glad this was included as this element did feel a little missed while watching the movie. Part 2 is 'Defining a Style' (SD 18:26) and looks closer at Miller's directing style. His slow, sometimes static approach is discussed as well as the look of the movie that purposely avoided the use of the colours red or blue. It all ties up with a look at the editing, which really was one of the movie's strengths.
The final featuette is 'Answers Prayers' (06:44) which is fascinating look at Truman Capote after the release of his book, ‘In Cold Blood’. We get a lot of insight from his biographer as well as pictures and actual footage of Truman Capote himself. In all honesty this could have done with being a whole lot longer, as learning at the end of the movie that Capote never finished another book because of what these experiences had done to him seems to be a fascinating story in itself.
Slipping through BD-Live and a 'Blu-ray Disc is High Definition' trailer we get two commentaries to choose from. The first including director Bennet Miller and Adam Kimmel is the more technical of two, discussing scenes and takes and their feelings on the approach to the story. The second, and a little more laid back is Miller and Philip Seymour Hoffman. This is quite slowly paced and very much in tune with the movie but still an interesting listen with some enjoyable stories shared between the two, even if there is quite a bit of silence between them.
Capote is a solid piece of drama with a nice slice of personal tragedy. It has fantastically focused performances from the entire cast and while I wouldn’t rush to watch it again anytime soon, the story is strong enough for it to remain memorable. Also, as a nice side order to the movie itself, the disc has a nice batch of intelligent features to compliment the entire project.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Additionally, at this time we do not know the actual release date for the Blu-ray.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 31st December 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Italian, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, Commentary Subtitles
Extras: Making of, Commentaries, Answered Prayers, Blu-ray Disc is High Definition Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr
Genre: Crime and Drama
Length: 116 minutes
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