Sunday, April 16, 2006

#7 (Film in Review 2005)

Sorry all. Between pulling four consecutive all-nighters this past week (essays, tests, presentations, you name it) and spending time with my dad (who stopped in on Toronto from Houston for a few days on business), it's been hard to find time for this neglected blog. But now that classes are over and I'm home for the next few days studying, I'll wrap up this year in review countdown shortly, which was supposed to have concluded two weeks ago (!). So, on with the show...

What to say of Capote (#7)? As with Brokeback Mountain, I feel enough has already been said, from both the film's fans and its detractors. In conversation with many critics, I've used my "But it's not a biopic" card repeatedly, demonstrating how Miller, Futterman & co. are more interested in Capote's three years exploiting every individual in his way to compose In Cold Blood rather than documenting the eccentric's life and rooting his behaviour in some childhood trauma. Therefore, I think all arguments that focus on Futterman's propensity to sideline every other character in favour of Capote himself are rather misdirected. The film is about Capote and Perry, not Capote and Harper Lee, or Capote and his lover Jack Dunphy. The presence of those two characters is significant, but not integral to the complexities of the story. It took me two viewings to understand this (and appreciate it); after this, it became easy to admire how lean the film is, and how direct it is in what it desires to convey. For a first time director, Bennett Miller shows incredible restraint here, never resorting to the obvious approach. The effect is considerably discomforting, and the de-saturated, muted canvas of Adam Kimmel's framing is key in further distancing us from this cold, unfeeling world. Credit must also go out to Michael Dyanna and his exceptionally sparse score, as well as the other visual departments (costuming, art/set decoration, etc) for achieving so much with so little. Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent in his Oscar-winning work, but in my eyes, he is upstaged by even two better performers, Clifton Collins Jr. and Catherine Keener (in that order respectively). That the former didn't even warrant a nomination is absolutely ridiculous, but that's another (finished) story. A thrilling problem play about the ethics of journalism and how far one should go to get the "truth", this film is a must-see for audiences that enjoy good, mature writing.

5 comments:

Kamikaze Camel said...

yeah, it was GOOD. I respect it more than I like it. I can't see myself wanting to watch it again though. Three of this year's BP nominees weren't anywhere near my top 5 this year, which saddens me.

JavierAG said...

I thought it was good but dull. It didn't take risks. It was obvious in an understated way. But I totally GET the praise.

Oh, I LOVE how Hoffman gives "only" your THIRD favorite performance from the pic. Brilliant :) Personally I thought Kimmel was the star here.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Yeah, I totally agree. It felt really standard. Like, because of who it was about and the aspects of his life they were covering, they felt that they didn't have to do anything else.

It did look glorious though, ey?

Ali said...

Bah! I order both of you to watch it again. Then if nothing changes, I'll agree to disagree.

Nick M. said...

It seems as if you have gotten enough crap about it's tasteful dullness and complete lack of subtlety in certain situations.

So, I'll just say 'no comment.'