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This brutally honest portrait of author Truman Capote, with its stunning photography (by Adam Kimmel) and Academy Award-winning acting, has been one of the most "decorated" films of 1995. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar-winner as Best Actor, becomes Capote in this film--small, effete, and vulnerable, but also selfish, petulant, weak, and sometimes cruel. Catherine Keener, as Harper Lee, Capote's childhood friend, offers a stunning contrast to Hoffman's Capote. Tall, honest, and committed to keeping Capote focused, she grounds the film, while serving as Capote's research assistant during his investigation of the cold-blooded killings of four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959.

At the opening of the film, the clean, flat plains and unadorned farmhouse belonging to the victims form a visual contrast with Capote's frantic life in New York. A naive teenager's discovery of the murders, the savagery of the murders, and effects of the murders on the townspeople continue the contrasts between the harsh realities of local life and the esoteric lifestyle of Capote. When Perry Smith (sensitively played by Clifton Collins, Jr.) and Richard Eugene Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) are arrested, and Capote makes contact with Smith, the viewer suddenly sees Capote and Smith as similar--both lonely, sad, a bit shy, and sometimes frightened. As Perry Smith begins to confide in Capote, the similarities of their backgrounds and dysfunctional families become even more obvious.

Exceptionally opportunistic, Capote is also deeply affected by Smith, feeding him when his hunger strike leaves him close to death, but also borrowing Smith's personal journals for his research because "I don't want the world to see you as a monster." Sometimes abandoning Smith and Hickock for months at a time, Capote comes and goes in their lives, leaving Smith desperate at times, and causing Jack Dunphy, Capote's lover, to accuse Capote of using Smith. As the six years pass between the crime and the publication of In Cold Blood, Capote himself deteriorates from alcohol and drugs as inexorably as Smith and Hickock have done while awaiting execution.

The interactions between Hoffman, as Capote, and Collins, as Smith, lead to poignant scenes of great emotion--Capote dissembling when Smith wants to know the name of the book he is writing, Capote refusing to pay a visit to Smith until just before his execution, and Capote crying "I did everything I could," when clearly he did not. Intensely acted, sensitively directly, stunningly photographed, and hauntingly human, this memorable film takes a close, personal look at Capote and the man he fears may be his alter ego. Mary Whipple
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Roger Jon Ellory, who dedicated his masterpiece 'A Quiet Belief in Angels' to Truman Capote, urged me to see this film and within a few minutes of the start I could see why. I wanted to see it before I read the novel on which it is based, IN COLD BLOOD. This movie is not a lifetime biopic; instead it covers what were surely the most important five years in the life of one of the greatest American writers of his time, which he dedicated to writing what would become his last completed novel - although it was classified as non-fiction as it was based on real events.

I think you would benefit from a prior knowledge of Capote and who he was in order to enjoy this film. I can imagine that anyone knowing nothing about him might find it all rather uninteresting. But anybody with a curiosity to know more about this enigmatic, gregarious and highly intelligent man should find it captivating, due in no small part to the portrayal by Hoffman, who probably took a big risk by accepting the part because if he had got it wrong he could have been ridiculed for years. For example, there's Capote's very unusual voice; I must admit that I opted to have the subtitles switched on because I found it difficult at times to understand what Hoffman was saying, but later on when I watched the very interesting 'extras' on the DVD - which included an interview with Capote himself - I realised that the reproduction of his voice was remarkably accurate. It must have been very difficult to speak like that without sounding camp, but Hoffman never does. But the bigger insight into the character of the great man is discovered when the viewer realises that the relationship he has been developing with a convicted murderer on death row has been highly manipulative despite its origins of a sympathy and understanding for a young man troubled and isolated, as Capote clearly had been earlier in his own life. Basically, Capote wanted to control the killers' stay of execution to suit his own means, and when he eventually felt able to complete his book after more than four years in the making, and when he felt that he might have a nervous breakdown if it could not be finished off soon, he had the power and influence to speed up the execution. So the irony is that while the title of the novel leads you to think only of the ruthlessness of the killers, there is something of a double-entendre that Capote may or may not have been aware of: his own cold-bloodedness at determining how long two men should live, and when they should die.

It's hard to think of any other actor playing the part of Truman Capote, and there can really be no question that Philip Seymour Hoffman was a worthy winner of his Academy Award for Best Actor. He absolutely made this film what it is, although mention must be made of a perfect supporting cast and high-quality screenplay and direction.
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HALL OF FAMEon 4 October 2007
At the start of the movie, I would have given a lot to be standing next to Truman Capote at his party, both of us half drunk, listening to his anecdotes and trading quips with him. At the end of the movie, I wouldn't have wanted to be in the same room with him.

Capote is a major motion picture, in my view, with a great, mesmerizing performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote. Hoffman doesn't just mimic Capote's languid lisp and effeminate mannerisms. He captures the man's drive, his ambition, his empathy, his charm, his determination to get what he wants. What Capote wants is to write a book, and the book is going to be the story of the slaughter of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, by two drifters, Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) and Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.). The two broke into the Clutter's home because they'd heard there was $10,000 hidden. They tied up Herb Clutter and his 15-year-old son, Kenyon, and took them to the basement. They tied up Bonnie Clutter and the 16-year-old daughter, Nancy, and left them upstairs. After searching the house and finding no hidden cash, Hickock intended to rape Nancy. Smith stopped him...but then slit Herb Clutter's throat and used a shotgun to blast his head. Then Smith used the shotgun on the son, the mother and the daughter. They left with only about $50.

Capote and Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), a friend acting as his assistant, travel to Holcomb and spend three months talking to everyone they can find, from Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper), the cop in charge, to the teen-agers who knew the young Clutters. After Hickock and Smith are captured, Capote develops a strange, almost intimate, relationship with Smith. "It's as if Perry and I grew up in the same house," he says at one point, "and one day he went out the back door and I went out the front." He is writing what he knows will be a great book, but it can have no ending until Perry finally breaks down and tells him what happened the night of the killings. And it still will have no end until, all appeals having failed, Hickock and Perry are hanged. Years go by. To get this story, Capote will use and manipulate Perry, a man more vulnerable than we might think. Capote lies to him, uses emotional blackmail, perhaps even believes himself some of the emotions he is displaying to Perry. But all the while, Capote's ambition and ruthlessness to write his story never waver, no matter how emotionally wrenching it has become for him. Of course, he does get the story, Perry and Hickock are hanged and In Cold Blood becomes one of the masterpieces of American literature.

Hoffman manages to evoke a reluctant admiration for Capote. If you've ever seen the photo of Capote used on the dust jacket of his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, there is no doubt that the man is flamboyant and amused by people's reaction to his distinctiveness. There's also no doubt that as a teen-ager, Capote probably was unmercifully treated by his peers. One can't help but admire Capote's talent and his single-mindedness, or be repelled by his willingness to do just about anything to get the story and write his book.

Hoffman gives an extraordinary performance. Also excellent are so many others in the cast, particularly Chris Cooper, Clifton Collins, Jr. and Catherine Keener. If In Cold Blood is a book worth reading, Capote is a movie worth seeing.
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on 8 December 2015
Never paid much attention to this when it was originally released. In later years I became quite the Truman Capote fan when I began to actually read his works rather than watch adaptations. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman gives what became one of the outstanding performances of his all too short career. Cannot imagine anyone else in the role. An excellent and intriguing biopic more for the fact that it's based on how Capote created on his most controversial and legendary works In Cold Blood rather than a simple 'life story' film. Supporting cast are excellent. Even if you're not a fan or familiar with the works of Truman Capote (Breakfast At Tiffanys amongst others) this is still an intriguing watch for its storyline as it revolves around his delving into a real life murder case. No backstory of Capote or his life or works is required to enjoy this immense and at times dark film. Worth every penny and a real keeper. A feather in the cap of PSH career.
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This brutally honest portrait of author Truman Capote, with its stunning photography (by Adam Kimmel) and Academy Award-winning acting, has been one of the most "decorated" films of 1995. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar-winner as Best Actor, becomes Capote in this film--small, effete, and vulnerable, but also selfish, petulant, weak, and sometimes cruel. Catherine Keener, as Harper Lee, Capote's childhood friend, offers a stunning contrast to Hoffman's Capote. Tall, honest, and committed to keeping Capote focused, she grounds the film, while serving as Capote's research assistant during his investigation of the cold-blooded killings of four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959.

At the opening of the film, the clean, flat plains and unadorned farmhouse belonging to the victims form a visual contrast with Capote's frantic life in New York. A naive teenager's discovery of the murders, the savagery of the murders, and effects of the murders on the townspeople continue the contrasts between the harsh realities of local life and the esoteric lifestyle of Capote. When Perry Smith (sensitively played by Clifton Collins, Jr.) and Richard Eugene Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) are arrested, and Capote makes contact with Smith, the viewer suddenly sees Capote and Smith as similar--both lonely, sad, a bit shy, and sometimes frightened. As Perry Smith begins to confide in Capote, the similarities of their backgrounds and dysfunctional families become even more obvious.

Exceptionally opportunistic, Capote is also deeply affected by Smith, feeding him when his hunger strike leaves him close to death, but also borrowing Smith's personal journals for his research because "I don't want the world to see you as a monster." Sometimes abandoning Smith and Hickock for months at a time, Capote comes and goes in their lives, leaving Smith desperate at times, and causing Jack Dunphy, Capote's lover, to accuse Capote of using Smith. As the six years pass between the crime and the publication of In Cold Blood, Capote himself deteriorates from alcohol and drugs as inexorably as Smith and Hickock have done while awaiting execution.

The interactions between Hoffman, as Capote, and Collins, as Smith, lead to poignant scenes of great emotion--Capote dissembling when Smith wants to know the name of the book he is writing, Capote refusing to pay a visit to Smith until just before his execution, and Capote crying "I did everything I could," when clearly he did not. Intensely acted, sensitively directly, stunningly photographed, and hauntingly human, this memorable film takes a close, personal look at Capote and the man he fears may be his alter ego. Mary Whipple
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 March 2014
I saw this film simply because I love the book 'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote. I also very much enjoyed the movie of the same name, and to a much lesser extent, the made for television adaption in 1996, which I think should be avoided at all costs.

'Capote' is a portrait of the writer Truman Capote, a very complex and eccentric man. It provides an excellent insight into the process that went into writing one of the best books I've ever read, and for this alone, I would recommend it to anyone who has also enjoyed reading the best-seller.

Called upon to report about about an horrific murder case which killed off an entire family at their home in Kansas, Truman (played by Philip Hoffman) and his writer friend Nelle Harper (Catherine Keener) travel to the scene of the crime and interview key players in this tragedy.

He also befriends the murderers, Richard Hancock, and in particular, Perry Smith. Capote sympathies with Smith as both men led difficult childhoods. He had originally planned to write one article, but decides to instead pen a full length book. His compassion for the prisoners is contrasted to his other feeling, that he needs them to be executed so that his book can have closure. 'In Cold Blood' was a masterpiece, but it was to effect Truman Capote for the rest of his life.

Philip Hoddman is outstanding as Capote, and is well supported by Catherine Keener. The film is essentially a celebration of a very talented writer and an insight into how he almost obsessively got to know two very evil men, but it is also a very sad story as Capote was clearly a very troubled individual behind his happy exterior.

The DVD also includes a short documentary about Truman Capote, featuring archive footage and new interviews with people who knew him.
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on 3 August 2006
To really appreciate this film you really need to have read the book 'in cold blood' first. Without the experience of reading the final product of capote's exertions you cannot fully appreciate his manipulation of the central characters or his incredible gift for writing. What the film does is provide perspective for the book and demonstrate the emotional toll of writing it.

The casting is absolutely brilliant and it's beautifully shot. Without the context of the book it could be seen as quite slow or boring, when infact it is a thoroghly enlightening experience.

One of the best films i'v seen this year!
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on 20 March 2006
Phillip Seymore Hoffman is nothing short of astonishing; he never overly imitates the well known, and often mocked, speech patterns or mannerisms of the writer Truman Capote, but rather nails his essences without turning to parody. The film itself is absolutely mesmerizing, a beautiful, subtle, and beguiling tale, of love and art and journalism; it's terrific movie that thoroughly deserves all the accolades.
The film begins in the late '50s when Capote, fresh off the success of Breakfast at Tiffany's. He's now become part of the intellectual and artistic elite, a doyen of the salons and private parties of the Upper East Side and secure in his world and reputation as the New Yorker's best and brightest author.
One afternoon he reads a short newspaper article in The New York Times about the slaying of a rural Kansas family, the Clutters. Something about the gravity of the murders captivates him, and Capote decides the topic is perfect for The New Yorker magazine, an article in which he will show the effect of such a brutal murder on the inhabitants of a small town.
Within days he heads to the community of Holcomb, Kansas in the company of his boyhood chum, Harper Lee, (a fabulous Catherine Keener), soon to write her one and only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee serves as his enabler, helping Capote ingratiate himself into the close-knit, and somewhat intolerant, community, as he attempts to make contact with the town's law enforcement professionals and, ultimately, the perpetrators of the deed.
As the narrow minded law enforcement officials, led by Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper) reluctantly give Capote information about the crime, the young reporter befriends one of the imprisoned convicts, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) in order to extract as much of his personal perspective about the killings as possible.
But it's a relationship forged in dishonesty - it's the story and not the lives of the murderers that really compel the author - and whilst there's obviously an attraction there - they're both eccentric outsiders from the wrong side of the tracks - Capote is shown as ultimately more concerned about getting the story, as he does his best to postpone Perry's execution until he can get all the information that he needs. He must find out exactly what happened on that night in 1959, and he does such a good job of manipulating Perry's trust so that Perry believes he has a friend who will fight for his life.
Director Bennett Miller, writer Dan Futterman, and most of all actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman capture this process with exquisite accuracy and with the smallest of flourishes. The genius of the film, besides Hoffman's stunning performance, is that it knows exactly how much is enough. It never overplays, lingers or punches up.
The dialogue is intelligent; each scene is carefully laid out, with a gorgeously minimalist piano score that heightens the emotional tension between the characters. Meanwhile, the gray ominous sky and the flat, severe landscape of Kansas, the horizon a hundred miles out, lends its own atmosphere to the proceedings.
Did Capote eventually fall in love with Perry? Perhaps, but you leave the film with a definite sense that Capote's feelings towards the condemned man were enigmatic at best, he was a man torn between finding the story and his very real concern for the fate of another human being. Capote is presented here, flaws and all, as someone rather despicable, but he was also quite sensitive. The anguish he suffers at the results of his decisions emerges as our only glimpse of his potential redemption.
Capote is a stunning film, and a superb drama, as it mines one of man's darkest moral dilemmas - that of gaining and using another's trust for mostly selfish motivations. Much of the complication comes not only from the acknowledgement of guilt by the perpetrator, but also by the genuine feelings of concern and empathy that Capote develops for Perry, and he discovers that can't easily reconcile these feelings with his cold and calculated objective.
The supporting players are exceptional, particularly Keener as Harper Lee and also Bruce Greenwood as author, Jack Dunphy, who was also Capote's partner and lover. But, without diminishing the contributions of all Capote's participants, this is really Hoffman's film. He's an absolute delight. Truman Capote was a complicated, competitive and totally driven man, a literary genius who had many demons, and Hoffman conveys all sides of him to perfection, letting you see the man behind the glasses, the effeminate voice, and the pouting often arrogant humor. Mike Leonard October 05.
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VINE VOICEon 17 May 2006
"Capote" is worth watching if only to see the Oscar winning performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman , who plays the part of Truman Capote, a lesser known American author from the Sixties. Hoffman brings the character to life superbly ,capturing his mannerisms and behaviour to perfection. The film is not really a biopic as the title of the film might suggest. It concerns itself only with the events that led to Capote writing his most famous novel, "In Cold Blood" , a "factional" account about a multiple murder in a small Kansas community . Capote decides to write a book about the murders and, in so doing ,he befriends the murderers , visits them in jail and assists them with legal matters before ultimately watching them hang. The impact of the real life events on which his novel is based begin to take their toll on Capote and his friendship with the killers unbalances his emotional equilibrium . None of the characters in the film are particularly likeable; Capote's girlie voice is grating and I was not impressed with his taking advantage of the two killers mainly to further his own literary career. The two murderers were unlikeable also; unrepentant and unremorseful ,they used Capote to further their own ends as well, perhaps seeing him merely as a "useful idiot" (to coin a phrase from Lenin ). "Capote" is a thoughtful character portrait ,but it is also a restrained critique of capital punishment, similar to films like "Dead Man Walking" and "A Short Film About Killing", although it does not possess their deep visceral impact . I must also mention the cinematography in "Capote" ,which was excellent. It captured late autumn in Kansas very well with it's huge bare trees , harvested fields and big skies . The indoor scenes were all filmed stylishly and constructed carefully as well.
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on 28 February 2006
Capote is an extraordinary film for a number of reasons.Hoffmans portrayal of Truman Capote is mesmerising....capturing the effete insecure needy writer to a tee.Its clear that Hoffman immersed himself in studying Capote to be able to deliver such a powerful on screen presence.The story is about the writing of Cold Blood,the first non-fiction novel about the brutal murder of a family in rural Kansas by two drifters.Truman Capote spent a number of years researching the material for his book and in the process became very involved in the lives of the jailed men responsible for the killings.
The film spends very little time recounting the story as told in the book but concentrates on a detailed psychological analysis of Capote.The cinematography shifts from bleak long shots of the flat featureless landscape of Kansas to extended closeups of Hoffman in a range of different states of mind.The effect is a growing claustrophobia that becomes very intense.
Most people will feel a range of attitudes to the character of Capote...humourous loathsome and sympathetic by turns.
The vision on offer here is dark and pessimistic.The films achievement lies in the outstanding performance of a truly great actor.
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