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PCR # 309  (Vol. 7, No. 8)  This edition is for the week of February 20--26, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Capote"  by Mike Smith
A Tale of Two Sergeants...."When a Stranger Calls"....Rain  by John Lewis
Haunt X  by Mark Terry
Happy Birthday....Pulling The String....Passing On....My Favorite Films--Chapter 8  by Mike Smith
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Sony Pictures Classic     
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Chris Cooper
Directed by: Bennett Miller
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 38 mins

I've read many books in my lifetime. Probably hundreds. But there are only a handful that really effected me, made me curious about the world around me. One of those books was "In Cold Blood." When I joined the service in 1979, I was allowed to pick my first duty station. After careful consideration, I chose Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, hoping to one day visit the town of Holcomb, Kansas, where the crimes documented in Truman Capote's "non fiction" novel took place. Almost 27 years later, I still haven't made it to Holcomb, but the desire is still there. In 1959, author Capote had the same desire. His trip to western Kansas, and the events that follow, are the basis for "Capote."

November 1959. In a farmhouse in Holcomb, Kansas, Herbert Clutter is awakened by two intruders. Thinking Clutter has a hidden safe full of cash, they tie he and his family up. After finding nothing of value the two men kill Clutter, his wife and two children. They drive off into the night with less then forty dollars. As the story hits the news wires it eventually ends up buried in the back of the New York Times. At the time, Truman Capote is enjoying the success brought about by his latest novel, "Breakfast at Tiffanys." Spying the story, Capote informs the editor of the New Yorker magazine that he wants to go to Kansas to research the case for a magazine article. Using his celebrity (even people in the Sunflower State have read "Breakfast at Tiffanys"), Capote is allowed to interview people associated with the case and even dines often at the home of the lead investigator(Cooper). But as more and more pieces of the puzzle are found and the killers captured, his article evolves into a book. One for which he fears may never find an ending.

Coming out of nowhere to earn a Best Picture Academy Award nomination, "Capote" is a film that lives and dies by the performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Though he died in 1984, Truman Capote is practically etched in the minds of most Americans due to his numerous talk show appearances and his role in the film, "Murder by Death." With his high voice and almost effeminate way of carrying himself, it would have been easy for Hoffman to result to caricature. But instead, Hoffman gives a multi layered performance. He shows not only what made Capote a demagogue among his followers but what made him a mortal as well. As the case drags on, and the killers exercise their appeals, Capote frets that, unless the death sentences are carried out, his book will have no ending. At the same time, he must assure the convicted killers that he has their best interest at heart. Hoffman shows both sides of the author almost effortlessly. Director Miller also gets great performances from Best Supporting Actress nominee Keener, playing Capote's long time friend Harper Lee. As "Capote" begins, Lee has just learned that her first novel, "To Kill A Mockingbird" (another book on my short list), is about to be published. Soon she is as celebrated as Capote, but still finds the time to work as his research assistant. As Dick Hickcock and Perry Smith, Mark Pellegrino and Clifton Collins, Jr. do good work, with Collins particularly moving. Raised with similar backgrounds, Capote and Smith shared a special relationship and that is evident in the work of Hoffman and Collins.

Dick and Perry were finally executed in 1965, hanged not ten minutes from where I live in Lansing, Kansas. I never made the trip to see where the story began but I drive by where it ended almost every day. Besides the Picture and Supporting Actress nominations, "Capote" is also nominated for Best Director, Adapted Screenplay and the one award I'm sure it will win, Best Actor for Hoffman. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Capote"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "Capote" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.