Capote

2/27/2006

capoteSony, color, R (violence, strong language), 114 min. plus supplements, Dolby Digital 5.1, widescreen, Street: March 21, $28.95; First Run: L, Sept. 2005, $16 mil.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s perfectly nuanced depiction of author and perennial enfant terribleTruman Capote is the linchpin of this impressively moody account of Capote’s landmark nonfiction novel In Cold Blood. The DVD’s supplements explore Hoffman’s performance and his take on the art of portraying a very public and ever-so-mannered personality. To his credit, Hoffman admits in one of three featurettes included here that no one could “do” Capote better than Truman himself. Nevertheless, Hoffman’s choices as an actor are dissected in both the commentary he does with director Bennett Miller and the featurette. The only notable revelation is that Hoffman became so comfortable in the part that he began to improvise on camera, resulting in a few memorable moments, from witty anecdotes told at cocktail parties to the emotional sequence in which Capote has his final meeting with condemned killers Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. On balance, however, the supplements devote less time to Hoffman’s performance than Miller and cinematographer Adam Kimmel’s self-important pronouncements about the film’s deliberate pacing and muted production design. A second commentary featuring Miller and Kimmel is devoted entirely to this, and Miller makes repeated references to his “vision” in the featurette “Making Capote: Defining a Style.” This emphasis on the film’s style sidelines its main attraction: Capote himself. The supplements contain references to the real Truman, but a cursory six-minute featurette focusing on comments from biographer Gerald Clarke offers the only direct discussion of the literary titan. Given the fact that several excellent Capote documentaries exist but are not on DVD, it’s a shame there’s not more of the real Tru here. –Ed Grant