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Apr. 17th, 2006


Saw Capote with U. and R., and for the most part my prejudice against Oscar movies is back in full strength. Is it that I'm going through one of these phases when nothing can please me? Or was it the German dubbing and I would have found it wonderful in English (I rather doubt it)?

There are hundreds of enthusiastic reviews on IMDb, but I find it impossible to emphasise because the movie did nothing for me, except make me slightly angry. Not that it isn't well acted and all that, even if (although that's most likely the unfairness of hindsight) it took me a while to see a character rather than an actor very determined to get an Oscar. To me it was the usual Oscar fare, slightly artsy but not too much so, vaguely moralistic but essentially safe and lacking a distinct edge. Bemüht. Nothing there really moved me, except perhaps for the final execution scene, something which by its very nature cannot be anything but stirring (see e.g. Myschkin's account of the execution in Dostojewski's Idiot).

The only other emotion the movie evoked was increasing disgust with a character I found profoundly unlikeable. The egocentrism; how it is first and foremost the story that matters and life is only there to provide it. Capote introducing himself to Dewey saying that he doesn't care whether the killers are found, he just wants the story, which really sets the tone. The resulting romantisation and erotisation (the photo-shoot) of the murderers. The distortion of any sense of proportion where everything is seen through the prisma of the author's ego -- these two men have committed murder and are about to face death themselves, this is something that touches the basis of human life. Gravity. To see Perry watch another prisoner led to execution, and later, the body being brought back, and then to hear Capote whine about how he is being tortured, because he can't finish his goddamn book as long as they're not executed, as long as there is no end to the 'story' is distasteful, to say the least; his increasingly frequent lies to Perry and the manipulation he barely seems to notice and certainly seems to have no qualms about. And the movie for me never really manages to convey Capote's connection and attraction to Perry, not the least because while it certainly does exist on some level, it, like everything else, is secondary by a very long way to the ultimate goal, the novel. Perry is only there to provide the story, and perhaps to serve as a kind of mirror, showing what might have been. As a person, he is irrelevant.

The whole, somewhat touched-upon theme of what makes one man a murderer and another a writer... ::stifles a yawn:: Nothing new there either, if one has given the subject half a thought before, as one can assume the average self-conscious human being will have done; it wasn't treated in a way I found interesting or compelling.

When Capote lied (at least that's what I think he did) about not being able to find a lawyer so that the appeal was less likely to succeed, when, even though in all probability nothing could have been done anyway, he more or less sacrificed two men (no matter how guilty) he had pretended to befriend to his novel and its ending, he definitely crossed a line. It throws a very ambiguous light on the morality of art, and to put art over life like this seems unacceptable to me.

It would have been easier if the movie had at any time allowed me to get just a little closer to any of the characters, but it always remains on the surface, you never get any real insight.


To sum up, this movie certainly does not make me inclined to pick up any of Capote's books; quite the opposite, in fact, which probably wasn't the effect it was aiming for...

And the Oscar might just as well have gone to Heath Ledger.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
queerbychoice
Apr. 18th, 2006 01:42 am (UTC)
I've never seen the movie, but the book In Cold Blood is amazing. I would definitely recommend it.
solitary_summer
Apr. 18th, 2006 06:42 am (UTC)
Hm. If you say so, I'll perhaps wait for the effect of the movie to fade a bit and then check it out at a bookstore
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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