DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Capote

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Aaron Silverman, Mar 24, 2006.

Tags:
  1. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 1999
    Messages:
    10,882
    Likes Received:
    619
    Location:
    Florida
    Real Name:
    Aaron Silverman
    [​IMG]
    Capote

    US Theatrical Release: September 2, 2005 (Telluride), September 30, 2005 (Sony Pictures Classics/ United Artists)
    US DVD Release: March 21, 2006
    Running Time: 1:54:32 (29 chapter stops)
    Rating: R (For Some Violent Images and Brief Strong Language)
    Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic (Extra Features: 1.33:1 non-anamorphic)
    Audio: English DD5.1, French DD2.0 (Extra Features: English DD2.0)
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Bahasa, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Thai (Extra Features: none)
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: None)
    Menus: Some intro animation.
    Packaging: Standard keepcase; insert features cover images from other Sony Pictures Classics titles.
    MSRP: $28.95

    THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 4/5

    A good writer can really get inside his subject. A great writer manages to bring the reader in with him. In the late 1950s, few authors could rival Truman Capote. His stories and articles were the talk of the town, and he was the life of every party. His profession had taken him to the top of the world – but it was about to crush his spirit in a dark descent from which he would never quite recover.

    New York, 1959. Capote (Phillip Seymour Hoffman, in an Oscar-winning performance) is looking for a subject for his next work. He comes across a small article buried in the New York Times about a horrible crime committed in rural Kansas – an entire family of four has been murdered in their home. Something about the story strikes him, and he has his subject.

    With his friend and assistant Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), Capote sets out for Kansas to study the crime and its effect on the community. But things are not going to go entirely as he expects. The townspeople are aloof and not entirely trusting of this outsider from the big city with the curious voice and effeminate manner. Some of them are willing to talk, but in many cases, Nelle and Truman don’t have much luck getting details from them.

    Their luck changes when the killers are apprehended, and Capote gets a chance to spend some time with them. One of the suspects, Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), fits the expected image of a homicidal drifter – grinning, hiding behind a façade of cheap witticisms, not displaying much evidence of intellectual capacity. He doesn’t seem to interest Capote much. The other, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.), is surprisingly articulate. He appears to be much easier to read, exuding a deep sadness and loneliness like that of a child caught in circumstances that he doesn’t understand. But Perry certainly seems to understand exactly what is going on. Is his melancholy just a play for sympathy?

    As Capote gets to know Smith, a bond of familiarity quickly forms between them. They each faced an unhappy childhood (although Smith’s was certainly worse), and each has a literate mind (although Capote is far more sophisticated). Capote is fascinated and horrified by the parallels between himself and this brutal killer. He sums up the key theme of the story when he explains his growing obsession to Nelle: “It’s as if Perry and I grew up in the same house and one day he stood up and went out the back door while I went out the front.”

    As Capote becomes more involved with the project, his personal relationships begin to suffer. His companion Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood), a fellow writer, takes a back seat, and he grows distant from his childhood friend Nelle just as her star is rising with the premiere of the film of her novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. At the party, Truman is not dishing clever anecdotes to fawning crowds of partygoers, but drinking alone at the bar. When Lee tries to approach him, she is greeted only by an alcoholic coldness.

    As the years pass and the killers await a series of appeals, Capote (not to mention his publisher, played by Bob Balaban) becomes anxious to finish the book. He can’t bring himself to write the last chapter until the story has reached closure – which almost certainly means a double execution. His sympathy for Perry Smith gradually shifts as he tries to distance himself from the doomed prisoner. Eventually, Capote becomes even closer to Smith in a way that he never dreamed of, as he struggles with the thought that he might be wishing for a speedy end to the man’s life – and perhaps this is the realization from which he can never fully recover.

    Hoffman layers his stellar performance on top of a solid imitation of Truman Capote’s idiosyncratic mannerisms. It never devolves into a spoof, which is quite a feat considering how funny Capote could be. He really makes this character study work, supported by a very solid cast of always-reliable character actors like Keener, Greenwood, Balaban, and Chris Cooper (as the local investigator).


    THE WAY I SEE IT: 3/5

    Capote has a grainy, washed-out look that reflects its grim subject matter. There are hardly any blues or reds in most scenes, which emphasize dull grays and browns. Only a few scenes are lit well, and none of them are in Kansas, where the bulk of the action occurs. Much of the film is dark and shadowy in a visual as well as an emotional sense, with deep blacks and a good range of grays. The image is mostly OK, although it sometimes lacks detail. Some scenes have edge enhancement that really sticks out, while others don’t seem to have had much processing at all. For whatever reason, the source print was less than perfect, with a surprising number of scratches and specks for such a recent film.


    THE WAY I HEAR IT: 3.5/5

    While there are not a lot of fancy effects or standout music, the mix creates a nice ambience. The surrounds reflect the echoes of cold stone prison walls, the applause of a theater crowd, and the chatter of pleasantly intoxicated party guests. The LFE kicks in now and then with a little extra punch, just to keep things from getting to comfortable.


    THE SWAG: 3/5 (rating combines quality and quantity)

    Commentary With Director Bennett Miller and Star Phillip Seymour Hoffman

    This track mainly covers the performances and some of the choices made in the story and script. There are some slow spots, but for the most part it’s pretty interesting.

    Commentary With Director Bennett Miller and Cinematographer Adam Kimmel

    This commentary focuses on the production and photography. It also has a bit of dead air here and there, but also features plenty of worthwhile material.

    Featurettes

    Three featurettes are included. They may be played separately or in sequence via the trusty Play All button.

    Answered Prayers (6:43)

    This brief documentary talks about Truman Capote’s life and work. It’s OK, but so short that it mostly succeeds in whetting one’s appetite to learn more. It would have been nice to have included something more substantial, like an episode of A&E Biography.

    Making Capote Part I (17:14)

    A nice making-of that covers the script development and pre-production, consisting mainly of interviews with the crew.

    Making Capote Part II (18:25)

    The second making-of goes behind the scenes of the actual production. It’s also pretty good, but could have included more actual production footage.

    Trailers

    When the disc is first inserted, the trailers for Friends With Money and The White Countess play automatically. They may be skipped.
    • Friends With Money (1:39) (DD5.1; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
    • The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada (1:56) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
    • The Memory Of A Killer (1:42) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
    • Thumbsucker (2:16) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
    • Junebug (1:59) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • Saraband (1:21) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • The Passenger (2:09) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • Breakfast On Pluto (1:53) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
    • The White Countess (1:56) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • Caché (2:09) (DD5.1; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • Where The Truth Lies (2:02) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
    • The Patriot (Extended Cut) (1:34) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 non-anamorphic)
    • The Dying Gaul (2:20) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)

    SUMMING IT ALL UP

    The Way I Feel About It: 4/5
    The Way I See It: 3/5
    The Way I Hear It: 3.5/5
    The Swag: 3/5


    Capote is a fascinating, if overly dark, portrait of a man’s descent from the top of his profession and the good life to a state where he questions his own humanity and never truly finds an answer. It revolves around a star-making, Oscar-winning performance, and wouldn’t have worked without it. Although the print used for the transfer wasn’t exactly perfect, the A/V quality is nice and reflects the very specific look and feel intended by the filmmakers. The extra features are copious and interesting as well. This isn’t a feel-good picture by any stretch, but in many ways it’s a real tour-de-force and will be appreciated for the intelligent and thought-provoking piece that it is, as well as for the slice of true life that it represents.
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    46,993
    Likes Received:
    4,686
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Great review, Aaron!

    As I have said elsewhere, I was really blown away
    by Hoffman's performance. A well deserved Best Actor
    award. The film was mesmerizing!

    I'm very happy that Aaron pointed out the problems
    in the transfer. There's just enough dirt and
    scratches to wonder what the heck is going on over
    at Sony concerning quality control.
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,621
    Likes Received:
    5,857
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    The answer regarding Sony and quality control is probably "nothing."
     
  4. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2001
    Messages:
    1,628
    Likes Received:
    0
    I watched it last night. LOVED IT. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

    However, I was pretty proud of myself when I came to this review hoping that somebody else saw the scratches and white specks on the transfer... sure enough! It wasn't just me!
     
  5. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2003
    Messages:
    1,329
    Likes Received:
    1
    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw
    I haven't seen the film yet, but do you think that the scratches etc are intentional to make it feel like we're watching a film in the '50s?

    Mike
     
  6. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2000
    Messages:
    4,389
    Likes Received:
    856
    Location:
    Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems
    Real Name:
    Doug
    Mike - An emphatic NO. The print used for the DVD transfer is dirty, plain and simple.
     
  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,621
    Likes Received:
    5,857
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    I understand what Michael is saying, in that Capote looks and feels like an old film, which has seen a great deal of printing because of the negative and positive dirt.

    And that cannot be the intent of the filmmakers.

    The film needs not to be remastered, but to be digitally cleaned, and replaced.

    This is a beautifully shot film, which is now difficult to view.

    I'd suggest a recall.

    RAH
     
  8. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2001
    Messages:
    1,628
    Likes Received:
    0
    It has little white specks on the transfer from time to time that really stuck out to me.
     
  9. Joe D

    Joe D Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 21, 1999
    Messages:
    838
    Likes Received:
    1
    Man, that stinks about the print. This movie was shown no where close to where I live so I was looking forward to the DVD. Looks like a renter.
     
  10. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1998
    Messages:
    7,795
    Likes Received:
    8
    A pretty good movie, but no where near great IMHO.

    I was a bit disappointed after everything Ive heard about it.

    I thought the print was intentionally "ugly", but I never found it distracting or thought it was a bad transfer.

    You guys must be watching on a larger set than me [​IMG]
     
  11. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 1999
    Messages:
    10,882
    Likes Received:
    619
    Location:
    Florida
    Real Name:
    Aaron Silverman
    Thanks for the kind words, guys!

    As I mentioned in the other thread, the dull colors and gray look of the film were intentional -- the filmmakers talk about it in the extra features. But they make no mention of dirt and scratches.
     
  12. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 1999
    Messages:
    10,882
    Likes Received:
    619
    Location:
    Florida
    Real Name:
    Aaron Silverman
    Joe D,

    I'm not sure that the print is quite bad enough to be a reason to not pick up the disc if you enjoyed the movie. It has some issues, but it's not awful.

    JonZ,

    It certainly isn't a film for everyone.
     
  13. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 1999
    Messages:
    2,713
    Likes Received:
    0
    The transfer suuuuuucked! I too saw all the dirt and scratches on it and it really stuck out. There was quite a bit of bob and weave/gate jitter in the print used. This is supposed to be a brand new movie!!!!!!!!

    Hoffman was spectacular and absolutely nailed his performance (watch the footage of the real Capote and you'll see); he was quite deserving of the Oscar! Like George C. Scott WAS Patton, Hoffman WAS Capote and even moreso. The role of a lifetime.

    The movie as a whole was pretty good, but not completely memorable. It just was. It was the performance that was king here.

    Dan
     
  14. Juan C

    Juan C Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just rented it. The muted colour palette was intentional; the print dirt wasn't. In this day and age, it is a disgrace.

    BTW, great movie. I've been a fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman ever since I saw Happiness and Magnolia.
     
  15. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    486
    Likes Received:
    0
    you know, anybody would get the impression sony had some negative vibes going on towards this film, judging by the mess they've left it in on dvd (blurry mushy backgrounds and big thick edge enhanced edge enhancement)

    if i didn't know when this film had come out, i'd swear this dvd would have been released back in the early days of the format. it seems sony's policy of dumbing down their dvds for blu-ray (and how can you say it's not true after seeing this junk) is coming along very nicely.

    but on a more positive note, thank you sony for cermenting my decision to stop buying dvds. you're saving me pots of money. (and that's the censored family friendly version of how i'm feeling).
     

Share This Page