Saturday, January 19, 2013


The film opens in a small rural town in Kansas. Fields and nature for miles. Knock knock. "Hello?" A young woman, to her horror, discovers a dead body, lying lifelessly on the bed.

Truman Capote was a famous American author, living his heyday in New York in the 40s through 80s. He is best known for Breakfast at Tiffany's and the film tells the story of the inception of In Cold Blood, which is universally acknowledged as the greatest true crime novel ever written. I was in awe when Philip Seymour Hoffman utters his first word - he had completely lost himself in the character. His voice, his facial movements and expressions, his walk, his body movements, the way he carried his body. There was no doubt, he was Truman Capote. 

It is amazing when an actor has the ability to let go of themselves and become totally immersed in that character. I truly admire method actors, but I also think method acting can be quite dangerous and psychologically exhausting. With method acting, the actor has to forget who they are and embrace the character in every way and just become the character. It can take years to become that character, as Daniel Day-Lewis so adeptly demonstrates in so many of his performances. 

I was always interested in seeing this film, but it was sitting in my hard drive for over two years, until I finally decided I am truly interested in the film. Not only in the film, but I was truly fascinated by Truman Capote's life and work. I had just picked up and started reading Andy Warhol's New York City Four Walks (great read for Warhol fans) and discovered that Warhol was a huge fan of Capote's. He tried to contact him and wanted to be friends with him; he even befriended Capote's mother. Until he realized he could only become friends with Capote once he would become famous. And of course, Warhol became famous and eventually Andy and Truman became friends. I was so fascinated by this, I needed to know more about Capote. 

I think that time period had such an allure. It was such a beautiful era. The men, the women in their slim black dresses, red lipstick and manicured nails - they made smoking look so elegant and appealing. There was such a huge emphasis on celebrity culture. Everyone knew everyone in that circle. The glamorous glitterati littered all over New York City, but you had to be invited into that world. Capote knew everyone. He was childhood friends with Harper Lee. He was friends with many artists and movie stars. I can imagine it looks so beautiful from the outside, but it probably feels so lonely, pretentious and fake inside the circle.

I think celebrity culture is so interesting in that, there are many ways to become a celebrity. You don't even have to be talented in any way to become a celebrity. Celebrity is just defined as someone famous for whatever reason; whether you're in the entertainment world, art, music, literary, political, and even reality television nowadays or you're friends with celebrities, etc. People know your name and your face. But honestly, who wants to be famous? Why do you want to be famous? What's so good about being famous? And is it true that you can only be friends with a celebrity if you're also a celebrity? Do people really want to be friends with celebrities? Why? Is it only for the perks? There's a difference between an artist and a celebrity. Can they be mutually exclusive? 

Let's say if a person wants to create art and make films and one day their work garners attention from the media and public, would they automatically become a celebrity? Can one be an artist and receive attention and not be a celebrity? Can one put their work out there in the public and still maintain a truly private life? Personally, the idea of fame doesn't appeal to me. I would want my work to stand alone and be recognized and publicized to an audience, but the idea that sometimes fame goes hand-in-hand with creating and showcasing art makes me really question society's obsession with pop culture and celebrities. 

I learned a lot about Truman Capote's life and his relentless desire to write In Cold Blood. I've always had a bit of a morbid fascination of death, so I'm surprised I never had the desire to read it, but now I can't wait to read it in the near future (my reading list is too long.) I am so interested in reading about homicides, but it terrifies me so much at the same time, but I can't help myself. It must have been a huge struggle for Capote to want to delay their (inevitable) death sentence, whilst befriending Perry Smith and Dick Hickock and trying to find out the truth of the night of the murders. Clearly, Capote was never going to shed some light on them, since he named his novel In Cold Blood, but he must have really still cared for them. 

Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood are definitely going on my to read list. I want to educate myself and read more. Not just literature, but also biographies of influential people. I also want to watch more biopics of people who I admire. I was very pleased with the film and I was so moved by Seymour Hoffman's performance. I must watch more of his films.

Capote (2005)
Directed by: Bennett Miller
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Chris Cooper

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