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Monday, March 3, 2014

March Film Club

Hey folks.  Normally in the month of March I play something Irish in honor of St. Patrick's Day, but this year I've decided to forego that and play a film in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman who tragically passed away last month.  He was a phenomenal actor, probably one of this generation's finest and he will be sorely missed.  I've decided to show the film for which he was recognized with an Oscar for Best Actor:  Capote.

The creation of one of the most memorable books of the 1960s-and the impact the writing and research would have on its author- is explored in this drama based on a true story.  In 1959, Truman Capote (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) was a critically acclaimed novelist who had earned a small degree of celebrity for his work when he read a short newspaper item about a multiple murder in a small Kansas town.  For some reason, the story fascinated Capote, and he asked William Shawn (Bob Balaban), his editor at The New Yorker, to let him write a piece about the case.  Capote has long believed that in the right hands, a true story could be molded into a tale as compelling as any fiction, and he believed this event, in which the brutal and unimaginable was visited upon a community where it was least expected, could be just the right material.  Capote traveled to Kansas with his close friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), herself becoming a major literary figure with the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, and while Capote's effete and mannered personal style stuck out like a sore thumb in Kansas, in time he gained the trust of Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper), the Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent investigating the murder of the Clutter family, and with his help Capote's magazine piece grew into a full-length book.  Capote also became familiar with the petty criminals who killed the Clutter family, Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) and Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.), and in Smith he found a troubling kindred spirit more like himself than he wanted to admit.  After attaining a sort of friendship with Smith under the assumption that the man would be executed before the book was ever published, Capote finds himself forced to directly confront the moral implications of his actions with regards to both his role in the man's death, and the way that he would be remembered.

Philip Seymour Hoffman won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his critically acclaimed portrayal of the title role.  The film holds a 90% rating on out of 162 critical reviews and was awarded 4 stars by Roger Ebert who had this to say of the film, "Capote" is a film of uncommon strength and insight, about a man whose great achievement requires the surrender of his self-respect.  Philip Seymour Hoffman's precise, uncanny performance as Capote doesn't imitate the author so much as channel him, as a man whose peculiarities mask great intelligence and deep wounds."

This film is a great example of the monumental talent Philip Seymour Hoffman displayed in all his roles, a talent that the film world is worse off without.  We will be meeting Thursday, March 20th at 6:15pm, hope to see you there!

Here's the trailer:

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