Capote (2005)

US, Canada / 114 minutes / color / Sony Pictures Classics, UA, Columbia Dir: Bennett Miller Pr: Caroline Baron, William Vince, Michael Ohoven Scr: Dan Futterman Story: Capote: A Biography (1988 nonfiction) by Gerald Clarke Cine: Adam Kimmel Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., Chris Cooper, Bob Balaban, Bruce Greenwood, Amy Ryan, Mark Pellegrino, Allie Mickelson, Marshall Bell, Araby Lockhart, R.D. Reid, Rob McLaughlin, Harry Nelken, Bess Meyer.

Although this is one of those movies so full of good things that it’s hard to know where to start the list, its relation to noir is, as it were, doubly tangential: it depicts the background to Truman Capote’s “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood (1966), the first screen adaptation of which, In Cold Blood (1967), has claims to membership of the film noir canon. (Capote has a few visual quotes from that movie, as when the murderer Andy is led to the prison annex for execution.) Its backdrop is a crime and its punishment, but really its concern is the relationship between the fanfared author and one of the killers, and the way that this relationship as much as the original, abhorrent crime sparked Capote’s creativity.

Capote - 2 Hoffman as Capote

Philip Seymour Hoffman captures the essence of Truman Capote.

Looking around after the wild success of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) for a new project, writer and New Yorker columnist Truman Capote (Hoffman) finds his attention caught by a New York Times account of the murder of an entire Kansas family. With the connivance of his agent William Shawn (Balaban), he travels to Kansas with his best friend since childhood, Nelle Harper Lee (Keener)—this was after the latter had written To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), in which the character Dill was based on Capote, but before that novel had been published. The locals are shy of the camp, affected Capote, so Nelle does much of the interviewing of those involved. The pair ingratiate themselves with Alvin Dewey (Cooper), the KBI agent in charge of the case, and Dewey’s wife Marie (Ryan).

After Perry Smith (Collins) and Dick Hickock (Pellegrino) have been Continue reading

Company You Keep, The (2013)

US / 122 minutes / color (with brief bw in the form of archive and faux-archive footage) / Voltage, Wildwood, Brightlight, Kingsgate, TCYK, Sony Dir: Robert Redford Pr: Nicolas Chartier, Robert Redford, Bill Holderman Scr: Lem Dobbs Story: The Company You Keep (2003) by Neil Gordon Cine: Adriano Goldman Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root, Jacqueline Evancho, Gabrielle Rose.

Decades ago, during the horrific height of the Vietnam War, the Weathermen, or Weather Underground, were at the cutting edge of domestic protest against it; they were classified by the authorities as terrorists, although later judgement of their activities tends to be kinder. According to the backstory of this movie, one of their crimes was a bank robbery in which a security guard was shot dead; the perpetrators have been on the run ever since.

The movie starts with the arrest by the FBI of one of those perpetrators, Sharon Solarz (Sarandon), now the respected pillar-of-the-community mother of teenage kids; she has in fact been on her way to NYC to give herself up, but the FBI, having caught wind of this through wiretaps, decided to seek kudos by pre-empting her. Her friend from the old radical days, Billy Cusimano (Root), tries to enlist public-spirited lawyer Jim Grant (Redford) for her defense, but he declines, pleading that, recently widowed, he has to focus on rearing his 11-year-old daughter, Isobel “Izzy” (Evancho).

Izzy (Jacqueline Evancho) and her Uncle Daniel (Chris Cooper) confronted by the FBI.

Into the picture stumbles brattish local journalist Ben Shepard (LaBeouf) of the Albany Sun–Times, eager to make a name for himself. He manages to dig out evidence that “Jim Grant” is in fact Nick Sloan, wanted by the FBI as Continue reading