Last night Matt, Matt's niece and I went to see the biopic Capote at the Vue Islington. Better than Brokeback Mountain in many ways it is a film with pathos and emotion with a stellar performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role.
Capote, an openly gay man, was as well known for his high-pitched, lisping voice, outrageous manner of dress, and wild fabrications about acquaintances and events as he was for his literary output. Capote was a lifelong friend of Monroeville neighbour Harper Lee and was the inspiration for the character of Dill in her best-seller To Kill A Mockingbird.
[***Warning: spoiler alert***] As is shown in the film, Lee lent Capote considerable assistance during his research for In Cold Blood. The book was inspired by a 300-word article in New York Times in November 1959, describing the unexplained murder of a family of four in rural Kansas. Fascinated by the brief story, Capote traveled to Holcomb, Kansas, scene of the Clutter family massacre, with Lee, and over the course of the next few years became acquainted with everyone involved in the investigation and most of the residents of the small town. Rather than taking notes during interviews with those involved in the investigation, Capote would commit everything to memory and write it down after the interview was over. Lee assisted him for the first few months of his investigation and was able to make inroads into the community by befriending the wives of those Capote wanted to interview. Prior to the book's publication, Capote was well-known in literary and theatrical circles, but In Cold Blood introduced him to a mass audience worldwide when it became an international best seller. Capote was widely criticized when he admitted his relief that the Clutter killers, Perry Smith and Richard "Dick" Hickock, had been given the death penalty; had they not, In Cold Blood might never have been published. The core of the film is the conflict between Capote's self-absorbed obsession with finishing the book and his compassion for his subjects. Good stuff.