Sunday, February 19, 2006

Truman Capote - A Conceited Manipulative ****

A bit late, I know, but I finally went to see Capote last night.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is great. No doubt. I actually forgot I was watching a movie. It was gripping, interesting (redundant?), and emotional but not in a sappy way.

I had my misgiving before seeing the movie that I'd just keep laughing at Capote's high-pitched voice and way of talking, but it didn't bother me all that much while watching the movie. Okay, I did snigger a couple of times. Very mature, I know.


To be honest, I haven't read one Capote book yet and didn't really know what to expect. I knew nothing of his life and the only thing that hinted anything was the funny voice in the previews. (Sorry, I can't seem to get over that).

The movie did not present a pretty picture of Capote. He came across as very manipulative, conceited and proud, as well as egocentric and narcissistic. I had no idea he was friends with Harper Lee (I did read To Kill A Mockingbird), and that was his best trait.

Capote was so engulfed in his own belief that he's God's given gift to humanity as an author that he forgot basic human feelings and decent behaviour. And this reminded me of our past week discussion re pretentious artists, ego, the One Ring, fallacies etc.

Of course, it isn't the same. A person with an ego with some merit, i.e. famous, successful and what not, vs. one before he's famous are two different things, but it still reminded me of our (sometimes passionate) debate.

Ego and the belief of being God given gift is not only authors’ domain, not only artists’ domain either. It is shared across all professions. Most CEOs are like that, most politicians and the list can go on.

I don't usually read or see movies about writers' lives. I don't really care what kind of person they are; I'm interested in their writing. So this movie was a change for me. I learnt about Harper Lee who was portrayed as sensible, sensitive and unassuming. Capote was portrayed as her opposite except for the sensitive part. He was sensitive alright, but only to his needs and emotions.

I’m not sure I have a point somewhere in here, but I just wanted to share.

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David Amulet said...

P.S. Hoffman is one of our generation's underrated actors. He is an old-style character actor, becoming the character and making you forget that he's only playing a part.

-- david

melly said...

Yes, exactly. I guess that's why I felt so strong about the charecter. Hoffman was the only reason I went to see this movie.
If I didn't say so - great movie.

ME Strauss said...

Capote was a real little jerk. Wasn't he. His books don't sound a bit like he really was. IN COLD BLOOD left no memory really. And BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S was wonderful--really wonderful. There were sentences in it that stopped me enough to make me write them down.

Here's one:

. . . our understanding of each other had reached that sweet depth where two people communicate more often in silence than in words; an affectionate quietness replaces the tensions, the unrelated chatter and chasing about that produce a friendships more showy, more, in the surface sense, dramatic moments.
--Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's

Little twerp could write. :)

Melly said...

Good to hear from someone who actually read Capote. I knew he is considered a great writer, but couldn't tell for myself.
If you haven't seen the movie, I'm sure you'll love it - it paints an accurate picture of him.
And thanks for the lovely quote :)

Carter said...

"A Cup of Christmas Tea" is an absolutely beautiful short story, too. He sure could write, but that didn't stop himn from being the King Nitwit.

Egotism and belief in oneself are two entirely different things that are often confused. Egotism incorporates a complete disregard for everyone else, and that is inexcusable. Consideration for others is a necessary part of being a complete person.

Melly said...

I guess I was the only one who didn't know that about him so I was quite surprised.
Carter, indeed they're two different things, and he was both according to the movie. Not a very considerate person.

Anonymous said...

Capote is one of my favorite writers. He had a unique turn of phrase which I think would not be the same had he been a more "considerate" person. Having said that, I have seen a few interviews with him, and he seemed quite affable and not at all the pompous ass the movie portrayed him as. The final nail in his social coffin had to be his unfinished book "Answered Prayers" where he showed his true colors, and gave all the dirt about the rich and famous who thought he was their friend. Bottom line I think folks should put his manner aside and enjoy some of the best writing American literature has to offer.

P.S I know I'm 3 years late but just found this post during some research.