Let’s talk about our favorite movies — or, in my case, a movie I haven’t seen yet because it just opened, and only in major cities.

A couple evenings ago, I was treated to a half-hour interview by Charlie Rose of a very articulate and observantly attuned Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of my favorite actors, about his starring role in the new film, Capote. Hoffman studied for the role by viewing clips from Truman Capote‘s earlier years, and his years in Kansas while interviewing and writing the stunning book, In Cold Blood — a pioneering work of documentary novel or “nonfiction novel” and later a great film — with the considerable help of his friend since childhood, Harper Lee. Hoffman said he avoided the later clips of Capote, during his decline and his gossipy, sometimes drunken, TV interviews. Hoffman also said it took him two months to perfect Capote’s very different voice (and you can hear Hoffman as Capote in an All Things Considered clip on Sept. 30).

The film was written and directed by two of Hoffman’s oldest friends, neither of whom had written or directed a feature film before. The film also draws on the popular book by George Plimpton, Truman Capote: in which various friends, enemies, acquaintances, and detractors recall his turbulent career. Both the reviews — and the high ratings at IMDb — indicate that this is a must-see film.

About Hoffman’s acting, Rolling Stone says that “Hoffman gets the flamboyantly gay public image of the whiny-voiced gadfly who swanned through New York literary circles.”

“But his real triumph is inward, the way he finds the stillness in Capote and the emotions roiling in his eyes when what he sees in the world reduces him to awed silence. Nothing awed Capote more than the years (1959 to 1965) that he spent researching and writing In Cold Blood, his pioneering nonfiction novel about the murder of the Clutter family from Holcomb, Kansas, and the two ex-convict drifters who killed them.”

It surprised me to learn yesterday, as I looked up all of this, that Capote’s first novel was shunned by major book critics because it touched on homosexuality. Good lord! At least in that regard, times have changed. For now.

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