Bennett Miller, Dan Futterman and Gerald Clarke, 2005
Following a grisly multiple homicide in Kansas, effeminate New York writer Truman
Capote pretended to befriend the killers in order to use them as subjects for a
book about the murders. The book briefly made him America's most famous writer,
but the experience destroyed him.
The main idea that I got out of Fredric Jameson's "Reification and Utopia" was
that while critics tend to approach films as narratives, it is often better to
consider them delivery systems. People don't see Jurassic Park in order
to watch a story with a beginning, middle and end; they go to see CGI lizards.
Capote is a delivery system. It exists so people can go listen to Philip
Seymour Hoffman do the voice. Certainly that's the only thing that makes this
shapeless and dull movie at all memorable.
Bill Condon, 2004
In the first half of the twentieth century, newly married American couples often
had only the very faintest idea of what they were supposed to do on their wedding
nights. The only widely available information on sex came in the form of moralistic
"marriage manuals" and hygiene classes full of falsehoods and ludicrous advice.
Zoologist Alfred Kinsey conducted the first scientific study of human sexuality in
the United States, and his two reports, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
(1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), had an immense impact
on American culture, making sex less furtive and demonstrating that supposedly
deviant behavior was actually widespread.
This one's better than Capote, not least because Kinsey was a much more
important figure than the flash-in-the-pan writer. But all too often the
screenplay is clearly visible. "Here's the scene where Kinsey and the future
Mrs. Kinsey Meet Cute and show that they are geeks of a feather." "Here's the
scene in which an interview subject sums up for Kinsey what his life's work has
meant to people." It's all so mechanical. At least no one repeats back to him
at the end a supposedly incidental snippet of dialogue from the beginning. But
while I can't endorse it as art, I'd still recommend it to people unfamiliar with
this chapter in American history.
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