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Did You See Capote?

CINÉMONDAYS WITH HARDIK

Capote

Dir. Bennett Miller

Screenplay: Dan Futterman, from the book by Gerald Clarke

Bennett Miller’s Capote uncovers how the titular author Truman Capote came about writing his masterpiece In Cold Blood and how his moral collapses in the process.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the titular bold and flamboyant media darling, Truman Capote. His remarkable ability to lose himself in the skin and manners of Capote creates for a celebrity-portrait that’s at once arresting and at another charmingly humane. Hoffman becomes Capote. (He even took home the Oscar for it!)

Dan’s powerful screenplay presents Capote and his disposition as it unfolds; it wins for it chooses not to take a side, keeping the stand eerily ambiguous.

In the movie, as in real life, Capote forms a strong relationship with one of the two killers (Perry Smith, played by Clifton Collins Jr.) whom he researches on for his novel In Cold Blood. Capote finds it affecting that Smith, too, had experienced a bad childhood and that he could have been saved like Capote, had he “went out the front door.” The moral aspect in Capote’s undoing comes in where Capote’s sympathies shift to the killer of four, Perry Smith, and where he knows that he’ll have to betray their established trust in order to come to an ending for the creative nonfictional novel––Smith and his killer friend’s execution.

He wants for Perry what the movie wants for Capote: “If I leave here without understanding you, the world will see you as a monster. I don’t want that.”

The film, of course, chooses to let the viewers understand Capote for themselves. Did you see Capote?

~ Hardik Yadav

Additional Reads: ‘In Cold Blood,’ Truman Capote’s Achievement and UndoingThe Story Behind a Nonfiction Novel.

 

 

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Posted in Hardik's Newest Posts

Konkana and her Shutu

CINÉMONDAYS WITH HARDIK

A Death in the Gunj

Dir. Konkana Sen Sharma

(Indian)

Winter of 1978, Shutu comes to McCluskieganj with his relatives and family friends. Their house in McCluskieganj stands somewhere in the middle of nowhere. One night after a bit of drinking, all youngsters, Shutu’s cousins play a prank on him. A séance ensues. His reticent nature is tested. The cousins do not stop––they are having a careless fun. As is promised in the title, someone dies.

A Death in the Gunj marks Bollywood actress Konkana Sen Sharma’s directorial and writing (along with Disha Rindani) debut, and how! (Brava!) The details, the personality, the engagement… only towards the conclusion it occurred to me, “someone dies.” Whistles for that.

Shutu, whom we recognize as living in us, has stayed with Konkana all her life. She has heard the story from her parents over and over again. A Death in the Gunj is based on that story, that story which is inspired by true events: Konkana’s parents were once vacationing with the one-and-a-half-year-old her and their friends in McCluskieganj. They all were staying at Mukul’s (Konkana’s father) house. Mukul friends were pranksters. One friend Chris Tripthorpe, however, was an introvert and hence everyone’s target. One night the friends pulled a prank on him, in way of séance. “Who’s going to die first?” one asked the spirits, Mukul moved the planchette. When the question came to the end of the table, dictating Tripthorpe’s fate, Mukul remained mum. Tripthorpe was scared, so, he ran away to his assigned bedroom. Their vacation concludes in the death from the title. Shutu is Tripthorpe. Konkana choses to make Tripthorpe her protagonist. From the story that she has heard over and over again, Tripthorpe stays with her.

Shutu stays with me.

~ Hardik Yadav

 

 

 

Posted in Hardik's Newest Posts

Breathless Jumps

CINÉMONDAYS WITH HARDIK

Breathless

Dir. Jean-Luc Godard

(French)

Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, after it came out in 1960 (post-war), refashioned the modern cinema for good: it broke open the shell of same-old Hollywood film-making, pushed the dragging pace by inventing the “jump-cut” technique, and aided in the launch of the all-so-essential French New Wave to movie-making shores everywhere. None of this quite made sense to the shining lead, Jean-Paul Belmondo, who thought their movie was so bad that they wouldn’t even get the permission to release it. Jean Seberg, the female lead, despised Godard’s shooting methods, but then had decided that he was the director, the one to blame. Godard, the director, thought Breathless’s success was just a mistake (the sort he didn’t regret). That was the scene and sentiment around the release; today you just don’t criticize Breathless without receiving an earful.

Breathless is an experiment. Sad news is that there is no escaping that. A Humphry Bogart enthusiast thief steals a car, rubs his lips with his thumb and makes faces, kills a cop, rubs his lips with his thumb and makes faces, and tries to convince his hip American girlfriend to elope with him to Italy, while also simultaneously informing her how stupid she is ––implying that that is so because she is a woman.

Two stylish modern-day lovers… random points on female organs, sex, existentialism, youth, art, and literature… in jump shots, and there you have Breathless.

What bothers me is the desperation with which it asserts its ideas. At some point in the film, there’s a cameo from another important French director, Jean-Pierre Melville, who plays an important celebrity Parvulesco and whom our lead Patricia interviews as part of her journalism assignment. “What is your greatest ambition in life?” she repeatedly asks. Parvulesco takes his time and replies, “To become immortal… and then die.” Um, really? Now that exchange might have been a satirical attempt or another struggle to get as close to real life as it can, but when it arrives, you are reminded that this movie is an effort, a constant effort, served to you with really last-minute changes. ––That is how the jump-shots were invented: in the editing room, at last-minute, with an ambition to provide the movie with a true-to-life rushed pace. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if you too found out that Breathless is out of breath not because of its rush but because of its, say, jump-drag.

“Squealers squeal, burglars burgle, killers kill, lovers love,” our lead believes. And given that logic, I’d conclude movies move… this one is an exception––it jumps, and, ah, it doesn’t quite make it to my liking!

~ Hardik Yadav