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Capote Tapes (The)

Country: USA | UK, Language: English, 91 mins

  • Director: Ebs Burnough
  • Writer: Holly Whiston

CGiii Comment

Mr Capote in all of his disingenuous glory.

This here film certainly does him little in the way of favours...but, it may fuel fresh interest in this little man of big words. It's part character assassination, part hidden/lost manuscript mystery...definitely entertaining and somewhat controversial...if some of the claims are to be believed!

From the peak of his fame to the hard-drinking, pill-popping, disco-dancing pitiable diva he became...Truman took no prisoners, regarded [rather cruelly] as a figure of/for fun, had and lost many a noteworthy friend...all in the name the literature that made and [eventually] slayed him. Pieced together from recently found audio tapes, this is a montage of archival footage with 'fresh' voices and opinions...not quite the definitive portrait...and, definitely not a tabloid kiss-and-tell...Ebs Burnough's curation displays a balance of the good and bad...but, undeniably, the unwavering affection he has for his subject is what makes this film tick so splendidly.


The(ir) Blurb...

Newly discovered interviews with friends of Truman Capote made by Paris Review co-founder George Plimpton invigorate this fascinating documentary on the author (and socialite) behind Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, while situating Capote in the 20th-century American literary canon.

Truman Capote was a singular figure in the 20th century. He presented himself unapolo-etically on television at a time when most gay men took pains to avoid scrutiny. His high-pitched voice imparted wit and indiscretion. His fiction was both popular and critically revered; then he reinvented nonfiction and crime writing with In Cold Blood. His work has a deep cinematic legacy from the sanitized adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's to Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal in Capote.

Now The Capote Tapes delivers a fresh portrait that reinvigorates our understanding of this vital writer, much like I Am Not Your Negro renewed our sense of James Baldwin. Among the film's revelations are newly discovered tapes of interviews that The Paris Review co-founder George Plimpton conducted with Capote's friends for a never-completed biography.

The film dwells strongly on Capote's final uncompleted novel Answered Prayers that set out to expose Manhattan's social aristocracy after he befriended them. He published three excerpts as magazine pieces that caused high scandals and recriminations, but no further manuscript was ever found. Plimpton's tapes shed new light on what happened. They are interwoven with Capote's notorious television appearances and insightful interviews with the likes of Dick Cavett and Jay McInerney. One unexpected interview is with Capote's assistant Kate Harrington whose father was his lover.

Filmmaker Ebs Burnough brings an understanding of elite cultural circles from his own distinguished career that includes a stint in Obama's White House. He navigates the complexities of Capote's life with great skill. The film doesn't shy away from Capote's darker side, but it gloriously celebrates his towering achievements.