Capote appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite many positives, too many problems cropped up here for this to be a good transfer.
The main concerns came from source flaws. Capote debuted less than half a year ago, so there’s no reason for it to suffer from so many defects. Small specks and bits of grit popped up with moderate frequency throughout the film, and I saw a few other blotches as well. These weren’t constant, but they shouldn’t have existed at all. I recognize that Capote was a cheap indie flick, but there’s no reason inexpensive movies have to look so dirty.
Some minor issues with sharpness also occurred, mainly due to light edge enhancement. Wide shots tended to be a little fuzzy. Otherwise the movie featured accurate definition. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering.
A film with a tremendously subdued palette, I found little to discuss in regard to colors. A few shots in Spain opened up the tones, but most of the movie stayed virtually monochromatic. The flick went with a light greenish tint much of the time, and within those constraints, the hues seemed fine. Blacks were dense and deep, while shadows looked acceptably smooth and clean. The source flaws remained my biggest complaint about this transfer.
Although I found no obvious flaws in the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Capote, it didn’t have many strengths either. However, I didn’t regard the soundfield’s restricted scope as a problem since a drama like this didn’t demand a lively setting. Most of the audio concentrated on speech. Score showed decent stereo presence, and effects opened up with some mild environmental elements. The surrounds echoed those and did little else.
Audio quality was good. Speech seemed concise and intelligible, and music was similarly solid. The score demonstrated nice range and definition. Effects were a minor aspect of the track, but they always appeared clean and accurate. This was a perfectly unexceptional track, but it accomplished its goals.
Heading to the set’s extras, we find two separate audio commentaries. The first features director Bennett Miller and actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. They address the usual assortment of subjects. They discuss casting and performances, sets and locations, adapting real life, changes to the script and cut sequences. Hoffman provides the best material here with his occasional insights into his work. However, these don’t pop up as often as I’d like, and a lot of the commentary offers little more than banal happy talk. We get a lot of praise for all involved but rarely dig deeper than that. There’s some good info on display, so it’s too bad you have to wade through so much nothing to get there.
For the second audio commentary, we hear from Miller and cinematographer Adam Kimmel. They also sit together and present a running, screen-specific discussion. (Screenwriter Dan Futterman was supposed to participate as well, but apparently his wife gave birth hours before the recording session, so he’s absent.) They touch on many of the same subjects addressed in the first commentary, though with a more technical focus. We hear less about the acting and more about cinematography and other nuts and bolts elements, which seems logical.
This means the commentary occasionally repeats information from the first one. Heck, Miller even makes sure to say “end of act one” at the same point in both! I must admit I liked this track better than its predecessor, though. Miller recorded it second, so he seems surer of himself. He also interacts more naturally with Kimmel, and this shows throughout the piece. The commentary still shows many of the same flaws as the first one, and it doesn’t present a wealth of new info. Nonetheless, it gets into the decision-making behind the film with reasonable depth and stands as the stronger track of the pair.
A featurette called Answered Prayers runs for six minutes, 43 seconds. It presents archival materials, movie snippets and notes from Hoffman, Miller, Kimmel and biographer Gerald Clarke. We also get some old clips of Truman Capote himself. The show offers a few tidbits about Capote’s life as well as his work on In Cold Blood. This serves as a passable overview but doesn’t present a lot of depth. A meatier biography of Capote would have been much preferable to this quickie.
The two-part Making Capote fills a total of 35 minutes, 39 seconds. We hear from Miller, Hoffman, Kimmel, Clarke, screenwriter Dan Futterman, producers Caroline Baron and William Vince, and actors Catherine Keener, Chris Cooper, and Clifton Collins Jr., production designer Jess Gonchor, costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone, and editor Christopher Tellefsen. Part One covers the participants’ interest in the subject and the construction of the script, casting and performances. Part Two goes over the movie’s visual style, sets and costumes, shooting in Winnipeg, extras, the use of the widescreen ratio, editing, and valedictory thoughts about the production.
“Making” proves quite strong. It focuses on substantial topics and investigates them with clarity and precision. Like the movie itself, the program lacks flashiness. It shows us the information in a simple, concise way and gives us many good details about the production. Inevitably, some of these repeat from the commentaries, but the addition of visuals and other speakers ensures that we find plenty of fresh notes. “Making” offers a very solid documentary.
The DVD opens with a few ads. We get clips for Friends with Money and The White Countess. These also appear in the Previews area along with trailers for Breakfast on Pluto, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Cache, The Memory of a Killer, Where the Truth Lies, Thumbsucker, The Patriot Extended Cut, Junebug, Saraband, The Passenger and The Dying Gaul.
I wouldn’t consider Capote to be a great film, but it does boast one stellar performance. Actually, the entire cast works well, but Philip Seymour Hoffman makes the movie memorable all on his own. The DVD presents somewhat messy picture along with decent audio and a reasonably informative set of extras. If for no reason other than to check out Hoffman’s amazing work, Capote deserves a look.