There’s some engaging and provocative material in “The Capote Tapes” that’s diluted by director Abbes Burano’s insistence on teasing a question that, arguably, has a self-evident answer.
The film opens with onscreen text referring to the “archive of a journalist” and rumors of an “unfinished scandalous manuscript” on interviews about Capote. The journalist turned out to be George Plimpton, who published a oral history Capote in 1997, more than a decade after Capote’s 1984 death at the age of 59. The manuscript would be “Answered Prayer”, excerpts of which caused much discontent among Capote’s high-society colleagues when they ran in Esquire magazine in the mid-70s.
Capote’s story is one of awesome talentpersonal bravery, poor professional ethics, freak personality, and eventually addiction and disinhibition. It has been featured in two notable fiction films. And the man himself is involved in several documentaries. Burano’s film wants to add something new to it Story, and it introduces Kate Harrington, whom Capote quietly adopted in the ’60s. (It’s a complicated and strange story.)
Next, the film flips and flops from a linear point of view and implying “Wait, we’ll get to that manuscript in a while.” On a shot of an analog tape recorder rolling steel reels, we find Norman Mailer saying “no one wrote better sentences”—one of the few comments here on Capote’s work. Onscreen, writer Jay McInerney is unfortunately assigned to deliver a lot of the “I want to be a part of this, New York, New York” boilerplate.
As for that manuscript, anyone paying attention already knows the answer. By the end of his life, Capote was such a human wreck that the idea of some kind of posthumous literary time bomb is ridiculous on its face.
not evaluated. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. in Theaters.