Friday, March 23, 2007

IN COLD BLOOD

I know I said I'd be skipping movie reviews for a while, but being sick and having nothing to do, I watched a Tivo suggestion that ties in with my earlier INFAMOUS review, IN COLD BLOOD.

It was strange seeing a 40 year-old film about the subject. So much has changed stylistically that it's impossible for the film to NOT seem dated at times. Yet it still has many brilliant things about it. If I had watched BLOOD first, I might not have noticed some of its problems.

So much of the subject matter had to be softened in 1967 that it feels incomplete. Capote himself is removed from the narrative and replaced with another journalist whose acting style is more '50s machismo-film noir melodrama than the more modern realistic style of much of the film. In fact, the director shot for as much realism as possible. He not only chose to shoot locations instead of soundstages, he used the actual house of the murders, and photos of the real family as props.

Robert Blake is excellent. The script is pretty good and the direction superb. Quincy Jones' dissonant jazzy score is great at times, but when underscoring the family's early scenes, it's much too saccharine and a throw-back to an earlier film style.

The real star of the movie is Conrad Hall's amazing cinematography. Every shot could be a page in a photography textbook, and the "happy accident" of the rain shadows appearing as tears in Blake's final monologue is one of the most memorable images in film history.

Highly recommended if you haven't seen it; follow that up with a screening of CAPOTE, then INFAMOUS.
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