In Cold Blood, based on Capote's book of the same name, tells the tale of a botched robbery turned brutal murder that shook America to its core. Dick Hickock (Scott Wilson) and Perry Smith (Robert Blake) were two ex-cons in search of the perfect score. When they both get out of the big house, Dick decides that he has their ticket to paradise - a hit that will net them $10,000 in cold, hard cash. Except the info he got from his cellmate wasn't right on the money and, in fact, when they invade the Clutters' farmhouse expecting a safe full of cash, what they find is an all American family with about $43. They brutally slay the family and manage to elude the police, eventually getting themselves nabbed in Vegas after some bad checks and stolen cars catch up with them. We eventually discover that these two young men were the perfect partners in crime - Dick had the will to kill and couldn't, and Perry wanted no part of it, but did it all.
In Cold Blood is a really intense film with some amazing cinematography and riveting background music. However, I found that I had to turn the subtitles on because the background music would override the actors' voices at times. While a good movie with really excellent acting, I must admit I found it a bit on the long side and it also seemed designed to shock, at least at the time it was released.
So then I moved on to Capote, which I immensely enjoyed. Philip Seymour Hoffman is amazing as Truman Capote and has his behavior and voice down to a science. In fact, I re-watched Murder By Death which starred Truman Capote, just to see how closely Hoffman mimicked the author. The similarities are amazing.
I also learned a few things while watching Capote as well. Capote's research assistant and close childhood friend, Nell Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) was the author of To Kill a Mockingbird and she came into her own while Capote was working on In Cold Blood, when her book skyrocketed into popularity and was made into a movie as well.
What started out as a simple writing assignment by Capote for the New Yorker Magazine turned into a full-fledged writing project when Capote and Lee trekked down to Kansas to research the Clutter murders. As Truman grows close to all of those involved in the murder and subsequent investigation, the story seems to take on a life of its own. He finds himself growing very close to Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.) as he discovers that the young man's troubled childhood mirrors his own in many ways. He gets a better attorney for the convicts to help them with their appeal, all the while crafting what he believes to be the most important work he has ever done. The one integral part of the story that he can't finish, however, is the end since Perry still hasn't told him what actually happened that fateful night. Additionally, since their appeals are still pending (something that goes on for three years), he can't end the book with their deaths either. Capote finds himself permanently changed by his relationship with Perry and would never again complete another book, although with the fame that In Cold Blood brought him, he didn't really need to.
I found Capote to be a brilliantly acted film with a really moving story. Truman Capote, for whatever reason, wanted nothing more than for the world to know these two murderers for more than the evil acts that they committed on that night, and he succeeded. While the special features aren't plentiful, I enjoyed what was there. You'll get commentary by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Director Bennett Miller, plus another commentary with Miller and Cinematographer Adam Kimmel. There's also a short featurette on Capote himself featuring actual footage of the writer, which was nice to watch having just seen two hours of Hoffman as Capote. Finally, there's a 2-part making-of featurette.
If you are interested in the story that led to the making of Capote, you should definitely pick up the Capote/In Cold Blood: 2-Disc Double Feature because with the films, you get the complete picture. While the fact that I had to use the subtitles during In Cold Blood was somewhat annoying, I didn't find it that distracting. In Cold Blood was coldly shocking in its day and even now, I found it fairly chilling and was surprised at some of the language and content in it. Back when it was released, it was designed to shock the nation and that it did. If you missed your opportunity to see both films, this is a great way to see both.