director Lisa Immordino Vreeland has taken the barriers off her latest documentary, leaving her audience with nothing but the subjects themselves, a move that confuses those used to the spoon-fed style prevalent in the genre (and delighting those who are fed up with just that) . “Truman & Tennessee: A confidential conversation“Throws away the speaking heads so that the subjects, two of the most famous literary minds of their generation, can solve the mysteries of their lives in their own words. As a result, easy answers are not to be found, and while some viewers may struggle to get a manageable “lesson” about the writers, 20th century celebrity, addiction, or the capricious nature of success, others may walk away with a deeper understanding by whom Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were like people.
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Although the title of Vreeland’s documentary implies a back and forth between Williams and Capote a-la “My dinner with Andre“or”Hitchcock / TruffautThe structure is more like a verbal collage. Use a mixture of letters (characters read from Zachary Quinto as Williams and Jim Parsons As Capote) and television interviews, Vreeland enables the two authors miles of runways to tell their own stories. Although Williams was thirteen years older than Capote, the two ran in similar circles and appeared in each other’s lives like recurring guest stars on sitcoms each starred in.
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In fact, the doc
reflects this in a thematic usage that connects many of their life events
together via separate reflections. The audience doesn’t need literature or
Theater expert to tell them Williams wasn’t interested in the movies
of his work, or that Capote originally wanted Marilyn Monroe for the
Part of Holly Golightly, if the writers say it directly. Likewise no
Context is needed when Capote and Williams each share their substance abuse
Fights and the way the bottle or needle consumed their lives.
By removing graduate students, literary critics, and surviving contemporaries, Truman & Tennessee avoids any overarching context to allow unfiltered review of each author. Furthermore, Vreeland does not shy away from the fact that they were deeply flawed men whose pain, despair, ego, and audacity simultaneously drove them to greatness as they dragged them down. Despite being very diverse people with temperaments, social backgrounds, and even ambitious desires, Vreeland contends that their travels take place in their 20sth The 19th century acted as a kind of spiritual foundation for a generation.
the duel interviews that Capote and Williams conducted Dick Cavett
and David Frost Do a great job connecting the two writers through
For a number of similar questions, the effort in perspective remains somewhat inadequate
for how the work of these men affected 20th Century culture. For sure,
the lack of 3approx Party perspectives enable real honesty
in the presentation of the story of any writer, but it also robs him of some
much needed context here.
Both Williams and Capote exploded into the consciousness of the American post-war landscape, writing on topics such as rape, murder, infidelity, sexual oppression and mental illness: not exactly the hallmark of Eisenhower’s new suburban dreamscape. How these men’s success challenged popular mores and how their books / plays influenced larger social conversation is missing here. Vreeland never resonates with this larger subject and instead focuses on each writer’s personal journeys, but it feels like a hole in the bigger story.
However, as shown, it’s straightforward. Parsons sometimes slips in and out of the Capote’s voice, but Quinto never faltered reading Williams’ memories. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to separate the actor’s voice from Williams’ unique wood when the doctor alternates between an archival interview and reading a letter. Structurally, “Truman & Tennessee” moves effortlessly as it casually moves through any author’s greatest hits and clips from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “”Cat on a hot tin roof, “”End of the line longing, ”And others in between on-camera interviews where they were discussed along with Parsons and Quinto’s voice-over memories.
That said, it’s a simple watch and should be a treat for any author’s fans who are looking for a nice mix of gossip and insight. There are no ready-made conclusions or models here: no parts list that the documentary throws up at the beginning and sells throughout. “Truman & Tennessee” is a simple examination of each author in their own words, with each literary giant being respected enough to tell its own story. It is not for everyone and is not perfect, but it comes as close to an objective truth about the two men as probably only one will be. [B+]
“Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation” premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival.