It's day four of the NYFF press grind proper, and the drones are getting restless.
I blog all morning on Thursday and then make the trek to Lincoln Center, arriving about ten minutes before the 2pm screening of Capote. The auditorium is pretty packed and I take the first seat I see, in the back row, in between a batch of gossipy critics. Most of the people I talk to are on their second, if not third screening of the day; no one is in a particularly good mood. Early buzz on Capote is that it's this year's Ray - in other words, sure to be heavily pushed at Oscar time, but unfortunately unremarkable save for Philip Seymour Hoffman's facsimile-style performance as the titular writer/gin-soaked gadabout.
One guy I talk seems to resent the fact that he has to go through the motions of the screening to follow. His grumbles are met with sympathy from all in earshot. I don't mean to bitch about this job of mine, but the simple fact is that professional festival going is hard work. After several days of seeing several films a day, not only are most of us physically and mentally wiped out, but there comes a point where it becomes hard to trust one's own considered opinion. It's all part of the dangerous business of Festival Logic, in which the panning or celebration of any individual film has a great deal to do with what screened before and after it, as well as other variables, such as the temperature of the screening room, the availability of coffee in the press room, and, at the more social festivals, factors like which critic made the morning screening and which one was too hungover from staying too late at which distributor's party the night before. "Buzz" therefore becomes like a virus of misinformation, the result of an experiment too contaminated by outside variables to trust. The only thing to do is to try to ignore it and go with your gut.
That said, my instant reaction to Capote is that it's a tragic squandering of material that could have been devastating. Philip Seymour Hoffman is great, but his schtick becomes grating. It's a disappointment.