Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
2.56

Awesome: 3.7%
Worth A Look: 7.41%
Just Average: 33.33%
Pretty Crappy51.85%
Sucks: 3.7%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings



Infamous
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"More Like The First Draft Of Last Year’s Capote"
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Competing takes on the same subject matter is nothing new in Hollywood. As recently as the early ‘90s there were three Robin Hood films in production. One became Prince of Thieves, another became a TV movie and the third was scrapped. Costner was less successful with the second Wyatt Earp film to premiere after Tombstone. And who will ever forget the summer of ’98 when comets and asteroids raced to destroy the Earth first in Deep Impact and two months later in Armageddon. Those, of course, were big budget seasonal films chasing an even bigger buck. So who would have guessed that a pair of films about Truman Capote, let alone ones covering the same time period of his life, would be sitting on the desks of executives; one with a budget, the other with a name actor? This was not about duking it out for audience attention. Just immeasurably bad timing. The first film, simply titled Capote, went on to great praise last year, including my own top ten list, a nomination for Best Picture and an Oscar to Philip Seymour Hoffman for portraying the colorful, yet tortured writer. Douglas McGrath’s version has been given a full year to breathe but, nevertheless, should have come first for it would have been a perfect example for screenwriting students to see the difference between a first draft and a finished product.

I could almost repeat my plot synopsis for the first film verbatim. Truman Capote (Toby Jones) moves and shakes in the gossip-mongering circles of the big city. When he reads of the Clutter family murder down in Kansas, he eagerly sees the opportunity for a new book and brings his friend, Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock) with him, herself putting the finishing touches on To Kill a Mockingbird. Capote steps into town like a one-man gay pride parade, basked in extravagant outfits and being called “maam” by everyone he interacts with, (a joke which becomes all-too-old, all-too-quick.) Initially resistant to giving him access, Sheriff Alvin Dewey (Jeff Daniels) warms up to him as Capote brings his celebrity storytelling to his living room to delight the yokels. After Perry Smith (Daniel Craig) and Dick Hickock (Lee Pace) are arrested for the crime, Capote begins visiting them regularly and slowly finds an infatuation with the hulking Smith while realizing that for his book to have an ending, he must hang from the neck until he is dead.

Stepping away from Bennett Miller’s superior treatment, there are so many inherent flaws in Infamous’ storytelling that bias is the least of its problems. The most glaring of which is the talking head documentary approach which keeps interrupting events to give us further background on Truman. Babe Paley, Diana Vreeland, Slim Keith and Bennett Cerf are just a few of the names from the glitterati roster who show up to defend Capote’s actions and inform on his eccentricities. And if it were the actual people, it would be a little more forgiving. But, as played by Sigourney Weaver, Juliet Stevenson, Hope Davis and Peter Bogdanovich, it’s a needless and lazy distraction beyond the fake NY skyline they sit in front of as if they’re telling anecdotes on The Tonight Show.

Toby Jones is a dead-ringer for Truman Capote, both sight and sound. There is no question that watching him flaunt and strut his miniscule presence and nasally whispers gives you an undeniable feeling that you are in the presence of the real deal. But once the gimmick of the impersonation wears thin, Capote’s descent into a shell of a human being is unable to overcome the comedic interpretation that McGrath was woven from George Plimpton’s biography of the man. Daniel Craig may be more the physical specimen that Perry Smith was. So why does he come off as so miscast? Clifton Collins Jr. was more introverted and helped feed Capote’s compassion and unspoken love for his subject. Jones’ scenes with Craig, because of their sizes, should immediately instill a greater sense of fear with this maddog who began the massacre (a fact he freely admits early on here.) But everything between the two has a stale air. Little is implied. Aggression is overt and not the powder keg of uncertainty that was a greater delineation into Capote’s decline, both emotionally and professionally.

Infamous as comedy turned into tragedy is a difficult feat to pull off, particularly when watching Capote dish dirt on his friends and preen to be the center of attention makes him a more pathetic, lonely figure even at the height of his fame. Hoffman won the Oscar for helping to convey that aspect lurking underneath his charm and became more than just a characterization when his quest for immortality was replaced by immorality. Only Bullock here adds anything of note to Harper Lee, providing a more sardonic counter to her friend than just a stand-by conscience. McGrath’s script is filled with obvious beats of dialogue to classify precisely what scenes are about with a not-so-delicate wink-wink, get-it(?) approach like a neighborhood book club reading the Cliff’s Notes. It’s too bad screenwriter Dan Futterman wasn’t around to do a polish. Oh wait, he already did.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15163&reviewer=198
originally posted: 10/13/06 00:05:32
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell good capote companion piece 4 stars
1/09/09 Shaun Wallner Very Boring! 2 stars
7/30/08 Charles Tatum Jones puts Hoffman to shame 5 stars
6/25/07 Helen Bradley Toby Jones is good but film seems long and poorly scripted Paltrow quite out of her depth 1 stars
6/23/07 Ash A poor shadow of the brillliant Capote 2 stars
2/22/07 Betty It just didn't do it for me as did "Capote" Too slick in parts--Music--bad!! 3 stars
2/05/07 William Goss Gossipy take relies more on reputation than introspection. 'Capote' is superior. 3 stars
11/10/06 Elizabeth Worth seeing, but does not have the devastating emotional impact of "Capote". 3 stars
10/23/06 David Neubert Much Better than Capote 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  13-Oct-2006 (R)
  DVD: 13-Feb-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  17-May-2007




Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast