“Infamous” on film

First, I should say that I absolutely adore the film “Capote,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in an Oscar-winning turn as Truman Capote.

About the same time that “Capote” was released, another film about the notorious celebity/author came out and got overshadowed, which is a darn shame.

That film was “Infamous.”

I found it for $2.99 at Reckless Records, if that tells you how overshadowed a film it was.

Truman Capote sparkled among the literary elite of New York City in the 50s thanks to his clever writing and glittering personality.  He knew everyone, and everyone knew him.  Upon reading a newspaper article about the murder of a Kansas family, he set out to write a non-fiction narrative of the events, which would become his masterwork –  “In Cold Blood” – which would also be his last major work.  For, you see, Truman got wrapped up in the story he was writing, and especially in Perry Smith, one of the murderers. With his childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee (who had yet to publish “To Kill a Mockingbird”), Truman took off to Kansas and got right in the thick of it all.

Now, Philip Seymour Hoffman is probably my favorite actor in film today.  I thought his take on Truman was marvelous.  So imagine my surprise to discover myself liking Toby Jones in the role a lot more.  PSH’s Truman was mighty serious, whereas Jones flutters and preens with a great deal more humor, which helps explain the appeal of Truman Capote and how he could have possibly ingratiated himself with Kansas locals.  Jones looks and sounds perfect in the role.  It’s really a match made in heaven.  (I really had to stop myself from making a “Truman Show” joke here.  You’re welcome.)  Jones’ performance tramples all over everyone else in the film. Surprisingly, Daniel Craig is a huge disappointment as Perry Smith.  He seems forced and fake.  I’d like to attribute this largely to his American accent and the terrible dye job on his hair, because normally I think he’s the bees knees.  Sandra Bullock is all dowdy righteousness as Nelle Harper Lee,  Sigourney Weaver sashays around as a socialite friend of Truman’s, and god knows why Jeff Daniels showed up to play the rather thankless role of Kansas cop Alvin Dewey.

“Infamous” really delves into the Capote/Smith relationship, and Truman’s struggle:   After seven years of working on the case/book, for “In Cold Blood” to have a great ending, the killers really need to be executed, but personally he’s attracted to (and maybe even in love with) Perry.  Whatever the truth is, it’s noted that Truman was never the same after his Kansas/”In Cold Blood” experience.

“Infamous” is absolutely worth a viewing, purely for Toby Jones alone.  In addition, it’s an interesting portrait of the struggle of an artist.  Personally, I think “Capote” is a better-made film, but it lacks some of the heart of “Infamous.”  So they’re both worth 2 hours of your time.  Pick one.

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About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on January 24, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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